Dual-booting between a GNU/Linux distribution and Windows on a computer with one or more hard disks is a common practice for those who use both operating systems. It is a somewhat hassle-free approach to keeping a foot in both OS worlds. If you are new to Linux Mint and want to attempt dual-booting between Linux Mint 11 (see Linux Mint 11 review), the latest release of Linux Mint, and Windows 7 on a computer with one hard disk, this tutorial offers detailed instructions on how to accomplish the relatively simple task.

If your computer has more than one hard disk, the steps involved are virtually identical, and this guide can be of great help for setting up dual-booting on a computer with, say, two hard disks.

When configuring dual-booting on a single hard disk, the most important decision you will have to make is whether you want to install GRUB 2, the Linux Mint 11 boot loader, in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the disk, so that when the computer boots, you will see this …

Or this, if you install Windows 7’s boot loader in the MBR.

Regardless of the option you choose, the result is not irreversible. For example, if you install Windows 7’s bootloader in the MBR and you change your mind, you can very easily overwrite it with GRUB. The reverse is also true. As a bonus, the simple steps involved in changing the boot loader installed in the MBR is made available at the end of this article.

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The system used for this tutorial has an existing installation of Windows 7. If your computer has an existing installation of Windows 7 too, your first task is to free up enough space from Windows7. That space will then be used for installing Linux Mint 11. It is just as easy to free up space during the installation of Linux Mint, but this is my preferred method. If the computer you want to use has an existing installation of Windows, but you want to reinstall it, you can save yourself some time by leaving some unpartitioned space on the hard disk.

Okay, enough preliminary stuff. Ready to start? Me too. One more thing. If you have not done so already, download an installation image of Linux Mint 11 from here, burn it to a CD or DVD and keep it around.

To begin, boot into Windows 7, type partitions in the menu’s search filed. That will start the disk management application shown here. You can see that there are two partitions – the System Reserved, and the C drive. The first task is to create space for Linux Mint 11 by shrinking the C drive.

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To do that, right-click anywhere on the drive and select “Shrink Volume…”

The disk management tool will always shrink the disk by half unless there is data in more than half of the disk. Unless you know what you are doing, click Shrink.

The surgical operation is complete. The Unallocated space is where Linux Mint 11 will be installed. Exit the disk management application, insert Linux Mint 11 installation CD or DVD and reboot the computer.

As it boots up you will see the boot menu. Linux Mint 11 is a Live CD/DVD, and you can only start installation from the Live environment. So, press Enter on the keyboard.

Once in the Live environment, click the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop, then click Forward twice to get to the step shown here. The automated partitioner of the installer does not detect the free space, so the only way to partition and install Linux Mint 11 on it is to use the installer’s Advanced partitioning tool. To get to the Advanced partitioning tool’s window, select “Something Else,” then click Forward.


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12 Responses

  1. Full disk encryption protects you from the casual opportunistic criminal. It does not protect you from government agencies with budgets that stretch to landing attack helicopters to arrest a guy who “might” be guilty of copyright infringement.

    I think we can all agree if a government agency can afford attack helicopters it can afford a few geeks with the tools to crack your passwords.

    By all means use full disk encryption to protect against the physical theft of your computer. Don’t pretend it will protect you from the government.

    If you live in the UK, you must now give up your passwords on demand. Refusing to do so is a refusal to cooperate with the police in a criminal investigation. Which can be considered a crime in it’s self.

    1. If it were that easy for govt agencies to decrypt an encrypted HDD, they wouldn’t go to the trouble of making it a crime for refusing to disclose the encryption passphrase.

      In every single case involving a computer with an encrypted HDD that’s been reported in the US of A, prosecutors have had to go to a judge to force the defendant to disclose the encryption passphrase.

      1. “In every single case involving a computer with
        an encrypted HDD that’s been reported in the
        US of A, prosecutors have had to go to a judge
        to force the defendant to disclose the encryption

        This has more to do with our procedural law here in the US than the other crux of your argument.

        Here, government agents are required to get court approval before proceding, thus the establishment of the FISA courts for national security issues and which do NOT report their grants of approval.

        In normal criminal cases, evidence obtained without warrant, or which is not otherwise generally and publically available, is not admissable into evidence in court. I assume this is true in most countries, and particularly true of any British commonwealth country.

        Secondly, assuming cases of US government malfeasance, the NSA has a huge budget and even non-government players can now crack up to 90% + of 24 character passwords in a matter of hours and with affordable equipment. Imagine the NSA with a flea in its ear.

        Still as you and others have said, it is important, for financial and professional safety, to encrypt your data… and make it as tight as you can.

  2. I think that you think that you are too important.

    Why would anyone _care_ about your disk’s contents?? What do you think they would expect to find on it?
    – Secret letters of the Pope to pretty boys in Argentina?
    – GW Bush’s plans on the attack on the WTC?
    – Proof of Chinese cyber attacks on the Pentagon?
    – Your latest research on transforming human poop to unleaded high-octane gasoline in room temperature?
    – 4K porn?

    Only three things are important on almost anybody’s disk: passwords, credit card numbers and PINs. Just encrypt these. Or use a specialized tool.

    Full disk encryption? Completely, 100% unnecessary.

    1. They might not care now, but what about when some future eco-fascist government suddenly decides that eating meat is a crime now (not an impossible scenario in some European countries…the eco-fascists are getting stronger…)

      Then suddenly your recipe for grilled steak is an illegal document and you can go to jail for it!

      Of course this sounds a bit silly now, but you must not think that everything will always stay the same.

      Make it as hard as possible for anybody to get to your private documents. If the government (or anybody else) wants to see some of them, they can always ask nicely, and you can then show them what they want to see.
      You shouldn’t make it too easy for them to just take everything they want without asking!

  3. If you are living in Turkey, you should definitely encrypt everything. Read the court cases in Turkey like ergenekon, balyoz (sledge hammer). Police may accidently (!) embed evidence into your phone (Mehmet Ali Çelebi’s phone). Or there may be illegal documents in your computer you have never seen before and you can spend years in jail (odatv case).
    And of course you should definitely keep a copy of your important documents in else where (Ahmet Şık’s book is destroyed by police without court order.)

  4. Great article! I full agree. What the DOJ did to Kim Dotcom is crazy. Landing attack helicopters in his front lawn, lol?

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