Windows 7 Dual-Boot BackTrack 5 Boot Menu

BackTrack Linux is now known as Kali Linux. You may read all Kali Linux articles and tutorial at http://linuxbsdos.com/category/kali-linux.

BackTrack is a Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu, designed for hackers and/or security professionals, and loaded with the best Free Software and Open Source penetration testing applications available.

The latest edition is BackTrack 5 R2 (the “R” is for Revolution), and the most recent article about it published on this website, before the publication of this one, is Install BackTrack 5 Revolution 2 on external hard drive.

In this article, the steps required to dual-boot the KDE edition with Windows 7 (there is also a GNOME edition), are presented. To begin, download an installation image from here. Burn it to a DVD, then place the DVD in your computer’s optical drive and reboot. The system will boot into a console and you will see a prompt just like the one in the image below. To boot into a Live KDE desktop, type startx and press the Enter key on your keyboard.
BackTrack 5 R2 Startx

Once in the Live desktop, click on the Install BackTrack icon on the desktop. And when the installer launches, click through the first few steps until you get to the one shown below, It is the fourth of eight steps of the installation process. Notice that you have four disk partitioning options. How you want to set up the dual-boot system will determine which one you select.

Since the objective is to set up a dual-boot system, you obviously do not want to choose the second option (Erase and use entire disk). Select the first option if all the space on the disk is taken up by Windows and you want the installer to shrink Windows and install BackTrack. Select option 3 (Use the largest continuous free space) only if there is unpartitioned space on the target disk and you want the installer to auto-partition the space. Use the fourth option (Specify partitions manually (advanced)) if you want to create a custom set of partitions. This assumes that you have some knowledge of disk partitioning in Linux. If you do not, and want to go this route, you might want to read guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux and tips for dual-booting Windows and Linux.
Just to show how this can be done manually, the last option is selected for this tutorial.
BackTrack 5 R2 Disk Partitioning Options

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And it just so happens that the target disk has some unpartitioned space. So the next step is to select it and click the Add button. By default, the BackTrack 5 installer creates just two partitions – one for the root partition, and the other for Swap. For a distribution of this sort, that is likely all you need, unless you want to add an NTFS partition at the end for whatever reason you can think of. For this tutorial, just two partitions will be created.
BackTrack 5 R2 Advanced Partitioning Tool

This is the partition setup window. Since there are two existing partitions (the Windows 7 partitions), the installer will attempt to create the BackTrack partitions as logical partitions, which is just fine. BackTrack, like any Linux distribution, can boot from a logical or primary partition. If you are confused about “primary” and “logical,” take a few minutes to read guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux.

What you need to do at this step, is specify the amount of disk space you want to use for BackTrack 5, then select the file system from the “Use as” dropdown menu (the default is ext4). Finally, select the mount point from the “Mount point” dropdown menu.
BackTrack 5 R2 Create Partition

This is what the same step looks like after the right values have been specified. Click OK to return to the main window.
BackTrack 5 R2 Create Root Partition

For the next partition, which should be for Swap, select “swap area” from the “Use as” menu and specify the amount of disk space you want. OK.
BackTrack 5 R2 Create Swap Partition

Back to the main window, click Forward to move to the next step.
BackTrack 5 R2 Create Partition Cmpleted

On the next step, shown here, the installer gives a summary of what it will do, based on the selections you made. And this is also where you specify where you want the installer to install GRUB, the boot loader. By default, GRUB, the GRand Unified Bootloader, is installed in the Master Boot Record (MBR). In setting up a dual-boot system with Windows, installing it there will overwrite the Windows boot loader, which could cause major headaches for you when you reinstall or upgrade Windows, or install certain anti-virus programs. The recommended option is to install GRUB in the root partition of BackTrack, which in this case, is /dev/sda5. So, to change where GRUB should be installed, click Advanced.
BackTrack 5 R2 Install Summary

That should land you here. You can see that /dev/sda is the “Device for boot loader installation.” That is just another way of saying that GRUB will be installed in the MBR.
BackTrack 5 R2 Install GRUB MBR

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For this tutorial, you want to change it to /dev/sda5. OK.
BackTrack 5 R2 Install GRUB Root Partition

Back to the installer summary window, click Install to continue with the rest of the installation.
BackTrack 5 R2 Install

After installation has completed successfully, reboot the computer. It will boot into Windows, which is expected. The next task is to add an entry for BackTrack 5 to Windows 7’s boot menu. To do that, you need another application. The easiest to use that I have found is a free-for-personal-use software from NeoSmart Technologies called EasyBCD. You may download it from here. After download, install it in the same way that you would install any other Windows application.

After installation, launch it. EasyBCD’s main window is shown below. To add an entry for BackTrack 5, click Add New Entry.
Windows Boot Menu EasyBCD

Now, you are here. Click on the Linux/BSD tab. Select GRUB 2 from the “Type” dropdown menu, then modify the “Name” field to reflect the name of the distribution. Click on the Add Entry button, then on the Edit Boot Menu tab to see the result. GRUB 2 is the version of GRUB used by BackTrack 5.
BackTrack 5 R2 Add Windows Boot Menu EasyBCD

This is what the result should be. Exit EasyBCD, then restart the computer.
BackTrack 5 R2 Windows Boot Menu EasyBCD

You should now see a boot menu that looks just like this one. Boot into both operating systems one after the other to verify that everything is alright. Happy hacking.
Windows 7 Dual-Boot BackTrack 5 Boot Menu

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25 Responses

  1. Very useful article. Thanks!

    Quick question (re: Tip 5), how should i add an entry to the Windows boot menu to point to the GRUB that i have installed on another partition? What does the entry in the boot.ini look like?

    I can’t use EasyBCD as i have Windows XP only.

  2. Hi finid and Kurt,

    on Sept. 13, 2012 @ 6:58pm Kurt said,
    > In my opinion, the best way to dual boot windows and
    > linux, is to use two hard drives, install windows to
    > the first hard drive (skip that step if preinstalled),
    > then disconnect this drive, install another hard drive
    > as the first hard drive and install linux. Then connect
    > the windows drive as the SECOND hard drive. Boot into
    > linux and edit the grub.conf file to add an entry to
    > boot windows using the chainloader. As windows will
    > only boot if it is the first drive, use the grub map
    > command to switch the first and second drives. No
    > changes at all are made to the windows drive MBR or
    > anything else, and windows will just boot when you
    > select it from the grub boot menu.

    Help me out here please. I currently have the installer running for Debian Squeeze netinst ver. 6.0.6. I’m at the partition set-up screen.

    I will be dual-booting (win2k and Debian). Windows 2000 has its own hard drive and is currently fully operational. I installed another drive for Debian. Both drives are on the same cable (win2k drive set to ‘master’ and debian drive set to ‘slave’).

    I have backed up all data on my windows drive and even cloned it to another drive that I keep in storage. Therefore I’m ok on the back-up warning.

    My system is a legacy system. Its a “dual” Pentium III total 2.0 GHz cpu with 1 gig of DDR RAM running windows 2000 spk 4. I built the system in 2001. The motherboard is an iWill-DVD266R with max capacity of 4 gigs for DDR memory. I currently have 1 gig installed of DDR.

    This win2k system is still my main desktop and is a real workhorse. I do utilize newer OS’s on other systems but this is the system I’d prefer to utilize as a dual-boot.

    QUESTION #1 Please
    Can I still utilize the article that ‘finid’ wrote titled, “Dual Booting Win7 and Ubuntu 12.04 using two hard drives” for my ‘Debian Squeeze netinst’ install using two separate drives? Or do I need to be concerned with Kurt’s option described above?

    Kurt’s excellent alternative is too advanced for me as this is my first Linux install? I can easily understand finid’s tutorial.

    QUESTION #2 Please:
    Also, do I need to be concerned about the UEIF firmware issue that was addressed in another tutorial as it relates to my ‘dual’ pentium III system? The tutorial is titled, “Dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 on a PC with UEFI board, SSD and HDD”.

    see: http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2012/10/10/dual-boot-windows-7-and-ubuntu-12-04-on-a-pc-with-uefi-board-ssd-and-hdd/

    Thank you

  3. Hi finid and Kurt,

    on Sept. 13, 2012 @ 6:58pm Kurt said,
    > In my opinion, the best way to dual boot windows and
    > linux, is to use two hard drives, install windows to
    > the first hard drive (skip that step if preinstalled),
    > then disconnect this drive, install another hard drive
    > as the first hard drive and install linux. Then connect
    > the windows drive as the SECOND hard drive. Boot into
    > linux and edit the grub.conf file to add an entry to
    > boot windows using the chainloader. As windows will
    > only boot if it is the first drive, use the grub map
    > command to switch the first and second drives. No
    > changes at all are made to the windows drive MBR or
    > anything else, and windows will just boot when you
    > select it from the grub boot menu.

    Help me out here please. I currently have the installer running for Debian Squeeze netinst ver. 6.0.6. I’m at the partition set-up screen.

    I will be dual-booting (win2k and Debian). Windows 2000 has its own hard drive and is currently fully operational and I installed another drive for Debian. Both drives are on the same cable (win2k drive set to ‘master’ and debian drive set to ‘slave’).

    I have backed up all data on my windows drive and even cloned it to another drive that I keep in storage. Therefore I’m ok on the back-up warning.

    My system is a legacy system. Its a “dual” Pentium III total 2.0 GHz cpu with 1 gig of DDR RAM running windows 2000 spk 4. I built the system in 2001. The motherboard is an iWill-DVD266R with max capacity of 4 gigs for DDR memory. I currently have 1 gig installed of DDR.

    This win2k system is still my main desktop and is a real workhorse. I do utilize newer OS’s on other systems but this is the system I’d prefer to utilize as a dual-boot.

    Can I still utilize the article that ‘finid’ wrote titled, “Dual Booting Win7 and Ubuntu 12.04 using two hard drives” for my ‘Debian Squeeze netinst’ install using two separate drives? Or do I need to be concerned with Kurt’s option described above?

    Kurt’s excellent alternative is too advanced for me as this is my first Linux install? I can easily understand finid’s tutorial.

    Also, do I need to be concerned about the UEIF firmware issue that was addressed in another tutorial as it relates to my ‘dual’ pentium III system? The tutorial is titled,
    “Dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 on a PC with UEFI board, SSD and HDD”.

    see: http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2012/10/10/dual-boot-windows-7-and-ubuntu-12-04-on-a-pc-with-uefi-board-ssd-and-hdd/

    Thank you

    1. Your mobo is too old for you to be concerned about UEFI. So, don’t worry about that.

      I don’t necessarily agree with Kurt’s suggestion, as it introduces unnecessary manual tasks. When dual-booting on 2 hard drives, make the Linux drive the primary or default boot disk. That way, you do not have to do any manual setup after installing the Linux distribution. The Linux installer will automatically add an entry for Windows in GRUB’s menu. And you do not have to disconnect the Windows drive.

      Use the new article that I just wrote, but ignore the part about UEFI, as your mobo does not have that firmware. You might also want to read this article.

      1. Finid,

        I’m with you on putting Linux on the first or primary drive and putting the Windows disk as the second drive. As far as I know, there is no practicable way to do this except to first install Windows with the disk as the first drive, as that is the only way windows will install, and then move it to be the second drive either physically or with the BIOS if your BIOS will do that. Then yes, install another hard drive as the first hard drive and put Linux on it. If you have a very clever installer, it may put the correct entry in GRUB to boot the windows disk, but the issue is that Windows must think it is the first hard disk or it won’t boot. That is what the map entry is for in grub.conf. It will swap the drive order before booting Windows with the chainloader. I am not aware that the typical Linux installer will do this correctly, but then I don’t know much.

        The point of not having the windows drive connected while you are installing Linux is to make sure that nothing is changed on the Windows drive. The computer case is already open, so connecting the drive or not is no big deal.

        The only tricky part is putting the correct entry in grub.conf, but even here, it won’t hurt anything if done incorrectly. After it is set up, no further mucking around in the internals is required.

        Anyway, that is just my 2 cents, and I hope you don’t mind me throwing it into the pot.

        Kurt

          1. Well I guess that will put Grub on the second drive, but the point of the procedure I was outlining is that it does not touch the windows drive at all.

            Kurt

    1. No specific distribution was used for this article. I just used an image from way back to illustrate a point. I could have used anyone from any other distro.

  4. “the best approach for dual-booting, is to locate the Windows system partition on the SSD”

    Why? I can see you’re looking for an easy solution but if you’re primarily using linux, you’re not getting much of the benefits of SSD.

      1. You’re right, the tips are apparently geared towards people who use “Linux as an alternate system”.

        Perhaps in the next iteration of these tips, the author wants to include information for those who’d like to set up Linux on the SSD.

          1. (I hadn’t seen before you’re the author)

            In a setup with 2 drives, you’d install windows first and then linux, regardless what you use the most. That’s the order of installing.

            If these 2 drives are a normal hd and a ssd, why would i place windows on the ssd if i’ll be using linux more than windows?

            In other words, why is it recommended to locate linux on the hd? Can’t linux boot from a ssd?

  5. As a guide for someone completely new to dual booting this is a quite good guide. A hands-up would be on step 3 in the event the computer came pee-installed with 4 primary partitions on a disk with a msdos partition table. In this case shrinking a partition is pointless as a disk with msdos partition table only can hold 4 primary partitions. In this case you need to make a decision:

    1) don’t touch the disk and use a second hard drive
    2) move the data from for example the “User data” partition to the root partition and replace it with an extended partition. (The “user data” partition may then be recreated as a logical partition within the extended partition if so desired)
    3) consider installing linux on an image file within the windows partition (not recommended – as this is fragile, but it is ok for uncommitted testing) – Ubuntu do this easily using the Wubi installer.
    4) Install to an external disk – memory stick – linux is in fact reasonable fast even running from USB sticks, but an external USB 3.0 disk would run great! (notice that booting with USB 3.0 support might require grub to add the boot parameter “pci=nomsi”.

    In two disk setup I would actually recommend considering backup partitions, and partitions for increased performance on the opposite disks. I would create a partition to store the windows pagefile.sys within an NTFS partition on the opposing disk for windows, and a swap partition or partition holding a swap file on the disk opposing linux. The same is the case for backup partitions.

    Another comment – Whereas linux is good for trouble shooting windows problems, windows is not good for troubleshooting linux problems. For this it is better to keep a boot-able rescue cd or live usb stick handy. I do actually tend to install a rescue partition on the second disk.

  6. In my opinion, the best way to dual boot windows and linux, is to use two hard drives, install windows to the first hard drive (skip that step if preinstalled), then disconnect this drive, install another hard drive as the first hard drive and install linux. Then connect the windows drive as the SECOND hard drive. Boot into linux and edit the grub.conf file to add an entry to boot windows using the chainloader. As windows will only boot if it is the first drive, use the grub map command to switch the first and second drives. No changes at all are made to the windows drive MBR or anything else, and windows will just boot when you select it from the grub boot menu.

    See this thread:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=275728

    Kurt

      1. Well no, you can’t do this with out disconnecting and reconnecting the windows drive. But you only have to do it once. The point is, under this scenerio, you want The linux drive to be the first drive with the MBR so that the computer will boot grub. Then you can select from the grub menu which operating system to boot. Grub will take care of making the windows drive think it is the first drive using the grub map command. The beauty of this is that you can add a linux drive/OS to an existing Windows system without changing a thing on the windows drive except swapping the cables. I like to keep the windows drive disconnected during the Linux install to prevent accidents.

        Try it sometime. It’s sweet.

        Kurt

          1. I guess you could say “It depends” SATA drives are ordered by the connector on the motherboard, although which drive is the boot drive or number one drive can be set in the bios of some, but not all motherboards.

            If you can select the boot drive through the bios or by a function key at boot, then you can connect your windows or linux drive as you wish, and just select the drive you want to boot through the bios. If you cannot use the bios to select the boot drive, or don’t want to use it, then setting up grub as I described above is the way to go.

            Kurt

    1. As far as laptops are concerned, most don’t have two internal hard drives. Furthermore, many laptops cannot have two internal hard drives fitted and many people don’t want to cart around an external hard drive with a laptop. In such cases the only solution if one wants to dual boot is to use the internal hard drive for both operating systems.

  7. Regarding your tip no. 5, there is another reason why it is better to use the Windows boot loader to chainload the Linux boot loader in the boot sector of a partition: many desktop and laptop machines have a hidden ‘factory restore’ partition for Windows, which you can invoke using certain keypresses at boot. Some manufacturers put code for that in the MBR, so if you install the Linux boot loader there you may overwrite it. See e.g. http://fitzcarraldoblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/the-best-way-to-dual-boot-linux-and-windows/

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