Windows 7 Boot Entry

How to dual-boot Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows 7 and how to dual-boot Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows 7 on a computer with 2 hard drive provided step-by-step guides on how to setup a dual-boot system with those operating systems. They were based on test installations on computers with BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) firmware.

While the tutorials worked for people using computers with BIOS firmware, those using newer computers with UEFI firmware ran into one or more problems. UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) is a replacement for BIOS, and it is very likely that any computer or motherboard you buy today will have UEFI instead of BIOS firmware.

Since I just built a new computer with UEFI firmware, I decided to recreate those tutorials to show how it should be done on computers with the latest firmware, and also to see if I will run into any of the problems that others have been reporting.

The computer used for this article is a custom-built one with an ASRock Z77 Pro4 motherboard, the same one I used for writing dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 on a PC with UEFI board, SSD and HDD. The only difference between that article and this one, is that this one shows how to set up the dual-boot system on single, 500 GB hard drive.

Since it is likely that you will already have an existing installation of Windows on your computer, the tutorial begins on a system with a fresh, default installation of Windows 7. That means, there are just two partitions on it – the Windows 7 System Reserved partition, and the main Windows 7 partition – the C drive. The task here is to shrink the C drive, freeing up enough room for Ubuntu. Then install Ubuntu on the free space.

To install Ubuntu, the partitions have to be created manually, with the following three partitions created: A boot partition; a root partition; and a partition for Swap space. GRUB, Ubuntu’s boot loader will be installed in the boot partition. After Ubuntu has been installed successfully, an entry for Ubuntu will then be added to Windows 7’s boot menu, so you will have a choice of OS to boot into from the Windows boot menu. That, in a nut shell, is the task at hand.

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If you are new to Linux, have never set up a dual-boot system before, and are not familiar with disk partitioning in Linux, it is highly recommended that you read guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux and 7 tips for dual-booting Linux distributions and Windows.

Before you start messing with the partitions in Windows, download an installation image of Ubuntu 12.04 from here. Burn it to a CD or transfer it to a USB stick.

Let us begin.

1. Windows Partition Manager: Since we are starting with a system with an existing installation of Windows 7, we need to shrink the C drive. To do that, start Windows 7’s partition manager: Type partition into the search box and click the only item that appears. This screen shot shows what it looks like. On a single disk system like the one used for this tutorial, you should see two partitions as shown in this image. The one you need to mess with is the C drive. Do not touch the System Reserved partition. Right-click on the C drive and select Shrink Volume.
Windows 7 Partition Manager

2. Shrink The C Drive: This window should open. Because my test system is a fresh installation on a 500 GB HDD, it has plenty of free space, and Windows has decided that it is save to shrink the C drive down to about 14 GB. That works for me and for the purpose of this tutorial. If you are satisfied with what you are seeing on this window, click the Shrink button.
Windows 7 Shrink Partition

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3. Unallocated Windows Partition: Back to the main partition manager’s window, you should see the space that was recovered from the C drive. It is the one labeled Unallocated. That is what will be partitioned for installing Ubuntu. Close the window and reboot the computer. Be sure to put the Ubuntu installation CD in the optical drive before rebooting.
Windows 7 Free Partition

4. Ubuntu’s Installation Requirements: When the computer boots from the Ubuntu installation CD, start the installer either from the Live desktop or without first booting into the Live desktop. Click through the first few steps until you get to this one. This just tells you how much space you will need to install Ubuntu. Click Continue.

5. Ubuntu’s Partitioning Methods: You should now be looking at this step. You want to choose Something else. Why? Because that is the one that will allow you to configure the partitions manually and let you choose where the boot loader will be installed. The other options will create the partitions automatically, install GRUB in the Master Boot Record (MBR), which will overwrite Windows’ boot programs there. Continue. Selecting Something else else takes you to the Advanced Partitioning Tool.
Ubuntu Partition Methods

6. Ubuntu’s Advanced Partitioning Tool: This is the Advanced Partitioning Tool. You can see the two NTFS (Windows) partitions and the space that was recovered from the C drive. In this screen shot, /dev/sda2 is what Windows calls the C drive. The System Reserved partition is /dev/sda1. Do not mess with either one. You will be creating partitions for Ubuntu using the free space. So, select it and click Add to start creating partitions. For this tutorial, only the boot, root and Swap partitions will be created. If you want, you can create another one for /home.
Advanced Partition Tool


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14 Responses

  1. My PC is Desktop. Core2Due processor 2GB RAM 1TB HDD.
    But for learning this multy boot I used another HDD which has only 160 GB!

    First I Installed the Windows 8.1 according to your suggestion. It was really a very good suggestion.
    On the time of installation Windows 8 will take 350MB as system partition.

    I give partition only 25 GB for Windows 8 and another 25 GB for Windows 7. (Windows 8 and 7 take only 8.5 GB for installing the OS).
    And windows 8 and 7 allow to make only 4 partition. Linux also allows like that. But here I need more than 4 partition. So after installing the first two OS (Win 8 & 7), I used a utility Live CD (Bart_PE) for arranging the other partitions. With the help of that bootable CD I make other partitions. 20 GB as root(/) for Linux Mint17. 18 GB for its Home. 2GB for swap area. Again 20 GB root for Ubuntu14. 18 GB as it’s Home. I give swap area as common for Mint and Ubuntu. (I think we can assign same Home area for Mint and Ubuntu. Then we can save 18 GB space here!) Their is a balance of 20 GB again. I formatted it as NTFS for Windows 8 and 7 user files. This is the partitions I made. Final important.
    >> With your setup, how much of the disk space allocated to the /boot/efi partition is used?

    Ans: I did not manually allocate any space for the boot file of Linux! Because my HDD has no efi partition. Instead, at final step.
    * Device for boot loader installation.
    I simply selected the the option which shows the name and the size of my HDD.
    for eg. dev/sda ATA WDC-WD1600AVDS-6 (160 GB)
    Then continue…

    Thank You.

  2. O.K Thank you very much. Your tutorial helped me do a lot. I have successfully done not triple but quadruple boot (Windows 8, Windows 7, Ubuntu 14, and Linux Mint17) with the help of your tutorial.

    Thank you and for your tutorial.

  3. Hi
    On the 2nd page picture 2 and 7 8 shows “/dev/sda2″ is ‘efi’ partition but only 100 MB. You did not say anything about it!

  4. Hi,

    Your Tutorial is good but much confusing.
    You said “you need to select the “device for boot loader installation.” It should not be /dev/sda, but /dev/sda2”

    The /dev/sda2 is showing as ‘efi’ partition and has only 100 MB! It arise some doubts.

    1. What is this efi partition?
    2. How to create it?
    3. Do we need to create an another 100 MB for that efi partition?
    4. Do we need to disable fast boot of Windows 8 before setting dual boot?

    5. Please update your tutorial by clearing this area.

    Thank You.

    1. On a computer with UEFI firmware, the /boot/efi partition is where all the boot loader files are installed. If you have Windows 8 installed, that partition is created during the installation of Windows 8, so whatever size it has is what was allocated to it during the installation of Windows 8.

      Therefore, if you are attempting to dual-boot a Linux distribution and Windows 8, you do not need to create another /boot/efi partition. Make that partition the boot loader device.

      If you are attempting to install a Linux distribution by itself on a computer with UEFI firmware and you are creating partitions manually, one of the file systems available is /boot/efi.

      Hope that clears it up.


        At my first attempt I manually selected the partition (that is created by Windows 8 (350MB) during the installation of Windows 8) for the last process.

        * Device for boot loader installation

        But on that time though Windows 8 option is showing on the boot menu. But when selecting Windows 8, It could not boot and the computer is always restarting.

        Therefore, if anyone attempting to dual-boot a Linux distribution and Windows 8, on a computer WITHOUT UEFI firmware,
        you do not select the last option. (This is important for the computer which has NO UEFI firmware.)
        If there is any wrong selection during installation time, please only select the option which shows the name and the size of your HDD.

        * Device for boot loader installation.
        for eg. dev/sda ATA WDC-WD1600AVDS-6 (160 GB)

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