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

This is the just another tutorial on BackTrack 5 published on this website. You may read the previous tutorial’s on this distribution’s category page at http://linuxbsdos.com/category/backtrack.

BackTrack is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu Desktop, but specifically designed and loaded with applications for security and penetration-testing professionals. The latest edition is BackTrack 5 R3. The R is for Revolution.

When attempting to dual-boot a Linux distribution with Windows 7 on a single hard disk drive (HDD), the most important decision you’ll have to make is where to install GRUB, the boot loader on virtually all Linux distributions. By default, the Linux distribution’s installer will want to install it in the HDD’s Master boot Record (MBR). However, doing that overwrites the Windows boot loader, so the recommended location for GRUB when dual-booting with Windows, is the boot or root partition of the Linux installation. That requires creating partitions manually, which is not a difficult task, if you have some knowledge of disk partitioning in Linux. If you don’t, guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux is a highly recommended read.

If you’ve ever attempted to dual-boot BackTrack 5 and Windows by installing the former on partitions that you created manually, you know that the installer will not allow you to install GRUB in the boot partition or any of the partitions used for BackTrack 5.

In this article, you’ll see how to install GRUB in the root partition using a backdoor method. It’s a very simple method that does not require manual disk setup for BackTrack 5. Here are the steps involved:

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A. Install Windows 7: If you have an existing installation of Windows 7, then you do not have to reinstall. If you decide to reinstall, you may optionally set aside the disk space that will be used for BackTrack 5. Because this step of the installation process for the system used for this tutorial was done on real hardware, there are no images for show for this step.

B. Install BackTrack 5 R3: There is a GNOME and a KDE version of BackTrack 5. The GNOME version was used for this tutorial, but it does not really matter which version you use. You may download an installation image from here. Burn the downloaded image to a DVD. You will be using one of the installer’s automated partitioning modes to create partitions and install the system. By default, BackTrack’s installer creates two partitions. The first will be mounted at /, and the second for Swap, with GRUB installed in the MBR.

C. Install GRUB in BackTrack’s Root Partition: After the last step, this step calls for installing GRUB in BackTrack’s root partition. When this step is completed, you will have GRUB in two locations – in the MBR, and in the root partition. But this is only temporary, because in the next step, you will be wiping GRUB from the MBR.

D. Reinstall Windows Boot loader in the MBR: After the last step, boot into Windows 7 and reinstall its boot loader in the MBR.

E. Add BackTrack 5 to Windows Boot Menu: Finally, add an entry for BackTrack 5 R3 in Windows 7’s boot menu.

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Now that you know what it takes, here’s a step-by-step guide on how I did it, starting from step B.

1. BackTrack 5 Partitioning Methods: Reboot the computer with BackTrack’s installation DVD in the optical drive. At the boot menu, select the default and press the Enter or Return key. By default, BackTrack doe not boot into a graphical desktop. At the command prompt, typing startx will start the GNOME or KDE desktop, depending on the version you are using.

Once in the live desktop, click on the Install BackTrack icon on the desktop to launch the installer. Then click until you get to the step shown in the image below. In the test installation used for this tutorial, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7, leaving some unallocated space for BackTrack 5. You can see the scheme in the upper green bar. If you do not have the luxury of reinstalling Windows 7, the installer will take care of freeing up space it needs to install the system. That is the default option.
BackTrack 5 Partition Methods

2. Advanced Partitioning Tool: This image is just to show the existing partitioning scheme as seen from the installer’s Advanced Partitioning Tool. You get here by selecting Specify partitions manually (advanced), then clicking Forward in the previous step. You didn’t have to come here, but if you did, click the Back button.
BackTrack 5 Advanced Partition Tool

3. Install BackTrack 5: Ok, back to this step, the best option for me was Use the largest continuous free space. By selecting that and clicking Forward, the installer took care of the rest.
BackTrack 5 R3 Partition Methods

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52 Responses

  1. In your tutorial you had only 2 primary partition earlier at the start point. But I have 3 primary partitions consumed by windows:
    1st: System Reserved
    2nd: Windows Installation
    3rd: Application Software (I install windows software here)
    Unallocated space 120 GB

    I want to install 3 Linux OS in this Free space. Is is possible? How to do it?

    1. Unless you are using GPT-based partitioning, you have just 1 free primary partition left. That 120 GB of unallocated space will be created as an extended partition. From there, you then create the logical partitions to install the Linux distro(s).

      So the answer to the first part of your question, is yes, it is possible. The second answer will depend on what distros you intend to install. If you are new to disk partitioning in Linux, start with guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux.

      What are the 3 distros you intend to install?

      1. Thanks for quick reply.
        I want to install these three distros:

        1. Fedora 17 (I’ll use this mainly) within 70 GB

        2. Debian or Debian based distro (Just for testing)within 30 GB

        3. Any other distro (other than above two, just for testing ) within rest of the space

        Some more question:
        I will install Fedora 17 from Live USB. Do I need another third party tool to make that unallocated space as extended partition or Anaconda installer of Fedora will take care of that? I mean how to make an extended partition ?

        1. If Fedora 17 will be the main distro, and you only want to use the other 2 for testing, one option (the easiest) is to install Fed. 17 on all 120 GB of free space, then install the other two in a virtual environment inside Fed. 17.

          Virtualbox is the easiest app that will enable you to install any other OS in a virtual environment.

          Anaconda or Debian’s installer will create the partitions you need.

          Note that if you opt to install all 3 on real hardware, it will be easier to install a distro, like Fed. 17, last, as an installer that does not support LVM will not “see” an LVM partition. (Fed 17 uses LVM by default.)

          I don’t think you need a 3rd-party tool to make a bootable Fed. 17 USB.

    1. In the order that you listed them. It might be best to put in a second HDD for Ubuntu and RH. A small HDD for Vista, and a lager one for the Linux distros.

  2. I have Windows XP, Linux Mint 9 and Linux Mint 11. On the top of it, I installed Ubuntu (by selecting ‘install alongside other OS’ option). Ubuntu is installed and after update-grub, it is even listed in the grub (It was not, before). But when I choose Ubuntu 12.04 from grub, some CLI type commands are listed in the screen and Ubuntu doesn’t load.

    What do you think is the issue? It was an automatic install and hence I am not sure if it created a / folder. Do you think I should reinstall Ubuntu? The customized installer in ubuntu is very complex. Do you have a tutorial for the same?

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