Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Linux-controlled Dual-Boot of Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) on Windows 7 computer and put GRUB2 on the Windows partition (Win7 installed first and Ubuntu's GRUB2 on Windows partition controlling startup)
Last reviewed: June 2011
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This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) on a computer with Windows 7 already installed. The Linux GRUB2 boot loader will be installed on the Windows partition and put in control of startup (overwriting Windows' BCD). You can then select either OS from Linux's GRUB2 menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Linux unless you install Ubuntu of a second hard disk. Using a second disk is a little easier but far from essential.
If you prefer not to overwrite the Windows-created MBR but still put GRUB2 in control, you should go to this page
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 Home Basic, Enterprise and Ultimate were used in testing so this will also work with Windows 7 Premium and Professional. The computers used were (1) a 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 1.5 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA hard disk, and (2) AMD Athlon 64-bit (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA hard disk.
Following these instructions correctly should always succeed. However, any change to your computer should not even be considered unless your have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
The procedure used is suitable for experienced computer users.
Important Installation Notes
Shrinking a Windows 8, 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. You can read Shrink the Windows 8. 7 or Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD to gain disk space only if you must - read the page Use GParted to Resize the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition to learn how.
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! Linux's GRUB2 boot loader menu will boot either Ubuntu 11.04 or Windows 7 and the original MBR has been overwritten.
Details: Install Linux Ubuntu 11.04 when Windows 7 was installed first and replace Windows' control of startup
Installing other operating systems on your Windows 7 computer may invalidate your warrantee.
It's important to follow the instructions exactly as stated and you should have a properly working Windows.
A. Make your preparations
B. Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu
The single 160 GB disk usually used in testing initially had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows 7 (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows 7 drive was shrunk leaving about 20 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right). It then had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows 7 (130 GB, Primary, NTFS), Unallocated (20 GB).
If installing Ubuntu 11.04 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Ubuntu 11.04 on the first hard disk:
C. Install Linux Ubuntu 11.04
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 11.04 when Windows 7 was installed first, the Linux GRUB2 Boot Loader is now in control, and the original boot loader has been overwritten.
Older Computers with low maximum Screen Resolution
Ubuntu 11.04 itself runs fine at 1024x768 screen resolution. However GRUB2 may require a higher resolution (1280 x 1024) and users with old systems may be presented with a blank screen instead of the expected boot loader menu.
The boot menu is actually there but it's not visible! To run Ubuntu when the blank screen appears, just press Enter. To run Windows, press the down arrow key 4 times and press Enter. And then be patient for a few moments. THPC did not investigate this any further. Feedback appreciated.
Remove/Uninstall Linux Ubuntu and reclaim space
Linux Ubuntu is wonderful, regularly updated, and it's free! Nevertheless you may wish to remove it at some stage. Removing Ubuntu and regaining its disk space is quick and painless.
Return boot control to Windows
Windows 7 will boot normally and without any boot menu if none existed previously.
Now reclaim the hard disk space used by Linux
In another a few seconds you will have all the Linux space back in Windows 7.
Repair Windows 7 Startup
You will not have any problem if you follow the instructions as stated above. However you might encounter some freak occurrence like a power failure during an installation. Windows 7 will boot again if you execute the following procedure.
If still stuck for a solution, boot again from the installation DVD, select Repair your computer, highlight Windows 7, get to a Command Prompt, use DIR command (DIR C: or DIR D: etc.) to identify drive letter allocations (sizes and Labels will help), and type in:
Please remember that you alone are responsible for the consequences of any changes you make to your computer hardware or software.
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