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Install Windows-controlled Dual-Boot of Linux Ubuntu 14.04 ("Trusty Tahr") on a Windows 7 computer
Win 7 installed first and Win 7 still controlling startup after Linux installation

Last reviewed: May 2014

Introduction

This guide shows how to leave Windows 7 unaltered when you create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) when Windows 7 is installed first. The Windows 7 boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB2). You can then select either OS from a Windows 7 menu during bootup. Basically you will still have a Windows 7 computer system that also allows you to boot to Ubuntu whenever you wish. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.

Ubuntu (Desktop) 14.04 and 12.04 have a 5-year LTS (Long Term Support) for free security updates. 10.04 gave 3-year LTS. Other versions gave 9 month support but are freely upgradable to later LTS versions. All versions have thousands of free-to-use important software items.

32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 were used in testing. The computers used had no EFI/UEFI and no GPT partition(s) that are mostly on pre-installed Windows 8 computers - read Am I using GPT or MBR?
(1) 64-bit Studio XPS 8100 (2.93 GHz), Core i7, 8 GB RAM DDR3, NVidia GeForce GTX 460, 2x1 TB SATA hard disks.
(2) 64-bit AMD Athlon (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 128 MB Radeon XPress, 1 TB SATA hard disk.

You need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Linux unless you install Ubuntu of a second hard disk. The procedure used is suitable for experienced computer users.

If you prefer to have a Linux-controlled startup, you should go to this page.
If you are not installing version 14.04 of Ubuntu, you must select the correct version on this page

Following these instructions correctly should always succeed. However, any change to your computer should not even be considered unless a rescue plan is available. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!

SUMMARY (Advanced users): How to Dual-Boot Ubuntu 14.04 on a Windows 7 Computer

  1. Backup.
  2. Create sufficient Unallocated space for Ubuntu 14.04 at end of first hard disk or on a second disk.
  3. Start installing from Ubuntu Live DVD
    • In "Allocate drive space", select Something else.
    • Create an EXT4 partition for Ubuntu (it can be a Logical partition) - use / for Mount Point.
    • Create the Swap partition - use swap area in "Use as:".
    • Optionally, create another EXT4 partition for your data - use /home for Mount Point.
    • In "Device for boot loader installation", select the Ubuntu EXT4 / partition, like /dev/sda3 or /dev/sdb1.
    Install Ubuntu.
  4. Only Windows boots for now.
  5. Use the free EasyBCD utility to add "Linux/BSD" (select GRUB2) to the Windows boot loader menu.

Finished! You can now select either Linux Ubuntu 14.04 or Windows 7 from Windows boot loader menu on restart.

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Details: Install Linux Ubuntu 14.04 on first or other hard disk when Windows 7 was installed first

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 start with a properly working Windows.


Make your preparations

  1. Backup important data before making any changes to a partition.
  2. Download the Ubuntu Desktop 14.04 (Live CD), standard or 64-bit version from www.ubuntu.com.
    Create the Ubuntu installation CD (right-click the downloaded .ISO file & select Burn disc image).
  3. Download NeoSmart's EasyBCD (free - it edits the Windows 8, 7 or Vista boot loader).
  4. Confirm your computer can Boot from a bootable CD/DVD
  5. Disconnect all unnecessary external devices before you start.

Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu

You must create disk space for Ubuntu and leave it as Unallocated. Decide first on how much disk space you need. Linux requires a minimum of about 5 GB (ridiculous!) for installation and a minimum of two partitions. Example: (1) Root (/) 20-50 GB for Ubuntu files + boot files + software you install + all your data, and (2) Swap (Swap area) 6 GB (if you have 4 GB memory).

Many users create (3) another EXT4 partition (/home) for their own data. This data partition can be left intact should you wish to reinstall Linux at some stage. Example: (1) Root (/) 10-20 GB for Ubuntu files + boot files + software you install, (2) Swap (Swap area) 6 GB, (3) your data (/Home) 30 GB.

The size of the Swap partition depends on the size of your memory (RAM) and your type of usage. With 2GB of RAM use about 4GB for Swap; with 4-8GB of RAM use about 6GB; with 16GB of RAM use about 8GB.

If installing Ubuntu 14.04 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:

  • You should have no trouble using Win7's Shrink in Disk Management to create Unallocated space for Ubuntu.
  • Restart to Windows when finished.
  • Then skip from here to Install Linux Ubuntu 14.04 on a Windows 7 computer

If installing Ubuntu 14.04 on the first hard disk:

  1. Restart computer correctly (that means close all programs before you Restart computer).
  2. Open Disk Management in Windows 7 (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click the Windows 7 volume, and click Shrink Volume.
      • In Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB: enter enough for Ubuntu and its Swap file.
      • Click the Shrink button (it may take some time!).
      If Shrink does not give you sufficient Unallocated space, read how to Shrink the Windows 8, 7 or Windows Vista Partition for instructions or use the free GParted Live CD. Then return here.
  3. Restart to Windows. Make a note of the size of the Unallocated space.

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Install Linux Ubuntu 14.04 on a Windows 7 computer

Partitions are created manually during the installation. Ubuntu is installed on the previously created Unallocated space with its boot loader installed to the Linux EXT4 / partition. Windows will still boot automatically after Ubuntu installation. Finally EasyBCD is run in Windows to create the Ubuntu 14.04 entry in Windows 7's boot manager thereby creating the Windows-controlled dual-boot.

  1. Bootup from the Linux Ubuntu 14.04 live CD and select Try Ubuntu.
    • When you're ready, select the Install Ubuntu 14.04 desktop icon.
    • Optional: setup your wireless connection.
    • Read the Preparing to install Ubuntu window and click Continue.

  2. In Installation type, select Something else (that's IMPORTANT), and click Continue.
  3. In the new Installation type, do not click 'Install Now' until instructed.

    Highlight the free space you created earlier on the correct hard disk (sda=1st disk, disk0) (sdb=2nd, disk1)
    and click the + button. Note: the vertical scroll bar appears only when you mouse-over it.
    • The Create partition window will open.
      • In Size, enter all available minus space for the Swap (and minus a /Home size if using it).
      • In Type for the ..., a Logical partition is fine if 2 Primaries already exist on that disk - if in any doubt, select Logical.
      • In Location for the ..., select Beginning.
      • In Use as:, select Ext4 journaling system (the default) in the drop-down.
      • In Mount point:, select / (forward slash) in the drop-down.
      • Click OK.
    Back in Installation type, highlight the now smaller free space (scroll down if necessary)
    and again click +.
    • The Create partition window will open again.
      • In Size, use all available space (unless creating a /Home data partition).
      • In Type for the ..., select Logical.
      • In Location for the ..., select Beginning.
      • In Use as:, select swap area in the drop-down.
      • Click OK.

    If you left space for a Linux data partition, now use remaining free space to create, exactly as above, another EXT4 partition for your own data but select /home for Mount Point
     
    STOP! The next part is VITAL for the correct location for Ubuntu's boot loader (GRUB2).
    The default is for /dev/sda ... and you must not accept it.
    • You are still in Installation type.
      Note of the Device name allocated to the Ubuntu EXT4 / partition, like /dev/sda3 ext4 /
    • In the drop-down under Device for boot loader installation:,
      select the /dev/sd** name you just identified for the Ubuntu EXT4 partition.
      (the Windows-created MBR and boot loader will NOT be overwritten by Ubuntu's).


    Make sure you are happy with what's displayed on-screen.
    When you are ready click 'Install Now', or click Back or Quit.

    Linux Ubuntu 14.04 will now install itself on the new Ubuntu EXT4 partition and will place Ubuntu's boot loader (GRUB2) at the start of that partition.
     
  4. During the installation, you can attend to location, keyboard, password, imports, etc.
    (Log in automatically, under Password, is useful for many home users).

    Click Restart Now when installation is finished, remove the DVD when requested and press the Enter key.
    Window 7 will boot normally.

    We can now use the free EasyBCD utility to add Ubuntu 14.04 to the Windows 7 boot loader.


Place a Linux Ubuntu 14.04 boot option in Windows boot loader

  1. Restart to Windows 7
  2. Install and run EasyBCD 2.2
    Click Add New Entry in the left pane.
    • Click the Linux BSD tab under Operating Systems in upper right pane.
      • In Type, select Grub2 in the drop-down.
      • In Name, use a name like Linux Ubuntu 14.04
      • In Device, it will be Automatically configured - that's correct for GRUB2.
      • Click Add Entry in the same pane and wait while EasyBCD locates Ubuntu.
    • Optionally, you can now modify the timeout of the boot loader menu
      - click the Edit Boot Menu (left pane) and set the Boot default OS after to about 5 seconds.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  3. Restart computer. Select Linux Ubuntu 14.04 from the Windows 7 boot menu.
  4. Optional: To eliminate the (annoying) second boot menu, read how to Edit GRUB Menu (new window)
Finished!

Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) when Windows 7 was installed first, the original MBR is unchanged, and the Windows Boot Loader menu is shown on bootup.

Footnote: EasyBCD creates an NST folder on the root of the Windows 7 partition when it adds an operating system to the Windows 7 boot loader. This NST folder contains boot sector file(s) vital to booting added OSs. It must not be deleted.

Older Computers with low maximum Screen Resolution

Ubuntu 14.04 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.

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Remove/Uninstall Linux and reclaim space

Linux Ubuntu is wonderful, regularly updated, and it's free! Nevertheless you may wish to remove it or try its boot loader at some stage.

To remove Ubuntu and keep only Windows 7

  1. Run EasyBCD in Windows 7.
    • Click Edit Boot Menu.
      • Highlight the Linux entry.
      • Click the Delete button.
      • Click the Save Settings button.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  2. Open Disk Management (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click the Swap partition, select Delete Volume..., click Yes.
    • Right-click the Linux partition, select Delete Volume..., click Yes.
    • Right-click the Swap partition, select Delete Partition, click Yes - required for Logical partitions only.
    • Right-click the Linux partition, select Delete Partition, click Yes - required for Logical partitions only.
    • Right-click the partition to the left of Unallocated, select Extend Volume...,
      and click Next to use the maximum space for Windows, and then Finish.
      Alternatively, create a new partition in the Unallocated space and Format it.
    In another a few seconds you will have all the Linux space back in Windows 7.
    EasyBCD has an Uninstall shortcut in Start > All Programs > NeoSmart Technologies.

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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.

  1. Bootup the Windows 7 installation DVD.
    It must be a 64-bit version if a 64-bit Windows is installed.
    • Press a key when you see Press any key to boot from a CD or DVD.
    • Select your Language and then Time....
    • Select Repair your computer (bottom left of the Install now screen).
      An automatic check of your system will run.
    • Click Repair and restart
      Windows 7 should boot normally (very likely). If not, continue here.
  2. Bootup from the Windows 7 installation DVD again
    • Select Repair your computer again.
    • In System Recovery Options, highlight Windows 7, and click Next.
    • Click Startup Repair.
    • Click Finish when it's complete, and then Restart.
    • You must let CheckDisk run if requested.
      Windows 7 should boot normally.

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:
bootrec /FixMbr
bootrec /FixBoot
bootrec /RebuildBcd
X:\boot\bootsect /nt60 C:
  (where X: is your DVD drive letter, and C: is the installation drive for Windows 7).
EXIT, and click Restart. Remove the DVD.

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Help! I get only the GRUB boot menu!

If you only get a GRUB boot menu on bootup, then GRUB was mistakenly installed to the Active partition, (hda on hd0) - probably the Windows partition. The Windows boot loader has been overwritten by the Linux version but it's easily recovered.

How to reinstall/recover the Windows 7/Vista boot loader (BCD)

  1. Bootup a Windows 7 installation DVD.
    It must be a 64-bit version if a 64-bit Windows is installed.
    • Press a key when you see Press any key to boot from a CD or DVD.
    • Select your Language and then Time....
    • Select Repair your computer (bottom left of the Install now screen).
      An automatic check of your system will run but will not identify GRUB control!
    • In System Recovery Options, highlight Windows 7, and click Next.
    • Click Command Prompt in System Recovery Options.
      • Type in (and press ENTER) - it's not case-sensitive
        bootrec /FixMbr
        EXIT
        (GRUB will be overwritten and the Windows boot loader reinstalled).
    • Now click Startup Repair in System Recovery Options.
    • Restart computer.
      Windows 7 should boot as originally.

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Related Reading

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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