Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Linux Ubuntu 9.04 or 8.x on a Windows 7 computer (Windows 7 installed first and Win7 still controlling startup after Linux installation)
Last reviewed: June 2009
This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu 9.04 or 8.x on a computer with Windows 7 already installed. The Windows boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB). You can then select either OS from a 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.
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 operating system added was Linux Ubuntu 9.04 or 8.04. The computers used were (1) a 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 2.0 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 moderately experienced computer users.
Do not use these instructions to dual-boot with Ubuntu 9.10 or later. For newer Ubuntu versions you must select the correct version on this page
Important Installation Notes
Hidden Active Partition
Shrinking a Windows 7 or Vista drive
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.
EasyBCD has plenty of useful options including the addition of any Windows, DOS, Linux and others to the new boot loader with just a few clicks in a user-friendly GUI. You can also, at your leisure, use EasyBCD to alter the Default OS, the Bootloader Timeout, the Name that appears in the boot menu, and the Boot order in the boot menu. It's a dual-booters dream!
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Ubuntu and Windows 7.
STEP-BY-STEP: Install Linux Ubuntu when Windows 7 is 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 have a properly working Windows.
A. Make your preparations
B. Make free space (Unallocated) 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). After repartitioning it had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows 7 (130 GB, Primary, NTFS), Linux (20 GB, Unallocated).
C. Install Linux Ubuntu
D. Place Ubuntu 9.04 boot option in Windows boot loader
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows 7 and Linux Ubuntu when Windows 7 was installed first.
Footnote: EasyBCD creates an NST folder on the root of the Active partition when it adds an operating system to the Windows 7 boot loader. This NST folder contains one or two files vital to booting the added OS. Be sure you do not accidentally delete this folder.
Remove/Uninstall Linux 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.
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.
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:
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, (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)
You can now reinstall Linux Ubuntu. When you get to the Install Now window, click the Advanced button and select the Linux Ubuntu partition as the location for installing GRUB. When installation is complete, continue at section D above.
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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