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Install Windows XP + Linux Fedora 11 on a Windows 7 computer
(Win7 installed first, or Win7 + XP dual-boot created first, and Win7 still controlling startup after Linux installation)

Last reviewed: June 2013

October 2013: This is the new location for this page on this site. Please update your link or bookmark.

On this page:

Introduction

This guide shows how to create a native (natural) Windows-controlled triple-boot of Windows 7, Windows XP and Linux Fedora 11 on a computer with Windows 7 already installed or how to install Linux Fedora if a dual-boot of Windows 7 and XP already exists. You can then run any of those three operating systems by selecting one from a Windows menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility will not be used.

In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows 7 drive to make room for Windows XP and Fedora unless you install XP and/or Fedora on a second hard disk. The example shown here uses a single hard disk.

Both Windows 7 Home Basic and Ultimate were used in testing so this will also work with Windows 7 Premium and Professional. The operating systems added were Linux Fedora 11 and Windows XP Professional or Home Premium. The computers used were:
(1) 64-bit Dell Studio XPS 8100 (2.93 GHz), Core i7, 8 GB RAM DDR3, 2x1 TB SATA hard disks in RAID 0 as 1.6 TB & 60 GB
(2) 64-bit AMD Athlon (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA hard disk.
(3) 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA hard disk

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

This procedure is suitable for experienced computer users.

Important Installation Notes

Full Installation CD/DVDs. The Windows you are adding cannot be installed from Recovery or Repair CDs or DVDs provided by some OEMs. You need the full installation to install a Windows.

Shrinking a Windows 8, 7 or Vista drive. You should use Shrink in Windows' Disk Management to resize the Windows partition. Read Shrink the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. Use the free GParted Live CD only if you must - read Use GParted to Resize the Windows 8, 7 or Vista Partition to learn how.

Formatting. It's best practice to install another operating system on an Unallocated area of the hard disk. If necessary you can try with an unformatted partition (RAW). All partitions should be Formatted when installing that OS to ensure compatible file system versions. Avoid formatting Windows partitions with GParted or any other third-party partitioning utility.

EasyBCD. The highly-acclaimed EasyBCD is a free editing utility that allows any user to easily edit the Windows 8/7/Vista boot menu (the BCD or Boot Configuration Data). EasyBCD runs in Windows 8, 7 and Vista, but also in Windows XP if you first install Microsoft's free .NET 2.0 Framework.

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STEP-BY-STEP: Install Windows XP and Fedora when Windows 7 is installed first

Installing other operating systems on your Windows 7 computer may invalidate your warrantee.
It's very important to follow the instructions exactly as stated and that includes all restarts!


A. Make your preparations.
  1. Backup important data before making any changes to a partition. You can burn files to a CD, clone an image of your hard disk, copy files to a USB flash/pen/thumb drive, or use an USB external drive (a good choice)
  2. Plan your new partitions carefully.
  3. Download Neosmart's EasyBCD (free - simplifies editing the Win7/Vista boot loader).
    Optional: Download NeoSmart's free Windows 7 System Recovery Disk if your Win7 DVD is missing!
  4. Download any essential device drivers for your older Windows.
  5. Disconnect all unnecessary external devices before you start.

B. Make free space and create new partitions.

Always note the size of each partition and also label each (this page uses wn_7 and w_XP).

  1. Restart computer correctly (close all programs before you Restart computer).
  2. Open Disk Management in Windows 7 (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click your CD/DVD drive(s), select Change drive letter and paths..., and click Change.
      Change the drive letter to K (get it out of the way!).
    • Right-click the Windows 7 Volume (probably C:), and select Properties.
      In the General tab, enter wn_7 as the label for the Windows 7 volume, and click Apply.
  3. In Disk Management in Windows 7
    • Right-click the wn_7 volume, and click Shrink Volume.
      • In Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB: enter enough for XP only.
      • Click the Shrink button.
      Right-click the Unallocated space and select New Simple Volume.... Click Next.
      • In Simple volume size in MB:, select all Unallocated space you created. Click Next.
      • In File system, select NTFS in the drop-down.
      • In Volume label, enter w_XP.
      • Tick to enable the Perform a quick format check box, and click Next.
      • Click Finish button.
    • Right-click the now smaller wn_7 volume, and click Shrink Volume.
      • In Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB: enter enough for Fedora.
      • Click the Shrink button (it may take some time!).
      You can leave the Fedora disk space as Unallocated.

      If Shrink does not give you sufficient Unallocated space, read Shrink the Windows 7 or Windows Vista Partition for instructions on how to complete this task successfully. Then return here.
       
    • If you have a very large hard disk, you can create an extra NTFS partition for data.
      (Disk Management will automatically create Logical partitions when those become necessary if, and only if, you already have only three Primaries).
  4. Restart to Windows 7 two times.
    • Open Disk Management and check that all the changes are correct.

C. Install Windows XP.

Installing Windows XP on a Windows 7 computer puts the XP boot loader (NTLDR) in charge. After XP installation, the EasyBCD utility will put a Windows XP entry in Win7's boot menu and then reinstall the Win7/Vista boot loader (Bootmgr) and MBR. Windows 7 will be bootable again.

  1. Bootup from the Windows XP installation CD.
    Install Windows XP as a New installation (Advanced) on the w_XP partition
    • In Advanced Options..., tick to enable "I want to choose the install drive and partition ...".
    • Check both the label and the size to ensure you select the correct partition.
    • The w_XP partition should be Formatted with NTFS during installation (a Quick format is fine).
    When install is complete, only Windows XP will boot.
    Label the Windows XP drive back to w_XP.
    Install any device drivers required by Windows XP.

    Now use EasyBCD to add XP to Win7's boot loader menu and to return boot control to Win7.
     
  2. Restart Windows XP
    • Install .NET 2.0 Framework from the EasyBCD folder on the Win7 drive.
    • Install and run EasyBCD.
      • Click Add/Remove Entries
        • In Windows tab under Add an Entry, select Windows NT/2k/XP/2k3 from the drop-down list.
        • Give it a name (like Windows XP Pro)
        • Press Add Entry.
          * If the new entry does not show under Manage Existing Entries, click View Settings, and click Add/Remove Entries again. Now it will show.
        • Click Save.
      • Click BCD Deployment
        • Enable Install the Windows Vista/7 bootloader to the MBR.
        • Click Write MBR.
      • Exit EasyBCD.
    • Label the Windows XP drive back to w_XP if it has changed.
  3. Restart computer. Now the Windows 7 boot loader menu has an extra entry which allows you to boot XP (if Windows XP is not a boot option, use EasyBCD again to add it).


D. Install Fedora 11

Raid/LVM was not an issue when testing so partitions were created manually during installation. Grub was installed to a Linux EXT3 partition. The Win7 partition had to be made Active again when the Fedora installation was complete. Finally EasyBCD, run from XP, created a Linux Fedora entry in Win7's boot manager thereby creating the triple-boot.

  1. Bootup from the Linux Fedora 11 installation CD/DVD.
    Select Install or upgrade an existing system.
    • Continue with the initial screens until you're presented with the option of partitioning your hard disk
      (you can skip the testing of media - it checks your CD/DVD for errors).
      • Select Create custom layout in the top drop-down list and click Next.
    • Highlight the Free space you created for Fedora, and click the New button.
      Add Partition will open. First create the Fedora partition.
      • In Mount Point:, select / (a forward slash).
      • In File System Type:, select ext3
      • In Size (MB):, enter all available space (for Fedora) except 0.8 - 1 GB (for the Swap File)
      • Click the OK button.
    • Highlight the remaining Free space, and click the New button.
      Add Partition will open. Now create the Swap partition.
      • In Mount Point:, leave it blank.
      • In File System Type:, select swap.
      • Tick to enable Fill to maximum allowable size
      • Click the OK button

      Click Next when ready, or click Back to recreate partitions.
      Then click Write changes to disk or Go back if unhappy with the changes.
      The new partitions will now be created on the disk and formatted.
       
    • The next screen is vital to ensure the correct location for GRUB.
      • Tick Install boot loader on ..., and click the Change device button.
        Select First sector of boot partition and click OK.
      • Using a boot loader password is optional.
      • Under Boot loader operating system list, highlight and delete the Windows entry (probably /dev/sda1).
      • Click Next.
    • Deal with the software applications screen as you think fit ("Customize later" is fine).
    • Click Next and the install process will start.
      Fedora will reboot your computer after initial installation (you can remove the DVD).
      Your computer is not bootable right now but that's easily fixed!
       
  2. Make the originally active NTFS partition Active again - read Make NTFS Partition Active above.
    Your Windows dual-boot returns automatically when the Active flag has been returned to its original location.
    We can then use EasyBCD in Windows XP to add Linux to the Win7 boot loader.
     
  3. Reboot and select Windows XP in the boot menu.
    Run EasyBCD.
    • Click Add/Remove Entries.
      • Click the Linux tab under Add an Entry.
      • In Type, select Grub in the drop-down.
      • In name, enter a name like Linux Fedora 11.
      • In Device or Drive, select Partition . (Linux ...) from the drive drop-down list
        (it's the partition containing Linux - check the size shown).
      • Press Add Entry.
        If the new entry does not show under Manage Existing Entries, click View Settings, and click Add/Remove Entries again. Now it will show.
      • Click the Save button.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
       
  4. Restart computer. Select Linux Fedora 11 from the Win7 boot menu.
    Fedora will quickly finalize its installation.

Congratulations! You have created a natural Windows-controlled triple-boot of Windows 7, Windows XP and Linux Fedora 11 when Windows 7 was installed first.

Finished!

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.

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Uninstall/Remove Linux and reclaim space

Linux Fedora is wonderful, regularly updated, and it's free! Nevertheless you may wish to remove it at some stage. Removing Fedora and regaining its disk space is quick and painless.

  1. Run EasyBCD in Windows 7.
    • Click Add/Remove Entries.
      • Highlight the Linux entry.
      • Click the Delete button.
      • Click the Save button.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  2. Open Disk Management (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    The next instructions assume your Linux partition is immediately after the Win7 partition.
    • Right-click the Swap 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 Volume..., click Yes.
    • 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 just a few second you will have all the Linux space back in Win7.

Note: EasyBCD has an Uninstall shortcut in Start > All Programs > NeoSmart Technologies.

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