Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Windows XP + Linux Fedora 11 on a Windows 7 computer
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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.
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.
A. Make your preparations.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.