Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Dual-Boot of Fedora 13 on Windows Vista computer (Vista installed first and Vista still controlling startup after Linux installation)
Last reviewed: January 2011
This guide shows how to safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Fedora 13 on a computer with Windows Vista already installed. The Windows boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB). You can then run either by selecting one from a Vista 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 Vista drive to make room for Fedora 13. The example shown here uses one hard disk.
32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista were used in testing 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 experienced computer users.
If you wish Linux Fedora's GRUB to be in control of the dual-boot, go to this page
If you are not installing version 13 of Fedora, you must select the correct version this page
Important Installation Notes
EasyBCD. The highly-acclaimed EasyBCD is a free editing utility that allows any user to easily edit the Windows 8, 7 or Vista boot menu (the BCD or Boot Configuration Data). Some settings, not used here, are very advanced. EasyBCD works in Windows 8, 7 and Vista, but also in Windows XP if you first install Microsoft's .NET 2.0 Framework.
Hidden Active Partition. Many Windows Vista users will have a small Primary disk partition(s) that's marked active and is hidden (but is visible under Disk Management in Windows Vista). This must be counted if you want to create a new Primary.
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.
Make a Partition Active
After the Fedora installation, the originally active NTFS partition may need to be made Active again.
It's very important that you know how to do this BEFORE you install. If in any doubt, read
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced Users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Linux Fedora 13 and Windows Vista.
Detail: Install Linux Fedora 13 when Windows Vista was installed first
Installing other operating systems on your Windows Vista 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
The single 160 GB disk usually used in testing initially had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows Vista (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows Vista 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), Vista (130 GB, Primary, NTFS), Linux (20 GB, Unallocated).
C. Install Fedora 13
Raid/LVM was not an issue when testing so partitions were created manually during installation. Grub was installed to a Linux EXT4 partition. The System Reserved partition did remain Active after Fedora 13 installation but be prepared for a change just in case. Finally EasyBCD created a Linux Fedora entry in Vista's boot manager thereby creating the dual-boot.
D. Place Linux Fedora 13 boot option in Windows boot loader
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Fedora 13 with Windows in control when Windows Vista was installed first.
Footnote: EasyBCD 2.1 creates an NST folder on the root of the Windows partition when it adds an operating system to the Windows Vista boot loader. This NST folder contains one or two files vital to booting the added OS. Be sure you do not accidentally delete it.
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 from this dual-boot, and regaining its disk space, is quick and painless.
In just a few second you will have all the Linux space back in Vista. Restart computer.
Note: EasyBCD has an Uninstall shortcut in Start > All Programs > NeoSmart Technologies.
Repair Windows Vista 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 Vista should always 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 Vista, 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 8, 7 or Vista boot loader (BCD)
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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