Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Windows-controlled Dual-Boot of Fedora 16 on a Windows Vista computer with two(+) hard disks (Vista installed first and Vista still controlling startup after Linux installation)
Last reviewed: April 2012
If you have two or more hard disks, this guide shows how to leave Windows Vista unaltered when you create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Fedora 16 if Windows Vista is installed first. The Windows Vista boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB). You can then run either by selecting one from a Windows Vista menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
The example shown here puts Fedora on the second hard disk but it's similar with more than two disks.
You must also use these instructions if you wish to install Fedora on the first (win7) disk when there is a second disk - you'll need to shrink the Windows Vista drive to make room for Fedora if installing Fedora on the first hard disk.
However if you have only one hard disk, you must use the instructions on this page
If you prefer Linux Fedora's GRUB to be in control of the dual-boot, go here
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 you have a rescue plan. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!
The procedure used is suitable for experienced computer users.
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.
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.
SUMMARY of Procedure with two or more hard disks (Advanced Users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Linux Fedora 16 and Windows Vista.
Details: Install Linux Fedora 16 on first or other disk when Windows Vista was installed on first and you have 2+ hard disks
It's the nature of a step-by-step that it appears long and difficult. Not so!
These instructions apply only if you have two or more hard disks even if installing on the 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 space (Unallocated) for Fedora 16
You must create disk space and leave it as Unallocated. Decide first on how much disk space you wish to allocate to Linux and if you will create an extra partition (/home) for your Linux data. This data partition can be left intact should you wish to reinstall Linux at a later time. The Swap area size should be about twice your RAM size but you should allow less than twice if you have a lot of RAM.
Always make a note of the size of the Unallocated space (it will be named 'Free' in Linux).
If installing Fedora 16 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Fedora 16 on the first hard disk:
This applies only if you are installing fedora on the first hard disk and you must make the Windows partition smaller.
C. Install Fedora 16
Raid/LVM was not an issue when testing so partitions were created manually during installation. Fedora was installed with Grub 2 placed on the Linux EXT4 partition. The originally Active partition always remained Active after Fedora 16 installation so Windows then booted automatically. Finally EasyBCD created the Linux Fedora 16 entry in Vista's boot manager thereby creating the Windows dual-boot.
D. Put a Linux Fedora 16 boot option in Windows boot loader
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Fedora 16 with Windows still in control when Windows Vista was installed first and you had more than one hard disk.
Footnote: EasyBCD 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 Windows 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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