Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Windows-controlled Dual-Boot of Fedora 17 on a Windows Vista computer (Vista installed first and Vista still controlling startup after Fedora installation)
Last reviewed: October 2012
This guide shows how to leave Windows Vista unaltered after you create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Fedora 17 when Windows Vista is installed first. The Windows Vista boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB). You can then run either operating system by selecting one from a Windows Vista menu during bootup. No data loss will occur and a third-party boot utility is not used.
In this procedure you probably need to shrink the Windows Vista drive to make room for Linux Fedora.
If you prefer Linux Fedora's GRUB to control the dual-boot, go to this page.
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 home 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). EasyBCD runs in Windows Vista or 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 one hard disk(Advanced Users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Linux Fedora 17 and Windows Vista.
STEP-BY-STEP: Install Linux Fedora 17 when Windows Vista was installed first -and you have 1 hard disk
It's the nature of a step-by-step that it appears long and difficult. Not so!
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 Fedora 17
You must create disk space and leave it as Unallocated. Decide first on how much disk space you need. Linux requires a minimum of two partitions - (1) Swap (Swap) and (2) Root (/) for Fedora files + boot files + all your data.
The size of the Swap partition depends on the size of your memory (RAM). Recommended sizes (from Fedora) are:
Some users create an extra EXT4 partition (/home) for Linux data. Use a minimum of 100MB (10-30GB may be more reasonable). This data partition can be left intact should you wish to upgrade or reinstall Linux at a later time.
C. Install Fedora 17
No Raid or LVM was used when testing. Partitions were created manually during the installation. Fedora was installed with its boot loader placed on the Linux EXT4 / partition. The originally Active partition always remained Active after Fedora 17 installation so Windows then booted automatically. Finally EasyBCD created the Linux Fedora 17 entry in Windows Vista's boot manager thereby creating the Windows-controlled dual-boot.
D. Put a Linux Fedora 17 boot option in Windows boot loader
Congratulations! You have created a natural Windows-controlled dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Fedora 17 when Windows Vista was installed first.
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. 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.
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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