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Install Dual-Boot of Linux Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) on Windows Vista computer (Vista installed first and Vista still controlling startup after Linux installation)

Last reviewed: July 2011

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

Introduction

This guide shows how to safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 10.04 on a computer with Windows Vista already installed. The Windows boot loader will stay in control (not Linux's GRUB). You can then select either OS from a Windows 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 Linux. You must then create a formatted partition for Ubuntu 10.04. This partition will later be deleted during the Ubuntu setup and recreated under Ubuntu. For this reason you are advised to create the Ubuntu partition(s) at the end of the hard disk so you do not interfere with Windows' disk management of the rest of the 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), 1.5 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 a rescue plan is available. This guide also contains that rescue plan - just in case!

The procedure used is suitable for moderately experienced computer users.

If you prefer to have a Linux-controlled boot menu on bootup, you should go to this page
If you just want a simple method to try Ubuntu for a period, you should go to this page

You must use these instructions only with version 1004. Select a later version on 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.


SUMMARY: How to Dual-Boot Ubuntu 10.04 on a Windows Vista Computer

  1. Backup.
  2. Create sufficient Unallocated space for Ubuntu 10.04 at end of hard disk (use Shrink in Disk Management).
    • Still in Disk Management, create a new Formatted partition using all the Unallocated space `
    • Note the new partition Type (Primary or Logical) used by Disk Management
  3. Start installing from Ubuntu Live CD and, in "Prepare disk space", select "Specify Partitions manually (advanced)".
    • Delete the new partition that you just created in Disk management. This creates Free Space.
    • Create Ubuntu EXT3 partition - leave enough space for the Swap, and optionally a /home, partition.
      - if it's an option, select the same Type (Primary or Logical) used by Disk Management
      - use / for Mount Point,
    • Now create the Swap (Logical) partition in free space - use Swap Area for Mount Point.
    • Optionally, create another EXT3 partition for your data - use /home for mount point.
    • Click the Advanced button, install Boot Loader on the Linux partition, like /dev/sda3 or /dev/hda3.
    Install Ubuntu.
  4. Only Windows boots for now.
  5. Use the free EasyBCD 2.1 utility to add "Linux/BSD" (select GRUB2) to the Windows boot loader menu.

That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot either Linux Ubuntu 10.04 or Windows Vista.

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Detail: Install Linux Ubuntu 10.04 when Windows Vista is 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

  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. Download the 700 MB Ubuntu 10.04, standard or 64-bit version from www.ubuntu.com (or request the totally free CD). You can use the free and excellent GetRight download manager to help with the large download. Create the Ubuntu Live CD from the downloaded .ISO file.
  3. Download Neosmart's EasyBCD 2.1 (free - it edits the Win8/7/Vista boot loader).
    Optional: Download NeoSmart's free Windows Vista System Recovery Disk if your Vista DVD is missing!
  4. Disconnect all unnecessary external devices before you start.

B. Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu

The single 160 GB ATA 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 26 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right) and a Formatted partition created there. After repartitioning it had: System Reserved (100 MB, Primary, Hidden, NTFS), Windows Vista (124 GB, Primary, NTFS), New (26 GB, Primary, FAT32). A 1 TB SATA disk was also used in testing.

  1. 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 if you ever wish to reinstall Linux at a later time.
  2. Restart computer correctly (that means close all programs before you Restart computer).
  3. Open Disk Management in Windows Vista (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click the Windows Vista volume, and click Shrink Volume.
      • In Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB: enter enough for Ubuntu and its Swap file.
      • Click the Shrink button (it may take some time!).
      If Shrink does not give you sufficient Unallocated space, read how to Shrink the Windows 8, 7 or Windows Vista Partition for instructions or use the free GParted Live CD. Then return here.
  4. Still in Disk Management, right-click the new Unallocated disk area, and select New Simple Volume.
    Use all the available space to create a new partition - Format the partition.
    - note the new partition Type (Primary or Logical) used by Disk Management
    Close Disk Management.
  5. Restart to Windows Vista.
    • Open Disk Management and check that the change made is correct.

C. Install Linux Ubuntu 10.04

In testing, about 6000 MB was allocated to the EXT3 installation partition, 3000 MB to Swap, and the remaining 17000 MB to a /home EXT3 partition. If not using a /home partition, the EXT3 partition would have been 23000 MB. Your own requirements are likely to be different. The sizes used below are for example purposes only. The Swap area size should be about twice your RAM size but you can allow less than twice if you have a lot of RAM.

  1. Bootup from the Linux Ubuntu 10.04 live CD to its desktop
    Double-click the Install Ubuntu 10.04 desktop icon.
    • In the Welcome screen, select your Language, and click Forward.
    • In Where are you, select your Time Zone, and click Forward.
    • In Keyboard layout, select your Country, and click Forward.
    • In Prepare disk space, select Specify Partitions manually (advanced), and click Forward.
      The Prepare partitions screen will open.
       

    Preparing Partitions
  2. In Prepare partitions, if you have more than one hard disk, you must first select the correct disk. /dev/sda is the first physical hard disk. /dev/sdb is the second hard disk in your computer. Do not select the wrong one.

    Identify and highlight the new partition you created (it should be the bottom one) and click the Delete button. This will create free space. Next create a partition for Ubuntu.

    Highlight the newly created free space, and click the Add button.
    The Create partition window will open.
    • In Type for the new partition (if present), select the Type you identified in Disk Management (Logical or Primary) (do NOT select Primary if you already have 3 Primaries - doing so makes the remaining Free Space Unusable!).
    • In New partition size ..., enter 6000 (or 23000 if not using /home).
    • In Location for the new partition, select Beginning.
    • In Use as:, select EXT3 journaling file system.
    • In Mount Point, select / (a forward slash).
    • Click the OK button.
    Make a note of the Device name allocated to the EXT3 partition, like /dev/hda3 or /dev/sda3.
     
    Now highlight the newly-sized Free space, and click the Add button.
    The Create partition window will open again. Now create the Swap partition.
    • In Type for the new partition (if present), select Logical.
    • In New partition size ..., use twice RAM size or all available space if not creating a /home partition.
    • In Location for the new partition, select Beginning.
    • In Use as:, select Swap area.
      A Mount Point is not set for Linux's swap file partition.
    • Click the OK button.

     
    Finally, if you left space for a Linux data partition, now use the remaining free space to create, exactly as above, another EXT3 partition for your own data but select /home for Mount Point
     
    Click Forward when ready, or click Back a few times to remake the partitions.
  3. In Who are you? enter and remember your username and password, optionally enable Log in automatically, click Forward.
     
  4. Read the contents of the Ready to install window but do not click Install yet.
    • Click the Advanced button and the Advanced Options windows will open.
    • Make sure the Install boot loader box is ticked.
    • You'll see the Linux boot loader (GRUB) will be installed, by default, at the start of the first hard disk (sda or hda) replacing the Windows loader. We do not want that. We need to install GRUB to the Ubuntu partition.
      • In the drop-down, select the partition where Ubuntu will be installed, like /dev/sda3
        (this is the Device name you identified when creating the EXT3 partition).
    • Click the OK button to exit Advanced Options.
       
  5. Click the Back buttons if you're not happy with your selections or the previous OK button was greyed-out.
    Click the Install button when you're ready to install Ubuntu.
    Linux Ubuntu 10.04 will now install itself on the new EXT3 partition and will place GRUB2 at the start of the Ubuntu partition.
     
  6. Restart computer when installation is complete (remove CD when CD is ejected automatically, and then press Enter). Window 7 will boot normally.

    We can now use the EastBCD 2.0 utility to add Ubuntu to the Windows Vista boot loader.


D. Place a Linux Ubuntu 10.04 boot option in Windows boot loader


  1. Restart to Windows Vista
  2. Install and run EasyBCD 2.1 from the EasyBCD folder on the Windows Vista drive.
    Click Add New Entry in the left pane.
    • Click the Linux BSD tab under Operating Systems in upper right pane.
      • In Type, select Grub2 in the drop-down.
      • In Name, use a name like Linux Ubuntu 10.04
      • In Device, it will be Automatically configured - we used GRUB2, not GRUB(legacy).
      • Click Add Entry in the same pane and wait a few moments while EasyBCD locates Ubuntu.
    • Optionally, you can now modify the timeout of the boot loader menu
      - click the Edit Boot Menu (left pane) and set the Boot default OS after to about 5 seconds.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  3. Restart computer. Select Linux Ubuntu 10.04 from the Windows Vista boot menu.
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 10.04 when Windows Vista was installed first, the original MBR is unchanged, and the Windows Boot Loader menu is shown on bootup.

Footnote: EasyBCD 2.1 creates an NST folder on the root of the Windows Vista partition when it adds an operating system to the Windows Vista boot loader. This NST folder contains boot sector file(s) vital to booting added OSs. It must not be deleted.

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Remove/Uninstall Linux and reclaim space

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

  1. Run EasyBCD in Windows Vista.
    • Click Edit Boot Menu.
      • Highlight the Linux entry.
      • Click the Delete button.
      • Click the Save Settings button.
    • Exit EasyBCD.
  2. Open Disk Management (right-click Computer, select Manage, click Disk Management).
    • Right-click the Swap partition, select Delete Volume..., click Yes.
    • Right-click the Linux 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 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 another a few seconds you will have all the Linux space back in Windows Vista.

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

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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 will boot again if you execute the following procedure.

  1. Bootup any Windows 8, 7 or Vista installation DVD or even from NeoSmart's free Windows Vista System Recovery Disk.
    It must be a 64-bit version if a 64-bit Windows is installed.
    • Press a key when you see Press any key to boot from a CD or DVD.
    • Select your Language and then Time....
    • Select Repair your computer (bottom left of the Install now screen).
      An automatic check of your system will run.
    • Click Repair and restart
      Windows Vista should boot normally (very likely). If not, continue here.
  2. Bootup from the Windows Vista installation DVD again
    • Select Repair your computer again.
    • In System Recovery Options, highlight Windows Vista, and click Next.
    • Click Startup Repair.
    • Click Finish when it's complete, and then Restart.
    • You must let CheckDisk run if requested.
      Windows Vista should boot normally.

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:
bootrec /FixMbr
bootrec /FixBoot
bootrec /RebuildBcd
X:\boot\bootsect.exe /nt60 C:
  (where X: is your DVD drive letter, and C: is the installation drive for Windows Vista).
EXIT, and click Restart. Remove the DVD.

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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)

  1. Bootup any Windows 8, 7 or Vista installation DVD or even from NeoSmart's free Windows Vista System Recovery Disk.
    It must be a 64-bit version if a 64-bit Windows is installed.
    • Press a key when you see Press any key to boot from a CD or DVD.
    • Select your Language and then Time....
    • Select Repair your computer (bottom left of the Install now screen).
      An automatic check of your system will run but will not identify GRUB control!
    • In System Recovery Options, highlight Windows Vista, and click Next.
    • Click Command Prompt in System Recovery Options.
      • Type in (and press ENTER)
        Bootrec.exe /fixmbr
        exit
        (GRUB will be overwritten and the Windows boot loader reinstalled).
    • Now click Startup Repair in System Recovery Options.
    • Restart computer.
      Windows Vista should boot as originally.

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Related Reading

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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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