Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Linux-controlled Dual-Boot of Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) on Windows Vista computer and put GRUB2 on the Windows partition
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This guide shows how to correctly and safely create a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) on a computer with Windows Vista already installed. The Linux GRUB2 boot loader will be installed to the Windows partition and put in control of startup (overwriting Windows Vista). You can then select either OS from Linux's GRUB2 menu during bootup. Basically you will have a Ubuntu-based computer system that also allows you to boot to Windows Vista whenever you wish. 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 unless you install Ubuntu of a second hard disk. Using a second disk is a little easier but far from essential.
All 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista were used in testing. The computers used were:
(1) 64-bit Studio XPS 8100 (2.93 GHz), Core i7, 8 GB RAM DDR3, NVidia GeForce GTX 460, 2x1 TB SATA hard disks.
(2) 64-bit AMD Athlon (2.4GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, 128 MB Radeon XPress, 1 TB SATA hard disk.
(3) 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 2.0 GB RAM, Radeon 7500, 160 GB ATA 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.
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.
That's it! Linux's GRUB2 boot loader menu will boot either Ubuntu 12.04 or Windows Vista and the original MBR has been overwritten.
Details: Install Linux Ubuntu 12.04 when Windows Vista was installed first and replace Windows' control of startup
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.
Make your preparations
Make disk space available for Linux Ubuntu
You must create disk space and leave it as Unallocated or Free (not formatted). 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.
Make a note of the size of the Unallocated space.
If installing Ubuntu 12.04 on a 2nd or 3rd hard disk:
If installing Ubuntu 12.04 on the first hard disk:
Install Linux Ubuntu 12.04 on a Windows Vista computer
Congratulations! You have created a natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) when Windows Vista was installed first, the Linux GRUB2 Boot Loader is now in control. The original boot loader has been overwritten.
Older Computers with low maximum Screen Resolution
Ubuntu 12.04 itself runs fine at 1024x768 screen resolution. However GRUB2 may require a higher resolution (1280 x 1024) and users with old systems may be presented with a blank screen instead of the expected boot loader menu.
The boot menu is actually there but it's not visible! To run Ubuntu when the blank screen appears, just press Enter. To run Windows, press the down arrow key 4 times and press Enter. And then be patient for a few moments.
Remove/Uninstall Linux Ubuntu 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.
Return boot control to Windows
Windows Vista will boot normally and without any boot menu if none existed initially.
Now reclaim the hard disk space used by Linux
In another a few seconds you will have all the Linux space back in Windows Vista.
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.
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:
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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