Dual-booting all versions of Windows and Linux
Install Linux Ubuntu 8.04 on a Windows Vista computer (Vista installed first and Vista still controlling startup after Linux installation)
Last reviewed: July 2009
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This page shows how to create a native (natural) dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu 8.04 on a computer with Windows Vista already installed on NTFS. 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.
If you wish GRUB to be in control of the dual-boot, go to Dual-boot Vista + Linux Ubuntu 9 / 8 (Linux/GRUB control) (Vista installed first)
The example shown here uses one hard disk. In this procedure you need to shrink the Windows drive to make room for Linux.
Windows Vista Home Premium, installed on a single NTFS partition, was used in testing. The operating system added was Ubuntu version 8.04. The computer used was a 32-bit Dell Optiplex with Pentium 4 (2.26GHz), 1.25 GB RAM, 160 GB ATA hard disk.
The procedure used is suitable for moderately experienced users.
Important Installation Notes
Shrinking the Windows Vista drive
It's recommended you use Shrink in Disk Management to resize the Windows 7 or Vista partition and not a third-party utility - play safe and let Windows do it. If the free space achieved is inadequate, you can read Shrink the Windows 7 or Windows Vista Partition for instructions on completing this task successfully. The very popular and free GParted Live CD cannot be recommended in this situation - read Use GParted to Resize the Windows 7 or Vista Partition to learn why.
SUMMARY of Procedure (Advanced users)
That's it! The Windows boot loader menu will boot Ubuntu and Windows Vista.
STEP-BY-STEP: Install Linux Ubuntu 8.04 when Windows Vista was installed first
Installing other operating systems on your Windows Vista computer may invalidate your warrantee.
It's very important to follow the instructions exactly as stated and that includes any restarts!
A. Make your preparations.
B. Make free space (Unallocated) for Linux.
The single 160 GB disk usually used in testing initially had: Windows Vista (150 GB, Primary, NTFS). The Windows Vista drive was shrunk leaving about 40 GB Unallocated space at the end of the disk (to the right). After repartitioning it had: Vista (110 GB, Primary, NTFS), Linux (40 GB, Unallocated).
C. Install Ubuntu 8.04
D. Place Linux Ubuntu boot option in Windows boot loader
Congratulations! You have created a Windows-controlled natural dual-boot of Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu when Windows Vista was installed first.
Uninstall/Remove 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.
In just a few second you will have all the Linux space back in Vista.
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 totally stuck for a solution, boot again from the Vista 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 can be recovered relatively easily.
How to reinstall/recover the Windows 7/Vista boot loader (BCD)
You can now reinstall Linux Ubuntu. When you get to the Install Now window, click the Advanced button and select the Linux Ubuntu partition as the location for installing GRUB. When installation is complete, continue at section D above.
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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