How to Dual Boot Windows and Linux

Dual booting allows you to run two separate operating systems on a single computer, providing the flexibility to switch between different OS environments according to your needs. By setting up a dual-boot system with Windows and Linux, you can enjoy the robust performance and extensive software library of Windows alongside the powerful, open-source features of Linux.

Starting with Linux

Step 1: Backup Your Data

Backup any important files from your Linux system to an external drive or cloud storage.

Step 2: Prepare Partition for Windows

Boot into Linux, open GParted or a similar partition manager. Resize your Linux partition to create enough unallocated space for Windows (at least 20GB for Windows 10 and at least 64GB for Windows 11 are required).

You can optionally create an NTFS partition in the unallocated space for Windows installation. This can sometimes make the Windows installer more straightforward to use.

Step 3: Create Windows Installation Media

Download the Windows ISO file from the official Microsoft website HERE. Use Rufus to create a bootable USB drive from the Windows ISO file.

  • Download Rufus from the official website at https://rufus.ie/.
  • Insert your USB drive into one of your computer’s USB ports.
  • Open Rufus by double-clicking on the Rufus icon that you downloaded.
  • In the Device section of Rufus, select the USB drive you want to use as the bootable drive.
  • In the Boot selection section, click on the Select button to choose the Windows ISO file that you want to install.
  • In the Image option section, select Standard Windows installation.
  • Leave all remaining options with their default settings.
  • Click on the Start button to create the bootable USB drive. Rufus will format the USB drive and copy the Windows installation files to the drive. This may take a few minutes, depending on the size of the ISO file and the speed of your USB drive.
  • Once the process is complete, eject the USB drive from your computer. Your bootable USB drive is now ready to use.

Step 4: Disable Fast Startup and Secure Boot (Optional)

Disabling Fast Startup in Windows is crucial for a seamless dual-boot experience with Linux. Fast Startup, while speeding up Windows boot time, can lead to issues when accessing Windows partitions from Linux. Here’s how to disable it:

  • Boot into your Windows environment.
  • Navigate to Control Panel > Power Options.
  • Click on Choose what the power buttons do.
  • Select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  • Uncheck the option Turn on fast startup (recommended).
  • If you don’t see Turn on fast startup (recommended) listed, then you don’t have fast startup enabled and thus don’t need to disable it.
  • Save your changes and exit.

Additionally, you have the option to disable Secure Boot, which is a firmware-level security feature. While many modern Linux distributions support Secure Boot, disabling it can simplify the installation process and improve compatibility, especially with custom kernels or drivers. However, this step is optional and depends on your specific setup and needs. To disable Secure Boot:

  • Reboot your computer and enter the BIOS/UEFI settings (typically by tapping F2 or del while the system is booting up).
  • Locate the Secure Boot setting in the security or boot settings menu.
  • Disable Secure Boot and save your changes.

Remember, these adjustments are reversible. You can re-enable Fast Startup and Secure Boot anytime if you decide to return to a Windows-only setup or if they are needed for specific security requirements.

Step 5: Install Windows

  • Insert the Windows USB drive, restart your computer, and boot from the USB. If your system doesn’t boot from the USB, you need to enter the BIOS/UEFI (typically by tapping F2 or del while the system is booting up) and change the boot order so your USB drive is listed above the drive that has your operating system on it.
  • Follow the Windows installation process. When asked where to install Windows, select the unallocated space or the NTFS partition you created.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation, including setting up your region, user account, and other settings.

Step 6: Select Boot Loader

If the system boots directly into Windows then you need to enter the BIOS/UEFI (typically by tapping F2 or del while the system is booting up) and click on BBS Properties under the Boot menu and set your Linux boot loader as the #1 option. Save and exit.

Step 7: Setup GRUB Menu (Optional)

If you don’t see the GRUB menu when the system boots, run:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub
Look for lines GRUB_TIMEOUT=0 or GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0. Change the GRUB_TIMEOUT value to something greater than zero (e.g., 10 for a 10-second menu display).

If GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT is present, then comment it out by adding # at the beginning of the line. Save and exit the editor by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter.

Then run:

sudo update-grub

If the Windows boot loader doesn’t show up on the GRUB menu, run:

sudo nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom

On UEFI systems, add:

menuentry “Windows Boot Manager” {
insmod part_gpt
insmod chain
set root='(hd0,gpt1)’
chainloader /EFI/Microsoft/Boot/bootmgfw.efi
}

Replace hd0,1 with the partition the Windows boot loader is on. hd0,1 should work on most systems. This means the Windows boot loader is on the first partition of the first hard drive. Save and exit the editor by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter.

On legacy BIOS systems, add:

menuentry “Windows” {
set root=(hd0,msdos1)
chainloader +1
}

Replace hd0,msdos1 with the partition the Windows boot loader is on. hd0,msdos1 should work on most systems. This means the Windows boot loader is on the first partition of the first hard drive. Save and exit the editor by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter.

Then run:

sudo update-grub

Step 8: Finalizing Dual Boot Setup

Once you have both operating systems installed, ensure they are both updated.

Verify that both operating systems boot correctly and that all hardware components function as expected in both.

Starting with Windows

Step 1: Backup Your Data

Use a backup tool or manually copy important files to an external drive or cloud storage. Don’t overlook personal documents, photos, and application data.

Step 2: Prepare Partition for Linux

  • Open Disk Management in Windows.
  • Right-click on the Windows partition (usually C: drive) and select Shrink Volume.
  • Decide how much space to allocate for Linux (at least 20GB is recommended) and shrink the volume.

Step 3: Create Linux Installation Media

Choose a Linux distribution e.g., Ubuntu and download its ISO file from the official website. Use Rufus to create a bootable USB drive from the Linux ISO file.

  • Download Rufus from the official website at https://rufus.ie/.
  • Insert your USB drive into one of your computer’s USB ports.
  • Open Rufus by double-clicking on the Rufus icon that you downloaded.
  • In the Device section of Rufus, select the USB drive you want to use as the bootable drive.
  • In the Boot selection section, click on the Select button to choose the Linux ISO file that you want to install.
  • Leave all remaining options with their default settings.
  • Click on the Start button to create the bootable USB drive. Rufus will format the USB drive and copy the Linux installation files to the drive. This may take a few minutes, depending on the size of the ISO file and the speed of your USB drive.
  • Once the process is complete, eject the USB drive from your computer. Your bootable USB drive is now ready to use.

Step 4: Disable Fast Startup and Secure Boot (Optional)

Disabling Fast Startup in Windows is crucial for a seamless dual-boot experience with Linux. Fast Startup, while speeding up Windows boot time, can lead to issues when accessing Windows partitions from Linux. Here’s how to disable it:

  • Boot into your Windows environment.
  • Navigate to Control Panel > Power Options.
  • Click on Choose what the power buttons do.
  • Select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  • Uncheck the option Turn on fast startup (recommended).
  • If you don’t see Turn on fast startup (recommended) listed, then you don’t have fast startup enabled and thus don’t need to disable it.
  • Save your changes and exit.

Additionally, you have the option to disable Secure Boot, which is a firmware-level security feature. While many modern Linux distributions support Secure Boot, disabling it can simplify the installation process and improve compatibility, especially with custom kernels or drivers. However, this step is optional and depends on your specific setup and needs. To disable Secure Boot:

  • Reboot your computer and enter the BIOS/UEFI settings (typically by tapping F2 or del while the system is booting up).
  • Locate the Secure Boot setting in the security or boot settings menu.
  • Disable Secure Boot and save your changes.

Remember, these adjustments are reversible. You can re-enable Fast Startup and Secure Boot anytime if you decide to return to a Windows-only setup or if they are needed for specific security requirements.

Step 5: Install Linux

  • Insert the Linux USB drive, restart your computer, and boot from the USB. If your system doesn’t boot from the USB, you need to enter the BIOS/UEFI (typically by tapping F2 or del while the system is booting up) and change the boot order so your USB drive is listed above the drive that has your operating system on it.
  • Follow the prompts to start the installation process.
  • When prompted for installation type, select Install Linux alongside Windows Boot Manager or a similar option.
  • Allocate the unallocated space you created earlier for the Linux installation.
  • Follow the remaining instructions to complete the installation.

Step 6: Select Boot Loader

If the system boots directly into Windows then you need to enter the BIOS/UEFI (typically by tapping F2 or del while the system is booting up) and click on BBS Properties under the Boot menu and set your Linux boot loader as the #1 option. Save and exit.

Step 7: Setup GRUB Menu (Optional)

If you don’t see the GRUB menu when the system boots, run:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub
Look for lines GRUB_TIMEOUT=0 or GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0. Change the GRUB_TIMEOUT value to something greater than zero (e.g., 10 for a 10-second menu display).

If GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT is present, then comment it out by adding # at the beginning of the line. Save and exit the editor by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter.

Then run:

sudo update-grub

If the Windows boot loader doesn’t show up on the GRUB menu, run:

sudo nano /etc/grub.d/40_custom

On UEFI systems, add:

menuentry “Windows Boot Manager” {
insmod part_gpt
insmod chain
set root='(hd0,gpt1)’
chainloader /EFI/Microsoft/Boot/bootmgfw.efi
}

Replace hd0,1 with the partition the Windows boot loader is on. hd0,1 should work on most systems. This means the Windows boot loader is on the first partition of the first hard drive. Save and exit the editor by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter.

On legacy BIOS systems, add:

menuentry “Windows Boot Manager” {
set root=(hd0,msdos1)
chainloader +1
}

Replace hd0,msdos1 with the partition the Windows boot loader is on. hd0,msdos1 should work on most systems. This means the Windows boot loader is on the first partition of the first hard drive. Save and exit the editor by pressing Ctrl+X, then Y, then Enter.

Then run:

sudo update-grub

Step 8: Finalizing Dual Boot Setup

Once you have both operating systems installed, ensure they are both updated.

Verify that both operating systems boot correctly and that all hardware components function as expected in both.

Conclusion

You now have a computer that dual-boots Windows and Linux. This setup allows you to choose between operating systems at each startup, offering the versatility and benefits of both Linux and Windows environments. Remember to maintain regular backups of your data to protect against potential data loss during system updates or changes.

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