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How to dual-boot Vista and Linux


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Scenario: You want the simplest way to dual-boot Vista and Linux. You've already installed Windows Vista and now want to dual-boot it with Ubuntu 7.04

Summary of tutorial: This is an updated tutorial - we previously used Ubuntu 6.10 and then modified the GRUB bootloader to force Ubuntu to recognise the Vista partition. In this tutorial, we'll use Ubuntu 7.04 which does a much better job in interacting with Vista. We'll use the Vista management tools to resize the main partition and install Ubuntu into the freed space.

This tutorial has been tested on a VMWare Workstation 6 machine and an ASUS P5AD2-based Intel system with 2GB RAM and an 80GB Seagate SATA drive.

Get started

Boot into Windows Vista and go into Disk Management - right-click My Computer, Manage, Disk Management.


Vista Disk Management

Right-click on the main Vista partition and select Shrink Volume


Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume

The Shrink tool will assess how much space can be freed up.


Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume 2

As a rule of thumb Shrink will reduce the main system partition by about 50%. As long as the partition is big enough to begin with (at least 10GB) it should accommodate both operating systems.

Select Shrink and the tool will reduce the volume of the primary partition, leaving the rest of the disk free as unpartitioned space.


Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume 3

Once that's done, shut down the Vista machine.

Install Ubuntu

You'll need the latest desktop ISO of Ubuntu (7.04). You can choose a list of download mirrors from the Ubuntu website, or use this link from Planetmirror. Download the ISO and burn it to CD to create an Ubuntu Live CD.

Boot the Vista machine from the Live CD and select "Start or install Ubuntu".


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu

Once the Live CD has loaded, double-click the Install icon on the desktop to start the installation process.

On the Welcome screen, choose your language and select Forward.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Language

On the "Where are you" (timezone) page, select your location and then Forward.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Timezone

On the next screen, choose the appropriate keyboard layout and then Forward.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Keyboard

Ubuntu will then load the disk partitioner to determine where it's going to be installed. Choose "Manual - use the largest continuous free space". This will automatically select the unpartitioned space we created earlier using the Shrink tool. Click Forward.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Disk Partitioner

On the Migrate Documents and Settings screen, if Ubuntu finds any user accounts to migrate, feel free to import it from Vista to Ubuntu. If it doesn't find any, obviously this isn't an option. Click Forward.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Migrate

On the "Who are you?" screen, enter your username and password details, then click Forward.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - User Details

On the "Ready to install" screen, you'll see that Ubuntu now has enough information to commence the installation. In the summary under Migrate Assistant, it should say "Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader)". This means that regardless of whether Ubuntu found any user account to migrate, it certainly knows that Windows Vista is installed on the other partition and is aware of it. Click Install.


Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Install

See the install through and then let it boot into Ubuntu.

When the install is complete the system will reboot. When the GRUB boot menu is displayed, have a look at the last entry in the list.


Vista & Ubuntu - GRUB Bootloader

After the Ubuntu boot options, there will be an entry

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