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How to Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu based Linux OS's (MBR method)

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#1 cat1092


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Posted 19 June 2015 - 01:45 AM

First & Foremost, by the creating of this Tutorial, I nor BleepingComputer.com holds no liability over the use of these instructions. While I'll do my best to make this as complete & simple as possible, You perform these actions on an 'as-is' basis. Should you have questions, please ask before performing any actions. Note that it will take up to possibly 24 hours to get an answer, often this is far less time. 


Anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes of your time is required to install, configure Firewall & Update. This depends on speed of computer & ISP for updates. 


1) For the basis of this Tutorial, it's assumed that You have created a Full disk image (backup) of your installed HDD/SSD, as well as the needed bootable CD to recover with (I highly recommend Macrium Reflect Free for this) and/or have created your Recovery DVD set, which consists of 3 to 5 DVD's. After this is setup, there will often be no way to create a Recovery Disc set, as the 'hook' to the program will often be broken. Better to be safe than sorry. It is usually best, if the install is a few years old or running poorly, to reinstall if possible, to have a clean, freshly installed Windows OS first. 


2) Ensure that on an HDD, it's been defragged well (two attempts are best), so that we can shrink some space for a place to install Your choice of a Linux OS on. For XP users, it's best to use a 3rd party utility (partition manager) to shrink the size of the 'C' partition, where normally XP resides on a single version of Windows computer (no dual boot already). Mini Tool Partition Wizard offers a no-charge bootable ISO for this purpose, which must be burned to a CD to use, or alternatively, use Rufus 2.2 to create a bootable Flash drive from the image. 




Rufus 2.2 download, most all computers before 2012 will be using the MBR method.




3) It's possible & I've performed this, that it can be done without the need of bootable tools, though it very important that a Full Disk Image has been created, as described in Step 1. Download & install Mini Tool Partition Wizard, from here: 




4) Now we open (or boot into) the software, you'll see your entire disk layout, all of the partitions. The one we want to be the most concerned about for the basis of this Tutorial is the 'C' partition. At this time, we don't want to mess with any others after that one, unless there's both a Full Disk Image & Recovery DVD set created (not to be confused with a Repair CD). If both of these are present, then the Recovery Partition can be deleted also, though I suggest to image this partition before deletion. I have backups of all of my such deleted partitions, as there's lots of needed software on these that's beyond the subject of this Topic. 


OK, now for the fun part, and this is assuming that either the bootable media has been created & running or the software has been opened on the desktop. Assuming the steps in #1 are performed, first delete the Recovery Partition (if at the very right end only) & select from the drop down menu 'Delete'. There's a clickable tab at the top to Apply, and you'll be asked to confirm this. Note that unless restoring from a backup image or Recovery DVD set or Reinstall CD, this is Your Last chance to back out. Think carefully before committing to this change.


To proceed, click the confirm tab and the Recovery Partition is gone. Note that on some computers, the Recovery Partition may be the first partition of the computer (as my MSI FX603 is), don't delete Recovery if it's the first partition. 


Now, on to the 'C' partition. You first have to ask yourself a question, how much space do I need? You'll need roughly 2GiB for a Linux Swap partition (serves the same purpose as the Windows pagefile), a 8GiB Root partition (or /) for your Linux OS files, and at least the same amount for a Home (or /home) partition. Some will want more later, and that's fine, we're getting your feet in the door here. And remember, a bit too much is better than too little, which is why my recommendation above. This goes beyond the minimum amount. 


OK, so that's 2GiB for Swap, followed by 8GiB for root (/) & for the sake of things, we're just going with a 10GiB Home (/home) partition. So that's 20GiB or 20480MiB to shrink from the 'C' partition. Fortunately, Mini Tool Partition Wizard makes this easy, so choose the 'C' partition (it may be labeled OS Install) & shrink it by that amount. The values are in the open box, calculated by MiB. Note that if a Recovery Partition has been removed, you can shrink less, or make Linux Home larger. The end result should be 20GiB of free space, or more if you want root (/) or /home larger. 2GB Swap should serve anyone well. Be sure, just like the Recovery Partition, to click Apply to make the changes. 


5) If the OS installed is Windows 7 or Vista, none of the Partition tools above are needed, it has built in Disk Management. Here's an article, with pictures, though by WD, works on all of these OS's listed. From there, the Recovery Partition (if at the right end) can be deleted, and the 'C' one can be resized. You can even try this on XP, though I never did, at the time I was running it, only knew of GParted. 




6) Now on to installing your choice of a Ubuntu based OS. By now, I'm assuming that you've downloaded a few & have made a decision as to which one you want, know how to burn one to a DVD or create a bootable Flash drive, the Rufus tool above is great for this & is portable, plus it's the fastest way to install an OS. The Free ISO burner (portable also) is included below this section for those with no burning software, note that on some older computers, there's no DVD+RW drive, that's OK, Rufus can still be used. 






7) At this time, make sure your bootable device is in place, be it a DVD or Flash drive. Most all computers supports booting by Flash drive, as well as DVD, in many cases, all it takes is pressing F12 to get to the Boot Menu screen, and from there, you can choose which device (the one with your Linux install image) to boot from with the up/down arrow key, or the Tab one, some requires F6 to tap a device up. Once the bootable device is at the top, press F10 to save changes & after reboot, it should boot right into the media. The BIOS settings can be left as is, because if these aren't present, it's going to boot into the OS. 


8) Assuming Success! You've booted into the Linux install media. :)


Now we want to create our partitions, and note that the installer can do this along the way, start by clicking Install on the Tab on the screen or right click & select Open. Follow the prompts & take it easy, this is were we need to be calm & not in a hurry. If pressed for time, shutdown & come back to this part again. First off, make sure you're connected to the Internet & if you have a printer that you want installed, plug it in & turn it on. This is no guarantee that the printer drivers will be installed, yet at least a 40% chance, which is much better than none. This also installs other drivers needed by the system, so that not many drivers will need manually installed, on some computers graphics, and on some, wireless, though the latter is often on older computers. We can assist with this on the forum, be sure to create a Topic if needed. 


When you've reached the partition setup, one thing to note. Encrypting your /home partition will result in loss of performance on many computers, plus if a reinstall is needed, your data is toast. So I don't recommend it for most users, especially first time ones. First, create your root or (/) partition, by selecting the empty space and creating a partition. Make it 8192MiB in size at the beginning of the space, select / (which will be your root or main) from the drop down list, along with ext4 (which should be default), and be sure the 'Format' box is checked. Next, create a 2048MiB partition, select it to be at the end of the drive, and from the drop down list, select Linux Swap. This will leave the space in the middle free, click onto that, choose /home from the drop down menu, making sure that ext4 is there, and the 'Format' box is checked. 


Click Next & follow the prompts. Make sure to create a password that you can remember, yet hard for others to guess. Once the install is complete, you'll be notified to remove your install media & reboot. 


8) We're almost there! :thumbup2:


Make sure that at reboot that both of your OS's shows, the default OS will be your Linux OS shown on the Grub screen. Now to take care of one important security feature before I leave this Tutorial & you take it over from there. Activate Your Firewall. To to this, open the Terminal, and type or copy/paste sudo ufw enable into the Terminal window & press Enter. Next, type in your password, you won't see progress nor movement for security, and then press Enter again. 


This is what you should see, only with your username & that of computer rather than mine. 



cat@cat-XPS-8700 ~ $ sudo ufw enable

[sudo] password for cat: 
Firewall is active and enabled on system startup
cat@cat-XPS-8700 ~ $ 


9) You've done it! :guitar:


Now you need to update your computer, this completes the Install Tutorial. 


Good Luck with running Linux.  :)



Performing full disc images weekly and keeping important data off of the 'C' drive as generated can be the best defence against Malware/Ransomware attacks, as well as a wide range of other issues. 

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