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Dual Boot Your Pre-Installed Windows 7 Computer with Ubuntu

You have a new computer that came with Windows 7 pre-installed on it, and you want to create a dual boot system so you can run Ubuntu Linux as well. Here we take you through the process to install Ubuntu on your pre-installed Windows 7 machine.

For this demonstration we’re using Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit) and Ubuntu 9.10 (32-bit)

Install Ubuntu

Here we will set up a basic dual boot system with the Ubuntu 9.10 disc that will create GRUB as your boot loader. On the Window 7 machine pop in the Ubuntu disc and boot from it.

11linux

If you experience a problem with the graphics with Ubuntu not displaying correctly, go back to the start screen, hit F4 and select Safe graphics mode.

25ubuntu

Continue through the installation steps by selecting your language, time zone, and keyboard layout. When you get to the following screen (step 4 of 6), the easiest method for beginners is to select the first option– Install them side by side, choosing between them each startup. On the first bar you’ll see is the entire Windows 7 partition. Then on the second bar, you can slide it up or down to specify the amount of hard drive space you want for Ubuntu.

22boot

The green area represents the amount of space we’re leaving for Windows 7, and the brown is the space we’re allocating for Ubuntu.In this example we’re sliding it down to 10GB and leaving the rest for Windows.

23boot

Click continue to the verification dialog box.

13linux 

In the next step create your user name, password, and configure log in options.

19create 

If everything looks good, go ahead and click Install. If you need to make any changes you can still go back and make them at this point.

20install 

The installation will start showing a progress bar and display new features in Ubuntu 9.10.

16part

The amount of time it takes to install will vary from system to system, and once it’s complete, go ahead and restart the machine.

17part

When the machine reboots you’ll see the GRUB loader where you can boot to Ubuntu or Windows 7.

18part

One thing to point out in my experience with this method is when you first boot into Windows 7, Check Disk runs, then reboots and you need to choose the Windows 7 option again from the bootloader.

24chkdisk 

Conclusion

This should help get you started in enjoying a Windows 7 / Ubuntu Linux dual boot configuration. There are definitely other ways to get a Windows / Linux dual boot system, but if you want a quick method, so you can try out Ubuntu, this method works well.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/14/10

Comments (57)

  1. oneshot719

    Now is there a way to make Windows 7 the default OS instead of Ubuntu in the boot-loader?
    That is something I have wondered about for a while.

  2. akash

    @oneshot719 if you install ubuntu using wubi then the windows os will remain the primary (default) OS… though not many “true” linux users like wubi… then again, not many linux users like ubuntu :P

  3. Jon

    I’ve tried the dual boot before … works just fine. HOWEVER, if you want to eliminate Ubuntu, GRUB loader stays installed. I could never get rid of GRUB and had to format the entire hard drive and reinstall Windows 7 (I also tried this with Windows Vista as well). I’m not sure if there is a way to get rid of the dual install (and GRUB) but I couldn’t figure it out. (I also couldn’t get Ubuntu to ever recognize my wireless adaptor on my HP laptop, that’s why I removed Ubuntu … but that’s another story, and not the purpose of this article! :)

  4. Darrell

    Can’t you just put in your Windows 7 disc in that case and tell it to basically fix your boot or your MBR, and it will redo your MBR.. Don’t know the exact steps, haven’t had any problems booting lately that wasn’t cause of this bad power supply being flaky.

  5. deralaand

    all I suggested was to tell readers to make an image of their system before going dualboot…and you deleted my comment because I was a bit sarcastic about it?

  6. milerx

    i have a question, if i want to restart windows 7 to the restart my system to the default settings, i will lose ubuntu?

  7. jnordcrane

    Hi Darrell … I tried using the Windows 7 disk to fix the MBR, as well as BCDEDIT, etc … nothing would get rid of GRUB. Thanks for the suggestion though!

  8. jnordcrane

    OneShot719 … yes there is a way to change the default OS at boot time. Boot to Windows 7 and go to CONTROL PANEL> SYSTEM and SECURITY> SYSTEM> on the left pick list choose ADVANCED SYSTEM SETTINGS> under the Startup and Recovery Section choose SETTINGS> at the top under System Startup use the pick list to identify Windows 7 as the default OS> Enter OK> OK then reboot … Windows 7 should now be your default OS.

  9. fish

    @Jon: If you decide to remove ubuntu, just boot from the windows restore disk. The wizard will run for a minute to determine your windows installs, and you will be taken to a screen with several different restore options. Click on command prompt, which opens a normal windows command line and type in the following: bootrec.exe/fixmbr. After some whirring and the message operation completed successfully, type in: bootrec.exe/fixboot. If all goes well, your default windows bootloader will be reloaded and grub will be gone. I have done this on several machines and can verify it works!! Now windows will boot normally and you can simply delete the ubuntu volume using windows partition manager and extend your windows partition to fill up the empty space (there are instructions here on howtogeek if you need help). Hope this helps!

  10. Ross

    I tried this with windows 7 64bit and had a bad experiencing. I installed Ubuntu and booted into it, but it would not allow me to update my graphics driver,add remove programs kept giving me an error like “not available with this data”,terminal feature that was on the demo was not present in the install version,and g parted was also missing on installed version.So i spent a whole day deleting it, along with the grub thing ,and reformatting my hard drive.I thought my disk might have contained an error so i downloaded it again.This time when it came to partitioning the hard drive it said there was no other operating system?? I really want to enter the linux world but cant seem to.

  11. Darrell

    @Ross — I just had a similar experience. I have 2 1TB hdds installed on an Nvidia 680i board running Win 7 Ultimate 64bit, upgraded from Vista Ultimate, and when i went to install Ubuntu 32 bit, it claimed that there was no operating system on my computer.

    The sad thing is I had just shrunk my 2nd HDD down to have room on a partition for it, and it couldn’t even see the partition. I needed to put a Linux install on this computer for some work this weekend, but may have to try something different. Going to Try Ubuntu 64bit, don’t want to since 64 bits are notorious for having to do more stuff with libraries/drivers to get it just right, plus whatever I compile here wont carry straight to work.

  12. Ross

    Darrell—— I feel your pain well. I hope you find something that works for you.I didn’t realize that you could run a 32 bit on a 64 bit,or that the 64 bit had so many problems.I’m still teaching myself this geeky stuff.Ubuntu has been a great learning experience i must say.I’d be curious to know whether the 64bit works for you.I wonder if you could recommend a different distro of Linux? I think i might try this again with Fedora or something.Good luck to you!

  13. James Rolko

    I tried this. It was unsuccessful. I installed Ubuntu very easily, but Windows booted automatically and GRUB never loaded. I’ve had this problem when trying to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu before. I think there’s a problem with my processor.

  14. Darrell

    @Ross — I typically use CENTOS at work, its basically a free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Ubuntu normally has the nice new installs and all the fun toys, OpenSUSE also.

    64 Bit didn’t work, and neither did the WUBI install, it acted fine, til it went to boot, and just kept throwing up an error. Even thought I lost all my windows data at one point, but it was just Linux that partitioned my 2nd HDD to a GPT partition table, and it tried to take over as the boot drive, once unplugged it was fine, then had to wipe the GPT table, and reformat it as a normal MBR. I dual boot other computers all the time, no problem. Don’t know what is happening here.. Anyone got any ideas?

  15. Ross

    Darrell–Thanks,im going to look those up.Sorry to hear about the 64 bit.The WUBI error was about partitioning right? Because thats what i had all 6 times i installed it.

  16. Rômulo Jovelli

    Yeap!! tks it really worked for me very well, a few days before I had installed the ubuntu 9.10 first then windows 7, so I was with a lot of problems because ubuntu 9.10 uses GRUB 2 not GRUB, I tried a lot of things but it did not work, so I decided to install all again, but using the way you explained (first windows after ubuntu), it work….

    :)

  17. Arman

    Hi
    i installed ubuntu before with dual boot the same way show on this tutorial, i tried to install ubuntu on windows7 (dual boot) but it does not show the option side by side or either when i click on advance option it won’t let me install it . also i used windows partion and paragon partion to see if i could install ubuntu in second partion, but the same thing happend it does not show side by side and also not show my second partion either

  18. Rob V

    Darrell,

    Ubuntu won’t mount an NTFS partition if it has been shrunk and you haven’t run the windows check disk utility first. It therefore doesn’t recognise the windows loader and add it to grub. I’ve had success booting from the Ubuntu live CD, doing the partitioning, rebooting into Windows, let check disk run, then reboot using the Ubuntu CD and do the installation. It’s then recognised the Windows NTFS partition(s) and added the Windows 7 loader to Grub.

    If you want to make Windows 7 the default OS, edit menu.1st in the /boot/grub directory (in the Ubuntu installation partition) and move the entry for Windows 7 above the entries for Ubuntu.

    Rob.

  19. Donald

    Can I dual boot using win7 32B and add ubunto 64B?

  20. Frank

    Will this work with Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) anyone tested

  21. Mysticgeek

    @Frank yes it will work with x64 provided your CPU is 64-Bit

  22. Sean McCann

    Nice howto Mystic Geek, especially like the screen shots and the explanation of the check-disk.
    Keep up the good work!

  23. spamariner

    @Jon: Try out a small program available freely in the net called “mbrfix.exe”. It solves the grub problem. I have done it on my system.

    As for my problem: I did the installation as guided here for ubuntu 10.04 to run side-by-side with windows 7 home premium 64-bit. It worked perfectly fine while rebooting from ubuntu to win7 but as soon as i gave a restart from windows 7, it failed to boot as it was “unable to find the module” which i assume must be the GRUB. Any suggestions?

  24. Mr.Sheerdil

    I have win 7 installed in my PC. My Windows Drive (C drive) is full. And i want to install UBUNTU in other partition i.e. on other drive except C. What steps i have to follow then. Pls guide me as I dont want to loose my data.

  25. Anvesha

    Can I install ubuntu 10 64 bit along side windows 7 64 bit. I have seen many forums where they report problems in the same. Please do let me know as i want to install ubuntu but dont want to lose data on windows.

  26. Jungsok

    @Donald I think there is no problem with w32 u64.

  27. charles132435

    Hi- I just tried to install Ubuntu 10.4 along side Windows XP, but the option “Install them side by side” does not appear like in the installation instructions. The only option is to use the entire disk, or make a manual partition. Help!

  28. TonyC

    Hi, I installed 10.4 (through wubi) on win7 32bit on my laptop and had problems too with the boot-I think it was to do with the hibernate settings, not sure though. I also google’d and found that it’s not to good for the hard drive either. Anyway I think I’ll do it Romulo Jovelli’s way and go ubuntu first-but I saw that 10.10 is in beta so I might just go with that…Oh yeah, great how-to Mysticgeek keep ‘em coming :-)

  29. Sid

    @ charles132435

    I am also experiencing the same problem that Linux is not recognizing my Win7, and asks me to use the entire disk i have or make a manual partition

    what could be done about this… i really want Linux alongside my win7.

  30. spencer

    i’ve got a legal copy of windows 7 ultimate on my acer laptop that is convinced that it is an illegal one. no problems though, it works the same and with absolutely no problems. i wanted to dual boot it with ubuntu 10.10. i can’t get it to do jack squat. i go to use the window’s installer and the boot helper cd does everything but the last step and then says an error message. when i try to manually boot it, it just comes up to this useless black screen with a single line of general info. there is a blinking cursor but i cannot type anything and if i hit too many keys then it makes a loud beeping noise. please help, any suggestions will be gratefully accepted. just email me at sdbforthewin@aol.com

  31. space

    Hey, I installed ubuntu with windows 7 with “side by side” option…two things i want to ask.
    1. How do i check as to how much space is being used by ubuntu and windows 7 respectively.
    2. How to uninstall ubuntu with all the grub shits.

  32. Gumrol

    I have the same issue as a few of you have mentioned. I get a manual partition option and a use full disc option only, no side-by side option. I’ve done at least 3 dual boot installs, win xp and ubuntu and all have been fine. This time, I have win 7 home basic and ubuntu 10.10 64 bit. If anyone could shed some light on this, it would be terrific.

  33. Hypeboy

    I removed Linux and after that its like Windows 7 doesn’t load..its like a blank screen appearing.I had to format my “C” drive loosing my important data.So could I get some help with this ie. removing Linux without harming the boot of Windows 7 after the removal.Thanx

  34. Zoandar

    It’s beginning to sound like Ubuntu 10.04 can’t dual boot with Windows 7 after reading all these posts. The reason I came here is that I have spent 2 days trying to make that work. Even though I verified with MD5 that the ISO was OK, burned the CD in slow speed, checked the CD with Ubuntu Live CD boot process, and even ran memtest86, I still get the same problem. After I have installed Ubuntu to a 15GB partition behind my Win7 partition on the C drive, and the disk ejects, I get a string of errors referring to the CD drive. I press Enter, the errors stop, it says now rebooting. But it boots straight into Windows 7. I never see a boot menu to go to Ubuntu. So does this work, or not? If so, how can I make the boot menu show up???

  35. sh4rkbyt3

    These reasons are Exactly why Linux and Ubuntu will never become a more accepted OS ever! On here are legitimate complaints about why Ubunut won’t dual boot, won’t run correctly, wipes my Windows 7 OS completely, wipes my HDD of ALL OS’s. Let’s face it honestly. Ubuntu and Linux are no closer now than they were 20 years ago to having a working system. Can you force it to or make it work? Yes, but that’s not what anyone wants!
    It is utterly ridiculous to not have at least some standardizations in Linux to make it a more friendly and legitimately usable OS! Until you accept this, you will forever be outcasts (at best) in the computer world.
    I mean if you can’t even get it to install what in the hell is left?

  36. Tzolak Winters

    not sure if this is still active, but is the consensus that Ubuntu 10.10 64 bit cannot dual boot with windows 7 64 bit?

  37. Linux

    I have Linux Mint 10 64 bit dual booted with with windows 7 64 bit. Windows was installed first.

  38. Ashwath

    Hi guys,
    i am using a windows 7 ultimate x64..
    Wanna mess around with Ubuntu, is there anything i need to be afraid, before i get started?

  39. FourKingAce

    If you want to play around with Ubuntu and have Windows 7 then get yourself VMware Workstation 7, Install Ubuntu into that, play to your hearts content and then once your bored of it just delete the Virtual Machine!

  40. Mani

    I installed window and ubuntu in my personal pc with dual boot menu ….and now i want to remove a ubuntu from my system completley ………Thanx in advance

  41. Eric

    Does this work with Windows 7 home premium? I’ve tried Mint and Ubuntu and with both, I get a message that keeps popping up that says “No root file system is defined” How do I get around this? I am new to Linux but really want to learn it, so a detailed answer would help. Thanks to anyone who can answer this.

  42. Saq

    I installed window then ubuntu 10.10 on my PC ..But when i formated C: ,i lost the boot loader to ubuntu.How can i handle this problem?

  43. Dan

    Is it just me or does this post make it seem way more simple than it is? I tried to (essentially) do this last night and it seems to me that most guides suggest far more work be done before installing linux than what is indicated here.

  44. Shaun

    To remove GRUB and restore the W7 boot loader, follow the below steps.

    1. Press F8 on boot.
    2. Choose ‘Repair Your Computer’
    3. Set KB layout and ‘login’.
    4. Select ‘Command Promt’.
    5. Type – “bootrec /fixmbr” AND “bootrec /fixboot” (Without the quotes).

    Worked fine for me.

  45. james

    i have had no problems installing Ubuntu 10.4 to 11.4 alongside windows 7 except that after i install Ubuntu i can no longer connect to the Internet in windows 7 it seems to break my Ethernet card. In Ubuntu i can connect. the only reason i want win 7 is for some games so frustrating as i really like Ubuntu

  46. Yoel

    Damn,
    I installed Kubuntu, but didn’t know what to do when I was at the section of the 3th and 4th picture.
    And I remember that it was 100% Kubuntu.
    Is there anyway to recover all my files and my Windows 7!?

    If you have the answer I would be very thankfull!

  47. Aija

    Hi, is there a way to do the opposite – my new computer came with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed on it, and I want to install Windows 7 without losing Ubuntu. Can’t find any info on this :( I’d also like to partition the disc – should I do it while installing Win, or before it?

  48. Mangodoor408

    You Caused My Computer To Screw Up Now When I Select 7 It Starts Booting Then Restarts…..

  49. Jardolph

    Well, had Windows and Ubuntu 10.10 running Pretty, Upped Ubuntu to 11.04 and when it gave me some grub options I oppsed and changed what I wanted, so made the Poor Thing Schizophrenic. Now I cannot even get any video past POST, no matter what monitor I use or what Function or combination of keys I use. So I am thinking, cause I know better Darn ME… if you are New To Linux or Ubuntu, first try it on that OLD PC and get some terminal experience. I DO use Ubuntu on an older Slaptop that Windows would not run on, and its pretty cool.

  50. Carlos

    Works perfect !!

  51. david boring

    i have been doing this for years. i knew this before you did.

  52. Rohit

    Hello,

    I have just install on my PC, Windos7 and also Ubuntu 10.10 its work properly few days when I install.
    Then I update Ubuntu & also download some Software ,then when I restart my system then ubuntu can’t boot
    when I chose for run ubuntu so what I do……….
    plz help me

  53. thestickmangeek

    u can do the same with wubi

  54. obsolete

    Hello,
    I downloaded Ubuntu 11.4, got it onto a USB, and tried to follow these directions, but I got stuck because the option to “Install them side by side, choosing between them each startup” is NOT THERE ANYMORE!! Now, it’s all complex with partition menus, and stuff, and I didn’t know what to do for fear of losing my Windows 7 partition. I suggest updating this guide.
    So, I just decided to install Ubuntu 11.4 inside windows “like any other application.” It installed without a hitch, but now, when I reboot the computer, it doesn’t give me the option to boot into Ubuntu in the menu of OS choices. How do I fix that?

  55. DutchBilly

    HP 620 with Windows 7 Home Premium and Ubuntu dual boot. Works fine, no problem
    To have Win7 boot as default, edit /boot/grub/grub.cfg
    have the first entry called 00_os-win7, and the linux 30_linux.
    do the editing after chmod 664 grub.cfg, as it is readonly. Edit carefully, as not to mess up things
    do a chmod 444 grub.cfg afterwards to set the readonly back.

  56. Prashant

    Hi
    i installed ubuntu 11 on my laptop and already had win 7 but now win 7 is not working… It does not start.. I want to remove ubuntu completely from my laptop.. Can anyone help me out

  57. Jose Claudio

    Doing a Dual Boot as explained, suposing I will begin with w7 professional, if I follow the below,could be the best approach regarding disk partition for a first time installation:
    a)Create one partition just for w7pro
    b)install w7 pro in that partition
    c)Install Ubuntu Desktop in the second partition..

    Is there any suggestion?

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