Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

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This is an installation guide for Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx especially targeted at people who want to dual boot with Windows 7 (would work for any version of Windows) and Ubuntu 10.04. I have chosen the most basic setup with Windows 7 already installed and occupying the entire hard drive. An alternate setup could be, that you have a second hard drive which you want to install Ubuntu on. If you already have Ubuntu installed and want to install Windows, read this post. People who don’t want to partition their hard drives can use Ubuntu 10.04 by virtualizing them from inside Windows by either using Virtual Box or VMware Player (both free softwares). This approach, described here for Ubuntu 9.10 (its identical for 10.04), works very well if you are not planning on using Ubuntu extensively and also if you have a multi-core CPU (dual, quad etc) which supports virtualization, because then, you won’t feel any lag or delay while running two operating systems simultaneously. If you are going to install Ubuntu on a second hard drive you can skip Step 0, and go directly to Ubuntu installation process. You would not need to resize your Windows partition either. But, you must install the Grub on second hard drive! More on this later in the post.

Step 0: Since we are going to resize the partition on your windows disk, it is strongly recommended that you backup all your data on windows machine, while chances of any problems arising are minimal, it is better to be safe than sorry. After backing up all data,  run disk cleanup  and disk defragmentation (for older Windows) from the Accessories > System Tools Menu. This is highly recommended if you have an old Windows installation, as this facilitates smooth and fast partitioning.

Put the Ubuntu Lucid Lynx installation disk, iso for which can be download from www.ubuntu.com,  in your CD/DVD drive and reboot (make sure your DVD/CD Drive is the first boot device or at least ahead of your hard drive in boot order).  Alternatively you can use your USB drive to transfer the Iso image and make it bootable by using Unetboot in as described here. Ubuntu should start to boot from CD

Once the boot process completes you would be shown with a screen asking you to choose between installing and trying Ubuntu, at this point hit on Try Ubuntu 10.04 button as we want to make use of tools available inside Ubuntu to resize the partition.

Wait for the Ubuntu trial session to boot up.

Now from the System Menu launch the Gparted Partition manager.

In Gparted select the single largest partition which has atleast 10 GB empty space  (possibly the one where Windows is installed, unless you have multiple partitions), in the screenshot below it is /dev/sda2 it already has Windows 7 on it.

Right click on it and choose to resize the partition.

Now drag the slider or enter the desired new size for this partition in MBs

Click on Resize/Move followed by apply to shrink the Windows partition to make space for your new Ubuntu installation. A minimum of 8GB is recommended, 15-20 GB should be a more appropriate size if you want to give Ubuntu some serious spin.

Wait for the partition operation to finish, this can actually take minutes to a couple of hours depending on the amount of data and data fragments on your hard drive. This is the critical step, after this installation is quite straight forward.

Now exit Gparted and Launch the Ubuntu 10.04 installation by double clicking on the icon on the desktop.

Click forward button to advance to the next screen to select your time zone.

Now select the keyboard layout for your installation.

At the next screen we setup the partition layout. If you are too lazy to set up the partition manually you can go for the Use the largest continuous free space option. This would create the default layout as per Ubuntu’s recommendation, but I have observed that it always creates too large a swap space than what would be actually needed. So I would tell you how to specify partitions manually to minimize disk space wastage (swap space is not available for user’s usage).

Click on forward to start manual partition creation. You should be able to see the empty space that we left after resizing the Windows partition.

Click on the Add button to create the first partition. Remember, you need to leave some space from the total free space available for creation of swap space. Typically for systems with less RAM (512 MB – 1 GB), the recommended size is 200-150% (1GB – 1.5GB) for the examples listed. For systems with 2 GB or more, anything between 100-150% should be good enough, e.g. for 2GB machine I would go for 2.5GB for a 4GB machine 4.5 GB max. So, take out enough space for creation of swap and choose the size for your “/” i.e. the main partition as shown below. BUT if you use anything less than the RAM on your machine, your system won’t hibernate, as there won’t be sufficient space to dump the contents of RAM in your swap space.

Add another partition on the remaining space this time for Swap.

Click on in the screen above and then click forward to continue with the installation process.

Enter your personal information on the next screen.

Continue clicking on the Forward button to launch the install process. If you are using a second hard drive to install Ubuntu, at this step, click on Advanced and change the disk on which the Grub would be installed. Select the second hard drive. If you choose first hard drive, Windows 7 might over write on the MBR and screw up your Grub!

Wait for the installation to get over, you would be prompted to restart the system to start using your fresh Ubuntu installation. After which you would be prompted to eject the installation media from the CD/DVD drive and press enter to continue.

After the reboot you would be prompted with the Grub menu to choose the Operating system you want to boot. The default boot choice is Ubuntu at this moment, if you want to change the boot order in Ubuntu 10.04 or make Windows the default boot choice, read the post here. Highlight the OS you want to boot into and press enter to continue.

Select Ubuntu to boot in to it. Hope you found this tutorial useful. Ubuntu is a powerful and modern operating system, give it some time and you won’t be disappointed. I have it installed on all my machines (3 desktops and 3 laptops and 1 net book). The fact that Linux remains virus free and spyware free is certainly a big plus and you get all this  absolutely FREE. Linux has also grown to support widest range of hardwares out there and the vast open source community is always there to help you when you are stuck, and that too for free. Continue with Ubuntu 10.04 configuration to make it a perfect desktop. To install and configure Compiz and Emerald on Ubuntu 10.04  read this post.

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About the Author

has written 1285 posts on this blog.

Meditating towards his "nerdvana", lifehacker is a teacher by the day and a nerdy blogger by the night. He lives to learn and yearns to learn living.

37 Comments on “Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx”

  • Catclaw wrote on 1 June, 2010, 11:06

    Thanks a lot. Your explanation was really a big help. Thank again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • lifehacker wrote on 1 June, 2010, 14:03

    @Catclaw
    Most welcome, I am glad you found it useful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Andrew wrote on 23 June, 2010, 5:41

    Thank you. Your tutorial was extremely helpful. I already installed Ubuntu 10.04 on my laptop and I wanted to install it on my new gaming desktop(that I built myself). I was unsure of how to properly partition my hard drive and your tutorial explained exactly how to do it. I decided to go with a 100 GiB Ubuntu partition(100 GB ext4 and 7375 MB swap).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 23 June, 2010, 9:08

    @Andrew
    I am glad you found it useful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • toxicj wrote on 30 June, 2010, 4:39

    Great “how-to” but wouldn’t it just be easier to install Ubuntu inside of Windows (as an application) using WUBI?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    [Reply]

  • lifehacker wrote on 30 June, 2010, 10:33

    @toxicj
    It is probably easier still to virtualize, depends on what you want to do. And why would anybody need a tutorial for the easy part? :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

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  • nutella5600 wrote on 7 July, 2010, 4:17

    @toxicj
    no, because you would still suffer from fragmentation and your system would still be susceptible to all the same viruses (as in if you get a virus in windows, it can affect your ubuntu files). also, if you can’t boot into windows, you cant boot into ubuntu.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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  • Victor wrote on 27 July, 2010, 5:47

    Hello
    sorry for my english,
    I have installed Ubuntu how u said
    but when i select windows 7, its happen nothing, the hard disks, all data are ok.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 27 July, 2010, 9:45

    @Victor
    First install all updates in Ubuntu and then try doing this in Ubuntu, in a terminal do this

    sudo update-grub

    This should rebuild you grub menu. After that try booting in Windows again, it should work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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  • Victor wrote on 27 July, 2010, 12:50

    thanks
    but i allready reinstall Ubuntu
    and it works

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • banyanbraid wrote on 30 July, 2010, 15:23

    “People who don’t want to partition their hard drives can use Ubuntu 10.04 by virtualizing them from inside Windows by either using Virtual Box or VMware Player (both free softwares). This approach, described here for Ubuntu 9.10 (its identical for 10.04), works very well if you are not planning on using Ubuntu extensively and also if you have a multi-core CPU (dual, quad etc) which supports virtualization, because then, you won’t feel any lag or delay while running two operating systems simultaneously.”

    So I have an HP dv7t with an i7-720QM. So does the above suggestion apply to me? Yo said that this virtualization option will reduce lag when running two OSs. So why wouldn’t everyone choose this option if it reduces lag? I’m just not sure if I should follow this guide or not

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 30 July, 2010, 17:18

    @banyanbraid

    Sure you should give virtualization a try, if you don’t intend to use your computer for high end computation. My work machine is a Core i7 960 and I use Ubuntu as my main OS and use Windows XP virtualized using VMWare Player as I need to use MS power point. It runs perfectly well, without any lag (but you do need at least a 7200 RPM hard drive for best performance). On my machine I can run Windows, Fedora and another Ubuntu all simultaneously inside my primary Ubuntu installation, without any lag or issues.

    Virtual machines still have a few issues due to which it is not yet meant to be used for production environment, e.g. most virtual machines don’t support full 3D video acceleration. Some hardware may not be interfaced properly to a virtual machine.

    It’s up to you what and how much is your need for Ubuntu.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • banyanbraid wrote on 31 July, 2010, 1:36

    will this guide work for dual booting with windows 7 and kubuntu 10.04?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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    lifehacker Reply:

    Yes it should certainly work for Kubuntu as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    [Reply]

  • theseven7 wrote on 4 August, 2010, 12:36

    Thanks for the great tutorial

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • csvengal wrote on 5 August, 2010, 10:22

    Everything went fine until I got to step 5 for the ubuntu installation. I made an 80GB partition and it shows up but At the bottom where your partition device says “free space” mine says “unusable” So on step 5 I can’t “add” How would I go about fixing this? Thank you

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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    Scooby Reply:

    @csvengal, You might find that the problem is caused by already having too many partitions on the disk. Some systems (this happened with my netbook) are pre-shipped with the maximum number of partitions already set up and so you can’t add the free space as a new partition. So, you need to delete an unused partion (or combine partitions together) in order to get at the “unavailable” space. There might be other ways, but this worked for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 5 August, 2010, 10:31

    @csvengal
    Can you delete or format this “unusable” part of partition? Anyway boot with the live cd again and launch Gparted. Tell me what you see in Gparted, if you can post a screenshot or may be give me details of the partition table, that would really help me identify the issue, something like image 5 from top in this post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • Nicholas wrote on 9 August, 2010, 17:23

    Yes, just so you know, if you resize the Windows Partition with gParted, then there is a risk of corrupting the files system which can cause no end of hassle. You should only do the resizing of Windows 7 in Windows 7. Shrinking it wrong could ending up breaking many things like the MBR. And you should always make sure that you have run a defrag, otherwise data can be misplaced meaning that you cannot shrink it as much as you would like.

    All in all, DON’T FOLLOW THIS GUIDE. DON’T RESIZE WINDOWS IN UBUNTU!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

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  • Ubuntufreak wrote on 9 August, 2010, 17:58

    @Nicholas
    I got to disagree with you there. I have done this 10s of times without ever getting in to trouble with Gparted, which is a very stable partitioning application. You are right about the defragmentation part which is already mentioned in this tutorial. And some 20000+ people have already followed this tutorial without reporting any issues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lazyninja wrote on 16 August, 2010, 10:19

    i’ve been dual booting for years, but with windows 7 i’ve had to give up windows. everything looked like it was normal, but anytime i booted into win7 it would delete grub. didn’t matter how many times i reinstalled grub.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 16 August, 2010, 11:39

    @lazyninja
    Thats strange, did you try installing grub to a separate /boot or something? I have 10 PCs dual booting with Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I have had Ubuntu and then installed Windows 7 and other way round as well. Never had a problem like yours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • George wrote on 20 August, 2010, 14:14

    my problem is different. I intalled ubuntu 10.04 in the hope that it would allow me to have a dual boot with windows 7, but it did not.At the end, I now have ubuntu but I cannot access windows 7 anymore. Kindly assist. Thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 20 August, 2010, 19:04

    @George
    I think you just need to run the command

    sudo upgrade-grub

    from within Ubuntu to update grub and this should fix your problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • nemocapn wrote on 27 August, 2010, 10:09

    After installing Ubuntu on my second hard drive, Grub came up after reboot, and I couldn’t boot into Windows 7. I removed my second hard drive, thinking that would fix the problem, but it didn’t. I had to boot with a Windows 7 recovery disk into command line to run the “bootrec.exe /fixmbr” command. Then, I was able to boot into Windows 7.

    At first I didn’t understand why that happened as I was very careful to install Ubuntu on my second hard drive, not my first. That’s how I discovered that by default Ubuntu installs its bootloader on the first hard drive. I reinstalled Ubuntu and clicked on an “Advanced” button that let me get to an additional menu where I could select to install the bootloader on the second hard drive.

    I didn’t have that problem with Fedora. By default it installed the bootloader on the second hard drive where I wanted it.

    Thanks to Lifehacker, I now have a triple boot machine: Windows 7, Fedora, and Ubuntu.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • lifehacker wrote on 27 August, 2010, 10:45

    @nemocapn
    Oh yeah, triple booting is fun :D. I have my netbook doing Quadruple boot :P (it came with XP, I added Win 7, then Ubuntu netbook remix and now I also installed Jolicloud using Wubi).

    You have made a very important point. Ubuntu has hidden the option for choosing the MBR inside its advanced option tab. And if you install Grub on Hard drive 1 (which has Windows), if you boot in Windows you would see that the grub would be gone, Windows 7 would overwrite Grub with something making your system unbootable. So it is important that you install Grub on the second disk the one which has Linux on it. I should update my post to highlight it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • manab wrote on 29 August, 2010, 6:18

    i’ve both win7 and ubuntu 10.04 dual booting in my laptop.both systems are installed in two different hard drives. it was working perfectly in the dual booting screen. but suddenly my machine got hang (no cursor response). then i rebooted the laptop by pressing the power button.now i can work perfectly on ubuntu but my dual booting screen (win7 and ubuntu) doesn’t appear and i even can’t mount drives on win7. how can i fix the problem.kindly help. i’m very beginner to use ubuntu.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • lifehacker wrote on 29 August, 2010, 8:16

    @manab – Based on what you said there are several possibilities. You first need to tell me more about the situation when your laptop got stuck, was it in Windows 7? If that is the case you might have to use Windows 7 disk to fix Windows boot problem first, once that is done that you can restore grub to get back to dual boot.

    But you are saying that you cannot even mount your windows partition (which are on another physical hard drive all together?) that could imply that your Windows hard drive has gone bad! You can check it by taking out the hard drive and putting it in a USB enclosure and then testing it on another computer.
    Hope this helps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • Jaydee wrote on 15 September, 2010, 8:45

    just what I wanted!
    This is the most updated guide I’ve seen so far. I like your approach “using ubuntu trial” to partition and install ubuntu.

    thanks a lot. I am now trying it :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    Alternately you can shrink the Windows partition using the following approach:

    http://www.hackourlives.com/shrink-or-reduce-partition-size-in-windows-7/

    It was very wise of Ubuntu team to include Gparted in the Live CD. Fedora live CD doesn’t have it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Scooby wrote on 9 November, 2010, 23:00

    You might find that the problem is caused by already having too many partitions on the disk. Some systems (this happened with my netbook) are pre-shipped with the maximum number of partitions already set up and so you can’t add the free space as a new partition. So, you need to delete an unused partion (or combine partitions together) in order to get at the “unavailable” space. There might be other ways, but this worked for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

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