Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

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This is an installation guide for Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat 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 (although it is for Ubuntu Lucid, the concept should be identical). People who don’t want to partition their hard drives can use Ubuntu 10.10 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 10.10), 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.

Pre-installation:

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 strongly recommended if you have an old Windows installation, as this facilitates smooth and fast partitioning.

You can resize your existing Windows partition using two approaches, either using Windows partition manager or by using the Gparted software on Ubuntu Live CD. It is probably safer to use the first approach as you are using native Windows tools, while dealing with NTFS file system. The procedure to resize the partition is described here. If you prefer approach 2, you can go ahead with it, I have been using Gparted for last 4-5 years without ever having any problems. I’ll discuss it in a moment.

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 Unetbootin as described here. Ubuntu should start to boot from CD. Hit any key to reveal this screen

Select the Try Ubuntu without installing option, (if you have already created space for the Ubuntu install on your hard drive, skip to next step). Once the Live CD has booted, launch Gparted

You would see something like this

Right click and choose to Resize/Move the partition. Now grad the slider to the desired partition size, you should keep at least 10 GB space for Ubuntu to function properly, (if you are low on space then go for 8 GB, anything lower and you might run into disk space issues in your Ubuntu install).

Click on Resize/Move button to return to main window. Now apply the changes to resize or shrink Windows partition.

Click Apply to accept the changes, I am assuming that you have backed up all your data beforehand. As partition editing can get complicated, so always back up your data.

Wait till the resize operation gets over.

Now exit Gparted and restart your computer.

Installation:

Once again, on reboot, your computer should start to boot using Ubuntu Live CD or USB drive. This time choose the Install Ubuntu option.

Choose the language and hit next

On the next screen, the live CD installer allows you to connect to your wireless connection, if you have wired connection with DHCP enabled, it would detect it automatically. If you were able to connect to the network, tick the boxes for Download updates while installing and Install this third party software (to enable support for mp3, flash etc. by default).

On the next screen, choose Specify partitions manually (advanced)

Now we would create two partitions for Ubuntu installation: (1) “/” or root partition, where all files would be store (it is like your C:/ drive on windows) (2) SWAP partition, which is used when your RAM gets full, make sure that you make SWAP size greater than your physical RAM size, this machine has 2 GB RAM so I would create a 3 GB SWAP partition.

To create partitions, select free space and then hit the Add button. First create the root “/” partition, using settings similar to the one shown below (I have kept 3 GB for SWAP, and I am using all remaining free space for my Ubuntu installation).

Hit OK, and then again choose the free space remaining to add another partition

Hit OK to return to main window, which should resemble something like this

Hit Install Now button to move to next screen, when the installation process starts, choose your time zone and hit Forward

choose keyboard layout

Now enter the details for the user and click Forward.

Wait for the installer to do its job, it would take a moment as the updates would also be downloaded, if you didn’t choose to install updates it should be done in 20 or so minutes.

Wait till you see this, hit the Restart button, take the CD / USB drive out and press enter.

And you have Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat dual booting in harmony with Windows 7.

Choosing the Windows 7 option would take you to Windows boot screen.

Post Installation

For perfect desktop post install guide, see this.

For installing Compiz and emerald, see this.

To change default boot order and to make Windows as auto boot choice, see this.

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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.

19 Comments on “Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat”

  • Martijn wrote on 13 October, 2010, 14:33

    Hm, i have followed the same steps you described, figured them out myself exept for one step, i didnt shrink my windows partition, but another partition using windows disk manager, and used that free space to install ubuntu and swap on. However at the end it restarted and i never got the dual boot screen you get. What can i be doing wrong? When checking within windows the partitions are filled so ubuntu is installed, but theres no way to boot it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    @Martijn, I think some how your Grub installation didn’t work out properly. Easiest way for a Newbie is to try a re-installation. But before you do that, can you tell me if your other partition was on second drive?

    From what you just told, it seems like your Grub got copied to some other location, than your main hard drive’s MBR (master boot record).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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  • Brian Carr wrote on 13 October, 2010, 15:14

    i had this trouble and the best way was to uninstall it and reinstall it using ubuntu settings for the drives and mine was perfect. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Gonzalo wrote on 16 October, 2010, 19:45

    I updated Ubuntu netbook remix from 10.04 to 10.10. But the previous one showed the ntfs disks under “files and folders”. And clicking on them would open (mount first, I guess) the disks. Now, I do not see any shortcut to the other disks!! How to find them?
    Thanks in advance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    @Gonzalo, Hmmm… seems like the drivers for ntfs file system didn’t get installed properly. It used to be called ntfs-3g or something. I just sold my netbook, else I could have tried reproducing your issue.

    See the post below, it might give you some clue.

    http://www.hackourlives.com/auto-mount-windows-partitions-in-ubuntu-10-04-lucid/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    Gonzalo Reply:

    @lifehacker,
    Funny enough, I managed to open the “other” disk by trying to open a file saved there from OpenOffice; then I saw the drive…
    I instaled some other ntfs tool, but the ntfs3g was already installed…
    Well, now I could walk around the problem.
    Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Marcello Capelati wrote on 9 November, 2010, 13:13

    Hi there,

    I have 2 hard disks on my computer, and I’d like to install Ubuntu on second HD, letting 1st HD to Windows7 only.

    In fact, I had Windows XP on 1st HD and Ubuntu 8.10 on 2nd (which was upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04 last year).

    Some months ago, I upgraded XP to 7, and replaced Ubuntu with Debian 5.05. Both were (re)installed from the scratch, removing totally the old OS’s.

    But I did not like to much of Debian, and would like to install Ubuntu 10.10 all over it.

    * * * THE PROBLEM IS: * * *

    WHen I try to install Ubuntu 10.10 (using Live CD), just after chosen the option “Specify partitions manually (advanced)”, the next screen don’t let me choose second Hard Drive (/dev/sdb): it simply does not show it on list-box.

    It only shows me the 1st HD (/dev/sda).

    But, the system (live CD) knows it, because I could see this second HD on GParted perfectly…!

    Even when using alternate CD, I can’t choose 2nd HD as well.

    And, more strange thing is: if I try to install using Ubuntu 8.10, I could choose the 2nd HD !

    Please, help me.

    Thanks,

    Marcello

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    @Marcello Capelati, I think I have come across this issue. I think the hard drive is just hidden somehow in the partition screen. I would have to try and reproduce this issue with Virtualbox. But I cannot respond to you before tomorrow morning EST. I hope you can wait that long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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    Marcello Capelati Reply:

    @lifehacker,

    Hello lifehacker,

    Guys at Ubuntuforum gave me a little help, and I could fix this problem: some bug has considered my HDDs as RAID…

    If anybody want to see more details, take a look at http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1613869

    Thanks anyway.

    Regards,
    Marcello

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    @Marcello Capelati, Oh I see, so it related to RAID. Glad to hear that you got it fixed. Thanks for the update.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Myo wrote on 19 December, 2010, 23:54

    Hi Lifehacker,

    First of all,Thanks for your post.
    I have managed to install dual boot (win 7+ Ubuntu 10.10 into my laptop.
    But I have 2 issues
    1. The time i create swap partition, i didn’t see the option to choose either primary or logical.
    So it’s created automatically as primary for swap partition.

    2. After installing Ubuntu, Boot sequence shows me one more line windows vista (loader)(on/dev/sda1)
    before windows 7 (loader)(on/dev/sda2).

    So my question is how to get rid of windows vista (loader)(on/dev/sda1) from boot sequence.

    Thanks,
    Myo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    @Myo, If you have a working system and if you were able to setup all the partitions, then you don’t need to worry about the first issue. The thing is that on a hard drive you cannot have more than 4 primary partitions!

    For issue number two, this windows vista loader might be your hidden system recovery partition (or the hidden boot partition for Windows 7), so don’t worry about it. If you want to make Windows 7 as the default boot choice, just see this post
    http://www.hackourlife.com/change-default-boot-order-for-grub-in-ubuntu-10-10-maverick-meerkat/

    Let me know if anything is still not clear!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    Myo Reply:

    @lifehacker,
    Thanks sir.
    It’s clear now.
    You’re right that I didn’t format my HDD since I still want to keep my windows 7 recovery image in hidden partition.

    Thanks again.
    Merry X’Mas
    Myo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Gordon wrote on 12 March, 2011, 4:25

    I know this is an older post but I was hoping you might be able to help. I had Windows 7 on one hard drive and wanted to install Ubuntu 10.10 on another. I followed your steps and now I have Ubuntu and I can see the Windows files on the other hard drive but I cant boot into Windows. It just skips that last screen and boots straight into Ubuntu. Any suggestions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Viv wrote on 14 March, 2011, 20:37

    Hi
    I am trying to install ubuntu. I have done that partition thing and up to the specify partitions step and I do the first one and it goes fine but then it says the rest of the “free space” is unusable and I can not as the Swap thing. Can someone please help? Hope I am making sense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    leespyke Reply:

    @Viv,
    @Viv, After creating the partition for Ubuntu;
    1) At the install,click on the partition you created for Ubuntu , “free space”. If you don’t see “free space”,click “Delete” ,then you will see the “free space”
    2) Click on “Add” to create the first partition(following the guide above).A “Create Partition”     window will open.
    3) Select  ”Primary” ,”Beginning” ,at the “New partition size in megabytes” ,subtract 2001,3001,4001,5001,etc if you computer’s RAM is 1GB,2GB,3GB,4GB,etc respectively, from the total size of the “free space” and enter this value for the “New partition size in megabytes”
    4) At “Mount” ,scroll down and select “/” ,click OK.That’s it for the first partition. Now for the second partition,
    5) Choose the “free space” remaining to create the second partition by clicking “Add” Select “Logical” (may be absent, in my case), “Beginning” .At “Use as” ,scroll down and select “swap area” click OK. That’s it for the partitions. Hit “Install Now”
     

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • leespyke wrote on 17 April, 2011, 14:57

    Hi mate,
    I just landed on your guide after searching on Google for hours! I followed it and now have my Ubuntu running like elegant! Short and precise instructions! Thanks! 

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

  • Philip Musgrave wrote on 21 April, 2011, 11:43

    Thanks. Tried last night on my new laptop but nearly erased the windows partition. Quit just in time! I appreciate your thorough approach.

    A new subscriber,
    Muskrat

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

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