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Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

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 [1] (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 [2] for Ubuntu 9.10 [2] (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 [3]. 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 [4],  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 [5]. Ubuntu should start to boot from CD. Hit any key to reveal this screen

[6]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

[7]

You would see something like this

[8]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).

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

[10]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.

[11]Wait till the resize operation gets over. [12]

[13]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.

[14]Choose the language and hit next

[15]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).

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

[17]

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).

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

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

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

[21]choose keyboard layout

[22]Now enter the details for the user and click Forward.

[23]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.

[24]

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

[25]

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

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

[27]

Post Installation

For perfect desktop post install guide, see this [28].

For installing Compiz and emerald, see this [29].

To change default boot order and to make Windows as auto boot choice, see this [30].