Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal
This is an installation guide for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal targeted at people who want to dual boot with Windows 7 (would work for any version of Windows) and Ubuntu. 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 11.04 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 11.04) 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, I would put a writeup for latest Ubuntu soon. I would recommend VirtualBox over VMware Player because of the host of extra features that it offers, and IMHO it is far superior a software than VMware Player.
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.
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.
On the boot screen select the Try Ubuntu 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).
Once again, on reboot, your computer should start to boot using Ubuntu Live CD or USB drive. This time choose the Install Ubuntu option. You would see something like this
You can configure wireless internet to allow for updates to install at this window, I’ll install updates later. Tick the Install this third-party software box and hit forward
On the next screen, choose Something else option.
If you are about to install Ubuntu on a second physical drive, the instructions for the next step are slightly different and have been indicated in bold green font later! Continue with instructions if you are dealing with single drive system.
For standard single drive installation 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 (keep disk space greater than your RAM size free for SWAP creation in next step, e.g. if you have 4 GB RAM, leave at least 4 GB for SWAP), and I am using all remaining free space for my Ubuntu installation. Choose Ext4 journaling file system and choose mount point as “/”. For partition type choose “Logical” if you already have 3 primary patitions (Windows 7 installation with 100 MB System Partition makes 2 primary partition, also if you have another Recovery partition from you Laptop / Desktop vendor, then you have to go with Logical partition option).
Hit OK, and then again choose the free space remaining to add another partition, this time SWAP area. This time partition type has to be Logical.
Hit OK to return to main window, which should resemble something like this
To install Ubuntu on a second physical hard drive you have to create partitions on the second drive. The second drive would usually be called sda or sdb by Ubuntu, depending on the way it has been connected inside your system.
The partitions map is going to look like this
Once you have identified the drive name (sda in the example above) for your empty drive, start by selecting it and clicking on New Partition Table. Hit continue
Now we would create two partitions (look at screenshots shown below, carefully, if you are not sure how to create partitions, read the discussion above).
Now you should see something like this, you can see now the new partitions we created (marked in blue). Before you hit the Install Now button you must select the location where the boot loader would be installed (marked by red arrow below). We don’t want the original Windows boot loader to be replace by Grub, so we would select the new drive (sda in this case) for the boot loader location. Make sure you choose the drive on which you have created partitions! If on reboot you don’t see Ubuntu Grub screen and instead Windows boots directly, then you need to change you Hard Drive boot order in your Bios settings.
This point onwards installation instructions are identical.
Now you can “Hit” Install Now button to move to next screen, partition changes would be applied. When the installation process starts, choose your time zone and hit Forward
Wait for the installer to do its job, it would take longer than a moment if you chose to install the updates as well, if you didn’t choose to install updates it should be done in 20 or so minutes depending on you drive and machine capability.
Wait till you see this, hit the Restart button and take the CD / USB drive out and press enter.
After the reboot you have Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat dual booting in harmony with Windows 7.
For multi hard drive setup Grub screen looks like this:
Choosing the Windows 7 option would take you to Windows boot screen.
For perfect desktop post install guide, see this.
To change default boot order and to make Windows as auto boot choice, see this.
To make your Grub screen look colorful, check this out.
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