Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

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This is an installation guide to dual boot Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot with Windows 7 (would work for any version of Windows) and Ubuntu 11.10. Most users out there would have Windows 7 already installed on the only hard drive in the system. Desktop users might have multiple drives and typically prefer installing Ubuntu on a separate hard drive. 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).

If you are paranoid about partitioning your drive (such users exist in significant number :P) you can go ahead and try Ubuntu 11.10 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 (necessarily identical for 11.10), works very well if you are not planning on using Ubuntu extensively and also if you have a multi-core CPU (dual, quad etc) that supports virtualization, you can still go ahead and virtualize even if your CPU is a single core, but response may be laggy

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 (Disk Management tool) or by using the Gparted software available 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 from inside Windows 7 using Disk Management tool is described here. But be careful: Windows Disk / Partition Manager only creates a Primary Partition,  we can only have 4 of these on any physical hard drive, so if you already have 3 primary partitions or more you might have difficulty in modifying partitions later. I prefer approach 2. I have been using Gparted for last 4-5 years without ever encountering  any issues. This approach is discussed below.

Put the Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot 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 need to click on the Ubuntu icon which says Dash Home and type gparted in the search box, click the icon to launch it

You would see something similar to this

Right click on the bar representing the drive map or the entry representing the largest partition which you want to resize and choose to Resize/Move the partition. Now drag 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 your partition table should look like this in Gparted (with some area showing unallocated)

Now exit Gparted and launch the Ubuntu installer using shortcut on the desktop.

Installation:

Choose the language and hit Continue

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 are able to connect to the network, tick the boxes for Download updates while installing (installer may take longer) and Install this third party software (to enable support for mp3, flash etc. by default).

Ubuntu installer would detect Windows installation automatically and since we already have free space created for Ubuntu installation, we can just select the Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7 option. This would then initiate the installation process and you would be asked a few more questions to complete the process.

Once the installation begins, you are asked for your time zone and keyboard layout, go ahead and do that.

Now enter the user info and click Forward.

Installer would then continue for a while, 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 with that you have Ubuntu 11.10 dual booting in harmony with Windows 7. On reboot you should be greeted by a screen similar to this.

Choosing the Windows 7 option would take you to Windows boot screen. Let us know if the steps were clear enough or not by leaving a comment.

Useful links:

Perfect desktop using Ubuntu 11.10

Change default boot order in Ubuntu to make Windows boot automatically

 

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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.

2 Comments on “Dual Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot”

  • Jon wrote on 17 October, 2011, 14:10

    Very good tutorial. You should mention that how to shrink your windows partition within windows using the Disk Management tool so that Ubuntu will automatically recognize this unpartitioned space and use it to install ubuntu and allocate it for storing files and your bootloader.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

    lifehacker Reply:

    @Jon, Thanks for the encouragement. The procedure to shrink windows partition within windows using the disk management tool was already included in the tutorial via a link to another post, it was not well highlighted earlier, now it is shown in bold, so hopefully users would be able to see it clearly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    [Reply]

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