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How to dual-boot Vista with Linux (Vista installed first)

29th May 2007 - James Bannan

Updated 29 May 2007 to use Ubuntu 7.04 rather than 6.10. Scenario: You want the simplest way to dual-boot Vista and Linux. You've already installed Windows Vista and now want to dual-boot it with Ubuntu 7.04 Summary of tutorial: This is an updated tutorial - we previously used Ubuntu 6.10 and then modified the GRUB bootloader to force Ubuntu to recognise the Vista partition. In this tutorial, we'll use Ubuntu 7.04 which does a much better job in interacting with Vista. We'll use the Vista management tools to resize the main partition and install Ubuntu into the freed space. This tutorial has been tested on a VMWare Workstation 6 machine and an ASUS P5AD2-based Intel system with 2GB RAM and an 80GB Seagate SATA drive.

Get started
Boot into Windows Vista and go into Disk Management - right-click My Computer, Manage, Disk Management.

Vista Disk Management

Right-click on the main Vista partition and select Shrink Volume

Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume The Shrink tool will assess how much space can be freed up.

Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume 2 As a rule of thumb Shrink will reduce the main system partition by about 50%. As long as the partition is big enough to begin with (at least 10GB) it should accommodate both operating systems. Select Shrink and the tool will reduce the volume of the primary partition, leaving the rest of the disk free as unpartitioned space.

Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume 3 Once that's done, shut down the Vista machine.

Install Ubuntu
You'll need the latest desktop ISO of Ubuntu (7.04). You can choose a list of download mirrors from the Ubuntu website, or use this link from Planetmirror. Download the ISO and burn it to CD to create an Ubuntu Live CD. Boot the Vista machine from the Live CD and select "Start or install Ubuntu".

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Once the Live CD has loaded, double-click the Install icon on the desktop to start the installation process. On the Welcome screen, choose your language and select Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Language On the "Where are you" (timezone) page, select your location and then Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Timezone On the next screen, choose the appropriate keyboard layout and then Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Keyboard Ubuntu will then load the disk partitioner to determine where it's going to be installed. Choose "Manual use the largest continuous free space". This will automatically select the unpartitioned space we created earlier using the Shrink tool. Click Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Disk Partitioner On the Migrate Documents and Settings screen, if Ubuntu finds any user accounts to migrate, feel free to import it from Vista to Ubuntu. If it doesn't find any, obviously this isn't an option. Click Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Migrate On the "Who are you?" screen, enter your username and password details, then click Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu User Details On the "Ready to install" screen, you'll see that Ubuntu now has enough information to commence the installation. In the summary under Migrate Assistant, it should say "Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader)". This means that regardless of whether Ubuntu found any user account to migrate, it certainly knows that Windows Vista is installed on the other partition and is aware of it. Click Install.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu Install See the install through and then let it boot into Ubuntu.

When the install is complete the system will reboot. When the GRUB boot menu is displayed, have a look at the last entry in the list.

Vista & Ubuntu - GRUB Bootloader After the Ubuntu boot options, there will be an entry Other operating systems and beneath that "Windows Vista/Longhorn loader. By default Ubuntu will load itself after 10 seconds, but you can select the Vista option and Vista will boot normally.

Configure GRUB
If you want to modify how GRUB handles the new dualbooting environment, you need to edit the boot menu. Boot into Ubuntu and open up a Terminal window (Applications, Accessories, Terminal), and type in: sudo cp /boot/grub/menu.lst /boot/grub/menu.lst_bak and enter your root password when asked - this makes a backup of the GRUB menu file just in case things go wrong. Next, type in: sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Dualboot - Configure Boot Menu This opens up the boot menu as a text file in gedit.

Dualboot - Boot Options There are loads of options you can change, but only a couple that youre likely to be interested in. The default boot entry is defined by the default value. The default value is 0, which means that the first entry in the list (which is Ubuntu) always gets loaded. If you want to make it so that Windows Vista loads by default, change the value to 4, as Vista is the fifth item in the list (the numbering system starts at 0 and "Other operating systems" counts as a line). The other way to load Windows Vista by default is to change the value for default from a numerical value to saved. Then, GRUB will load whichever boot entry has been marked with savedefault. If you scroll down the list and have a look at the entries, youll notice that both the main Ubuntu entry and Windows Vista have been marked with savedefault. Remove the value for Ubuntu and Windows Vista will launch by default. It's also worthwhile changing the description of the Vista entry from "Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader" to just "Windows Vista". You can also increase the boot menu timeout just change the value for timeout. You can also hide the GRUB boot menu by removing the hash in front of hiddenmenu. Save and exit gedit to keep any changes. If instead of GRUB you want Vista's bootloader to be in charge, load up the Vista installation and install EasyBCD. Go to Manage Bootloader, then Reinstall the Vista Bootloader, an GRUB is overwritten. You can then configure the Vista bootloader to add Linux to the boot menu. Other APC dual-booting tutorials: The definitive dual-booting guide: Linux, Vista and XP step-by-step Bookmark/Search this post with: delicious | digg | reddit add new comment 1: Something you forgot. Having vista installed already, then adding either xp or linux. Rydekull (125 days ago) reply 2: I have same question here.

I have same question here. If Vista already installed (and has not partitioned the disk as way as you mentioned), how can I install Linux without reinstalling Vista? I tried partitionmagic, but it cannot run on Vista at all. lelegg (111 days ago) reply 3: Vista has its own native Vista has its own native partition tool. Go to search, type 'computer management', and on the left hand panel, click on disk management. someone (102 days ago) reply 4: since my laptop has two since my laptop has two hdd's, can i just install linux on the other hdd kcajblue (67 days ago) reply 5: 2 hdd's i have looked and cannot find the answer to this question either. did you find out how to manage it? christopher (29 days ago) reply 6: Installing Linux on a separate drive after Vista is installed on I want to install Linux onto a new separate drive; Vista is already Installed on the first drive. How do I do that? SunWoof (18 days ago) reply 7: Vista pre-installed and now for linux Use gparted-3x and do your installation one step at a time: 1.Partiton with gparted 2.Boot Vista and allow for chk-ing to run 3.Install Linux ( I prefer PCLinuxOS ) 4.Boot into linux 5.Manually configure linux bootloader if required 6.Boot back into Vista Snapafun (108 days ago) reply 8: Would this work with W2000? This tutorial is great, thanks! Just one question: would it work with Windows 2000 too? I suspect it does but I fear to mess up my hard disk :S Greetings from Chile! Andlynx (118 days ago) reply 9: I installed Suse Linux and I installed Suse Linux and stayed with it. It is not fun hitting start to browse your system like the internet. Sorry Vista modista... Steven Farthing (110 days ago) reply 10: Did the dual boot V+Ubuntu messed up with EasyBCD Hi there, I re-installed the vista boot loader and then wanted to return to the GRUB loader. I clicked the uninstall option and then the write button in EasyBCD and it removed the NTLDR, as noticed after reboot. I cannot get to the recovery partition to restore Vista (but I did make the revovery DVDs ;-))

Currently tracking how to replace the NTLDR with XP recovery console using fixbbr, fixboot etc. Any one had this issue? Cheers Benedict Wyss (100 days ago) reply 11: Why I didn't fount your page before? Hello, I had search somewhere I could learn how to dual-boot Vista and Ubuntu, now I know how to manage it but I have tried previously and I have a problem. Ubuntu works but not Vista, and I can't re-install Vista, because it stops with a black screen. Following your instructions when I try to boot with Vista I can boot Dell-Checks if I start with root (hd0,0) or it tries to start Windows in safe mode if I try root (hd0,1), but I can't follow the installation. When I check the partitions I have: Partition1 /dev/sda1 vfat /media/sda1 78.41MB Partition2 /dev/sda2 NFTS /media/sda2 33.58GB Partition3 /dev/sda3 extended3 / 29.30GB 4 /dev/sda5 swap 1.95GB Partition6 /dev/sda6 FREE BUT CAN'T READ Can somebody help me? Thanks in advance Xavier Xavier (99 days ago) reply 12: sda VS hda... according to that link: http://www.pro-networks.org/forum/about78184.html#dualboot since you have sda disks, you should try with (sd0,1) good luck... avec un peu d'espoir tu m'as prepar le terrain... merci.. bruno nurb (86 days ago) reply 13: Thanx, it works! I got Vista and Ubuntu to dual boot. J'ai d merdouiller un peu but thanks tou your tutorial I got my way around. chichilos (60 days ago) reply 14: Black screen fix! If you are having problems after installing Ubuntu booting into Vista (if you get the Vista progress bar and then a black screen).. this is because Ubuntu messed up the NTFS tables. This is easy to fix! Check this out http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=398122 I did it and I booted into Vista again..whoo hoo! I didn't even loose any data Sabbour (47 days ago) reply 15: I have a problem with this

I have a problem with this tutorial. I have completed it in accurate fashion but once I go to the GRUB to select Vista, it gives me the list but nothing happens when I select vista. What gives? Sucksatlinux (38 days ago) reply 16: Just to let people know that Just to let people know that with the new version of Ununtu(7.04 Feisty Fawn)GRUB picks up Vista with no user input. Just partition the drive(Vista has it's own partitioner if you didn't do it on install) boot with the disc and install, it works perfect with no problems. Stephen (36 days ago) reply 17: Dual Boot Vista and Linux What about the case where Vista was already installed on the new PC which I bought and the whole partition is an NTFS partititon does it mean I have to reinstall all over again? Stephen T. (33 days ago) reply 18: Dual Boot Vista and Linux What about the case where Vista was already installed on the new PC which I bought and the whole partition is an NTFS partititon does it mean I have to reinstall all over again? Stephen T. (33 days ago) reply 19: No need to reinstall. Vista No need to reinstall. Vista allows you to shrink or expand your logical drives without the use of third-party utilities (e.g. Partition Magic). Go to "Managed Computers" and then Disk Management. You can then right-click on your drive and select "Shrink Volume". Ubuntu will recognize the unallocated space during setup. biggenz (24 days ago) reply 20: Acer 5100 'hidden' partition? I want to add Ubuntu (6.06LTS or 7.04) to the an Acer 5100 with Vista. I understand there is a 'hidden' partition and a 'special' MBR that Acer uses to enable their e-Recovery system (which allows you to reinstall Vista from the "Acer e-Recovery" disks I created. I can always use a Flash Drive or memory card to boot the machine and get Linux going, but don't want to do this long term. Eventually, I may want to blow Vista away and install my copy of Windows 2000 or XP Pro, ralphw (33 days ago) reply 21: re: 'hidden' partition? I just dual-booted Ubuntu 7.04 with Vista on my Acer 5610.. My HD was partitioned into 2 sections- one for the OS and the other for the backup stuff (plus the hidden one). So I shrunk the backup and installed Ubuntu in the free space.. GRUB identified Vista and will boot into it no prob. So it shouldn't be any problem. paulg (17 days ago) reply 22: Partitioning I want to set up my hard disk as follows 1. Vista System 2.Second Partition for my documents and other files 3./ for Kubuntu 4. Swap and 5. /Home

According to my research a harddisk can have only four primary partitions so which ones do I make primary, extended or logical and how do I go about the whole thing Russler (16 days ago) reply 23: dual boot (vista and ubunut) didnt work for me still Hey, i am completely bugged here i hav a terrible situation , deatils r too much , just tht i need to get linux asap. now, i installed everthing as you mentioned, and did everything as u said, i even get a vista option on my grub screen. but on clicking vista , NOTHING HAPPENS !!! I have been searching ways to fix this problem, found nothing....no fruits yet... plzzzz help me.....m desperate for your info, everything is as shown on your site, vista business edition, ubunut with kernel 2.6.xx installed vista first , then ubuntu. clean install, fisrt partition vista, second ubuntu, and also am not able to access vista drive from ubunut's file browser, although it says it should be happening. HELP !!!! max (7 days ago) reply 24: ohh and its ubuntu i just fogot to mention its ubuntu 6.6 not 7....so i dnt see a way out//// i hav been doing this thing for whole week. smtimes vista, sumtimes xp, sumtimes ubuntu, maybe i shud just get back to vista...it worked fine...if only i didnt hav this big issue to access unix and make my project on it/////aaarrgghhhhh