Dual Booting with Windows

From LXF Wiki

This page is about having Linux and Windows side-by-side on the same system -- not booting Linux from within Windows. In other words, setting up GRUB, etc.

Are you sure you're sure?

First, do you really need to do it? Linux will happily read and write your old Windows media. Most of your favourite Windows software will have a perfectly good Linux equivalent. If it doesn't, try running a "live" Linux distro from CD and see if your killer app runs under WINE.

OK, so you really need to run Windows and Linux on the same box. Alternatives, not covered on this page, include:

  • Just keeping Windows, and running a live distro from CD, DVD, USB, floppy, whatever, when you need Linux.
  • Installing Linux so it lives in the Windows filesystem, and boots from within Windows.

Preparation

Linux is far better at coping with Windows, than the other way around! So if you intend to run both OS's on one computer, install Windows first. Then install Linux. That way, your Linux installer will cope happily. If you try it the other way around, the Windows installer will do its best to marmalize Linux in one way or another, probably by overwriting your bootloader (see below) and/or reformatting your hard drive.

Anyway, you will probably want to partition your hard drive to give enough space for Linux. Once you have done this you will need to decide on a bootloader, a program that selects which operating system runs. GRUB is as good as any - it will recognise your Windows OS and be able to cope properly with Linux kernel upgrades or multiple linuxes on one computer.