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How to dual-boot Linux Mint 10 or Ubuntu 10.10 and Windows 7 on a computer with two hard drives

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The third partition is for the root file system. A new installation of Mint 10 (and Ubuntu 10.10) takes up less than 3 GB of disk space. So anything more than that should be good for this partition. Keep in mind that because we are not using an LVM-based partitioning scheme, resizing these partitions will not be easy, if at all, For this installation, I allocated more than twice the required size to this partition. For file system type, the default, ext4, is good. If you want to install the system on a btrfs file system, the instructions for Mint 10 and Ubuntu 10.10 are available here and here. The mount point should be /. Note: If you choose btrfs for file system type, this should be the last partition.

Click OK when you are satisfied with your choices.
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The last partition will be for /home. The available space should b allocated to this partition. The default file system is ext4, and the mount poing should be /home. OK.
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All the Linux partitions have been created, and the Windows partitions are untouched. Before clicking Install Now, there is one more task, and it is very important. Where do you want to install GRUB, the boot loader? By default, the installer will install GRUB in the MBR (Master Boot Record) of /dev/sda, the primary disk where Windows is installed. That will make GRUB be responsible for dual-booting. The problem with that, according to some reports, is that the Windows installer tends to overwrite aspects of GRUB the next time Windows is updated or upgraded. The best option then is to install GRUB where Windows will not see it and, therefore, be unable to mess with it.
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The recommended location to install GRUB in this type of configuration is in the MBR of the second disk (/dev/sdb), where we are going to install Mint. The other recommended location is in the boot partition of /dev/sdb, which in this case is /dev/sdb1. Whether you choose /dev/sdb or /dev/sdb1, you will need to edit the Windows Boot Manager and add an entry for Mint (or Ubuntu) after installation has completed. Click Install Now to continue with the installation.
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The installation should take about 15 minutes. When you reboot, and assuming you installed GRUB in the MBR or boot partition of the second disk, the computer will reboot into Windows 7. Now, you will have to edit the Windows Boot Manager and add an entry for Mint (or Ubuntu).

To make editing the Windows Boot Manager a bit easier, I recommend that you install EasyBCD, a free application from NeoSmart Technologies which you may download from here. After installing EasyBCD, start it and follow the steps given below to use it.

This is EasyBCD’s interface. It shows that the Windows 7 boot menu has just one entry. We need to edit it to add to entry for Mint (or Ubuntu). Click on the Add New Entry tab.
ebcd

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27 Comments

  1. Sean says:

    I followed the guide strictly on every detail, Ubuntu works fine but when I try to load Windows it shows the loading splash screen but then goes black and the HD light keeps blinking but nothing happens except my fans start going crazy like its over heating, HALP!

    • finid says:

      Can you run Windows in standalone mode on the HDD?

      • Sean says:

        sorry not sure what exactly you are asking. initially, i did a fresh install of windows 7 and ran all the updates, then i ran Ubuntu from the CD and installed it as per the guide on the second hard drive. i rebooted and windows loaded up automatically, then i installed/ran EasyBCD to add the Ubuntu entry and set GRUB2, then when I rebooted after that I can run Ubuntu fine but Windows hangs on the black screen just after you see the initial splash Windows 7 loading screen. I can get into Windows Safe mode as well.

        • Sean says:

          hold the presses, it appears that the black screen of death was caused by an updated nvidia driver in Windows 7, everything appears to work once I restored to a point before the drivers were updated.

  2. mark80 says:

    I followed the directions and everything went smooth. But when I try to boot up ubuntu I get sent to a grub prompt. Do you have any ideas on what is going wrong?

    • finid says:

      Tough to say. Where did you install GRUB, /dev/sdb or /dev/sdb1?

      Can you boot into Windows? If you can, try reinstalling Ubuntu. If you followed the steps as described, it should work.

      • mark80 says:

        Windows will boot up fine and I believe I installed GRUB in /dev/sdb. Would it make a difference that I’m installing ubuntu on a external hdd? I will try to reinstall like you suggested and see if that helps.

        • finid says:

          Installing to an external drive, something I feel is not necessary, is likely the problem. If installing to an external drive, what’s the point of dual-booting. You could just install Ubuntu to the external drive instead of attempting to dual-boot with Windows.

          Dual-booting makes sense only if installing to internal drives on the same computer.

  3. mark80 says:

    I tried this install method and everything went ok. But when I try to boot up Ubuntu a grub command line comes up. Any ideas what I did wrong?

  4. Sendy says:

    I have 2 sata hard disks. On one I have windows 7. While installing linux on the other, i didn’t use the manual partitioning method but the ‘use entire disk’ one. Will it still work if I use BCD program to modify the Windows Boot Manager?

    • finid says:

      Yes, it will, but I hope you understand what happens with the default installation: In your case, the installer will install GRUB in the MBR of the first drive. That makes GRUB responsible for dual-booting both operating systems. While this will work. It also means that you do not need to use the BCD program to modify the Windows Boot Manager.

      Use the BCD program to modify the Windows Boot Manager only if you want Windows Boot Manager to be responsible for dual-booting both operating systems.

  5. Dah says:

    Thank you very much for the guide.
    It is a simple & well tailored tutorial.
    Brilliant. Everything was such a breeze.

    One issue though i faced was the boot loader.
    After installation of Mint, neither operating system was booting.

    A disk read error has occurred message would pop out.
    Figured my way out though!
    Now all is in good shape and running well!

    Thanks again

  6. DJ says:

    I tried this method with one small difference. I installed windows on the second disk and ubuntu on the first disk. Everything worked fine with the exception of one thing. Anything I installed on linux was not saved to /home. I kept getting errors saying that / and /boot were full. Did I do something wrong?

    • finid says:

      If the system is saying / and /boot are full, are they?

      Use the disk utility to see whether they are. Or just launch a terminal and type df -h to see what’s going on.

      That aside, the method you used could cause you plenty of pain down the line. When dual-booting Windows and Linux, the recommended method, the path of least-trouble-down-the-road, is to install Windows first.

      • DJ says:

        Thanks, I reset my smaller hd as sata1 and am redoing everything. Hope it all works out. Thanks for the quick response

  7. Raj says:

    I did the dual boot but when i start my laptop it only starts with ubuntu, i want the option which comes before starting to choose the os to start, but it did not come and only laptop starts with ubuntu and i cant start my laptop with windows 7

    • finid says:

      If you installed Ubuntu on the third HDD, the only reason it is starting with Ubuntu is you installed GRUB, the boot loader, on the MBR of the first hard disk. It also tells me that you used the default, auto-partitioning mode. If you had switched to the advanced, manual partitioning mode, you would have had the option to install GRUB somewhere else.

      But even with GRUB installed on the MBR of the first disk, it should have added an entry for Windows 7 in the GRUB menu. The question is this: What did you not do right? Did you follow the directions as laid out in the link I suggested in my last comment?

      Your best bet now is to edit GRUB’s config file and add an entry for Windows 7.

      I am assuming that you did not install Ubuntu in the same space that Windows was installed, that is, you did not delete the Windows installation.

  8. George says:

    SOLVED – I’m posting for every one having the problem. Before altering the windows bootloader with easyBCD you have to assign a drive letter to the windows hidden system partition. Then you can the entry for mint. After reboot everything works sweetly.!! If you do not want the drive to appear in my computer, you can exclude it by altering a group policy using gpedit.exe in cmd.

  9. George says:

    Done that already after setting up easyBCD and didn’t work. Do you recon I have to do it before setting up easyBCD? I was also thinking if there is a way to change the drive scan order (If I’m putting correctly) in grub2 so that ntfs partitions are omitted during mint’s start up. Could this solve the problem and if so how can i easily do it?
    Thnx..

  10. George says:

    Followed the guide step by step. Upon restarting, after selecting Linux Mint 10″ on win bootloader, I get the Ttry (HD0,0): NTFS5: No ang0″ message. It stays on screen for about 30sec (maybe more) and after that linux starts normally. How can I make that disappear so that Mint loads faster?

    • finid says:

      I have never encountered that message, but others have reported that it is caused by the presence of an unlettered partition in windows – likely the system partition. And the fix is to find that partition under Disk Management, and rename to a drive letter.

      • George says:

        Sorry for accidentally posting the answer under my own question..

        Followed the guide step by step. Upon restarting, after selecting Linux Mint 10″ on win bootloader, I get the Ttry (HD0,0): NTFS5: No ang0″ message. It stays on screen for about 30sec (maybe more) and after that linux starts normally. How can I make that disappear so that Mint loads faster?

        • George says:

          JESUS what a mess…
          @finid – my reply is this..finally..
          Done that already after setting up easyBCD and didn’t work. Do you recon I have to do it before setting up easyBCD? I was also thinking if there is a way to change the drive scan order (If I’m putting correctly) in grub2 so that ntfs partitions are omitted during mint’s start up. Could this solve the problem and if so how can i easily do it?
          Thnx..

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