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How to dual-boot Linux Mint 17 and Windows 8 on a PC with UEFI firmware

This tutorial shows how to dual-boot Linux Mint 17 and Windows 8 on a PC with UEFI firmware. The computer used for the test installation is not an OEM one. Rather, it is a custom-built computer, with an ASRock motherboard and Intel Core i3 processor.

However, if you follow this guide step-by-step, you should be able to use it to dual-boot Linux Mint 17 and Windows 8 on any computer with UEFI firmware on a single hard drive.

Note that this applies to the Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon or MATE editions, not the KDE edition, which uses a slightly different graphical installer. And note also that this guide may also be used to dual-boot Linux Mint 17 and Windows 7 on a computer with UEFI firmware.

An assumption made here is that Windows 8 is already installed on the target hard drive. However, if necessary, you can always install it afresh. So based on that assumption, here are the steps involved:

  1. Recover space for installing Linux Mint 17 by shrinking the Windows 8 C drive
  2. Install Linux Mint 17 on the recovered space. This assumes that you’ve already downloaded an installation image of Linux Mint 17 (MATE or Cinnamon) and burned or transferred it to an appropriate installation media. If not, download it from here.
  3. Set the default boot manager for the computer

Step 1. Shrink Windows 8’s C Drive: Shown in the screenshot below are the existing partitions on the target hard drive after enough space to install Linux Mint 17 had been recovered. If you don’t know how to shrink a Windows partition, see How to resize or shrink a partition or the C drive in Windows 7. The target hard drive used for this tutorial is 500 GB in size, with about half of that recovered for installing Linux Mint 17.
Windows 8 shrink partition

Step 2. Install Linux Mint 17: After Step 1 has been completed, time to install Linux Mint 17. Reboot the computer with the installation media you created in the optical drive or in a USB port. It will boot into the Live desktop. From there, launch the installer by clicking on its icon on the desktop. When the installer starts, click until you get to the step shown in this screenshot. This Installation type step shows available partitioning methods. It will likely inform you that “This computer currently has no detected operating systems. What would you like to do?” Select the Something else option, then click Continue.
Linux Mint 17 install partitions

That should open the installer’s Advanced Partitioning Tool‘s window. You should see all the partitions on the system, including the space that was recovered from Windows 8. That space should be marked as “free space.” Make a note of the partition marked as type efi. That takes the place of the traditional /boot partition. It will come into play at the end of this step.
Linux Mint 17 advanced partition tool

To start creating partitions, select the free space, then click on the + button directly below it.
Linux Mint 17 add partition

That should open the installer’s partition editor. If you are new to the concept of disk partitions in Linux and creating partitions in Linux Mint 17, it is highly recommended that you read Guide to disks and disk partitions in Linux. For each partition that you’ll create at this step, all you need to modify are the values for “Size,” “Use as” and “Mount point.” And because a few of the partitions needed were already created during the installation of Windows 8, only partitions for / (root), /home and Swap will need to be created for Linux Mint 17 – in that order.
Linux Mint 17 partition editor

For the root partition, a disk space of 20 GB (20,000 MB) should be more than enough. The recommended minimum for installing Linux Mint 17 is 8.1 GB, so the extra should take care of future growth in disk usage. For file system (Use as), you may select the default (Ext4). Be sure to select / from the “Mount point” menu. OK.
Linux Mint 17 create root partition

For the /home partition, assign the disk space you think you need and select /home for the mount point. OK.
Linux Mint 17 create home partition

For the Swap partition, a size of 4 GB (4000 MB) should be enough. From the “Use as” menu, select swap area. OK.
Linux Mint 17 create swap partition

Back to the main partitioning window, you should see all the newly created partitions. Did you notice that we did not create a boot partition? That’s because on these systems, the EFI partition, which on the system used for this tutorial is /dev/sda2, serves as the boot partition. Boot files for GRUB will be installed there. GRUB (the GRand Unified Bootloader) is the boot program used by Linux Mint and virtually all Linux distributions. Before clicking Install Now, change the entry in the “Device for boot loader installation” from /dev/sda to /dev/sda2.
Linux Mint 17 GPT partitions

The menu should look like this. Continue with the rest of the installation.
Linux Mint 17 EFI partitions

Step 3. Set the Default Boot Manager: After Step 2 has completed successfully, reboot the computer. Before it reboots into the default boot device, press the F key that will take you to the boot menu. For my computer, it is the F11 key. This screenshot shows the entries in the boot menu of the computer used for this tutorial. The AHCI P2: WDC WD5000… entry is for the hard drive used for this installation. The OS entry for Windows 8 is Windows Boot Manager. Somehow, that of Linux Mint 17 is Ubuntu. If you select the AHCI P2: WDC WD5000… entry, the computer will not boot. To boot into Linux Mint or Windows 8, select the matching OS entry.
Linux Mint 17 EFI boot menu

This very bad image, taken with a digital camera, shows the GRUB menu of Linux Mint 17. From there, you can boot into the newly installed OS or Windows 8. Once you’re satisfied that all works as intended, you may then make the entry for Linux Mint 17 the default boot device in the computer’s UEFI setup utility.
Linux Mint 17 GRUB menu

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  1. Attila says:

    Hi there!

    I tried to install Linux, but it failed. Then after reboot I can not see HDD in the boot list, that’s why I can not boot Windows too.
    So my question is, if I reinstall Linux (and it would be successful), would the HDD be displayed in the BIOS?

    Thanks for Your reply!

    • finid says:

      By “I can not see HDD in the boot list” did you mean on the computer’s boot screen? What can you see on that screen? And, does the computer have UEFI firmware?

      • Attila says:

        I mean that in the BIOS I can not see HDD, I can only boot from DVD or USB.
        No, it hasn’t got UEFI firmware, but this topic was the closest to my problem.

        • finid says:

          So it seems that you tried to dual-boot Windows 7 and Linux Mint 17, right? If so, see How to dual-boot Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon/MATE and Windows 7.

          And if you provide some more info on what you did it would make it easier to suggest alternate steps.

          For now, shut down the computer, then restart it. Access the BIOS to see if you can see the HDD. Also try accessing the computer’s boot menu to see if it is listed there. Finally, reboot with the Mint installation and check the advanced partitioning tool to see what disks and partitions are listed.

  2. Finiderire says:

    Good post.

  3. brightdawn says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks a lot for the tutorial! I followed yours and finished installing Mint 17 successfully. However, upon restarting, it went straight to GNU GRUB command line screen. What should I do to fix this problem?


    • finid says:

      That can happen if the HDD is the default boot device. Check the UEFI utility and make sure that the entry for Mint is the default boot device.

      • brightdawn says:

        Thank you for the reply! Can you be more specific? I couldn’t find similar option in my laptop. Can you tell me from these screenshots?

        • finid says:

          A problem with UEFI is each vendor gives a different look. I see 2 entries for “Ubuntu” in the boot options. One of them should work. What options do you see in the computers boot menu? Try accessing the system boot menu and selecting the entry for Ubuntu there and see if that will work. If it does, then make that entry the default in the UEFI utility.

          On my system, I have to hit the F12 key to access the boot menu. Find out the corresponding key on yours and hit it as the system is just booting.

          • brightdawn says:

            Thank you finid! I tried them both and neither of them worked :((.
            I used boot-repair to fix but the problem is still there. Do you familiar with it? Here is the log of boot-repair if that would help

          • brightdawn says:

            I solved this by doing the following

            1. Install Win 8.1 first with Secure Boot turned on (after installing ASUS automatically created a EFI Boot Partion of about 105 MB)
            2. Disable Fast Boot in Win 8.1 & Secure Boot in BIOS setting
            3. Use the Live DVD to install Linux Mint 17
            4. Partition the rest of the SSD as follow (after leaving 7-10% for Over Provisioning):
            * 500 MB for boot partition (file system: ext4, mount point: /boot)
            * 30 GB for root partition (file system: xfs, mount point: /)
            * 50 GB for home partition (file system: xfs, mount point: /home)
            5. Specify the boot loader to the /boot partition reserved for Linux Mint (very important step)
            6. Continue installing & restart upon completion
            7. Go into BIOS settings: enable Fast Boot & Secure Boot again
            8. Enjoy dual boot system (the boot order can be changed easily with grub-customizer)

          • finid says:

            Awesome! Glad you got it right.

  4. Birch says:

    I looked through forums,as well as many different youtube tutorials and online step-by-steps before deciding to go with your method. Running Windows 8, there was no detection of it when I tried to install as a side/side off the usb.
    I followed the instructions step by step, with your site open as a reference and it worked perfectly.
    It boots properly, giving me options for both Windows and Linux Mint. (probably due to the tip about setting the default boot manager. Most how-to’s I read about this said basically just to partition, find the partition in the install steps and just ‘install’ — and no other one mentioned the default boot manager.
    I can’t remember if legacy was on or off in my set up, I know I did have it set to legacy originally, then read somewhere not to — all I know is that I am technologically impaired yet your post got my Linux Mint 17 – Cinnamon up and running in no time.
    So thank you SO much!

  5. James says:

    I followed the instructions, but when I rebooted all I had in the boot menu was Windows 8. There wasn’t an entry for Ubuntu OR Mint.

    • finid says:

      When you say the “boot menu, is that the computer’s boot menu?

      Also, did you install both Mint and Ubuntu or just Ubuntu or just Mint?

      • James says:

        Sorry for the delay in responding… My employer has this thing about me showing up for work if I expect to get paid.

        Anyway, I believe I’ve kinda sorted things out.

        When I power on and do not interrupt the boot-up, I get the standard Windows 7 (NOT Windows 8) DOS style boot menu with the clock counting down the remaining time before it loads the default OS. This is where only Windows 8.1 is listed.

        If I press ESC, I get a second menu to let me choose which device to boot.

        If I select the SSD I use for booting, THEN I get a menu listing Ubuntu, ubuntu (Yes, it’s listed twice.) and Windows 8.1. I am assuming this is the UEFI boot menu.

        If I select either the Ubuntu entry or the ubuntu entry (Both will work and load, btw) THEN I get the GRUB loader menu and can launch Mint.

        My question now is this: Is there any way to have the PC POST and go directly to the UEFI menu instead of the Windows 7 style boot menu? Or even better, make it go directly to the GRUB boot menu?

  6. sai reddy says:

    How to release the shrink data back to c drive?

  7. sai reddy says:

    i am not getting free space option while installing linux as I already shrinked my C drive with 25gb, it is showing unreserved ..
    please help me in this

  8. Brian Heriot says:

    will these same steps work if i put Mint17 on a separate HDD from the windows drive with GRUB on the EFI partition.

  9. Steve Homolya says:

    Thanks for these detailed installation instructions. They worked like a charm on a Dell Inspiron 17R laptop. Cheers! S

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