How To Set Up A Dual-Boot System With Windows 7 And Ubuntu 10.04

The ability to have two Operating Systems on one machine gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing what OS you’ll want to use. Today, I’ll show you how to setup Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) together so that upon your initial boot up, you’ll have the option of choosing between Windows 7 or Ubuntu to boot into.

Today’s topic is Dual-Booting.
Now, I know there are some people who have never tried dual-booting or even Linux before. If you are one of these people, I would highly recommend installing Wubi on your PC first or just running the Ubuntu LiveCD. Wubi is, as the site states:

Wubi is an officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click. Wubi allows you to install and uninstall Ubuntu as any other Windows application, in a simple and safe way. Are you curious about Linux and Ubuntu? Trying them out has never been easier!

Basically, Wubi will do the entire dual booting process for you (automatically for the most part, you just have to click a few options), but at the same time acts like a regular Windows program and allows you remove Ubuntu/Wubi by simply uninstalling it. The way that this differs from what we are doing is that my method will allow for more of a “native” experience in Ubuntu but also does not allow for the “easy” uninstall of Ubuntu if you happen to want to get rid of it.

Speaking of Ubuntu, the reason I’ve chosen this particular distribution of Linux is because it is the most popular and widely supported distribution. I currently run Ubuntu (10.04) on my desktop alongside Windows 7 and it works flawlessly. Ubuntu 10.10 was just released recently, but I’ve chosen to use 10.04 instead, mainly because it is going to be more stable. However, if you would like to have the latest system, the instructions I will give will apply the same no matter what version of Ubuntu you choose.

A word of warning: The instructions I will be giving can potentially break your system and cause irrecoverable data loss from Windows if you happen to make a mistake, so be sure to read the entire guide before applying any of the steps ahead of time. With that said, I can safely say that the steps below have worked for me numerous times as I currently have two dual-booted systems (laptop and desktop). Good? Alright, lets begin.

To get started, here’s the list of things you’ll need:

Playing it safe.

Since we will modifying your current system in somewhat of a major way, it is best that you backup all your data. This is not really a recommendation, but rather something that is required. Even though I am confident in the instructions I will be giving, computers do have a tendency to fail sometimes and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, I’d like Collegeinfogeek not to be liable if anything goes wrong.


1. First download a copy of the Ubuntu version of your choice provided in the link above.

2. Either burn the .iso file onto a CD or create a bootable Ubuntu USB drive. (To burn .iso files, you can use ImgBurn)

Now that you’ve got everything ready we can begin. But, before we do, I just want to say that there is more than one way to setup a Dual Boot configuration. I will presume that you already have Windows 7 currently installed and will give instructions based on that fact.

Shrinking the Hard Drive

In this step, we will shrink your existing hard drive partition, the one that Windows is currently installed on.

To do this (Pictures will open in a new tab upon being clicked):

1. Click the Start Menu button and type: Create and Partition Harddrive

2. The Disk Management window will pop up. Right click on the (C:) Drive letter and choose Shrink Volume

3. Another window will pop up and where it says, “Enter the amount of space to shrink“, enter 20480 (That’s 20 GB’s in Megabyte terms).

4. After entering the amount, click the Shrink button and wait until its done. When it’s done, you’ll see a new 20GB partition that currently unallocated. (Picture will show 13GB’s, ignore that).

Installing Ubuntu 10.04

Now that we’ve gone ahead and shrunk our Windows partition, we can now go ahead and install Ubuntu. Grab the Ubuntu CD you’ve created and boot from it, upon booting, you should see the following screens:

The initial Ubuntu startup/Logo.

When you get to this screen, choose Install Ubuntu 10.04, English should be selected by default.

Select the timezone you are currently in.

Select the keyboard layout you would like. The default is recommended.

Important! Make sure you choose the last option, which reads, “Specify partitions manually (advanced)” and then click Forward.

You should three partitions under the Device column. Click on the one that reads, Free Space and choose Add.

The Create partition window will pop up. Select the Primary radial button, then for the partition size, enter 19456 (That’s 19 GB’s in Megabyte terms). For Use As, choose the Ext4 Journaling File system. And lastly, for Mount Point, choose “/”. (The “/” in Linux terms is considered the root partition. This is the equalivant to Local (C:) in Windows.)

After you’ve created a root partition, you’ll have 1GB of left over space, we’re going to use that as swap space. Select the remaining free space you see and click Add once more. The Create partition window will pop up again and this time, choose the Logical radial button. Then, for the partition size, enter 1024 (That’s 1GB in Megabyte terms). For Use As, choose Swap Area and click OK.

If you’ve followed the directions accordingly up to this point, then this is what you should see. Granted, the size numbers will probably not match, because I’ve decided to use 20GB’s of Harddrive space instead. In any case, you should see a total of 4 partitions, two of which are Windows (NTFS) and the other two should be Ext4/Swap. If this what you see or something very similar to this, then you click, Forward.

Almost done! This screen is pretty self-explanatory, basically just fill out all the information it’s asking for and then click, Forward.

This is the last screen you should see as far configuring your setup goes. Everything should check out and you should NOT have to change anything. If everything looks good, you can finally click, Install.

You are basically now home free. Much like Windows, Ubuntu will have special features it will tell you about while the installation process progresses. This usually takes about 15 to 45 minutes, depending on your computer.

If everything goes smoothly, you should now have a copy of Ubuntu on your system. The installer will prompt you remove the disc from the drive and wait for you to press Enter, before it reboots.

Upon rebooting, this the screen you will see. There will be timer, (usually 10 seconds) before it autoselects the OS it will boot into. (Linux is given priority over Windows by default, but it can be changed). Go ahead and press either Enter or wait for the timer to reach zero, and the system will finally boot into Ubuntu for the first time.

After booting into Ubuntu, this is the Login screen you be presented with. Enter your login credentials you specified earlier above and you will log into your new Ubuntu Desktop.

Congratulations! You now have a dual boot system!

Now that you have successfully Dual Booted, you will probably want to poke around Ubuntu to see what all it has to offer. Look at my previous article about Open Source Alternatives to get an idea for some of the programs you should install. (Most of the them should be installed by default).

You’ll probably want more information about Ubuntu as you poke around, so here are some good websites to go to.

  1. Ubuntu Forums – If you have questions, the users here will be have answered them already or will give you an answer. This is considered one of the best resources among the Linux community.
  2. OMGUbuntu – A site dedicated to Ubuntu. This site will show you how to apply customizations to make your Desktop even more beautiful and also recommend some awesome applications along the way.
  3. Lifehacker or Hackourlives – Good places to go to get more information about customizing, installing, and configuring Ubuntu for everyday use.
  4. Google – Google will become your best friend. Any questions you have, Google can more than likely tell you the answer to. Seek and you shall find.

Bonus: Some of you may have heard of Compiz — a compositing manager that can render really cool desktop graphic effects, much like what Windows does with Aero. If this is something you would like to install on your Ubuntu installation, then follow this tutorial to do so!

Hitsugaya, Enraged! Blade of Hatred!

Andrew is a junior in MIS at Iowa State University, an Android hacker, and a dedicated open source geek. Check out his personal site and follow him on Twitter here.

Hey there! Please note that some links in the article may be referral links, meaning that if you buy something through them, I'll earn a commission (at no extra cost to you). This helps to support CIG, but please don't buy anything unless you truly believe it'll benefit you! You can learn more here. Thank you :)

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  1. Hi Paolo,

    Unfortunately, Andrew is no longer a writer at College Info Geek. However, I wanted to help you out still, so I did a little digging. My guess is that the Windows boot loader accidentally got deleted in the process of creating the dual boot system. I’m not sure how this happened; I’ve set up a dual boot system this way before (quite a while ago), and everything seemed to work for me.

    I haven’t worked with Linux in a long time, and I’m not much of an expert with it either. I did find a thread over at Ubuntu Forums that I believe addresses the problem you’re having. Here’s the link:

    I hope this helps!

  2. Andrew, I’m in panic. I did follow your process here above and ended up that the laptop (with Windows7) now boots on Ubuntu *only*.

    I mean, the screen that should allow the user to select the OS does not appear at all.

    Can you pls help? Thanks,


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