Dual Booting Linux Mint and Windows

There are many reasons to consider dual booting Linux and Windows.

For example:
If you like using Linux, but still need Windows to run some property software, to which you can’t find Linux alternates.
Or if you like to use Linux, but your job/school sometimes requires you use a Windows PC.
Or even if you prefer using Windows, but like to play around with Linux every once in a while. (The opposite can also be true.)

In any case, I’ve written some step-by-step instructions which will hopefully help you dual-boot Linux Mint, and Windows.

Note: During these instructions, I will be installing Linux Mint 13 alongside a pre-existing Windows 7 installation. These instructions assume you already have Windows 7 installed.
Another Note (Very important): You will be modifying the partitions on your hard drive. This means there is a small chance of data loss. DON’T FORGET TO BACK UP!!!

Disclaimer: I’m not liable for any loss of data, and provide no warranty whatsoever. The use of these instructions is at your own risk!


Installing Linux Mint alongside a pre-existing Windows installation

 

The 1st step is to get a copy of Linux Mint from here: http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

I personally chose the 32bit MATE edition.

After your download is finished, ether burn your ISO image to a CD, or put it on your flash drive using a live USB creator. (See http://www.linuxliveusb.com/ for a good one.)

 

The 2nt step is to change your BIOS settings, having your CD/USB drive boot first. Doing so depends on the computer you are using, but most will let you into the BIOS settings by pressing F2 at boot. Sometimes you can also just press F12 at boot instead, and then you get a nice, quick little menu, from which you can select your boot media.

During booting, you will see a blank, black screen. Don’t be alarmed, the first boot can take a while, and Linux Mint 13 does not have a splash screen. If you want to see what’s happening, press F8.

 

Once Linux Mint 13 has booted up, you can move onto the 3rd step: Starting the installer.

Double-click the “Install Linux Mint” icon on your desktop. The Linux Mint Installer will start. Choose your language, and click “Continue”.

Read what is on the next screen, and make sure these requirements are met:

Click continue, and on the next screen, click “Install Linux Mint alongside Windows” (IMPORTANT! You don’t want to replace Windows, you want to dual-boot it.)

Click Continue again. Now you must decide how much space you are going to give each operating system. The Windows NTFS filesystem is on the left, and the Linux Mint EXT4 filesystem is on the right.

As you can see, I divided up the space evenly between the two partitions:

Click “Install Now”. You will be presented with this dialog box:

Now here is what I believe to be the most dangerous part of this whole process.

If you are not sure that you selected the right partition sizes, this is your last chance to “Go Back”, and fix those mistakes.

Once you are confident about your partition sizes, click “Continue” to move to the 4th step: Installing and final configuring.

Go get a snack, take a bathroom break or whatever, because the installer will now resize your Windows partition to make room for Linux Mint.

WARNING: Make certain that the installer is not interrupted at this point. If it is, it will most likely result in a corrupted partition, and data loss!

Now, once it is done modifying the partition table, the installer will start copying system files to your PC. During this process, you will make the final configurations to your computer. You will first be presented with this screen:

Enter your closest location and click “Continue”. This will determine which timezone you are in.

Note: This window popped up on me during this time. Don’t worry about it, you can safely close it. It just opens when the new Linux filesystem is mounted, so that the installer can copy system files to it:
Now back to the installer. You should see a screen asking for your keyboard layout.

After making your selection and clicking “Continue” (again), you will be presented with this next screen:

Fill out the form. You can encrypt your home folder to add extra security, but by doing so you may experience slightly slower disk I/O performance. It also makes your data harder to retrieve in the case your Linux Mint installation becomes corrupt (rare, but can happen to newbies. Namely, me a few years ago.)

Next the Linux Mint installer has this cool little feature in which you can take a photo of yourself (If you have a webcam), and use it as your user profile photo:

One final thing: You can import your Windows accounts into your Linux Mint installation. Please note that I didn’t test this, but go right ahead and do so if you want/need to:

Now you are finally finished. While you are waiting for the installation to complete, check out the slide show:
The final steep, number 5:
Once the installation is complete, you will be presented with this dialog box:

Click “Restart Now” and you are finished! Congratulations!
Once your computer has rebooted (Make sure the installation media you used is removed), You will be presented with a boot menu asking you which OS you would like to boot.


Thank you for using this guide. I hope you found it useful!

I myself was surprised how easy dual-booting Linux Mint and Windows was. At the beginning of writing this post, (Yeah, I wrote this post at the same time as I was trying to figure out how to do what I was writing about. LOL!) I thought that setting up a dual-boot system would be hard. But I guess it isn’t too bad.

Oh, one last note:

After I installed Linux Mint 13 on my PC, only Windows would boot. I found out that the Linux Mint installer had, for whatever reason, installed the Master Boot Record (MBR) to my flash drive instead of the internal hard drive.
To fix this, simply plug back in your flash drive and boot off of it. Once you reach the boot menu, select Linux Mint, then after booting and logging in, open the Terminal app and type in this command:

sudo grub-install --root-directory=/ /dev/sda

Where sda is your hard drive’s device file.
That should install grub2 to your MBR. Reboot and everything should work. 🙂

Published by

Isaac Garrison

I'm a guy who loves Computers, Linux, open source software, web design, graphics design, programming, Minecraft, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and most of all, Jesus Christ.

12 thoughts on “Dual Booting Linux Mint and Windows”

  1. This is a great walkthrough. However, I have run into a problem
    with it. I am trying to install Mint 13-KDE, so that it will dual
    boot along with Windows 7 (64 bit). Unfortunately, I need to keep
    Windows around for certain work applications. The difficulty I am
    having is that when I go through the install process, I am not
    offered the opportunity to create a dual boot system. Instead of
    the “Installation Type” screen displayed here, I get offered a Disk
    Set Up screen, that gives me options of either ‘Guided — use
    entire disk’, or “Manual’. If I select ‘Manual’ I am given a screen
    that lists the various partitions. By the looks of this, /dev/sda1
    is the Windows 7 partition, as it is listed as being of type ntfs,
    with 105MB of 305MB in use. Any suggestions on how I could get to
    the nice helpful screens you show, or how best to proceed?. Many
    thanks in advance.

    1. I’m actually not quite sure. It’s been almost a year since I wrote this blog post, so they may have changed a few things.
      Usually the installer should automatically detect Windows.
      I’d first try using the latest version of Linux Mint 14 KDE 64bit which you can download the DVD ISO here: http://www.linuxmint.com/edition.php?id=126

      If it still doesn’t detect Windows, you may also try installing Linux Mint as a program INSIDE Windows. It is much safer too as it doesn’t effect your partition table.
      To do that, simply boot up Windows and insert the DVD into your computer. The auto run should bring up the installer, if not it is probably called something like “setup.exe” on the DVD. Then just follow the on-screen instructions.

      As always, make sure you backup your entire system beforehand!!

      Hope this helped.

      1. Hi again. Thanks for your input. I have already tried Mint 14 and
        even Ubuntu, all with the same effect. The installing inside
        Windows 7 is not really an option, as (1) I don’t have admin
        access, due to demented work security policies, and (2) I want to
        avoid the Windows overhead. This is because II run truly HUGE
        simulations in my research, so keeping the machine running lean and
        mean really matters. All the being said, I did find a useful
        resource at
        http://www.linuxbsdos.com/2012/05/17/how-to-dual-boot-ubuntu-12-04-and-windows-7/2/
        This gives a really nice write up on how to partition the drives
        manually. The only bit which sucks is having to make changes to the
        Windows 7 BCD, using EasyBCD, as this requires Admin access to
        Windows 7. However, it is easy enough to get a friendly technician
        to do that. This also saves me from the huge paper trail needed to
        get admin control myself. I thought that I’d mention this here, as
        it may be of use to your other readers.

        1. Glad you found something that would help you.
          However, due to what you are telling me about your work’s security policies, I’d strongly recommend that you make sure you have permission before trying to install another Operating System onto your computer.
          Thanks for the link!

          1. You know, about your second argument about installing inside Windows 7, I don’t think you would have much of a problem, as Windows 7 won’t be running. This is not using a Virtual PC or anything.

  2. I followed this and my computer now won’t boot into Windows
    anymore. Every time I select Windows the set-up runs instead of the
    OS itself.

    1. Hmm… Strange. I would start by removing the setup disk from your computer. Grub2, the boot loader, may be just trying to boot the next bootable device, which in this case may be your setup disk instead of your Windows partition.
      So just try booting your computer without the setup disk, and that “should” do it.
      Let me know how it goes.

  3. Hey Nice post. But i like to know whether all of my data will get
    erased when i install the linux alongside windows 7.?? and how do i
    choose in which drive i have to install the linux?? for example i
    want my windows 7 to be in C: drive and linux Mint13 to be in D:
    drive.with a boot option to load any of these at the time of
    startup..?? Plzz Rply soon thnx in advance

    1. No, none of your data should get erased as long as you choose the “Install Linux Mint alongside Windows 7”. On the next screen you can resize your C: partition to be able to fit Linux Mint on the same hard drive, or you can select another drive to install it on from the “select drive” drop-down list above the partition resizer. For example: D: may be “sdb”. I believe that you should still get the boot menu.

      NOTE: Although it shouldn’t erase any of your data, mistakes can be made, and power outages can occur which could corrupt your C: drive. I still would highly suggest that you back up your data before hand just in case!

      Hope this helps!

  4. After the reboot the boot window asking me to pick an OS did not
    appear, any idea how I can get this to show.

    1. Try this:

      Run this command in the terminal to open the main grub2 configuration file (You may replace gedit with whatever editor you want):
      sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

      (You may need to enter your password)

      Now, look for the line with “GRUB_TIMEOUT”
      If it isn’t already, modify it so it reads:
      GRUB_TIMEOUT=10

      This will make the grub2 bootloader display the menu for 10 seconds, so you can choose an OS.

      Save and close the text editor.

      Now you will need to update the grub2 configuration.
      Run this command in the terminal:
      sudo update-grub2

      Now you should be good to go.

      BTW, the command “update-grub2” should output something like this line:
      Found Windows ** (loader) on /dev/sdaX
      If not, you may have another problem.

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