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