Installing a Dual-Boot with Windows and Ubuntu

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Starting the Install
Dealing with Partitioning
Finishing the Actual Installation


If you want to set up a dual-boot, but you're worried about partitioning, check out this guide to installing Ubuntu as a dual-boot inside of Windows instead. That is probably the simplest and least intrusive way to set up a dual-boot of Windows and Ubuntu.

This page is about installing Ubuntu but has a focus on setting up a dual-boot between Ubuntu and Windows. Before setting up a dual-boot, it's highly advised you

  • Back up everything that's important to you. You don't want to be 99.99% sure that your data will remain intact. You want to be 100% sure.
  • Defragment Windows
  • Read about partition planning
  • Use the Desktop CD as a live CD (without installing) for at least two weeks
There are also other tutorials out there. This one assumes you are using the Desktop CD. If you are using the Alternate CD, you'd be better off with this tutorial instead. While both tutorials have screenshots, if you still feel lost, you may want to check out some of the online videos about setting up dual-boots.

Also, the screenshots are intended to be a visual guide. The partition sizes in the screenshots are not advisable (I would not set up a dual boot for a drive that's less than 20 GB large).

Starting the Installation

Now that you've obtained the Desktop CD (either through a purchase, ShipIt, or downloading and burning), you'll need to reboot your computer to use Ubuntu.

Your computer's BIOS must be set to boot from CD first; otherwise, Windows will just load up again. To get into the BIOS settings, you usually have to press one of these keys during boot-up: Escape, F1, F2, F12, or Delete. Usually your computer will tell you which key to use.

Once your BIOS is configured to boot from CD first, if you have Ubuntu in the drive, you should see this screen. Select your language.

If you have 512 MB or more of RAM (or memory), you may select Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer. This allows you to run a live session while you're installing (so you can use Firefox or play Gnometris while waiting for the installation to complete.

If you don't want to do anything else while installing or if you have less than 512 MB of RAM, I'd highly recommend you select the Install Ubuntu option.

Wait for Ubuntu to get ready for a live session or installation.

If you chose the first option instead of the second, click on Install to start up the installation.

You'll be asked a series of really easy questions. Answer them appropriately.

Dealing with Partitioning

After you answer the easy questions, a partitioner will come up, and you'll be presented with four options.

If you don't know what you're doing, stay with the default (first) option and use your mouse to drag the border between Windows and Ubuntu to your desired division.

Since Ubuntu can work well with NTFS and Windows can, with a little help, work well with Ext3, what the relative partition sizes you choose should be based on which operating system you think you'll use more often. If you think you'll use Ubuntu more often, make the Ubuntu partition bigger. If you think you'll use Windows more often make the Windows partition bigger.

If you don't want to set up a dual-boot and would like Ubuntu to erase Windows completely, select the Guided - use entire disk option.

If you know what you're doing and want a special partitioning scheme, select Manual

When you're done selecting your partitioning scheme, click Forward and then Continue.

Finishing the Actual Installation

Answer more easy questions.

Wait for the installer to finish. Depending on your computer's specifications, this can take anywhere between 10 minutes and a half hour.

When the installation has finished, click Restart Now

After your CD is ejected, press Enter to reboot.

When you reboot, you should see a menu. You can use the Up and Down arrows to select what you want to boot. It'll default to booting Ubuntu. If you want to boot into Windows, press the Down arrow until you get to that boot option, and then press Enter.

After you wait for Ubuntu to boot up, enter your newly created username and password, and then you'll be able to use Ubuntu!

If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please post in this Ubuntu Forums thread or leave a comment on my blog.

I will not give help to people posting in the above places. If you require technical support, start a support thread on the Ubuntu Forums. That is the appropriate place to ask for help.