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I'm a Linux enthusiast, who is eager to try Ubuntu in a full installation. Which of the following ways would you suggest (& why) for Dual-booting Windows 7 with Ubuntu:

  1. Installing them side by side (Windows 7 installed first)

  2. Installing Windows 7 and then Ubuntu in a separate partition.

I've already used Ubuntu in WUBI & VirtualBox, so please exclude these methods from your valuable suggestions.

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Personnally, I would install Ubuntu first. It could be a little harder to install linux whena Windows OS is already installed. When you have linux installed and you want to install Windows 7, it's really really easy. I just did it last night! Pretty neat and easy!

Give it a try and let us know!

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OK, in your case, do you make some modification to the grub menu, so that u can select which OS u want to load? or it is automatic – munnaBhai Feb 11 '10 at 19:20

Actually, if you can spare a 8GB flash drive,
I would suggest using that for the Ubuntu install as a trial.
Use ext2 filesystem and try it out first.
You will need to just check that your system can boot from the USB drive (most recent ones do).

This will setup much faster than a reinstall over an existing Windows system.

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Considering the two options you suggested, I would choose the second one - install Windows7, and then install Ubuntu on separate partition(s).

Before you start installing anything, you need to understand the concept of a Linux system structure - it is different than the one from Windows family systems.

Not digging deep into technical details, you might use as many as 4 partitions for Ubuntu alone, each serving a different purpose. For a start, you might use just 2 partitions:

  1. The root directory ( / ), which would contain the system itself, along with boot loader files in /boot and user's home directories in /home/username.
  2. A swap partition. Its role is similar as swapfile's in Windows family systems, just that in Linux it should be a separate partition.

Concerning the sizes of those partitions - I'd say that using around 2-3 times the amount of RAM you have for swap partition and around 10-15 GB for / would suffice for a start. The size of / partition is a matter of personal choice, depending of how much software do you intend to install, how much files do you want to store on your Linux system etc.

There's a short article about planning the partitioning of your hard drive when installing Linux systems on your computer. Basically, it might be justified to use as many as 4 partitions for one system - in addition to the two mentioned above, you might want to put /boot (the boot loader files, etc.) and /home (user files) each on separate partition. Take a look at this article for more information; you might want to google some more about this issue.

After some research, it will become clear to you that the idea of Ubuntu and Windows7 sharing the same partition is unfeasible. Not only it is hard to enforce Linux to use NTFS filesystem (although Ubuntu should be able to do so), but also because those two operating systems have very different approach to hard drives, partitions and system devices.

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I see now, side-by-side (read somewhere) is not helpful. Again, if I install win7 1st, then ubuntu (2 diff.Partition, as u said), will I be given a option to boot into either at the start or I must make some change to boot manager to show me an option screen. – munnaBhai Feb 11 '10 at 19:27
I'm more familiar with GRUB, so I'd recommend this boot loader over LILO. If you install Windows7 first and then Ubuntu with GRUB, then GRUB should automatically find Windows7 boot partition. You'll be presented with a menu each time, to choose which system to boot into. – Neo Feb 11 '10 at 22:14

Neither, i recommend to use a 3rd party boot manager (e.g. BootItNG or BootStar). Then you can properly hide partitions from other operating systems and do away with worries about messing up a boot manager or another OS partition.

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Thanks, here again: 1. Do I still need to have atleast 2 partitions for each? 2.Can I chose which OS I want to load at computer boot-up? – munnaBhai Feb 11 '10 at 19:30
@munnaBhai - i'd say at least 3 partitions, 2 for the operating systems and one for shared files. and yes, you will be prompted which OS you want to boot, you can set the time to display the boot menu until the default OS (again, your choice) will boot automatically. – Molly7244 Feb 11 '10 at 20:07
@Molly - newer distributions of Ubuntu make mounting NTFS (Windows) partitions rather trivial - after fresh installation, there are icons of NTFS partitions on Ubuntu desktop; double-click mounts the desired partition. Hence I think that a separate fartition for shared files wouldn't be needed at this point. – Neo Feb 11 '10 at 22:12
@Neo - quite so, but call me old-fashioned, paranoid, or whatever, i prefer to keep system partitions in a multi-boot environment safe and sound, i.e hidden and well out of reach from other operating systems. – Molly7244 Feb 11 '10 at 22:30
@Molly - fair enough, I see your point :) – Neo Feb 12 '10 at 0:25

On my X61 Tablet (current machine I am posting this from) I had Windows 7 installed first, then used a USB drive to install Ubuntu 9.10 x64 in the unallocated space on my drive second. This is good for a few reasons, one is that GRUB2 will pick up Windows 7 when it is installed, and two that is the fool-proof way I have gotten them to work.

Windows 7 seems to complain when Ubuntu is installed first, due to the Primary partitions it needs and desires.

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