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I want to experience Ubuntu and want it on my machine. I currently have Windows 7 installed and was wondering what the easiest or best way is to install Ubuntu so I can choose to run either Windows 7 or Ubuntu.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 5 '11 at 19:27

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4 Answers

The best way, if you just want to play around with it in safety, and don't want to repartition your system would be to run Ubuntu in a virtual machine.

I'd recommend VirtualBox as it's free, fast and, well, just generally good.

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An alternative option would to be use a live CD. Burn the Ubuntu .iso to a disk, boot from the disk (if the machine is capeable, I would think so) and then feel free to play around with the interface. Note any changes that are made will be lost as it is running from a CD/DVD, although you could run it from a USB Stick instead.

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I think the best solution may be dual-booting. There are many guides all over the web on how to dual-boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/WindowsDualBoot

If you want, you can also try Wubi. It's a bit of a strange bird and doesn't give you a %100 authentic Linux experience, since it installs Linux as an app inside Windows, but it may be more of what you are looking for in terms of just giving Ubuntu a test drive.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Wubi

The live CD and VirtualBox suggestions are excellent as well. Personally, I like dual-boot as it gives you a %100 authentic experience (since you are natively running Linux, but it can be a lot of setup work to get going. The live CD is next, as it's very easy and feels pretty close to how Linux would when installed on your hard drive, followed by VirtualBox and Wubi as they are virtualized or OS-as-an-application type-environments, and some of the fit and finish may not be there.

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Ubuntu 10.10 allows you to install the linux on your windows just like any other software. Please use that CD to install Ubuntu 10.10 on your PC. After the installation, you can see the change to boot up screen which gives you an option to login to any OS.

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This answer is correct but incomplete. When you install Ubuntu on a box that already has Windows installed, you must partition the drive. This will create effectively two disk areas, one for Windows and one for Linux. Ubuntu will be able to see the Windows partition, but data on the Ubuntu partition will NOT be visible to Windows unless you install additional software. I personally like to create a third data partition, formatted with vFAT or NTFS, which can be shared between the two operating systems. –  CarlF Apr 5 '11 at 19:51
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actually no - ubuntu comes with wubi, which installs linux on a disk image inside windows –  Journeyman Geek Apr 5 '11 at 22:52
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