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I have a 120GB hard drive and want to dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu. I have two options for setting the hard drive up this way:

  1. Install Windows 7 with 60 GB, then partition it, then install Ubuntu on the remaining 60 GB.

  2. Install Windows 7, then use Wubi to install Ubuntu on Windows 7.

Which of the two options above would work best?

Note that I want to be able to access files between the two OSes. Is this possible with either approach? I would also like to use Ubuntu as my primary OS and so was considering giving it 70GB and Windows 50 GB. Does this make sense?

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Not sure of the spec of your PC but have you thought of making one of the OSes a virtual PC using Virtualbox - virtualbox.org - If windows is your main OS then you can also experiment with various virtual linux OS - I find Lubuntu runs very well under virtualbox. Since discovering VB I never dual boot. –  BJ292 Jun 22 '12 at 19:54

3 Answers 3

you won't be able to access the ubuntu files easily with a wubi install - wubi installs to a image file, so you'd need some way to mount that, as well as needing an ext3/4 driver.

If both installs are going to be 'fresh' installs, partition FIRST before you do anything. If you're going to repartition a existing install, back up first.

Other than that, if you install ubuntu after windows, you should pretty much get what you want.

Spacewise, ubuntu dosen't need as much as windows, even a 20 gb partition would be enough. You can probably store data in the other drive if need be - ntfs-3g is pretty reliable at this point. YMMV and it would depend on your usage habits.

Filesystemwise - NTFS3g on linux (it should be in the repos if not preinstalled) and ext2fsd on windows should cover your bases, assuming its vanilla installs of both to start with.

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Partition like this with a GParted LiveCD (it's free!) before you start.

A 60GB NTFS Partition goes at the front of the drive for your Windows install.

A "swap" partition the size of your RAM (and a little over couldn't hurt) (this is for hibernation)

The partition(s) filling the rest of the disk will be for your Ubuntu installation. If you want to be able to access your files from the Windows side, then make a 15GB or so ext4 partition for Ubuntu and a FAT32 partition for your data, which would then be mounted as /home. If you don't need your Ubuntu files to be seen from the Windows side, then you can just make one big ext4 filling this part.

Then, install your Windows. After that you can install Ubuntu in the empty partitions at the end of the disk.

A note: Ubuntu does have built-in NTFS support (to the best of my knowledge) but don;t go storing your entire /home on there.

Also, NEVER write to your Windows partition while it [Windows] is in hibernation. YOu could corrupt your hibernation state.

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I did roughly the former on my netbook; it defaults to booting Ubuntu (well, Debian Squeeze now) with grub giving me time to select Windows 7 instead before the autoboot. I can access the Windows side with ntfs-3g, although I've never tried to write to it.

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