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I'm interesting in installing Linux but I dont want to break my Windows installation.

How would one go about doing such a thing?

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Linux installations typically have a partition manager as part of their installer. Alternatively you can use something like EASEUS to fix it ahead of time. Once you have your partition, just install Linux to it. If Windows was installed on the system first, GRUB will see it automatically and offer both Windows and Linux as boot options. In short, all you really have to do is just install Linux. – MaQleod Sep 5 '11 at 20:11
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would recommend the Windows installer for Ubuntu, it's probably the safest way to install it without breaking anything.

It installs like a normal program and can be uninstalled just the same.

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Well spank me like a monkey and call me Bob, I never knew such thing existed. Tested this out and it works like a charm, you weren't kidding when you said it acts like a normal program. – PiMPDaDDY Sep 5 '11 at 20:42

VMware, Virtualbox and Microsoft Virtual PC are few ways to deal with foreign OS without breaking your host setup. If you have lots of RAM and fairy good hardware configuration then i guess you'll easily run any modern OS parallel with host OS.

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I was able to run Ubuntu 11.04 as a guest and host on a HP Mini with 1GB RAM, although it's a bit slow. After a bit of pruning, I was able to get Ubuntu host run with less than 200MB. So, lots of RAM and fairly good h/w configuration is not required for a Linux host and guest. – Praveen Sripati Sep 6 '11 at 1:07

The best way to go about it depends on what you want to do with it. If you just wanna try out Linux, simply use a LiveCD. If you have a really powerful computer (or are using a fairly frugal Linux distro) you can run in VirtualBox or something like it.

But if you really do want to dual-boot (which is the official name for booting two different OS's) I would do it like so:

  1. BACK UP YOUR DATA!!!! I can't stress this enough. Although I'm going to show you a way that SHOULDN'T make you lose any data, if you're working with partitions and such you should always make sure you back up your important data first.

  2. Download Parted Magic: and burn it to a cd or (if your BIOS supports it) a USB stick. (There are instructions on the website of how to do each of those.)

  3. Download MyDefrag: www . mydefrag . com (I couldn't actually post the URL cause apparently I'm a "new user" :/) and run the System Disk Monthly script. (This will move all of your data to the beginning of the physical hard drive so that you can create a Linux partition in the free space at the back.)

  4. Go to My Computer and right click on the drive you'll be using to dual boot. Hit properties. Make a note of how much free and used space there is on the drive.

  5. Run the Parted Magic LiveCD and use GParted to shrink the Windows partition in the free space at the back of the drive. (Here's a guide for doing that: ) Make sure that you don't shrink it too much. Use the information you got in step 4 to make sure you leave the windows partition big enough to still keep all of the data that's already on it and have plenty of free space for programs and such in the future.

  6. Boot back into Windows to make sure everything is still working fine.

  7. Download the CD of whatever Linux distro you'll be using, and install it following it's specific instructions.


a. Linux has a different scheme for recognizing drives and partitions than Windows. Windows uses C: A: D: etc, while Linux uses /dev/sda /dev/sdb /dev/sdc for drives and /dev/sda1 /dev/sda2 /dev/sda3 far partitions on the drive /dev/sda. Your main hard drive is usually /dev/sda, but it might be something different depending on your computer.

b. In the Linux install you will create partitions in the free space behind your Windows partition. That means if the hard drive is /dev/sda then the Windows partition will be /dev/sda1 and your Linux partitions will be /dev/sda2 /dev/sda3 etc. Don't ever touch /dev/sda1 (or whatever your Windows partition is) while in Linux. (There are obviously exceptions, but unless you really know what you're doing, you probably shouldn't.)

c. I'm sure your install guide will go into this, but hard drives are formatted with different filesystems. The default filesystem for Windows 2000-7 is NTFS. (DOS was FAT and 95-ME was FAT32). In Linux you will have many different filesystem types to choose from. Generally you will have a swap partition that has it's own "swap" filesystem, and then any data partitions (/, /home, etc.) will be ext3 filesystem. If you ask around on Linux forums they'll be more than happy to explain all that stuff to you. (Although it's probably all already in a sticky or something, so search around first ;)

Hope that helps!! Comment if you have any questions :)

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Woah, big reply, thanks for the information, I could use this to install Fedora or anything else not Ubuntu if they dont have a similar program to the Ubuntu Windows Installer. Thank you! – PiMPDaDDY Sep 5 '11 at 20:54
You're quite welcome! :) – Mako Sep 5 '11 at 21:06
Just one other thing to note that I forgot to mention...The maximum number of primary partitions you can have on a hard drive is 4. You can have more "logical" partitions than that if you want however. So if your Linux install suggests 4 partitions, you can have 3 primary (since 1 is used for Windows) and have another logical partition or two if you want/need. :) – Mako Sep 6 '11 at 16:14

I recommend installing Linux in a virtual machine. Download the Windows version of VirtualBox, use it to create a Linux VM, and install whichever Linux distribution you wish inside the VM. Windows will be the host OS, and Linux will be the guest. I run Fedora 15 as a guest in a Windows 7 host with no problems.

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Thanks for the advice, if I only needed to do some small testing things I would do this, but the program the other guy (or girl?) recommended lets me run linux like a normal OS, which I needed for some personal things also, but I will probably use this to test server stuff. Thanks! – PiMPDaDDY Sep 5 '11 at 20:43

andLinux is a complete Ubuntu Linux system running seamlessly in Windows 2000 based systems (2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 7; 32-bit versions only).

You can then start Linux like any other native Windows application.

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