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I already have Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 installed on my laptop, and would like to add Windows 8 Consumer Preview to that list. Here's some information which may be relevant to this question:

  • The laptop only has one hard drive.
  • The hard drive has plenty of space to accommodate all 3 OSes
  • The GRUB menu currently controls which OS boots up.
  • When I originally decided to dual boot, I already had Windows 7 installed and I re-partitioned my hard drive and installed Ubuntu on the new partition.

What would be the correct way to install Windows 8 without screwing up Windows 7 and Ubuntu?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Windows 8 has a new bootloader that's a bit different than what you may have seen before, and after installing, it will give you the option to boot Windows 7 or 8 but not Ubuntu.
I don't know of any way to stop Windows 8 from installing that bootloader, so you have to install Windows 8 to whichever partition you set aside for it, then boot up any linux live environment and reinstall Grub to your first partition (Which is either 7 or ubuntu, depending).

Once you boot up in the linux environment, browse to your existing /boot/grub/menu.lst file -- it should show entries for ubuntu and windows 7. If you have changed the partition order installing Windows 8 (e.g. changed the partition number where ubuntu resides) you need to update the line root(hd0,0) accordingly, where the first number is the harddrive number (0 if you only have one) and the second is the partition number -1 (sda1 = 0, sda2 = 1, etc...)

You can create a third entry for Windows 8 in exactly the same way as windows 7, changing only the rootnoverify line to apply to the appropriate partition where Windows 8 is installed.

Once that's all set, go ahead and reinstall grub to your primary partition by opening up a terminal as root and running


then at the grub console type

setup (hd0)

my grub config for this looks like this:

    # (0) Arch Linux
    title  Arch Linux
    root   (hd0,2)
    kernel /vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/sda3 ro
    initrd /initramfs-linux.img

    # (1) Windows 7
    title Windows 7
    rootnoverify (hd0,0)
    chainloader +1

    # (2) Windows 8
    title Windows 8
    rootnoverify (hd0,1)
    chainloader +1
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+1 appreciate the amount of detail. Will certainly try it out when I find some time, and accept the answer if this works. Thanks! – K Mehta Mar 5 '12 at 1:33

Install to a VHD. That's what I'm currently doing. The only thing that gets virtualized is the disk, and I don't notice it at all. I used Hanselman's blog entry as a starting point, but I wrote up my experience about it as well. I had some differences from his experiences, mainly I had to add Windows 8 to my boot list myself.

Also, make sure Windows 8 controls the OS selection at the beginning. That's where running BCDBOOT when all is said and done comes into play.

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+1 The linked articles should make for an interesting read, and I'd love to test out the effects of virtualizing the disk – K Mehta Mar 5 '12 at 1:35

I used to install multiple OS to the hard disk, but one day I got burned on the partition table and GRUB.

Now I only install one OS on the boot disk (a Linux). The other OS that I use I run from virtual machines in Virtual Box. You may find life easier with Virtual Box.. kind of depends on how it likes your hardware though.

Windows 7 runs like a champ in Virtual Box. I'm sure Windows 8 would also.

Google Search of Virtual Box Windows 8

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From what I know, Win8 Consumer Preview doesn't work too well on a VM. Either way, I'd like to dedicate all my hardware resources to the OS I'd like to run, so I wouldn't want to use a VM anyway. – K Mehta Mar 3 '12 at 10:18
Oh.. that's surprising. Good luck! – Paulb Mar 3 '12 at 15:05
I ran the Dev Preview in a VM, and I was not pleased with my experience at all. Gotta experience this on the native hardware. – Nathan DeWitt Mar 4 '12 at 14:46

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