I am looking at the Dell XPS 13 laptops and they offer a preinstalled version with Ubuntu 14.04.

The issue is that I require Windows for some work projects and I am wondering if it's more difficult to install Windows 10 on a laptop already running Ubuntu or easier to dual boot with a laptop running Windows into Ubuntu?

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    You might also consider running your secondary OS in a virtual machine. There are a number of no-cost options available including VirtualBox and the VMware Player. And Parallels is less than 100 USD. There is typically a performance penalty associated with running in a VM; but on the plus side you can save snapshots and roll back to a known "good" configuration at any time. – David Aug 17 '15 at 13:43
  • ... and you can avoid the performance issue -- at least to some extent -- with an SSD and/or by creating your virtual disks on a secondary disk drive. – David Aug 17 '15 at 13:47
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    in addition to the the technical issues, if you buy a Dell laptop with Ubuntu, do you still get a Windows license? – Foon Aug 17 '15 at 15:03

Dell laptops that come with Ubuntu preinstalled have a selection of hardware selected for optimal compatibility with Ubuntu that is different from the same model Dell laptops that come with Windows preinstalled. In addition to this, the default UEFI settings of Dell laptops that come with Windows preinstalled are optimized to run Windows well. So in addition to considering which operating system to install first, you also need to consider which operating system will be used the most, Windows or Ubuntu.

In the pure case of which operating system to install first, it is preferable to install Windows first because if you install Ubuntu first then the Windows installer will replace Ubuntu's GRUB bootloader with the Windows bootloader, and you will have to use Boot-Repair ( ) to repair the GRUB bootloader after installing Windows, so that both Windows and Ubuntu will boot.


The Windows installer (more importantly the automated creation of the boot manager/BCD data) doesn't have the ability to identify other installed OSes (such as Ubuntu) and therefore give you the choice upon boot.

In contrast, however, the Linux installer (again, more importantly the GRUB2 installer) DOES have the ability to identify that other OSes exist on the same hard disk; and it knows to create the correct boot data to allow you to choose which OS to boot when your computer boots.

It's important to understand that when you install GRUB (GRUB2 for modern releases of Linux) that it becomes the initial bootloader for your computer. The Windows boot manager will exist but GRUB knows to hand off to it to boot Windows - this is known chainloading.

The Windows boot manager can be used to boot Linux, but it is much more complicated as you need to edit the BCD data manually to add the entry.

Using GRUB2 automates the boot data hard work for the user.

As a result, it is easier (and recommended) to install Linux after Windows -> the installer will identify Windows and ask if you want them to run side-by-side -> you decide what you want! (The Windows installer isn't this nice to other OSes! It'll see the partitions but not the OSes so won't allow you to choose - it'll become the default).

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    Note: This problem doesn't arise when the other OSes are also windows. – Kevin Aug 17 '15 at 12:14
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    @Kevin Historically similar issues have existed with Windows multi-boot where older versions of Windows didn't know how to boot newer ones; but still installed their boot loader. The simplest way to avoid problems was to install starting with the oldest version of Windows and continuing to the newest. It's probably been close to a decade since I had multiple versions of Windows installed on a single PC, so I'm not sure if this is still an issue. – Dan Neely Aug 17 '15 at 13:56

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