You need Windows for a program you use for work, your favorite game runs only on Windows or you are a developer that works on some cross-platform project. And of course, you can’t even think about giving up your favorite OS. Whatever the reason, you need Windows and a virtual machine won’t cut it so all you’re left with, if you don’t have a spare machine, is dual-boot. I usually recommend against multiple-boot machines, but I can’t argue with the fact that here are situations when the idea is very useful. So this is what this article is about: making sure you need a dual-boot system, acknowledging the requirements, making backups if need be and proceed. You are expected to have some experience in installing Windows as well as Linux, at least Ubuntu in this case, and some courage. But first let’s make some concepts clear.
We don’t want to lie to you: any task that involves advanced partitioning schemes isn’t for the faint of heart. But it isn’t rocket science either, and we’re here to help you. Various operating systems have various partitioning schemes but since the partitioning concepts of the PC are so “smart”, there are some things you should know. Every OS that I know of that is installable on the PC requests a primary partition to boot from. Linux is the most flexible in this respect, as you can have its’ /boot or / on a logical partition, but I’m not so sure if your BIOS will be able to boot from it. Windows, Solaris and the BSDs absolutely demand primary partitions, with Windows being the most “oppressive” in that respect. So whenever you install a dual-boot system with Windows involved, install it first, as it won’t ask you and overwrite the MBR. If you want to dual-boot Linux and BSD or Solaris, install Linux first. Now that we settled this, we will insist you make backups if you have other partitions on the target disk, and you still need them. Our setup will start with a blank drive, and we’ll show you how it’s done.
Installing Windows 7
As said, you need to install Windows first, and this is more than an advice, and it doesn’t apply only to Windows 7 either. We suggest you don’t try over-complicated setups, because your chances of having a system actually up and running in decent time are decreasing rapidly that way. Take note that this article is not a step-by-step how-to on installing Windows 7 and/or Ubuntu. We will only refer to the parts that involve partitioning for a successful dual-boot experience. So, when you will get to Windows’ partitioning screen, here’s a screenshot for you to get an idea:
So, since Windows asks for a minimal primary partition size of more than 12 GB (!) , I gave it that, it auto-created it’s system one and left me the rest of the disk empty and blank. After installing finished successfully, I was prepared for the tricky part: installing Linux. No, I’m just kidding, it’s as simple as it can be.