Jun 2, 2009

How To Dual-Boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04

I usually wouldn't write something like this. I mean, everyone know how to do a dual-boot setup right? I thought this setup would be just as simple. I mean I've done dual-boot installs hundreds of times, why would this one be any different?

I don't know about your system, but when I tried to dual-boot my Dell Mini 9 with Windows 7 and Ubuntu 9.04 I had some problems. You see, I always start with the Windows Install first, then install Linux last so Grub can take over as the bootloader. I am sure most of you do too!

That's what I did first. I booted up with my Windows 7 DVD, and deleted all of the old partitions, then I partitioned my drive in half and installed Windows 7. After that, I booted up with Ubuntu, and started to install, and here is where I had the problem. Ubuntu didn't see the Windows 7 partition as an operating system! When the installer got to the disk partitioner, it showed that I had 32GB of free space! That was strange because when I mounted the hard drive from the live CD I could see all of the Windows 7 files. WTF!?!

I'm not sure what it is, but Ubuntu doesn't understand how Windows 7 does it's partitioning even though Windows 7 is using the same NTFS that we have all grown to love. Never fear though, I found a solution that works.

After playing around with different settings and installs, I finally found the best way to install it (for me anyway). Here is what I did:

  1. Boot up with the Ubuntu 9.04 CD
  2. Opened a terminal, and run Gparted

    >sudo gparted

  3. Create an NTFS partion (I used the first half of the disk)

  4. Quit Gparted, and reboot
  5. Boot up with the Windows 7 DVD
  6. When asked where to install, select the ntfs partition you created in step 3 and click next

  7. Windows 7 will install

  8. After Windows 7 Installs, bootup using the Ubuntu CD again and proceed with the install as usual to the empty partition
  9. Ubuntu should now see the Windows 7 partition as a Windows Vista Partition, and now you can dual boot!

In the end, the moral of the story is that if you create your initial partitions with the Windows 7 DVD like you did in previous versions of Windows, then Ubuntu 9.04 will not be able to see the partition as an Operating System. If you use a third party partitioner, like Gparted, and install Windows to that, you will be good to go!

Did any of you have problems dual booting with Windows 7? Did you get it to work a different way? Did your's work out of the box? I want to hear about your experience in the comments!

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