How to dual boot Windows XP and Linux (XP installed first) — the step-by-step guide with screenshots

Updated 28 February 2009 to use Ubuntu 9.04

Scenario: You want the simplest way to dual-boot XP and Linux. You’ve already installed Windows XP and now want to dual-boot it with Ubuntu 9.04

Summary of tutorial: This is an updated tutorial (we previously used Ubuntu 8.04 but in this tutorial we’ll use Ubuntu 9.04 to make space on the XP partition and then use the GRUB bootloader to dualboot XP and Ubuntu.

This tutorial has been tested on a VMWare Workstation 6.5 virtual machine.

[#PAGE-BREAK#Install Ubuntu#]

We’ll assume that XP has already been installed (either via an OEM or self-installation). We’ll further assume that XP has been installed to a single NTFS partition which takes up the whole disk.

One interesting thing to note though – Ubuntu is happy to read NTFS partitions so a potential configuration option is to either create a 2nd NTFS partition which will house data for access by both operating systems or simply a 2nd hard drive again formatted with NTFS.

Install Ubuntu

You’ll need the latest desktop ISO of Ubuntu (9.04). You can choose a list of download mirrors from the Ubuntu website or use this link from Planetmirror. Download the ISO and burn it to CD to create bootable Ubuntu CD.

Boot the XP machine from the CD and select “Install Ubuntu” from the boot menu.

Once the Live CD has loaded on the Welcome screen choose your language and select Forward.

On the “Where are you” (timezone) page select your location and then Forward.

On the next screen choose the appropriate keyboard layout and then Forward.

[#PAGE-BREAK#Make room on the disk for Ubuntu#]

Ubuntu will then load the disk partitioner to determine where it’s going to be installed. The default option is that Ubuntu will use the Windows XP NTFS partition for Ubuntu so select the option “Install them side by side choosing between them at startup”. Then drag the dividing line left or right to increase or decrease the amount of space to be freed up.

Once you’re happy with the selection click Forward.

Ubuntu then prompts you to commit the changes (despite what the warning it won’t take very long). Click Continue – the screen disappears and then click Forward again.

[#PAGE-BREAK#Set up Ubuntu#]

On the “Who are you?” screen enter your username and password details then click Forward.

On the Migrate Documents and Settings screen if Ubuntu finds any user accounts to migrateit will happily import user settings from XP to Ubuntu. If it doesn’t find any obviously this isn’t an option. Select as much or as little as you wish and click Forward.

On the “Ready to install” screen you’ll see that Ubuntu now has enough information to commence the installation. In the summary under Migrate Assistant it should say “Windows XP Professional” along with any user account details you selected in the previous step

This means that regardless of whether Ubuntu found any user account to migrate it certainly knows that Windows XP is installed on the other partition Click Install.

See the install through and then let it boot into Ubuntu.

When the install is complete the system will reboot. When the GRUB boot menu is displayed have a look at the last entry in the list.

After the Ubuntu boot options there will be an entry “Other operating systems” and beneath that “Microsoft Windows XP Professional”. By default Ubuntu will load itself after 10 seconds but you can select the XP option and the OS will boot normally.

The GRUB bootloader is decidedly better than XP’s and XP doesn’t handle dualbooting non-Microsoft operating systems very well so there’s little point trying to restore the XP bootloader. Be happy with GRUB!

  • Roland Lindgren

    I’ve installed linux mint alongside windows xp and have been using linux. Now I can’t boot to my xp. what should I do? thanks.

    • Crippled by UK State goons

      Put in your XP CD and press Boot from CD?
      Go to “Repair” by pressing “R” at the booting screens?

      If that doesnt work, you could look at the (dark small text) Mint loading screen, and you might see the XP install there. Its where I found my other Windows install/s.
      Remember to go into BIOS (press “Delete”) and Boot from CD/DVD.