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

Updated 1 March 2009 for Ubuntu 9.04.

Scenario: You want the simplest way to dual-boot Vista and Linux. You’ve already installed Windows Vista 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. In this tutorial we’ll use Ubuntu 9.04 use the Vista management tools to resize the main partition and install Ubuntu into the freed space then use the latest version of EasyBCD to reinstate the Vista bootloader

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

[#PAGE-BREAK#Get started – prepare the Vista partition#]

Boot into Windows Vista and go into Disk Management – right-click My Computer Manage Disk Management.

Right-click on the main Vista partition and select Shrink Volume – the Shrink tool will assess how much space can be freed up. /p>

As a rule of thumb Shrink will reduce the main system partition by about 50%. As long as the partition is big enough to begin with (at least 10GB) it should accommodate both operating systems.

Select Shrink and the tool will reduce the volume of the primary partition leaving the rest of the disk free as unpartitioned space.

Once that’s done shut down the Vista machine.

[#PAGE-BREAK#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 Vista machine from the CD and select “Install Ubuntu”.

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.

Ubuntu will then load the disk partitioner to determine where it’s going to be installed. Choose “Manual – use the largest continuous free space”. This will automatically select the unpartitioned space we created earlier using the Shrink tool. Click Forward.

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 migrate feel free to import it from Vista to Ubuntu. If it doesn’t find any obviously this isn’t an option. 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 Vista/Longhorn (loader)”. This means that regardless of whether Ubuntu found any user account to migrate it certainly knows that Windows Vista is installed on the other partition and is aware of it. 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 “Windows Vista/Longhorn loader”. By default Ubuntu will load itself after 10 seconds but you can select the Vista option and Vista will boot normally.

[#PAGE-BREAK#Choose a bootloader#]

If you want to use the GRUB bootloader then you don’t need to do anything further. Ubuntu installs GRUB into the MBR by default and will happily dualboot itself and Vista.

If however you prefer to keep Vista in charge of things then you’ll need to do a little bit of tweaking.

Firstly boot into Ubuntu and go to Applications –> Accessories –> Terminal. Then type in sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst.

This text file contains all the information GRUB uses to configure various boot options. Scroll down and the entries between “## ## End Default Options ##” and “### END DEBIAN AUTOMATIC KERNELS LIST” are the Linux boot options. Slightly further down is the option for the Vista/Longhorn bootloader.

We’ll need these entries for use later on so dump them out to a location accessible by the Vista partition.

Alternatively Ubuntu can access the Vista partition directly – go to Places –> Computer and double-click into the option marked “xx GB Media”. This is the NTFS Vista partition. Ubuntu will prompt for authentication (your Ubuntu password) and then you can either copy the entire menu.lst file into it or create a new text file on the fly open it with gedit and copy in the boot entries.

Then restart the machine and boot into Vista

Now we need the latest version of EasyBCD by Neosmart Technologies – download it here. Install the application and launch it.

First go to “Manage Bootloader” and select “Reinstall the Vista Bootloader” then “Write MBR”. This puts the Vista bootloader back into the MBR but the machine will only boot into Vista.

To enable access to the Linux partition the best option is to install NeoGrub. Go to “Add/Remove Entries” go the NeoGrub tab and select “Install NeoGrub”. This adds the “NeoGrub Bootloader” option to the Vista bootloader.

Once that’s done choose Configure – this launches the NeoGrub menu.lst file location at C:NSTmenu.lst. Use Notepad or Wordpad to open the file and then paste in the boot entries. Save and exit then reboot the machine.

The system will come up with two boot options. Select “NeoGrub Bootloader” and then the Linux boot options will load. Choose the relevant option and the system boot into Ubuntu.

  • very good, but how to add linux line into vista boot file?