How to dual boot Linux and Windows

Although Windows is the most supported operating system, Linux is a great alternative. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between them. In this guide, we’ll show you how to dual boot Linux and Windows to get the best of both worlds – whether it’s with Windows 10 or the newer Windows 11.

Linux is ideal for developers and repairmen, as it offers a wide range of open source software and customization options. We’ll be using beginner-friendly Ubuntu for this tutorial, but be sure to check out our list of the best Linux distros if you want to try something different.

Windows 11

Start installing Windows

The first step is to install Windows, assuming you’re starting from scratch. We have a complete guide on how to install Windows 11, so be sure to keep it handy if you need additional details. For dual booting, the process is pretty much the same minus one major difference.

Instead of letting Windows take up all the space on your hard drive, you’ll allocate a partition for it. If you have multiple dual boot hard drives, you can allow Windows to take up the full space on your hard drive. This process works for Windows 10 and Windows 11, but we’ll be using Windows 10 as an example.

If you don’t have an additional Windows PC to create installation media, you can install Windows first before installing Linux (although you may need to defragment your entire hard drive to create a Linux partition).

Step 1: Using your backup computer, download Windows Media Creation Tool and follow the steps to create installation media on one of your blank USB drives. Note: You may be asked to format the drive, which will remove all data.

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.

Mark Kubock / Digital Trends

Step 2: Leaving the installation USB drive connected, turn off the computer. Restart it and select a file F12 on the keyboard quickly while the computer is booting. This will take you to the boot menu. Select your Windows USB drive and continue.

Step 3: Follow the steps for the Windows installer to get to a file What type of installation do you want page. Choose Custom: Install Windows only.

Windows 10 installation screen.

The fourth step: You need to create a partition on your hard drive. You will likely see multiple partitions here unless you are using a brand new hard drive. Assuming you want to start from scratch, delete the partitions (note: this will remove files everyone data on your hard drive, so be sure to back up your hard drive).

Fifth step: Select your hard drive and select new To create a new partition. Set the size you want the partition to be and confirm. This will be the total space Windows can access, and you will need additional space to install Linux. We recommend splitting the empty space in half, allocating half for Windows and the other half for Linux.

Follow the remaining installation steps to finish.

Someone using a Linux laptop.

How to install Linux

Installing Windows first is a good idea because it makes installing Linux much easier. If you already have Windows installed, you can still dual boot Linux, but you will need to create a new partition on your hard drive.

We’ll be using Ubuntu for our example, but the process is the same for most Linux distributions.

Step 1: Download the latest version of Ubuntu and store it somewhere you can easily access it. Get the second blank USB drive and insert it into your computer.

Step 2: Download and open balenaEtcher. Select the blank USB drive and your Ubuntu image and run the program to create bootable Linux media.

Etcher works on Windows.

Step 3: Keep plugging in your Linux USB drive, restart your computer and quickly press a file F12 A key to enter the boot menu. Select the Linux USB drive to boot at the installation screen.

Ubuntu install screen.

The fourth step: You’ll be able to try installing or installing Ubuntu, so if you’re not sure about Linux, try the operating system first. It can be run from your USB drive, despite the performance drop. Once you are settled, select Install Ubuntu to complete.

Select your keyboard layout and language and choose File normal installation. Make sure both boxes are checked under File other options section on this screen.

Ubuntu installation options.

Fifth step: Ubuntu will automatically detect if you have Windows installed. Choose Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10 on this screen. the other option, Wipe the disk and install Ubuntu It will remove Windows from your computer.

Sixth step: If you start with a blank hard drive, you’re done. Exit the installation and use the boot menu indicated above to choose the operating system you want to boot into (select the hard drive partition you want).

If Windows occupies the entire drive, you will see a screen that allows you to allocate disk space for Ubuntu. Choose how much space you want to allocate and continue. we Extremely We recommend creating a partition through Windows first, though, to avoid accidentally deleting data.

Most Linux distros will boot into a boot menu that lets you choose between Linux and Windows, but you may need to use the boot menu to choose which operating system you want to load into.

Dual boot opens up your possibilities on your PC, and the process is simple enough. The only thing to keep in mind is file sharing between Windows and Linux. If you are using an external hard drive, one operating system may work fine with files while the other may not.

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