Whether you want to have a safer option for web browsing or need to run some Linux software, dual booting is one of the best ways to do that. Itâ€™s not a technically challenging process, even though Linux is known as an OS for advanced users. You can handle all the installation procedures without ever opening a console.
But first, letâ€™s look at the alternatives.
How to Run Linux on Windows Without Dual Booting
Use a Virtual Machine
If youâ€™re not planning on using the Linux environment extensively, running it on a virtual machine will be just the thing for you. Install Linux on a virtual machine and run it from inside Windows easily.
The drawback of this method is that if your PC isnâ€™t very powerful it can be hard to run programs that require a lot of RAM.
Use Linux from a USB Stick
You donâ€™t have to roll out Linux on your desktop computer to check out a few things in it. If you only need to ensure that your app will run smoothly on this OS, you can power it up from a flash drive. Boot your PC from a pen drive and enjoy your Linux OS directly from it.
Again, this may not be the best option if you need to work in a Linux environment for a prolonged period of time. Itâ€™s going to run slower, too.
Earlier in 2019, Microsoft announced their new version of Windows Subsystems for Linux, WSL 2. It allows you to run a Linux environment in Windows without installing Linux at all. All you have to do is type in a few lines of code into the console, and you can run Linux apps. Itâ€™s a Linux kernel with full system call compatibility, which covers most development needs except troubleshooting on specific versions of Ubuntu and Mint.
This is a solution for advanced users and programmers, so it may not be the best way to use Linux for everyone.
If youâ€™re sure that the only way you want to experience a Linux environment is dual booting, itâ€™s time to move on to the first step.
Install Windows (Optional)
If Windows is already installed on your computer, you can move on to the next step. If youâ€™re installing both systems, you should install Windows first. Doing it the other way around is not wrong but definitely counterproductive.
The thing is Windows bootloader will overwrite the Linux one, and youâ€™ll end up with GRUB not working properly. Your computer will boot Windows without any option, so youâ€™ll have to reinstall Linux to access the dual boot mode.
Make a System Backup
Thereâ€™s little that can go wrong during a Linux set up, but itâ€™s best to stay on the safe side. You donâ€™t want your files destroyed in the rare case that something does go wrong, do you?
Go to Control Panel > Systems and Security > Save backup copies of your files with File History. Then click on System Image Backup, and follow the instructions.
Now that you have a backup, you can continue with your installation.
Download an ISO File
The first thing you need for Linux installation is the ISO file that youâ€™ll later burn on a flash drive. Go to the official website of the Linux system you want to install, and download any version you like.
If you donâ€™t know whatâ€™s best for you, the latest version of Ubuntu or Linux Mint would suffice. Many advanced users complain that Ubuntu hides a lot from you. If you only need an OS for your office or university work, thatâ€™s exactly what you need. You can open document editors or browser to buy college papers without ever having to learn how to use the console.
Create a Bootable USB
Now that you have the ISO, you have to burn it. There are a lot of apps you can use to do this but you can stick to one of these three.
Etcher is an open-source burning app with a simple and beautiful interface. Fashing a USB drive with it takes only three clicks.
Universal USB Installer doesnâ€™t have the pretty interface of Etcher but has all the features this app does. With it, you can easily flash a drive in a couple of clicks.
If you need to use additional features or want the flashing process to go faster, you can use Rufus. Itâ€™s free and open-source as well.
Once youâ€™ve installed the software, run it, choose the ISO, and start burning. Technically, you can burn an installation DVD but itâ€™s easier and faster with a USB.
Make a Partition for Linux
Before installing a Linux system, you have to create a disk partition to store it in. Go to Control Panel > Disk Management > Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions.
Press the RMB (right mouse button) on the disc you wish to partition and select â€œShrink Volumeâ€ from the drop-down menu. In the case of Linux, the allocated space should be no less than 20 GB.
Once you have a new unallocated space, create a partition for Linux in it by right-clicking on it and choosing â€œNew Simple Volume.â€ Choose a name for the new disc partition and choose ext4 as the file system.
Disable Secure Boot (Optional)
Secure boot in UEFI is a feature that prevents malicious software from booting. Only the software that has secure keys can be accessed via GRUB. However, bootloader malware is not as common these days, and you may easily disable this feature without fearing for your files.
Itâ€™s the only way youâ€™ll be able to bootload addons you manually add to GRUB. If you only have to run basic versions of Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you can do that with secure boot on.
If you do need to run more than the basic version of Ubuntu, go to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery. There, youâ€™ll find the â€œAdvanced Startupâ€ section. Click on â€œRestart nowâ€ and wait for your computer to reboot.
Youâ€™ll then be presented with three options: Continue, Troubleshooting, and Turn off the computer. Go to Troubleshooting > Advanced options > UEFI firmware settings. Select the last one, and restart your PC.
Youâ€™ll find yourself in a hardware-specific UEFI. The secure boot option is located in â€œBootâ€ or â€œSecurityâ€ folder, depending on the type of computer you own.
Switch it to â€œDisabledâ€ and press F10. This will save the changes and reboot the PC.
Install the Operating System
Now, youâ€™re ready to install the system youâ€™ve flashed on the USB.
Boot from USB
Connect your pen drive to your computer and then reset it while holding the Shift key. If your PC is not on, boot it while pressing a hotkey. It can be F8, F9, F10 or F12 – it all depends on the type of computer you own. Select the â€œBoot from USBâ€ option from the boot menu.
Click on â€œInstallâ€ and follow the installation wizard. First, youâ€™ll need to create Home, Swap, and Root partitions for your Linux system. To do that, click on the â€œSomething Elseâ€ option and proceed to the next step.
Allocate Space for Root, Swap, and Home
Select the allocated space for your new OS, and create three partitions, one by one. Press the â€œ+â€ button and youâ€™ll be presented with several options.
First, create a root partition. Choose ext4 file system, and type in â€œ/rootâ€ at the mount point. Thatâ€™s going to be the partition your system files are stored at. Make it least 15 GB of space, (or 20 GB if you have some space to spare).
The swap partition is the area of your disk Linux will use instead of RAM when itâ€™s on the limit. The size of your swap partition is a highly debated topic. In general, you want to go with twice your RAM size, if itâ€™s 4 GB or smaller. If your computer has 8GB of RAM or more, you can go with 4GB of the swap partition, just to be on the safe side. Choose â€œUse as Swap areaâ€ and continue.
The rest of your Linux space is going to be used to store files. Depending on your needs and storage space available, you can make it as big or as small as you want. Itâ€™s recommended to make it at least 30GB. Type in â€œ/homeâ€ in the mount point, and create a new partition.
Continue with the Installation
From that point, youâ€™ll only have to set up trivial things like your language and time zone. Set up a username and a strong password, and wait for your OS to install.
Once itâ€™s done, reboot the PC, and youâ€™ll see a GRUB screen offering you to choose between systems. If it doesnâ€™t happen, go back to â€œDisable Secure Bootâ€ chapter and follow the instructions there.
Accessing Files in Dual Boot
When booted in Linux, you can easily access your Windows files. Youâ€™ll see a Windows partition and can work with all the files there.
If you want to do it the other way around, itâ€™s going to be a bit trickier. Windows doesnâ€™t read the file system used by Linux. You have to install software like Ext2Explore or Ext2Fsd. Thatâ€™ll allow you to access files from the ext4 file system.
Dual booting Windows 10 and Linux is an easy task and doesnâ€™t require programming skills or in-depth knowledge of Linux from you. You can install and dual boot both systems if you follow these instructions step by step.