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[STICKY] How to install GNU/Linux alongside Windows


Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:00:53 pm

UPDATE 1.8.2014 - well the video is complete - not brilliant - I gave up doing gespeaker narrations as after the inserts OpenShot would Crash so I decided to try and upload to my account - found out the limit is 5 Gb so I split my 6 Gb video into two - Part A has been attempted to be uploaded over the past 36 hours and each time connection crashes at some point - first attempt got to 96.2% after 14 hours - so sadly it will never get published - sorry guys - I need to decide whether to upgrade my vimeo account to plus but that will depend on finances - the video completed was dual booting on the same drive as Windows 7 - I was going to do the Windows 8 one next so this is on hold indefinitely! :cry: :cry: :cry:

[Updated 6.7.2014 - THE BEST WAY! -]

Hi once again. Here I shall attempt to layout the correct procedure, from download to install of GNU/Linux alongside of Windows. AMENDMENT A. If you are running Windows 7, just in case there is an issue, be sure to create a 'Windows Repair Disc' should anything go wrong. Preferably install Zorin manually as outlined in my video on which is in 3 parts - the first one is here [] - but refer to the written text here first 1. Download your favourite flavour of GNU/Linux - remember if you have a 64-bit processor download a 64-bit version, however, there is nothing wrong with using a 32-bit version on a 64-bit based system; you cannot however put a 64-bit distribution (whether Windows or GNU/Linux) on a 32-bit based system. I have had no problems downloading *.iso's using Opera Web Browser. After download you will want to check its integrity by using winMD5 Free from here:

[If you have a GNU/Linux distribution already installed and running K3b burning software this has an md5 checker built-in - superior to Brasero in this area]. 2. Once you are happy that the MD5 checksum (usually available as a .txt file on the download page of the distribution) burn the image with Imgburn [from here:]

3. After you have burnt your CD/DVD (dependent on size of *.iso) check that it will run OK on your machine by running it in Live Mode - the distro will only use Memory - nothing will harm a Windows installation but Windows might report that something has happened and wants to take remedial action - don't be alarmed - possibly built-in FUD by Microsoft (Fear Uncertainty Doubt!). If you are happy with how the distribution is performing in Live Mode there are some things you should do before going any further.

4. Remove your Live CD/DVD and re-boot back into Windows and after booting into windows run CHKDSK on all of your partitions.

5. After CHKDSK defragment all of your drives. 6. Shrink your Windows Partition to a reasonable size to allow space for your Linux Distribution. To minimize problems, on large Hard drives (400 Gb and above) I would be tempted to restict the main Windows partition to something like 120 Gb with another 120 Gb set aside for Windows Data/Users. If you have just got Windows on the Hard Drive then go for something like 160 Gb tops. Next in Windows 7 Search pane of the menu enter Computer Management – if not expanded click on Storage and then Disk Management – after a few seconds the Virtual Disk Manager will launch – left click on the graphical representation of C:\ drive and right click it and select 'Shrink volume' to resize your Windows partition. If you would prefer to use a Disk Management tool then use Ranish Partition manager or for paid solution I would reccomend Acronis Disk Director. Once you have resized Windows run CHKDSK again, reboot into Windows - it might request a restart - do so. 6. After 3rd Reboot into Windows run Defragmenter for analysis of the new drive - if it recommends you Defrag the drive do so.

7. Put your live CD/DVD into your Optical Drive and boot from it - you may need to go into the BIOS to change your settings for older machines - this is usually accomplished by pressing the DELete key during boot - proprietary brands will differ e.g., Dell is F2, systems with obscure AMD motherboards like old ASUStek ones will need F8 pressing. Once in the BIOS look for a page with BOOT or Boot Priority - either on a Tab or on one of the other pages (Advanced settings for example). On newer machines a Function (F#) key will have been assigned to do this task - F12 on Dell computers and Laptops, Esc on HewlettPackard desktops and laptops, F11 on MSI motherboard configured systems for one time boot priority - you will get a list of all devices attached that can boot (if enabled in BIOS) - Hard Drive, Floppy Drive, CD-Rom, Network Card. 8. If you want to keep things straightforward let the distros installer do the work for you - Ubuntu based distributions (including Zorin) should come up with the option at point of install to install alongside your existing Wndows installation - all the partitioning etc will then be undertaken by the distribution make it the easiest option. If you want to manually assign partitions you will need to launch 'gparted' or 'parted' - on some distributions the 'g' has been dropped - you can even download 'gparted' as a standalone boot system for partitioning: you will need to create a swap partition double the size your memory - unless you are building a server - for more details, please check this article: ... swap-space

Next create a partition that should be formatted to the file system 'ext4' - avoid Reiser - I believe I might have lost an awful lot in the past thanks to this wonderful system! (or it could have been a hard drive fault). You will need to mark the ext4 partition as '/' [without the quotes] so that the MBR will see it is active and bootable - I would be tempted to make the '/' partition primary if you want to boot successfully into GNU/Linux. You may want to consider creating a separate /home partition where all users documents etc will be stored - you should think carefully how big you want /home to be depending on what you are going to use the system for - if video editing etc you will want to give it some decent capability - I don't want to give a number here - that's for you to decide. If you do create a separate /home partition you can remove the installed distribution which will leave your personal data intact (provided you don't have hard drive failure of course! - so backup, backup, backup!).

8. Once you have partitioned and you go back to the installer, point it to the right partition marked '/'. When you are asked at the end of installation about installing GRUB you want it to be in the MBR - NOT at the start of the partition - if you do this you will have to do some messing around with the Boot.ini file (in Windows XP) and cannot guarantee this will work - I have never tried it but I have seen a laptop with XP and Mandriva set up this way. Be sure to make a note of whether you have capslock on when entering account names - GNU/Linux will not accept any capitals in user accounts (Real Name yes but not User) and if you put CAPS lock on whilst entering user password or mixture of upper and lower case and numerals be sure to make a temporary record somewhere until you are confident you no longer require your paper-based prompt.

9. If you are installing Zorin to a wireless enabled laptop you will have to connect it wired to the router as GNU/Linux (most recent incarnations) use restricted drivers that are not present on the CD you burnt - you have to connect to the internet to download these and you have to accept the usual licence agreement before download (because they are Windows based drivers re-aligned so-to-speak, to run under GNU/Linux - diehards will not accept such an agreement and will wait until ndiswrapper or madwifi come out with a 'pure' GNU/Linux driver. One reason why my other favourite distribution is Ultimate Edition 2.7/2.8 as the drivers are already in the iso so no need to connect to the internet to get these. It is possible to customise installation down to partitions created for: /etc, /var /usr - one distribution that did this automatically was PCLinuxOS 2007 but I always thought the allocations for these to be quite small - especially /home that was limited to something like 10 Gb. I hope this 'tutorial' has been useful for you. Caveat: E&OE

Please note, this article has been updated in light of up-to-date information on sizing of swap partition and other information on swap file - a link has been added to the article which is well worth reading: ... swap-space
Video guide based on Zorin OS4 64-bit installation alongside both Windows XP and Windows 7 on the same machine:

Assistive Technology:

Using Compiz to make the desktop easier to see:

Customising Zorin. – Part 1 – Part 2