To set up a dual boot configuration for Windows 10 and a Linux distribution, you should always install the Windows 10 operating system (OS) first. You should then make room for Linux on the Windows System drive, before installing your preferred Linux distribution.
Most Linux distributions can safely run from a USB drive without modifying the current OS. However, you may need to install Linux permanently on your PC, if you will be using it regularly. In such a case, the best configuration would be a dual boot set up.
Such a setup allows you to choose between the Windows and Linux operating systems every time you boot the computer. Throughout this guide, you will learn the possible drawbacks, and considerations to make before configuring your computer for a dual boot setup. It will also teach you how to install both Windows 10 and Linux on the same PC.
Important Considerations to Make Beforehand
Before attempting to install Windows 10 and Linux on the same PC, you need to ensure that the computer can actually take it. Here are some of the key considerations you need to make:
The type and format of your storage media will dictate how you go about installing a Linux distribution on a Windows 10 PC. For instance, you may need to install one of the operating systems on a new M2 card, or a standard SATA hard disk drive. In other cases, you may be able to install both systems on the same SATA drive that is set in the Intel Matrix RAID configuration.
Systems that use the new Intel SkyLake Processors do not support USB 2.0, and older removable media. As such, you will not be able to install the Linux OS from a USB2.0 removable storage device.
The Boot Mode
Unlike other Windows versions, Windows 10 allows you to convert BIOS/MBR to UEFI/GPT using MBR2GPT.EXE.
How to Detect Your Boot Mode
To know which mode your Windows PC is booting in, boot into the Windows OS, and then press the Windows + R keys combination. Next, type msinfo32.exe into the Run dialog box that comes up, and press the Enter key.
Now select the ‘System Summary’ option on the left-hand side of the System Information window. check the value of the BIOS mode item on the right-hand side. If this value is Legacy, your Windows boots in BIOS/MBR mode. If the value happens to be UEFI, the PC boots in UEFI/GPT mode.
Such limitations are not enforced by the Linux Kernel. However, this may depend on the boot loader you are using and how the boot loader is configured. Note that the boot loader installation procedure will mainly depend on the disk partitioning configuration and firmware type.
Which Boot Mode is Suited for Dual Boot Setup?
You need to put such limitations under consideration if you wish to boot Windows, and Linux from the same disk. If you wish to have Windows and Linux dual boot from the same disk, you should opt for BIOS/MBR, or UEFI/GPT boot mode.
BIOS vs Bootloader UEFI Limitations
A good number of the leading Linux bootloaders will not launch if installed for one firmware. Suppose you have the Linux OS installed in UEFI/MBR, or UEFI/GPT mode, and Windows in BIOS/MBR mode on a different disk. In such a case, the UEFI bootloader used by the Linux distribution will not be able to chainload the BIOS installed Windows OS in the other disk.
Another scenario is when the Linux distro is installed in BIOS/GPT, or BIOS/MBR and Windows is installed in UEFI/GPT on a separate disk. In this case, the BIOS bootloader used by the Linux distro will not be able to chainload the UEFI installed Windows in the other disk.
To avoid this, it is advisable to install the Linux distribution in BIOS/GPT and install Windows in BIOS/MBR mode on a separate disk. This makes it possible for the bootloader used by the Linux OS to boot Windows in the other disk. However, the bootloader should be able to chainload from another disk.
How To Enable Dual Boot In Windows 10
A good number of PCs come with a Windows version pre-installed. If Windows is not pre-installed, you need to install it first before you can install the Linux-based OS. In cases where the Windows OS is pre-installed, it is likely to be occupying the entire hard drive.
In this regard, you first have to shrink the Windows partition to create room for the Linux distro installation. Whether you are installing Linux Ubuntu or Linux Mint alongside Windows 10, there are some settings you need to change in readiness for the installation.
Here are the Windows 10, and UEFI (BIOS) settings you need to alter before you can create a dual-boot computer:
Disable Fast Startup
Rather than shutting the computer entirely, the Fast Startup setting puts the PC in sleep mode. This allows for easier starting the next time you need to use the computer. Disabling Fast Startup forces the computer to shut down completely.
This, in turn, makes the Windows partition on the hard disk accessible and reusable for the Linux Mint or Ubuntu installation. To disable Fast Startup, navigate to Control Panel> Power Options and choose what the Power button does. Now click on the ‘Change settings that are currently unavailable’ option.
Uncheck the box adjacent to the ‘Turn on fast startup (recommended)’ option to disable Fast Startup. Once done, save the changes and close the window. To make the setting permanent, you will need to reboot the computer (Not shutdown).
Change Certain UEFI Settings
For Windows 7, this step will not be necessary as the OS does not have UEFI settings. This feature is only available on pre-installed Windows 8.x and 10. To alter UEFI settings, you will need to open the UEFI configuration menu. The procedure for doing this varies from one computer make and model to another.
For instance, you should press the F2 key repeatedly in Acer PCs immediately after the computer starts. You may also access the UEFI configuration menu from within Windows 10. To do this, click on the magnification icon on your Windows 10 panel, and enter Settings into the search bar.
From the list of results displayed, select ‘App Settings’, and scroll downwards to select the ‘Update & Security’ option. Next, you should navigate to Recovery> Advanced> Startup> Restart now. Next, navigate to Troubleshoot> Advanced options> UEFI Firmware Settings> Restart. After the UEFI configuration menu appears, you should do the following:
Rearrange the Boot Order
You need to move the Windows Boot Manager to the bottom of the boot order priority list. In some cases, the windows boot manager may be hidden within the Boot OS Manager. In such a case, you should expand the OS Boot Manager and reposition the Boot manager to the bottom of the list within the OS Boot Manager.
Once done, save the changes and exit.
Disable Secure Boot in Windows 10
This is an inbuilt feature in Windows 8 and 10 that offers an extra layer of security against rootkit viruses. If activated, Secure Boot will prevent the dual booting of Windows with Linux. This is why you need to disable it before going any further. Press the Windows + I keys combination to open the Settings menu.
Scroll to the bottom of the window and select ‘Change PC Settings’. Next, select the ‘Advanced Startup’ option, before clicking on the ‘Restart Now’ option This operation will bring up a few options, select Troubleshoot, and proceed to select Advanced on the Troubleshoot menu.
Now select ‘UEFI Firmware Settings’, and click on the Restart button to reboot the computer into the UEFI settings menu. Expand the Boot tab, and use the arrow keys to select the ‘Secure Boot’ option. Press Enter to select it, and use the + or – keys to change the value. When prompted, Confirm the change, and then press F10 to save the changes.
Enable Compatibility Support Module (CSM)
On rare occasions, you may need to enable the Compatibility Support Module before you can install the Linux distribution. In some computer models, this setting is referred to as Legacy. It is meant to offer Legacy BIOS compatibility.
Activating the CSM will simply eliminate the conventional BIOS environment. You will find this setting in your UEFI configuration menu, often under the Boot section. However, you should now enable the CSM setting when it is necessary as it may lead to other installation problems.
Set Up the Install Partitions
While configuring the boot partition settings during Windows setup, you should remember to leave enough space to install the Linux distribution. If you are installing the Linux-based OS on a pre-installed Windows 10 system, you can set up the install partitions within Windows.
In Windows 10, this can be accomplished using the Disk Management tool. This is how you should go about it:
Step 1: Launch the Disk Management Tool
Right-click on the Start menu (or press the Windows + X keys combination), and then select the ‘Disk Management’ option. Alternatively, you could press the Windows +R keys combination, type Diskmgmt.msc into the Run dialog box, and press Enter.
In both cases, you will be able to launch the Disk Management tool in Windows 10.
Step 2: Shrink the Partition
Select the volume/partition you would like to shrink from the Disk management tool, and click on Action from the task bar. Next, select ‘All tasks’, and then ‘Shrink Volume’ from the action menu of the disk management tool.
You will be prompted to enter the correct values for your computer. Enter the values you find appropriate and then click on Shrink.
If you resized the Windows boot partition and started having problems starting the computer, just run the Windows Recovery tool to fix the problem. Now that you have enough installation space on your hard disk drive, you are ready to install the Linux distribution to create a dual boot PC.
Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux Mint 20
With the Windows 10 OS installed, Install partition crated for the Linux distribution and the necessary UEFI settings configured, you are now ready to install the Linux OS. Creating a dual boot PC allows you to choose the OS you would like to boot into every time you start the PC.
At this point, you can install almost any Linux distribution on your Windows 10 PC. For the purpose of this article, we will be installing the Linux Mint 20 distribution. The following procedure will guide you on how to create a dual boot Windows 10, and Linux Mint 20 PC:
Prepare The Installation Media
You need to prepare a bootable USB disk for the Linux Mint 20 OS. To do this, you need to use such tools as Rufus. Download the Rufus lightweight tool, and install it on your Windows PC. Next, navigate to the official download site on your browser and download the appropriate Linux Mint 20 ISO images.
Once done, you should take the following steps to prepare a bootable disk for the Linux distribution:
Step One: Connect the USB Disk and Start Rufus
If you are using a UEFI computer, such as Windows 10, you should only download 64-bit installers. The 32-bit installers only boot and work with BIOS PCs. Once downloaded, connect a suitable USB disk drive to the computer and launch the Rufus tool.
Once Rufus has detected the connected USB disk drives, select the right one from the drop-down menu. Click the Select button on Rufus, and select the Linux mint ISO file you downloaded.
Step 2: Configure Rufus Accordingly
For the Partition scheme, you should choose the one your disk is currently using. Press the Windows + R keys simultaneously to launch a Run dialog box. Type cmd into the box and then press the Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys combination to open a Command prompt as the administrator.
Into this command prompt, type diskpart and press Enter. Once the command has been executed, type List disk into the same prompt and run the command. If you observe an “*” marked below the GPT field, your device is using GPT. If not, the device is just using a normal MBR partition table.
Step 3: Run Rufus
Head back to the Rufus utility and click on the Start button. Click Yes when you get the warning prompt. On the next screen, choose the ‘Write in ISO Image mode’, and click OK once again. Wait for the process to complete before closing the window.
Insert the Bootable Disk and Start the Installation
Connect the bootable USB drive to your Windows 10 PC, and boot into it. Select the ‘Start Linux Mint’ option. On the next screen, you can choose whether to explore or get started with the installation process. You should double-check on the ‘Install Linux Mint’ icon on your desktop.
Choose your preferred language for the installation wizard, click next to choose your preferred keyboard layout. You may choose one from the list or just click the ‘Detect Keyboard Layout’ button. This option will present you with a couple of questions to help determine the right keyboard layout.
On the next screen, check the box adjacent to ‘Install third-party software’.
Select the Right Partition
The next screen will require you to choose the partition you would like to have the Linux distribution installed. You may create a primary partition at the beginning of the available disk space. The partition should use ‘ext4′ as the file system. This is where the root of the Linux system will be hosted.
At this point, you can go back and correct any changes you made on the Installation Wizard. Once you are sure that everything is correct, click on the Continue button.
Create a New User Profile
Now select the location, and allow the system to determine your time zone, currency, date, and other information automatically. You should then fill up your credentials to create a new user profile. Your password will be the ‘root’ password.
Click Next and then allow the system enough time to install the Linux distribution. Once completed, restart the PC, and wait until you get a prompt telling you to remove the installation media. When you get this message, disconnect the bootable USB disk and then press Enter.
After the system boots up, you will get the Grub menu, displaying a list of all the installed operating systems.
Choose Linux Mint on the Grub menu to boot into it, and search for ‘Software’ on the menu. Select the ‘Software Sources’ option from the search results. This will prompt you for the admin password. Once you have entered the correct password, you will be required to choose the nearest server from your location.
Choose the fastest, the one that appears at the top of the list. Next, click on the OK button to update the APT cache. Once done, fire up the Terminal and run this command: sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade.
Once the command has been executed, reboot the computer.
Linux Mint 20, commonly referred to as Ulyana, was released in June, 2020. It is packed with an assortment of new as well as improved features, and enhancements. As a developer, you may need to run this Linux distribution on your computer more frequently.
You can still run the Linux distribution on your PC without having to remove the pre-installed Windows 10 OS. In this regard, you should consider creating a dual boot Windows 10, and Linux PC. This configuration allows you to choose the OS you want to boot into whenever you start the computer.