This article will detail how to dual boot Windows 7 and the latest Ubuntu distribution on a single computer using two hard drives. This is assuming you have two internal hard drives with an installation of Windows 7 already existing on one of them, and the second hard drive empty and ready for use. As a quick review of thesteps we will be going through, here are the steps in their simplest form. First, we will install a new Windows 7 copy or keep the existing installation. The second step is to acquire the latest Ubuntu distribution and then transfer it onto either a DVD, CD, or USB drive. Third, we will install Ubuntu onto the second hard drive. Lastly, we will make modifications to Windows 7 and its boot program, in order to boot Ubuntu from its boot menu. Once these steps are done, you will have a computer that can boot both Windows 7 from one drive, and Ubuntu from the other, and freely alternative between the two. Having such a system can be useful for anyone trying to create an Ubuntu dedicated server on a Windows 7 system.
The first step is already assumed, so if you have not installed Windows 7, do so. We will begin on the second step, which is acquiring the latest Ubuntu distribution and then putting the downloaded image onto a DVD, CD, or USB flash drive. Go to the Ubuntu main website and go under the Downloads section. Download the release of your choice, but the latest distribution is always recommended. Most modern systems have a built iso burner, so proceed to burn Ubuntu onto the DVD/CD. If you don’t have an iso burner, place the.iso onto your USB flash drive.
Once that is completed, boot the computer from either the DVD, CD, or USB drive, depending on which option you chose. The installer will start automatically. Go through the initial steps per its instructions until you get to the “Installation type” page. There will be three options: Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 7, Replace Windows 7 with Ubuntu, and “Something else”. The last of the options, “Something else”, should be selected, and click continue. The first two options will install on the current hard drive, which is not what we want.
You will be brought to Ubuntu’s partitioning tool. Initialize your second hard disk by selecting it and then click on the button, New Partition Table. It will give a warning, which you can disregard and click continue. Once the hard drive has been initialized, you will create a partition on it made for Ubuntu. Make two partitions for / and Swap. To create these, choose the free spaces under SDB, and then select Add. The first partition is mounted in /boot, where you can choose between ext2 or ext4. The default disk space is optimal, so just leave the option as is and press Add. As for the second partition, it will be used for /, or the root file system directory. The most optimal disk space to designate for this partition is 4.4 GB, with file system of ext4. Press ok and add.
With these two partitions successfully implemented, we must select the location which the boot loader is installed in. The default location is the Master Boot Record of disk number 1. Do not install it here. Instead, choose the Master Boot Record in disk number 2, where Ubuntu is installed. In order to accomplish this, alter the “Device of boot loader installation” from SDA to SDB. Make sure it is SDB, and then click Install Now.
Following the installation, the computer will boot to Windows 7. The last step of the process is to add Ubuntu as an entry in the Windows boot menu. We have to access the Windows Boot Configuration Data (BCD), which can be done using quality freeware programs such as EasyBCD. Go to the EasyBCD website and to the downloads section, and select the “Download free for limited, non-commercial use.” The installation is straightforward and simple.
Once installed, load up EasyBCD and select Add New Entry tab. Select the Linux/BSD, and select GRUB2 from the Type menu. Change the name field to the edition of Ubuntu you installed, and then select Add Entry. Select the Edit Boot Menu button to check your results. If everything is correct, exit out of EasyBCD. Restart your computer and see if Ubuntu is in the boot menu for Windows 7. If you’ve followed this guide, then everything will work perfectly. Congratulations, you now have a system that can boot both Windows 7 and Ubuntu on two different hard drives!
Learn more about the capabilities of using a WIndows system for the purpose of a Ubuntu dedicated server.