How to Dual Boot Linux and Windows 11

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Taking your first steps into the world of Linux can be a scary proposition. After all, we have a whole new world of terminal commands, desktop environments and applications to learn. Fortunately, Linux installation has improved by leaps and bounds from the first text-based installers used in the late 1990s (Debian and Slackware) through the graphical installers of the early 2000s (Corel Linux, Mandrake). Starting in the 2010s, we’ve seen better graphical installers reassure us when testing Linux.

The first steps in Linux are twofold. A single board computer such as the Raspberry pie. Or more traditionally a dual-boot setup, where Windows and Linux are installed on the same machine, often on the same boot drive. Using a custom boot menu, GRUB, we can choose between the two operating systems when we turn on our PC.

In this tutorial, we will learn how to dual boot Linux with Windows, using Ubuntu and Windows 11. The steps are the same with Windows 10 or with

Creating a Linux Installation USB Drive

Our Linux distribution is usually downloaded as an ISO image (ISO being originally called CD/DVD sized images) of a live Linux operating system that we can test on our machine . To use the ISO with a UEFI/Secure Boot system, we need to use Rufus, a popular freeware utility that writes ISO files to USB sticks.

Our goal is to create a bootable USB containing our chosen Linux operating system. A minimum capacity of 8 GB is recommended for your USB flash drive.

For this project you will need

  • Computer running Windows 10/11 (We tested with Windows 11)
  • USB flash drive, 8 GB or more
  • Linux distribution (we chose Ubuntu)

1. Download and install Rufus for your operating system.

2. Insert a USB drive into your machine and open Rufus.

3. Select your USB drive using Device, and then click SELECT and select the Linux operating system you want to install. In our case, it was Ubuntu 22.04.1.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

4. Select the GPT partition scheme and click START to write the operating system to the USB flash drive. GPT is the latest partition scheme and is required to install Ubuntu on a UEFI system. It is gradually replacing the MBR.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

5. When prompted, select “Write to ISO image mode” and click OK.

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6. Read and understand the prompts to ensure that the Linux operating system will be written to the correct drive. There is no going back if you make a mistake.

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seven. Click CLOSE to quit Rufus and remove the USB key from the machine.

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How to Install Linux for Dual Boot

The Linux installer has come a long way. Gone are the good old days of creepy user interfaces and in their place are inviting, easy-to-use installers that walk you through the process. We’ll use the Ubuntu 22.04.1 installer to split our 256GB NVMe drive in half. Give Windows and Ubuntu enough room for a basic dual-boot install. Next, we’ll follow a typical Ubuntu installation.

1. Insert the USB drive into your computer and boot from it. Every computer is a little different, some will offer a function key to select a boot device, some will need to be selected from the BIOS.

2. From the GRUB menu, select “Try or Install Ubuntu” (or your Linux OS of choice) and press Enter . The GRUB menu is a custom boot menu used on Linux devices. It can also be custom to display a background image.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. When prompted, click Try Ubuntu to load the operating system into RAM as a “Live Distro”. Live Distros gives us enough OS to test on our machine without making any changes to the system. They are also useful as recovery devices for booting faulty computers.

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4. Test your hardware to make sure everything you need is working. Check audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. before continuing.

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5. Double-click the Installer icon to launch the installer application.

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6. Choose your language and click Continue.

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seven. Select your preferred keyboard layout and click Continue.

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8. Select a normal installation and optionally install third-party software, then click Continue. Third-party software includes drivers and applications that may not match the permissive license used by your Linux distribution. If you want to know more, check the website for your chosen Linux operating system.

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9. Select “Install Ubuntu with Windows Boot Manager” and click Continue. Anything else will delete all content from the player or require manual configuration, so be very careful.

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ten. Make sure the correct drive has been selected, and drag the middle slider to adjust how much space each operating system will have.

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11. Click Continue to write the changes to disk. Check that everything is correct before continuing. Changes made now cannot be easily corrected.

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12. Click Continue when asked if you are sure.

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13. Set your location and click Continue.

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14. Configure your user account, with your real name, computer name, username and provide a strong password. Click Continue when ready.

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Installation will take a few minutes.

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15. Click Restart Now to restart your computer.

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16. Remove the USB key and press Enter when prompted.

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First dual boot Linux

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The first boot of a dual-boot Linux system requires a little fine-tuning of our BIOS. We need to tell the system to boot from our Linux installation, which will trigger the GRUB menu to load. From here we can select an operating system from which to boot. Every BIOS is a little different, so use these steps as a general guide and refer to your motherboard manual for more specific information.

1. Open your BIOS menu. See our story on how to enter your bios if you don’t already know how to do that.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

2. Select the boot menu.

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3. Select UEFI NVMe Drive BBS Priorities.

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4. Set boot option 1 to Linux installation.

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5. Verify that the change was made, then save and exit the BIOS.

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6. The system will now boot to GRUB, choose your Linux operating system and press enter. If we leave GRUB for 10 seconds, it will choose the default option, usually Linux.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

seven. Boot to the Linux Desktop and check that everything is correct.

8. Reboot to GRUB and select Windows to verify that everything is working.

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