Dual-Booting Windows XP/Vista And Ubuntu 7.04

In this tutorial I will teach you how to dual-boot between Windows XP/Vista and Ubuntu.

This tutorial will be split up into two parts:

  • Part one for people who have no operating system installed.
  • Part two for people who have Windows XP/Vista installed and don't want to re-install Windows.


Part 1: Fresh start

In this part I will go though every step from installing Windows and Ubuntu to creating the dual-boot.

Windows XP + Ubuntu 7.04

What you will need:

  • Windows XP Boot Disk
  • Ubuntu 7.04 Boot Disk

Make sure your computer is set to boot from a CD.

To check this go into your BIOS. From there go to "Boot" and go to "Boot Priorities". Make sure CD-ROM is set to boot first and you're all set.


Installing Windows XP

Now I am going go over how to install Windows XP step-by-step.

1. Make sure your XP boot up disk is in the CD-ROM and start your PC.

2. A blue MS-DOS screen will load up first asking you if you want to install drivers or run an Automated System Recovery. Just wait for them to go by and then Windows will begin to load files needed to install XP.

Blue screen of... Just Kidding

2. Now you will see a Welcome to Setup screen. From here just press Enter.

Welcome to Setup

3. Agree to the license agreement by pressing F8.

Do you agree?

4. Now to the important part of this installation. You will now see a screen where you will tell Windows XP to install itself. We aren't going to give XP the entire hard drive as we will be giving some to Ubuntu also. Press the C button on your keyboard to create a new partition.

Partition time

5. You will now see a screen in which you can edit the size of our new partition. Depending on your hard drive size and preference, determine the amount of gigabytes (GB) you are going to give XP to use. After you have chosen the size hit Enter to create the partition.

Note -

  • Windows XP requires at least 1.5 gigabytes of hard drive space.
  • 1000 megabytes (MB)= 1 gigabyte (GB). So when entering XP's partition make sure to write it as 90000 instead of 90, because it reads in megabytes, not gigabytes.

Time to Resize

6. You will now be brought back to the screen in step 4. Highlight the new partition you created and press Enter to install.

7. The next screen will ask you how you would like to format the partition (FAT32 or NTFS). The choice is up to you and what you prefer. If you need help then check out this article FAT32 or NTFS: Making the Choice. Regardless of your choice, choose the quick option as this will make the installation go a whole lot quicker.

FAT32 vs. NTFS

8. The last step before Windows installs itself onto your system. Just press F to begin formatting.

To format, or not to format...

9. Now just wait...


10. After the installation has completed your system will reboot and now it is time to finish up installing Windows XP. This part should be pretty self-explanatory so I will let you complete it with your own choices.

Well this is better then DOS

Congrats! You have fully installed Windows XP on your system. Activate windows if you want or do anything thing else to it. When ready go on to the next part to install Ubuntu and get the dual-boot up.


Installing Ubuntu 7.04 + Dual-Boot

Again make sure your computer is set to boot from CD-ROM.

1. Insert the Ubuntu 7.04 boot disk and start up your computer. The boot screen will come up next. Highlight the Start or install Ubuntu choice and press Enter. Be patient while the loader goes back and forth. This may take a few minutes.

Ubuntu Boot Page

2. After that Ubuntu will load up and you will be presented with a very bare screen. Double click on the Install icon to begin setting up Ubuntu.

Welcome to Ubuntu

3. After you double-click on the install icon it will first ask you to pick your preferred language. Choose one and click Forward.

Pick your language

4. The next screen will ask you to pick a location near you for time purposes.

Where are you from?

5. Now to choose your keyboard layout. Most commonly it is U.S English.


6. Once again it is time to partition your hard drive. From this screen make sure that Manual is checked and click Forward.

Partition time!

Now you should see a screen entitled Prepare partitions. We are now going to create the partition in which Ubuntu will run on plus a file called "SWAP" to act as virtual memory.

Partition time! Still...

7. First let's create the SWAP file. Click on New partition. The SWAP file won't need a whole lot of space to run, so just give it 512 megabytes which will be more than enough for it to run. Now just change the Use as: option to SWAP while keeping the type of partition as Primary and the location as Beginning. Click OK to add it.


8. Now make sure free space is highlighted and click New partition again. This time we will add the hard drive space for Ubuntu to use. Give it what ever amount of space you would like depending on your hard drive space. Just remember to give it at least 2 GB though I recommend you give it much more. Now change the Use as: to ext3 and keep the rest of the settings the same. Click OK to add.

Oh ext3

9. Next right-click on the partition ext3 and click edit. From here change the mount point to a forward slash / and click OK.

Edit time

10. You should see a screen similar to this one, but with the partition NTFS on it. Last thing to do before proceeding is check the box next to ext3 to format and then click Forward.

Phew... Almost done!

11. The next screen is going to ask you if you want to import any accounts you may have on Windows XP. If you want to do it, if not just proceed.

Phew... Almost done!

12. Time to enter your personal information. Just as a note: your login has to be all lowercase letters.

Phew... Almost done!

13. Now just confirm all the information and click Install to start enjoying the beauty of Linux!

Phew... done!


End Notes

Well congratulations you have just fully installed both Windows XP and Ubuntu 7.04 to run on the same system under a dual-boot! I hope you enjoyed reading this as I have had a blast writing it.

Quick thanks to Paul Thurrott for letting me use the Windows XP installation images!

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12 Comment(s)

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I have fixed the issue with the SWAP file. I apologize for the mistake.


I've used the following routine:

1. Partition your disk with PartitionMagic (alternatively GParted booting from a livecd) so that it would contain 2 NTFS partitions and an empty space for Ubuntu.

2.  Install WinXP to the first NTFS partition

3. Launch PartitionMagic again and hide the partition you just installed WinXP to. This will prevent Vista from screwing things up.

4. Install Vista to the second partition.

5. Unhide the WinXP partition.

6. Install Ubuntu letting it do automatic partitioning.

That's all. Grub will catch up the existing windows installations and a triple boot would work out. 


Under step seven you say:

so just give it 512 megabytes which will be more than enough for it to run

But should you not make this large enough to hold the contents of you RAM so you can use Hibernation under Ubuntu?


Thanks for this. I'm planning to install Linux on my sister's new laptop that has Vista on it, and was wondering about how to shrink the Win partition and set up new ones. Sounds like it's easier than it used to be. For those of us who don't know Vista and don't especially want to, the tutorial saves a lot of research effort.

There are two points you might want to clarify:

--Windows used to need defragging before shrinking the partition. Does the new Shrink utility take care of this automatically?

--What's the minimium recommended size for retaining a functioning Vista installation? 

By: snarley25

 Good article about dual- booting using software.  However, dual-booting using hardware is way more versatile and much less hassle once you get set up.  Assuming you have a desktop PC and one SATA drive, buy another Sata drive.  Then build a SATA switch.  Go to http://www.thesataswitch.com/ for directions on how to build one.  Then you can do whatever you want to either drive, completely independent of each other.  If you add a third drive you can triple-boot any three different OS's!

By: Anonymous

Hi friend,

i had installed dual operating system last week, i first installed xp and then dual. it worked well and also asking when we start the system like ubuntu or xp and then select what we like to go..

now xp had some problem so i format my xp part in my sytem, but when we start the system it directly going to xp not showing ubuntu option..


can u help me to solve this problem..

very urgent coz all my files in ubuntu thats y... 

By: Anonymous

At last - a simple and foolproof guide to setting up dual booting xp and ubuntu.  With many of the other guides they all go well until you get to the bit that you have to --

Make a file containing data copied from the boot sector of your Linux drive (substitute your Linux drive designation if it is not /dev/hda2):

At this point my brain goes dead and I know why a lot of people are put off trying a Linux OS.  Luckily Ubuntu is now much more user friendly  and migrating from xp far easier.


By: Vamsi Srinivas

Hey i had installed vista first in my system and i installed ubuntu

 then i used to get dual boot options and it did well but

 i installed xp with emerging with vista disk then when system starts it just goes to xp not to vista or 

 ubuntu is there any way i can solve the problem i have some important files i downloaded and my materials in it how can i get it now 

 please help me out of it it's urgent i need to submit my work in 2 days

 please mail me to [email protected]

 Thanks in advance please do help me.......


By: John Glenn

First, there is no identified "Part 2" as promised by the lead paragraphs ("Part two for people who have Windows XP/Vista installed and don't want to re-install Windows").

Second, and more important (but perhaps I am in error), Part 2 //should// have included the steps to shrink a [Windows] partition to create space for Ubuntu The Vista online instructions are NOT clear on this (as a hardcopy tech writer I am NOT surprised).   I read in Part 1 that the HD needs to be partitioned, but the //suggestion// made by the "Part 2:" statement (ibid.) was that if Windows already was installed, the reader could skip Part 1.

I don't klnow what would happen if someone (e.g., a Unix novice like this scrivener) stuck the Ubu CD in the drive and just left Ubu's installer "do its thing;" possibly no more Windows. (Windows has drivers for [home/small office] hardware Ubu still lacks - and THAT is what is keeping Ubu off many office and home machines or forcing dual-boot on others.)


By: shyam


           I had a problem in dual booting of linux and windows xp .I had installed both successfully and also used both of them for about a month .Just 2 days ago during grub's selection in os menu 

when i am selecting linux ubuntu error in (GUI) display occured and only command line interface is provided any one interrested in solving my problem plese help me.

                   I like linux very much ,such a situation arised .so kindly help me

By: Dual Boot

Dual booting is not an easy task especially when it comes to dual booting windows and Linux (Ubuntu) side by side.  I actually once deleted my windows partition when i tried dual booting linux along with it.  Leason learned the hard way, always follow a trust able tutorial when attempting these kinds of stuff... 

By: Mr.Kirby

The best tutorial ever!