Following my post the other day on setting up an XP/Linux dual-boot system I received a number of enquires about setting up a Vista/Linux dual-boot system where the system already has Windows Vista installed. The basic process isn't all that dissimilar to setting up an XP/Linux dual boot rig, the main difference being that you have to make a tweak to the Windows partition from within Windows Vista.
Here's the deal:
- First, start off with a machine with Vista already installed on it and all data securely backed up (use Vista’s Backup and Restore Center or use a similar product).
- Next, download a Linux distro. Again I’ll be using my personal favorite, Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn.
- Burn a CD of the ISO you downloaded and put it on one side for a moment.
- Fire up Windows Vista.
- Click Start, then right-click on Computer and select Manage then click on Disk Management (click Continue on the User Account Control screen).
- Find your Windows partition from the list of partitions and right-click on it. Select Shrink Volume ...
- The Shrink dialog box will tell you how much space you have to play with. You'll ideally need at least 4GB for Linux. Enter the amount of space you want to shrink the partition by and click Shrink. This will take a while depending on the size of your disk and how much space you’re freeing up.
- When the process is done you'll notice that the disk now has a smaller primary partition (containing your Vista install) and the space you freed up in the form of unallocated space.
- You're done in Vista. Shut down the OS.
- Now you need to boot up off the Linux CD you created earlier.
- Start the install process. This will take you through the Welcome, Where are you? screen and the Keyboard layout screens.
- Now you’ll come to the disk partitioner. Choose Guided - use the largest continuous free space. This will now automatically select the unallocated space that you freed up earlier in Vista. Click Forward.
- Proceed with the installation as normal.
- When the system boots up from now on, you’ll be greeted by the GRUB boot menu. From there you can choose which OS to boot into.
- That’s it! Yes, it’s that simple.
If you want, you can edit the GRUB bootloader settings to control the startup process. I've detailed a few tweaks here.
Now that wasn't too bad, was it?