Install Ubuntu without partitioning with Wubi

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 13, 2007
Updated • Jul 21, 2013

Many novice users fear the technical process of installing Linux for the first time on a computer system. This includes the preparations that have to be made, the actual installation of Linux on the system, and the configuration after Linux has been installed.

Partitioning is something that most are not familiar with and the fear to do something wrong and wreck their standard operating system is probably one of the main reasons why many users do not install a Linux distribution. That is of course if Linux is not installed on a freshly formatted system without any data on it.

Wubi is a sweet little program that lets us install Ubuntu - or Kubuntu, Xubuntu and UbuntuStudio - without partitioning your hard disks at all. "Wubi adds an entry to the Windows boot menu which allows you to run Linux. Ubuntu is installed within a file in the windows file system (c:\wubi\disks\system.virtual.disk), this file is seen by Linux as a real hard disk."

So, the main difference is that Ubuntu is installed into a file instead of its own partition which is a great way to test the Linux distribution without having to partition your hard drives. Ubuntu is not running in a virtual environment at all, this is a real installation. The Windows boot manager will give you the choice to either boot Windows or Ubuntu at every startup from then on.

It is also easy to uninstall Ubuntu again by simply using the Add or Remove Programs dialog in Windows.

I can't think of an easier way to try and test Ubuntu on your computer without installing it. Live CDs are nice but I personally do not like to play disk jockey whenever I want to try the Live CD. Wubi is working extremely stable although it is currently in beta.

Update: Wubi is now an official part of Ubuntu that Windows users can download to install Ubuntu on their systems. It is now available on the official Ubuntu website and no longer on a separate domain. We have edited the link to reflect that.


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  1. Eric said on July 24, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    See, this works out well for me. I mess with Ubuntu when it first became publicly known. I liked it, but back then (like now) for work and school I simply have no choice but to use windows for the software options. While Ubuntu (And other Linux Destros) have come closer and closer to a point I “might” be able to to switch I don’t do so not of fear, but because my career doesn’t grant me this option.

    Now I know I can dual boot, and have on more then one point, but I fast let go of Ubuntu (Fedora, or whichever dirsto I’m working with) because having stuff in 2 different worlds quickly becomes more annoying then it’s worth.

    This however gives me the chance to test Ubuntu as it goes along in hopes some day the software I need will work (or an equivalent that can save in the same file formats) under Ubuntu. Which I know there is Wine etc, but many of the programs I need take a performance hit that Is beyond tolerance.

    I hope Wubi will help me keep an eye for the day I can switch without drastic drawbacks, cause I love open source (I’m a proud user of Songbird, Pidgin, among other opensource programs and have contributed with various projects when I have a gap in my schedule)

  2. Etrin said on May 15, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I tried wubi and is that easy as they say, but don’t tell me that is reall installation, i was trying to work on cpp files and i couldn’t, if you want to work on Linux wubi its not what you are looking for, except if there is a way to work normal and i haven’t find it yet. Wubi is only for try, if you have serious job on your computer, format, partitioning and install. No other way.

  3. Lu said on August 31, 2007 at 7:24 pm


    i have an ASUS A6 laptop with an Intel Celeron 1.86 GHz. processor, memory 384 RAM DDR II, ATI Radeon Xpress200M 128 MB video card (integrated) and 80 GB HDD.
    I just recieved the Ubuntu CD’s i’ve ordered (normal PC edition) and I am unable to launch the LiveCD. I changed the boot device order to optical drive first then HDD. The Ubuntu screen appears, i select “Launch or install Ubuntu” then the ” loading Linux kernel” window appears, but after that the screen turns black and a horizontal white line blinks in the top left corner. I have waited around 20 minutes and the program did not start; I restarted the computer and tried again, but the same problem occured.
    I would appreciate your help.

  4. Nathan said on August 13, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I have “ubuntu-7.04-desktop-i386.iso” on my D:/ drive and “Wubi-7.04.04” on the D:/ as well. Do I have to make a folder for them both so that they are “in the same directory”? It started to download every time, I canceled, and then deleated the folder it made called “wubi” that had the grub booter, some .msi files, etc. Anyway, help!


  5. Michael said on June 17, 2007 at 3:59 am

    I tried it on an IBM Netvista M42 (Celeron 1.7, 512MB ram and integrated graphics) and the video detection did not work correctly. Ubuntu would only run at 640×480, I couldn’t change the resolution.

  6. Caleb said on June 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Vijeesh and WizzKid, if you have the correct ISO of the latest Ubuntu alternate CD just place it in the same directory as you Wubi installer and it will pick it up and use it (skipping the download process).

  7. sindre said on June 14, 2007 at 7:27 am

    if you want to dual-boot with Vista installed in the first place you will need an additional program called EasyBCD available from Ubuntuforums (registration needen in order to download).

  8. presto said on June 14, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Yeah, I’m still not getting that people are afraid to let go of Windows. ??? Install Linux inside of Windows? That’s the way to go, for insecure, masochistic followers.

  9. Martin said on June 13, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    You need to have the alternate version. You have to check “Check here if you need the alternate desktop CD. This CD does not include the Live CD, instead it uses a text-based installer.” during download.

    If you did this you got the right version. I got a fast connection (16Mbit) which means I let the installer download the latest Ubuntu version.

  10. WizzKid said on June 13, 2007 at 8:44 pm


    I have the same problem as Vijeesh. I have got an copy of Ubuntu Desktop Edition (I got it last night). Every day I look at your website, and stumbled Wubi, downloaded it and noticed as I click on the setup, it will start to download Ubuntu, as I have a very slow internet connection it will take close to 24hours! What can I do? Is there any way I can come accross this, please reply!

    Great website btw!

  11. Alan said on June 13, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    nice thing~ thanks ;)

    hope i got this software earlier… installed ubuntu just 48 hrs ago….

  12. Vijeesh said on June 13, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    My problem is Wubi tries to download Ubuntu when installing.
    It would be much better if I could download the Ubuntu image separately and run Wubi setup so it doesn’t download the image itself. I read in some forums that it could be done by placing the Ubuntu image in the same folder as the Wubi setup file.
    Did you install Wubi directly?

  13. p5chin said on June 13, 2007 at 11:01 am

    wow…nice find.. will give it a try!!!!

  14. cc said on June 13, 2007 at 10:46 am

    this seems like a handy piece of software for folks who are clueless or uncomfortable about things like booting from live CDs. Its nice to see linux stuff being simplified as well.

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