Setting up a Windows / Linux Mint Dual Boot using MBR
Windows is the reigning champion when it comes to operating system share percentages according to NetMarketShare.
However, as the world is learning more and more, day by day, there are other alternatives out there; the main two being Apples Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux.
However, not everyone is ready to entirely dedicate themselves or their machines to making the switch to GNU/Linux, and so that leaves some people in a pickle of trying to decide what to do. Thankfully, there is a very easy solution: Dual-Booting!
How to dual boot Windows and Linux
A dual-boot system is exactly what it sounds like, two different Operating Systems running on the same machine, be it on the same hard drive or separate, usually with a bootloader such as GRUB to handle helping the user select which OS they want to boot into when they turn their machine on.
It sounds like itâ€™s complicated, but in the world of GNU/Linux today, itâ€™s actually a very simple task, and for the average user it could be done in an hour or less. So, today we will be talking about how to set up a dual-boot with Windows and Linux Mint 18.1 â€˜Serenaâ€™ Cinnamon Edition!
Things youâ€™ll want for this are:
- A USB Flash drive of at least 4GB
- An active Internet connection
- At least 20GB free space
PREPARING FOR THE INSTALLATION
NOTE: This tutorial assumes you are currently running Windows as your primary OS, and you wish to install Linux Mint onto the same Hard Drive that your Windows system is running on.
If you are currently running a GNU/Linux system, and wish to Dual-Boot with Windows on a single drive, you have two main choices:
Reformat the entire system with Windows and then follow this tutorial, or you will need to make separate partitions using something like Gparted and then install Windows, followed by re-installing the GRUB bootloader as Windows will overwrite the boot sector with itâ€™s own Master Boot Record, essentially trapping your GNU/Linux partition as invisible and unbootable until you re-install GRUB.
We will cover doing a tutorial like that in the future, as well as doing a multi-disk boot setup with separate Operating Systems on separate drives. Note End
Attention: we recommend that you create a system backup before you proceed. While the method outlined below works really well and should not cause any issues, it is better to be safe than sorry. A backup ensures that you can restore the system if things go wrong during the process (power outage, data corruption, PC won't boot anymore, you name it). You can use Veeam Endpoint Backup Free for that, or any other backup software that supports full backups.
The first thing you are going to want to do is download our Linux Mint ISO by navigating to https://www.linuxmint.com/
Click on â€˜Downloadâ€™, and then select your flavour of choice; for this article I selected â€˜Cinnamonâ€™ and of course 64bit since my laptop supports it, as anything made in at least the past decade will as well.
From here you will be given a list of download locations, as well as the option to download your ISO via Torrent, select the download of your hearts desire, and we will be on our way to the next step!
Another piece of software youâ€™re going to want is Rufus, a tool for making our ISO bootable off a USB stick, so head over to https://rufus.akeo.ie/ and grab the portable version of rufus.
Once you have both the ISO And Rufus, we will be using Rufus to make the LiveUSB. Open Rufus, and youâ€™ll want to leave most options as their default, with the exception of one thing:
If you intend to use a drive over 2TB in size, or your windows system is currently setup to use GPT rather than MBR, then you will want to select â€œGPTâ€ in the first drop down box
How do I know if my system is using GPT or MBR?
Checking if your system is currently set up as MBR or as GPT is a simple process in Windows; simply visit your control panel, and select â€œAdministrative Toolsâ€
Then select â€œComputer Managementâ€
And then continue to â€œDisk Managementâ€ where you will locate your Windows drive, and right click the grey box where the disk number is listed, and select â€˜Propertiesâ€™.
From there, click the Volumes tab, and it will list the partition style!
My laptop uses the MBR style, and thus this tutorial will be focusing on that, however using GPT is really quite similar in regards to installing Linux Mint, and I will write up a detailed guide in the near future focusing on GPT for those of you who are using GPT partition tables.
Moving forward, besides selecting either MBR or GPT, the rest of the settings in Rufus should be left as default, and then it is time to select our Linux Mint ISO by clicking the small disc icon, and then picking the ISO file.
Once that is done, click Start! You may get a popup window next mentioning something about Syslinux versions and how Rufus will need to download two files; the short version of this is that Rufus needs to download two small files to support this latest version of Linux Mint; click yes to allow Rufus to download the files needed, and then another box will pop up asking which mode you wish to use to write the image file to the USB, leave the recommended option selected and click â€˜OKâ€™.
Lastly a window will pop up notifying you that everything on the USB is about to be destroyed in order to write the ISO to the USB Drive; so if you have anything crucial on this USB Stick you will want to back it up before proceeding, otherwise once again click â€˜OKâ€™ and let Rufus work its magic; once itâ€™s done, itâ€™s time to boot into our LiveUSB.
Depending on your BIOS/UEFI the hotkey to press to get to your boot menu will vary, it could be DEL, F1, F8, F12 etc, so when you reboot your machine keep a lookout for the text letting you know, and hit that button, then select your USB stick as the device to boot from, and youâ€™ll reach the Linux Mint splash screen.
Either let the time run down, or select â€˜Start Linux Mintâ€™ to be taken to the LiveUSB Desktop. Feel free to click around and explore if you wish, and when you are ready, select â€œInstall Linux Mintâ€ from the Desktop and we will start the installation process.
INSTALLING LINUX MINT
The first thing that we need to do is to make sure your language of choice is selected on the left side of the window that will pop up, and then select Continue.
The following screen is going to have a checkbox that says â€œInstall third party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware,Flash,MP3 and other media,â€ you have two choices here: Select the box and have things installed for you automatically, or donâ€™t.
Most people are going to select this box, however there are some people who switch to GNU/Linux in order to avoid proprietary software altogether, and they may not wish to have closed-source software or plugins/codecs installed onto their machine; if this sounds like you, leave it unchecked, regardless when you have made your decision youâ€™ll want to click Continue.
The next screen for the purpose of this tutorial will be very easy to navigate. Youâ€™re going to get multiple options available to you, such as erasing the entire disk and installing Linux Mint, Installing Linux Mint alongside your current system, encrypting Linux Mint, using LVM or doing your own partition setup. We are going to select, â€œInstall Linux Mint alongside Windowsâ€.
Next we are given a screen that shows what the Linux Mint installer wishes to do in terms of partition sizing, by way of showing bars to represent the partitions. You can slide the bars to adjust the sizing of things be it increasing the Linux Mint Partitions and decreasing the Windows partitions or vice-versa, by clicking and dragging the dotted line back and forth. Once you have figured out how you want to size things, youâ€™ll want to click â€˜Continueâ€™. I recommend giving Linux Mint a bare minimum of 20GB space.
The installer will then pop up a box or two letting you know that the changes need to be written before installation can proceed.
NOTE: This is your last chance to back out before the resizing takes place, so if you arenâ€™t sure you want to proceed, this is the time to cancel. If you are ready to continue, click away to do so, and the installation will start.
The next screens are all pretty straightforward as well. First youâ€™ll be asked to choose your location either by clicking on the map, or typing your location in. This is for your locale and your timezone settings.
Next, we are asked to choose our language and keyboard layout....For most, leaving this as is, is what we want.
And then we are taken to a screen asking for our details. Username, password, name etc. You absolutely MUST set a password here, regardless of whether you choose to require a password to login or not. I also highly recommend you choose to encrypt your Home folder; it will have a next to zero performance hit, but will increase the security of your system, should your machine ever fall into an adversaries hands.
Once that is done, youâ€™ll be presented with a nice slideshow showcasing some of the features of Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition.
Simply let the installer continue until it is done, and when all is finished you will be presented with a box asking if you wish to reboot into your new system or not.
When your machine starts back up, you will be presented the the GRUB bootloader screen, which will enable you to choose whether you want to boot into Windows or Linux Mint. Select the OS of your desire with your arrow keys, press enter, and enjoy!
More details about Linux Mint 18.1 Cinnamon can be found here, as well as some links about what to do after your installation in terms of setting things up!