Friday, August 22, 2008

Howto Dual-Boot Linux Mint 5 and Windows

WARNING! IT IS RECOMMENDED TO BACK UP ALL DATA BEFORE CONTINUING. SOMETHING COULD GO WRONG AND YOU COULD END UP WITH A WIPED HARD DRIVE

As you can see from the title, this tutorial will explain how to set up a dual-boot with Windows and Linux Mint 5.
It will also explain how to uninstall Linux Mint and go back to a single boot in case you don't like it. This was tested with Windows XP and Vista, but should work fine with 95, 98, ME, 2000, etc. This tutorial assumes you already have Windows installed in a single boot, as is the case with most people wanting to switch to Linux.

The main reason I'm writing this is because I recommend Linux Mint to a lot of people over at Yahoo! Answers, and they usually ask me questions about dual-booting. Now I can just send them a link to this thread.

Let's get started :)

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to defrag your Windows installation before continuing

OK first thing you're going to do (after backing up your data) is shrink your Windows NTFS partition to make room for some new Linux partitions. This can all be done from the Linux Mint 5 live CD:
-Boot from the LiveCD:
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-Choose Start Linux Mint
-Once the LiveCD loads up, go to MintMenu>Administration>PartitionEditor:
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-That will open up gparted, you should see a list of all partitions on your hard drive. Right-click your Windows NTFS partition and choose Resize/Move:
-Up at the top, you can adjust the size of the partition. Shrink the partition by about half (or however much you want to devote to Linux) by clicking the arrow on the right and dragging it to the left:
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-Once you've decided how much you want to shrink it by, click Resize/Move (just make sure the NTFS partition is still large enough to hold all the files you have on it.)
-Now click Apply to apply the changes you just made (This might take a while depending on how much you shrank the partition)
-gparted should now show an NTFS partion and unallocated space:
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You are now ready to install Linux Mint:
-Double-click the Install icon on the Linux Mint desktop
-Choose your language, then click Forward
-Select a city in your country and timezone, click Forward again
-Choose your keyboard layout, click Forward another time
-Now we're at the important part, the partioner. You want Linux Mint to use the unallocated space we freed earlier. The easy way to do this is to choose Guided - use largest continuous free space. You can also choose Manual and set up the partitions yourself, but that's for more advanced users.

Guided - use largest continuous free space (Easy way):
-Just choose Guided - use largest continuous free space and click Forward. The installer will automatically partition the unallocated space

Manual Partitioning (Harder, but better):
-Choose Manual and click Forward
-I'll try to explain this the best I can, there are many ways you can set up the partitions. You need a Minimum of a 4GB Ext3 partition with the mount point "/" and a 256MB Linux Swap partition. First, I'll explain some of the mount points:
/: This is called the ROOT directory. It contains all other directories (/home, /usr, /etc, /boot and so on)
/home: This is called the Home directory. It contains things like documents and hidden configuration directories for software you install. It is a good idea to have this directory on a seperate partition, because it allows you to reinstall/upgrade without losing important documents.
/usr: This directory is where software goes. If you put this on a seperate partition, you can reinstall/upgrade without loosing software.
And the Swap partition is basically hard drive space that gets used as if it were RAM. (Kind of like a Windows page file)
So this is how I usually partition:
-1-2 GB Swap partition (About twice the size of your RAM is usually recommended)
-Around 2-4 GB Ext3 partition, with the mount point "/" (I usually do 6-10GB if I don't make a seperate partition for /usr)
-Around 6 GB Ext3 partition, with the mount point "/usr"
-Then I use the rest of the free space for an EXT3 partition with the mount point "/home"
If I had a partition layout like the one above and somehow screwed up my system, I could reinstall Linux Mint (Only formatting the "/" partition) and have a brand new system with all my old documents and software. Sorry, I'm not sure if I'm explaining manual partitioning very well, you could probably find a better explaination on Google.

-Now it will ask you for a username, password, and hostname... fill that out however you want and click Forward
-Next it will ask if you want to import any users or documents from other operating systems. Personally, I don't like to... but you can if you want. Click Forward
-Now it's ready to install, review the settings and click Install if they look good
-Setup will begin installing, wait for it to finish.
-Once it's done it will ask you to reboot, reboot and remove the CD. At startup, it should give you the choice of booting into Windows or Linux Mint. Test out both boot options If they both work: Congratulations, you have yourself a dual-boot:
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IF YOU DECIDE LINUX MINT ISN'T RIGHT FOR YOU (How to Uninstall):


The first thing you need to do is restore the Windows bootloader. There are a few ways to do this, I prefer to use a program called ms-sys:
-Boot from the Linux Mint LiveCD
-Choose Start Linux Mint
-Once the LiveCD boots, download ms-sys_2.1.0-1_i386.deb from:
http://packages.ubuntu.com/gutsy/ms-sys
The download above is for Gutsy, there doesn't seem to be a Hardy version for some reason. But don't worry, the Gutsy version works fine
-Double-click the .deb package you just downloaded to open it with gdebi package installer, then click Install Package
-Once the package has finished installing, close gdebi
-Open a Terminal and run:
Code: Select all
sudo ms-sys -m /dev/sda

IMPORTANT NOTE: your hard drive may be something different than /dev/sda. Run sudo fdisk -l to find out. If it is something different, change the /dev/sda in the command above to suit your needs.


After you've restored the Windows bootloader, you'll have to delete the Linux partitions and stretch the Windows NTFS partition:

-Go to MintMenu>Administration>PartitionEditor
-Right-click the Linux-Swap partition and choose Swapoff
-Now right-click and delete the Linux-Swap, EXT3, and Extended partitions
-Right-click the NTFS partition, then choose Resize/Move
-Click and drag the right arrow all the way to the right side to fully extend the partition:
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-Click Resize/Move
-Click Apply
-Now reboot and everything should be back to the way it was

Hope this helped

If you have any questions about burning the LiveCD, booting from the LiveCD, etc please read the Linux Mint 5 User Guide, it's all explained there.

1 comment:

Eduardo Encabo said...

Thank you for help me uninstalling Linux Mint.