How to Dual-Boot Windows XP and Linux (Updated!)

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jaunty desktop.JPG
Most computers we use have Windows on them. Most have Windows XP. But what if you need to run something in Linux and it needs to actually be installed on a computer? For most people who aren't total geeks, it seems like a daunting task. But not anymore! Just follow this Instructable and you will have a working Linux distribution up and running in less than an hour, without losing any of your Windows information! You also don't have to spent a single dollar. This was tested on a real computer, not a VMware machine. This would probably work exactly the same on Windows Vista, but I haven't tested it.

If you have any questions or problems during the installation, just post a comment.

If you have a USB wi-fi adapter, it will work in version 8.10 and above.

Also, this is my first Instructable!

Note: This was originally done using this guide. I just put it into Instructables. It's pretty much the same, but I've done it on a real computer, and APC did it in VMware.

This instructable was newly updated, in the old version I used Ubuntu version 8.04, and now I'm using 9.04!
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
What you need:

  • Computer with Windows XP installed.
  • About 5 GB of free hard drive space, a lot more is recommended
  • Any Ubuntu desktop install CD; get the new version (9.04) here. This guide will work with any version from 8.04 to 9.04.
  • CD burner
  • Blank CD-R
  • ISO Recorder; get it here
  • About 45 minutes of time

You should also not be afraid to do the following:

  • Editing your computer's partition table
  • Using the command line
  • Not using a GUI

The ISO Recorder program installs as a "Power-Toy". To use it, just pop a blank CD into your CD burner and double-click the ISO you want to burn.

The reason you have to use a special ISO-burning program is because the ISO file that the Ubuntu installer is in can't just be burned to a CD like music. ISO's are like ZIP files in that they are expanded when they are burned to a CD. If you just drag the ISO file to a CD in Windows, it will write just that one file to a disc. If you write it in the ISO burner, you can see that there are a lot more files on the disc.
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MaciekK1 month ago

I have a problem after installing. I had Windows XP SP3 on my computer before installation. When I restarted my PC it was here. After an update i can't saw it from System menu. It just Disapeared! (I have only Ubuntu... bla bla bla... and only that. Before update there was "Windows XP SP3 Professional" too!)

thetre9711 months ago

i have just discovered this after much 'dithering' about how dual booting works, and i would like to try it but could you update it for the latest ubuntu (12.04 OR 13.10) please?????

thanks :)

nerd74731 year ago
Ok I think this is going to be easier than I thought
nerd74731 year ago
what if I don't know the system requirements
Pie Ninja5 years ago
My computer has 2 HDDs, a master and a slave, I was wondering if I installed ubuntu on my slave drive, would it give me a boot prompt or just automatically boot from the master? Cause if it prompts me to choose a drive, I can just install ubuntu on my slave drive.
OK, just tried to partition my slave and it broke, now I have a blank 279 GB drive. Oh well, it needed reformatting anyway, it was only 128 GB before, but I did lose a LOT of DBZ episodes DX
stargazer418 (author)  Pie Ninja5 years ago
That's never happened to me... I put it on my slave drive by selecting the option to use the whole drive (sda1) instead of the master (sda0). It installed perfectly and I got the boot menu when I started up.
Doesn't matter now anyway, I found a spare HDD and I have an empty drive bay in my computer, I'll just switch between HDDs manually, I'm not gonna be using Ubuntu for much anyway.
yeah one thing you could do is RAID (if your hardware can handle it) the hard drives then multiboot like above
Pie Ninja5 years ago
I've done everything you say to, except as soon as I get to the partitioning part of the install, there's no option to install it side by side.
I have ~20GB free space, and I'm using the latest version of ubuntu. I've tried rebooting 3 times, but still no option to install side by side, I've also tried 2 different CDs.
Also, before it runs the install, I get a black screen with 2 lines of text on it that say:
( 11.49600 ) atal: SSRT failed (errno=-16)
( 21.50800 ) atal: SSRT failed (errno=-16)

Or something close to that, only with square brackets, then afterwards the install starts fine, except for the whole no side by side install thing.
One more thing, I have to run ubuntu in safe graphics mode otherwise I get no GUI on the install screen, could that be a problem?

Please help.
stargazer418 (author)  Pie Ninja5 years ago
Will it let you select the option to try Ubuntu without any change to your computer?
yep, also I typed the error(?) messages wrong

( 11.496010) ata1: SRST failed (errno=-16)
( 21.508010) ata1: SRST failed (errno=-16)

The number strings are in square brackets, but the errno things are in normal ones.

I'm wondering if I should just do it manually, but I don't really know how :P
Also, I've tried using partition magic to make a new partition on my drive, but it doesn't work, just gives me an error at the beggining of partitioning.
I think somethings really screwy with my drive.
cyrozap6 years ago
Oh, and 8.10 is the way to go. a few bugs (probably has to do with compiz) but nothing too serious.
stargazer418 (author)  cyrozap5 years ago
I installed 8.10 on my real computer and I got Compiz working perfectly. The only bug I know of is that it drops my wireless network connection about every 45 minutes.
That could just be an issue with your router though.
cornboy35 years ago
For this don't you need sudo access? "Open the Terminal from the Applications menu and type "apt-get moo" and type your password. You will be presented with a funny picture of a cow."
stargazer418 (author)  cornboy35 years ago
No, because you aren't downloading any packages to the computer, you're just pulling something off the Internet.
Arbitror5 years ago
Easier way:
1. Insert your Ubuntu live CD. (while in Windows)
2. Follow the on screen install instructions.
3. The Ubuntu installer will install Ubuntu just as if it were a windows program.
4. To use, restart your computer, and a boot list will come up.
5. Select "Ubuntu" and press enter.
6. You successfully dual booted in 5 minutes!
stargazer418 (author)  Arbitror5 years ago
Please read through the comment list before you add a comment. The conversation between cyrozap and UbuntuNinja says the same thing you just said.
It's not using Wubi, though.
will4215 years ago
Does anybody know how to install XP on a Ubuntu 8.10 PC?
stargazer418 (author)  will4215 years ago
In Ubuntu, go to the terminal and type in (without quotes) "sudo gparted". Click on your Ubuntu partition (should be the only one) and click "Resize/Move" at the top. Drag the edges of the partition so that you have enough space for both Windows and Ubuntu. Click OK, then Apply. Then reboot with your Windows CD. When it asks which hard drive you want to use, make sure you select the right partition.
ReCreate6 years ago
The first time i tried IMGBURN in ruined my last CD At 99 Percent it gave me a stupid error and ruined everything on the CD,And it was my last CD
stargazer418 (author)  ReCreate5 years ago
Sorry about that. Try Googling "Free ISO Burner" and see what it comes up with. Also, try setting the burn speed as low as it goes. It will take a long time, but there's less of a chance it will mess up.
oh,a lower burn speed eh? why didn't i think of that?
stargazer418 (author)  ReCreate5 years ago
Yeah, I've had that problem while using Roxio to burn an audio CD at 48x.
well,i was burning at (i think)8x maybe i should try 2x?
stargazer418 (author)  ReCreate5 years ago
Yes, some large files like Ubuntu don't like burning at a high speed. Try 2x, and also if your computer came with a cd burning program, check that to see if it has an "ISO" or "Image to Disc" mode.
Ah yes it CAME with that program, 7 years ago. Now that i upgraded to xp i no longer have it. I did have nero though,it is supposed to be a good cd burner,right?
stargazer418 (author)  ReCreate5 years ago
Yes, Nero is one of the best! Check that to see if it has an "ISO to Disc" or "Image to Disc" option. I updated my Instructable so I don't recommend a program that messes up CDs anymore.
Did i mention,i did have nero,not anymore but i could reinstall it if i want to,but first i need a new hdd,mine only has a few kbytes of space left
stargazer418 (author)  ReCreate5 years ago
UbuntuNinja6 years ago
One more thing i forgot (sorry). 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope is being released next month.
stargazer418 (author)  UbuntuNinja5 years ago
UbuntuNinja and cyrozap, I'm planning to update this Instructable with 8.10 and (hopefully) 9.04.
cyrozap6 years ago
One word: Wubi. That's how i installed Ubuntu. I just dualboot when my PC starts up. Oh, and it's really easy.
In my opinion, native partition installs are better because when you use Wubi, it creates a somewhat big virtual disk thing inside the Ubuntu folder on the root of your Windows drive. Also, if you have anti-virus software, when doing a routine scan of the system just to make sure that everything is in good shape and virus-free, the scanner might think Ubuntu is a virus. Anyway, Windows sometimes doesn't like big files.
Well, I have a 500GB HDD and AVG Anti-Virus Free and everything is OK.
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