Come installare Linux con Windows Vista a bordo

Scenario: You want the simplest way to dual-boot Vista and Linux. You’ve already installed Windows Vista and now want to dual-boot it with Ubuntu 7.04

Summary of tutorial: This is an updated tutorial – we previously used Ubuntu 6.10 and then modified the GRUB bootloader to force Ubuntu to recognise the Vista partition. In this tutorial, we’ll use Ubuntu 7.04 which does a much better job in interacting with Vista. We’ll use the Vista management tools to resize the main partition and install Ubuntu into the freed space.

This tutorial has been tested on a VMWare Workstation 6 machine and an ASUS P5AD2-based Intel system with 2GB RAM and an 80GB Seagate SATA drive.

Get started

Boot into Windows Vista and go into Disk Management – right-click My Computer, Manage, Disk Management.

Vista Disk ManagementVista Disk Management

Right-click on the main Vista partition and select Shrink Volume

Vista Disk Management - Shrink VolumeVista Disk Management – Shrink Volume

The Shrink tool will assess how much space can be freed up.

Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume 2Vista Disk Management – Shrink Volume 2

As a rule of thumb Shrink will reduce the main system partition by about 50%. As long as the partition is big enough to begin with (at least 10GB) it should accommodate both operating systems.

Select Shrink and the tool will reduce the volume of the primary partition, leaving the rest of the disk free as unpartitioned space.

Vista Disk Management - Shrink Volume 3Vista Disk Management – Shrink Volume 3

Once that’s done, shut down the Vista machine.

Install Ubuntu

You’ll need the latest desktop ISO of Ubuntu (7.04). You can choose a list of download mirrors from the Ubuntu website, or use this link from Planetmirror. Download the ISO and burn it to CD to create an Ubuntu Live CD.

Boot the Vista machine from the Live CD and select “Start or install Ubuntu”.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install UbuntuVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu

Once the Live CD has loaded, double-click the Install icon on the desktop to start the installation process.
On the Welcome screen, choose your language and select Forward.
Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - LanguageVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – Language
On the “Where are you” (timezone) page, select your location and then Forward.
Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - TimezoneVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – Timezone

On the next screen, choose the appropriate keyboard layout and then Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - KeyboardVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – Keyboard

Ubuntu will then load the disk partitioner to determine where it’s going to be installed. Choose “Manual – use the largest continuous free space”. This will automatically select the unpartitioned space we created earlier using the Shrink tool. Click Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - Disk PartitionerVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – Disk Partitioner

On the Migrate Documents and Settings screen, if Ubuntu finds any user accounts to migrate, feel free to import it from Vista to Ubuntu. If it doesn’t find any, obviously this isn’t an option. Click Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - MigrateVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – Migrate

On the “Who are you?” screen, enter your username and password details, then click Forward.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - User DetailsVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – User Details

On the “Ready to install” screen, you’ll see that Ubuntu now has enough information to commence the installation. In the summary under Migrate Assistant, it should say “Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader)”. This means that regardless of whether Ubuntu found any user account to migrate, it certainly knows that Windows Vista is installed on the other partition and is aware of it. Click Install.

Vista & Ubuntu - Install Ubuntu - InstallVista & Ubuntu – Install Ubuntu – Install

See the install through and then let it boot into Ubuntu.

When the install is complete the system will reboot. When the GRUB boot menu is displayed, have a look at the last entry in the list.

Vista & Ubuntu - GRUB BootloaderVista & Ubuntu – GRUB Bootloader

After the Ubuntu boot options, there will be an entry “Other operating systems” and beneath that “Windows Vista/Longhorn loader”. By default Ubuntu will load itself after 10 seconds, but you can select the Vista option and Vista will boot normally.

Configure GRUB

If you want to modify how GRUB handles the new dualbooting environment, you need to edit the boot menu. Boot into Ubuntu and open up a Terminal window (Applications, Accessories, Terminal), and type in:

sudo cp /boot/grub/menu.lst /boot/grub/menu.lst_bak

and enter your root password when asked – this makes a backup of the GRUB menu file just in case things go wrong.

Next, type in:

sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Dualboot - Configure Boot MenuDualboot – Configure Boot Menu

This opens up the boot menu as a text file in gedit.

Dualboot - Boot OptionsDualboot – Boot Options

There are loads of options you can change, but only a couple that you’re likely to be interested in. The default boot entry is defined by the “default” value.

The default value is 0, which means that the first entry in the list (which is Ubuntu) always gets loaded.

If you want to make it so that Windows Vista loads by default, change the value to 4, as Vista is the fifth item in the list (the numbering system starts at 0 and “Other operating systems” counts as a line).

The other way to load Windows Vista by default is to change the value for “default” from a numerical value to “saved”. Then, GRUB will load whichever boot entry has been marked with “savedefault”.

If you scroll down the list and have a look at the entries, you’ll notice that both the main Ubuntu entry and Windows Vista have been marked with “savedefault”. Remove the value for Ubuntu and Windows Vista will launch by default.

It’s also worthwhile changing the description of the Vista entry from “Windows Vista/Longhorn (loader” to just “Windows Vista”.

You can also increase the boot menu timeout – just change the value for “timeout”. You can also hide the GRUB boot menu by removing the hash in front of “hiddenmenu”. Save and exit gedit to keep any changes.

If instead of GRUB you want Vista’s bootloader to be in charge, load up the Vista installation and install EasyBCD. Go to “Manage Bootloader”, then “Reinstall the Vista Bootloader”, an GRUB is overwritten. You can then configure the Vista bootloader to add Linux to the boot menu.


4 thoughts on “Come installare Linux con Windows Vista a bordo”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the report. I want to ask you some questions:

    i) What if my existing OS is winxp? Should I trust in Ubuntu’s shrink facility in its LiveCD? Have you got experience about it?

    ii) If you compare Ubuntu 7.10 (or 8.04) vs. Vista, which one would you find more useful [just for a home user]?

    iii) How or can I add winxp safety mode option to GRUB boot menu?

    Thanks again. It’s going to be kind of you if you answer these questions.


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