Dual boot newbie, advice needed

First post, taking the dive, will install Mint alongside Win 10. Not a geek so bear with me. Would appreciate some feedback:

  1. some tutorials recommend different approaches at the Install step—Install Mint alongside Windows Boot Manager vs Something else (creating partitions for install).

a) Note that they present the pre-install step of going to Disk Management and creating a partition for the Linux OS.

b) Upon installation using the “Something else” method, home, boot and root disks are mounted with their recommended minimum disk space assigned manually.

*Question 1: If installing Linux alongside Windows Boot Manager, will the Linux partition be automatically expanded if need be as more Linux apps and data are saved?

*Question 2: Pros/Cons of each?

  1. have come across that one recommendation is to disable Secure booting and change the boot order before starting an install, while others go through the USB install without doing the boot changes first, apparently without issue. Any experience/feedback regarding this?

  2. I plan to use SurfShark vpn (what I use on Windows). Any cautionary tales?

  3. will it be possible to delete/erase/wipe Windows 10 dual boot setup without stability/corruption issues affecting Linux once I’m ready? I will definitely leave Windows after a short period of time.

Looking for some real world experience feedback if at all possible. Thanks a million.

Zpepelepu,

Let me take the first steps with you and see if we need help from an expert later.

First and foremost, have you backed up your data to an external drive yet? I would not proceed any further without doing this very important step. Any number of things can go wrong when installing new operating systems, and even disk failures are enough for me to always keep backups of all my data at all times.

So, once you have this external backup created, how large is your hard drive and how much free space is left? You can find this information out by running your disk management program (right click on the start button and select disk management) We need to make sure you even have enough space to dual boot two Operating Systems.

You should probably see one disk (C: drive) using the windows NTFS file system with numerical values for capacity and free space. If the free space value is under 50 GB, I would say you will not have enough room. I would even say that if your goal is to eventually replace windows with Linux, you should have at least half of your disk’s capacity free, to make sure all files and programs fit in your new Linux partition.

Let me know your findings are so we can proceed to the next steps.

One last thought, have you considered the option of using/purchasing a second disk drive to use for Linux rather than dual boot on the same disk? Is this a desktop or laptop?

I will certainly understand if you are not comfortable opening up and swapping out drives from your machine and do not want to go this route, but you sound technical to me. No problem either way, we are here to help.

Michael

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Thanks for the response.

Backup has been done.
HDD is 1 TB, with 600+ GB free space.
Haven’t considered installing a second disk drive dedicated for Linux. I’m no geek but probably could stumble through it–it’s the details that scare me away, i.e., possibly updating the BIOS, etc. Quite frankly, I don’t like this HP laptop, would prefer a Dell Latitude but it is what it is.

zpepelepu,

Excellent! You certainly have enough disk for a dual boot with Mint and glad you have your data safe in a backup drive.

Lets take the next step and shrink your NTFS disk to create a blank partition for your Linux. This will make it very easy for the Linux Mint installer to set up the Dual boot for you. Go back into the Disk Management program, like before, and right click on the C drive partition. A menu should come up and the option to “Shrink Volume…” should be available.

Clicking on that, should start a pop up notification to query for free space. In a few seconds a dialog will come up asking how much do you want to shrink your windows drive in MB. Each GB is 1000 MB, so you have over 600 GB free, so splitting the drive in half for each OS seems like a good choice. In the box labeled: Enter the amount of space to shrink in MB, enter 550000 and hit enter. This should free up 550 GBs for our Linux partition. (Remember you can always extend the volume back, to undo the shrink)

When the shrink finishes you should see a new unallocated partition to the right of your old C drive partition. This will be where the installer will place your new Linux Mint OS.

If you want to double check to make sure the partition settings are set, do a reboot to windows and you should still see the unallocated partition in the Disk Management program. (Its nice also to know we didn’t break windows :wink:

Do you have a boot-able USB drive created yet with the Linux Mint installer ready to go? If not let me know and I can help walk you through creating that.

Let me know when you are ready for the next step, where we will need to change your boot order and perhaps have to turn off the secure boot option; if the BIOS prevents us from changing the boot sector.

I have created an unallocated partition of 500 GB.
I have previously created a boot-able USB drive with Mint 20.2 using Etcher.

I’ve accessed the (BIOS) InsydeH20 Setup Utility and under System Configuration, the Boot Options shows the CD-ROM Boot and the USB Boot are both enabled.
I’ve taken the liberty of disabling the Secure Boot option; Legacy Support remains disabled.
Under the UEFI Boot Order containing the OS Boot Manager, I have moved the USB Diskette on Key/USB Hard Disk ahead of the Internal CD/DVD ROM Drive option.

Curious based on a 2019 article I read, as to your opinion whether creating a swap partition or a swap file is better or if there is no longer a need to create one or the other manually?

Have you tried Virtualbox, if you make a mistake it is easier to fix and you won’t mess up your system. That way you will find out if that Distro is what you want.
I would also suggest that you make a clone of your harddrive so you can reinstall everything if something does not work.
I am running Zorin with Windows 10 in Virtualbox and it works great.
Just a suggestion.

Zpepelepu,

Wow, you are a very quick learner and have completed the next set up steps on your own! You are going to love using Linux and have a wonderful enthusiasm to learn new things.

From what I understand many major Linux Distros have stopped using separate swap partitions and now use swap files instead. Linux Mint will do this automatically for you during install and I would say lets go with the defaults for now and see that you may not need to change anything at all.

Here is a great article for some swap info: Linux swap: what it is and how to use it | Average Linux User

Now onto the fun stuff!

  1. As you have your USB stick ready to go and all the BIOS setup work completed, when you are ready, plug in the USB stick into your computer and start it up. It should automatically detect it and start booting Linux Mint and after a minute to present you with a mint Menu where the first option “Start Linux Mint” is already selected.

(If you do not get this menu and windows has loaded instead, let me know and we will find the cause, but I will assume for now it does. Remember too that some computers can bypass the boot sequence by pressing F12 key when you see the boot screen to then select the USB from a menu)

  1. By pressing enter or I believe it will auto select the start option after 10 seconds, you should get a LM logo on the screen taking you to Mint Desktop. This is called a live session and what your computer will look like when we are done installing it. Some things to do before we continue:
  • Your mouse and keyboard should automatically work
  • The wireless card should also automatically be detected and ready to connect to your wi-fi (double click on your wireless icon at the bottom right and select your wi-fi and enter your password. It should connect fine and will help to get updates during the install)
  • you should also see a Bluetooth icon showing that Mint can auto enable this device as well.
  1. When completed with the above checks, you should see a disk icon in the upper left corner that says, “Install Linux Mint”.
    Double click this icon to begin.

  2. You should then be presented with a language selection, pick your language then click continue.

  3. Next is your keyboard selection, it may select a default for you and if not correct pick your layout then click continue.

  4. Next it will ask you if you want codecs for multimedia, check the box then click continue.

  5. Next is the partition selection window and this is where your work earlier will pay off. It should default to the option where you want to install Linux Mint alongside Windows. It automatically picked up the free partition you made earlier and we don’t have to worry about messing up windows with the other two choices. Click Install Now.

  6. A confirmation pop up will confirm that it will make the new changes to your disk. One new partition named #2 will be a small GRUB boot loader and the other larger one #5 will be the Mint partition. Click continue.

  7. Next up is the time zone selection, pick your region then continue.

  8. The final screen is where you enter the computer name and login info.

Name: Your Full Name

Computer Name: What you want this computer called, should default to the model name

Username: this will be the main userid you use to log into Linux. You can add others as well later.

Password: the password for your login

The final sections are if you want to auto login to this userid or a more secure option to require passwords.

Another option is if you want to encrypt your Home data folder or not. That is up to you and a slight performance hit will occur if it has to always decrypt every file you use. There are separate programs to encrypt data on an as needed basis, which is what I use.

Press restart now when done and the final install will start copying to your disk. It should take a few minutes depending on your computers speed.

Eventually you should see a message asking you to remove your USB stick to reboot.

====

Upon reboot you should see the GRUB Boot manager where you will have Linux Mint as the first choice and Windows 10 as the bottom choice. Choose Mint and you will now see the new Linux Mint environment ready to go!

Congratulations! You now have a dual boot PC! Let us know how it goes and if you need any further assistance. We will be happy to help you.

If and when you want to run windows just remember to select it in the boot loader instead of Mint.

Haven’t considered it/don’t know much about it. Cannot Mint be run from the usb stick without installing to test out?
Is it possible to install Mint and then set up Windows virtually?
Appreciate feedback.

zpepelepu,

Sorry if I misunderstood, but it was my understanding that you already made the decision to set up your computer as a dual boot from your initial post. Of course you can test out Linux running on your computer from the USB stick. Just follow the directions above up to step 2 and test drive Mint for as long as you wish, you do not need to set up virtual box at all. Just be aware that Mint will a bit slower from a USB than your internal hard drive.

Sorry for the confusion. I was just finally responding to Keithmj’s input.
I was confirming that I understood Linux could be run from the stick instead of using VirtualBox. Then my question was, could Windows be run using VirtualBox with just the Mint installed (no dual boot).
I do plan to proceed although the possibility of running Windows using VirtualBox in Linux is a future prospect, unless there are other issues to be aware of.

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zpepelepu,

It is indeed possible and here is great info, with screenshots, on how to do it.

I really don’t think there are any major limitations other than sharing internal resources with the host machine (RAM. CPU, bandwidth etc.). You may have to manually share any USB devices that are already connected to your machine, like printers for example, if you want them to be used with the windows virtual machine. Nothing really major though so the choice is yours.

As you pointed out, you could initially set up the dual boot, then later remove the windows partition, extent that free space back to your Linux partition and then just use Virtual box when you need windows for the foreseeable future.

As Jeff always says, Linux gives us digital freedom to do things our way!

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Appreciate the feedback. I’ll give an update on the install later this week.

Lots of good information that you brought out and to the point. I had, when I started Linux mint on a dual boot with windows and not knowing a lot about what I was doing I tried to remove Linux and messed up the boot for windows and Linux. I didn’t know about VB at that times, and thought that live boot was the only way to do it. I had several distros that ran great from a live boot and then messed up after I installed to the drive, live boot is a great way to test them out but for me a VB is easier and simpler without messing something up.
I like your idea of removing the windows partition then you don’t have to reinstall Linux but with my luck I would have to reinstall Linux anyway.
Windows in a VB in Linux is a good way to run that, I can’t tell that it is even in a VB.
Linux does give us digital freedom to do things our way!

what can I do if I “broke” windows at this point? … I haven’t installed Linux yet but my computer will not boot to windows … it says that there is a file that is signed incorrectly … that “windows cannot verify the digital signature” … ???

OK … so I “fixed” windows … I am able to create a partition in windows and it says “unallocated” … but when I get to the Linux install it says the unallocated space is free space at the top, but is unusable at the lower portion. I cannot go further with the install because the boxes are greyed out … ???

Jayhawkat,

Sorry for the delay in reply, had many family events that had me on the road over the last few days.

Let me understand your current position, you have fixed your windows partition and can boot to windows. You also were able to free up some space and create a new partition with unallocated space for your linux OS. Is this correct so far?

Where are you in the install when you see the boxes greyed out? At the linux install window where you choose the partition?

thank you for the response … no worries about delays … I am also struggling with family issues at the moment and can hardly find time to sit down … I am at the point where I can see the unallocated space in linux … it does not say “free space” where it can be selected … see picture

Jayhawkat,

Thank you so much for the screenshot and I now see what the problem is.

Your disk is using the MBR partitioning method which allows for only 4 Primary partitions on a disk at a time and from your screenshot we clearly see 4 ntfs partitions. This is why the free space is ‘unusable’, so lets fix this.

I believe that the first partition, sda1, is your windows boot loader and the second one sda2 is your windows C: drive. We will leave those alone for dual booting. The partition named sda3 is very small and I’m not sure what this one actually is but the sda4 is a windows recovery partition that would restore windows in case you wanted to reinstall it. (This was common when PC manufacturers stopped shipping CDs with the windows install on them and you had to sacrifice some disk space for this capability) Being that now you can just download the windows 10 installer .iso image onto a USB like the one you created for Linux, I would say its safe to say we can delete this partition for our purposes.

The best way to accomplish this is to Boot to the Linux Mint USB and instead of Clicking on install Linux, open up the program named GParted. (Click on the Lower Left LM icon and then type GParted in the search box and it should find it for you.)

Entering the GParted program will show you a partition screen similar to the one in your screenshot. Right click on the recovery partition (sda4) and select Delete. It will mark this for deletion, then click on the check option in the menu “Apply All Operations” to commit the change. This partition will now be deleted and you should no longer see it in the chart above. This space will also be automatically grouped into our free space for Linux :wink:

Now launch the Mint Install program again and you should see an option in the Installation Type screen that you had not seen before: “Install Linux Mint alongside Windows 10”. You can now choose this one and continue with the installation and no longer need to choose “Something else”, because the installer can now automatically create the Linux partition for you.

Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions with the instructions above.

Michael

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an absolutely fantastic description of why and how the $%# MBR limitations happen and how to get past

THANK YOU! … that was it … I have been able to load it no problem. :smiley: