What is Dual or Multi-booting?

What is Dual Booting?

Dual Boot, also know as “multi-booting” is the process of setting up your computer to have two, or more, operating systems on the same hard drive (or sometimes separate hard drives), allowing you to decide when you turn on the computer, which Operating System you want to run.

More technically, you are not actually “dual booting” the operating systems, but you are simply setting up the computer to allow one, or the other to run at any given time. Operating systems installed on a hard drive to not interact, or access one another.

However, in some cases, you might share files between the two operating systems. For instance, you might have a partition on your hard drive called “/home/Pirate” (which is your user name in Linux for instance) and you want to access the directory called “/home/Pirate/income_taxes” from both Linux and from Windows. You could set your machine up to allow this, but this is typically not why you run
Linux in the first place.

For our purposes here, we want to escape Big Tech, and continuing to USE Windows (or Apple, or whichever OS you’re using) is not really “escaping”.

In reality, folks dual boot for having both OSes on their machine to do different things. You can generally find a similar, Open Source software that will do what you can do in Windows. It isn’t NECESSARY to keep both OSes.

Except for one consideration. You’re completely uncomfortable moving away from Windows/Apple for the time being so you want to experiment, or play with the OS.

Three ways you can do this are as follows:

  1. Dual Booting
  2. Booting Linux on your Windows/Apple computer from a CD
  3. Booting Linux on your Windows/Apple computer from a Flash drive

In the case of #1 above, you would have to do some extra work, re-partition your hard drive to make space and separate out the two Operating systems.

In the case of 2 and 3 above, you can simply boot your disc or flash drive and use the OS until you are comfortable in switching. In the case of #3 in some Linux Distro you can start the OS in “persistence mode”. (Note: not all can do this). You assign an amount of memory on your flash drive to saving data, and you can store some information on the flash drive.

This will allow you to boot that flash drive pretty much from ANY computer and keep certain information available to you, no matter where you go.

So – Dual Booting (or even multi-booting with many OSes) is useful if you really need to keep Windows or Apple OS on your machine for a little longer.

My favorite reason for it is to multi-boot with Mint, Kali and a Ham Radio Linux Distro. That way I am still using LINUX, but I have different resources for what I am doing. (Kali is a hacker Linux, used for testing networks, troubleshooting, and basic hacking things).
I hope this little article explains few more things to the newly initiated here.

@Pirate_Fletcher (aka American Patriot)


Pirate, thanks for all of your help. I’ve tried looking for directions on how I can dual boot Linux and Win10 using two separate HD’s. (I have Linux on my laptop, TY, but my desktop has too much to instantly dump Win but I’m working on it). Let me know your thoughts or steer me to the words and I’m on it. I am not computer savy but I can follow directions! All the best, Price

Your windows 10 machine probably has a secure bios and would be a bit tricky for you to dual boot if you’re not computer savvy. It’s possible, but do some research on UEFI and how that affects setting up a dual boot system.

I replaced the HDD component of my iMac’s Fusion drive with an SSD, so now I have MacOS on the new SSD with the older, small SSD being blank. I would like to have a dual-boot machine, with the larger, new SSD booting MacOs and the older, smaller SSD booting Ubuntu. However, using Disk Utility logged in or in Recovery Mode I can’t partition the smaller SSD to make a swap partition (the article I’m reading about this recommends creating a swap space). If I skip making the swap partition and use an installer thumbdrive with Ubuntu on it, can I load Ubuntu onto the smaller SSD as the Linux boot drive? Will I have the option of booting either OS at startup or do I need to alter the Startup Manager to give me those options?

Hey @dotedus,
The answer to the Swap aspect relies on the available RAM on your system. If it’s 8GB or 16GB, then Swap is not really needed. Unless you intend to perform really intensive tasks on your Ubuntu.
On the booting side, the rEFInd app is the way to go for booting between different systems:

Disk Utility won’t let me create a Swap partition on the SSD that I’d like to set up as the Linux startup drive. Here is what it shows:

Do I format the drive to a different format? Why can’t I partition it?

It does show up as a drive on the system in Mac OS. If I can load Ubuntu onto it as a Linux startup drive, will it disappear from the Mac OS side?


Hey, @dotedus!
I can’t say I’m surprised. MacOS does not have an understanding of Linux file systems. What you will need to do is simply create one partition with the FAT32 filesystem and then you can sub-partition that to install Linux on. In some scenarios, the Linux installer will simply do that for you, by replacing the partition you made in the macOS.

You can see more info on that on the link below: