How to Dual Boot Windows and Ubuntu on Your PC: The Complete Walkthrough

This in-depth tutorial will take you step-by-step though the process of installing Ubuntu 12.02 (aka “Precise Pangolin”) alongside Windows, so you can use both Operating Systems on the same PC.

Before you begin, here are the few things you’ll need to install Ubuntu on your PC so that you can use it and/or Windows.

  1. A PC with at least 4GB of free hard drive space, running Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista or Windows 7. I haven’t tested this with Windows 8, yet.
  2. 1 (one) blank CD or DVD.
  3. A CD or DVD “burner” (recorder).
  4. An Internet connection.
  5. At least an hour and a half, longer if your Internet connection speed isn’t very fast.

If you’ve got all of the above covered, you’re ready!

  1. First things first. Head over to the Ubuntu Download page. You’ll need to decide if you’re going to run the 32bit or 64bit version of Ubuntu. If you’re not sure if your laptop/desktop can run a 64bit Operating System, select 32 bit from the Choose your flavour menu. If you’re sure it can, select 64bit. Then click the Start download button.
  2. You’ll be prompted to save an .ISO file. It’s a fairly large file, so the download time will depend on how fast your Internet connection is.
  3. Once the download has completed, you’ll need to burn that .ISO file to a blank CD or DVD. If you’re not sure how to do that, we have you covered. The tutorial How to Burn an ISO File in Windows will take you through the very simple process.
  4. Once you’ve burned the .ISO file to a CD or DVD, pop it in your CD/DVD drive (assuming your CD/DVD recording software ejected the disc after it was finished). You will probably be presented with the screen below. If you are, select Run wubi.exe and jump down to step #6. If you aren’t, go to the next step.

  5. Navigate to your CD/DVD drive, open it, and run wubi.exe by double-clicking it.
  6. Click the Demo and full installation button.
  7. Save any open work you have, close down your open programs, then select Reboot now and click the Finish button.
  8. At this point your PC will power off, back on again, and boot from the CD/DVD. You’ll know you’ve successfully booted from the CD/DVD if you see the Ubuntu image (as illustrated below) on your screen. If you do not see the Ubuntu logo and your PC goes right back into Windows, you’ll need to change the boot order of your devices. To do this, follow the instructions in this very detailed tutorial so that your PC boots from your CD/DVD-ROM before it boots from your hard drive.
  9. After a few moments a screen will appear asking what you want to do next. Click the Install Ubuntu button.

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  11. On the Preparing to install Ubuntu screen you’ll notice that the is connected to the Internet section has an X next to it.

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  13. Click the WiFi icon in the upper-right corner of your screen, and select your WiFi network. Enter your password when prompted (assuming your Wireless Network requires a password).
  14. Once you’re connected to the Internet, the X next to is connected to the Internet will turn into a green “check mark”. Select both Download updates while installing and Install this third-party software, then click the Continue button.

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  16. Ubuntu will now detect that you also have Windows installed on your PC, and present you with a list of choices. Select Install Ubuntu alongside them and then click Continue. This will ensure that your Windows installation remains untouched, and you’ll be able to install and use Ubuntu as well.

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  18. Now you’ll need to decide how much hard drive space you want to allocate to each Operating System. As you can see in the image below, there’s a “slider” between two ‘halves’. The left half/side represents your Windows partition. The right half/side represents the new partition that will be created to install Ubuntu onto. Use the slider to determine how large you want the partition for Ubuntu to be.

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  20. As you can see in the image below, I allocated 145.6GB to Ubuntu, leaving Windows with 477.2GB. I opted for these settings as I expect to use Windows more often, but still want to leave lots of space to install programs and download files using Ubuntu. Click the Install Now button when you’re ready.

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  22. When prompted with the confirmation screen, click the Continue button.

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  24. The process to create the new partition doesn’t take very long – don’t go too far away.

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  26. Ubuntu will begin to install itself. Select your location from the map and then click Continue.

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  28. Select the keyboard layout you plan on using in Ubuntu, and click Continue.

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  30. Now enter all the information requested on the Who are you? screen. For security reasons, you’ll probably want to leave Require my password to log in selected. If you’re not concerned about other people being able to access your system, check Log in automatically (not really advised). Click Continue after you’ve finished filling in each section.

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  32. Now you get to pick a picture to associate with your user name in Ubuntu. If you have a webcam, it will probably turn on at this point – so that you can take a picture of yourself and use that. Alternately, you can select one of the default pictures provided for you. Click Continue after you’ve made your selection. Note: you can always change this later from within Ubuntu.

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  34. Now just sit back. You may even want to go make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. The installation process can take a while, and isn’t particularly interesting. There are some “Ubuntu tips” that will be displayed as a slideshow, but they start to repeat themselves pretty quickly.

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  36. Finally! Click the Restart now button.

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  38. You may see some cryptic text scroll down your screen. Not to worry, this is normal. Eventually you’ll see a message telling you to remove any media from your removable drives – now is the time to eject that Ubuntu CD/DVD. Then hit the Enter button on your keyboard.

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  40. Your PC will restart, and when it comes back up again, you’ll be presented with a new menu. This is the menu that you’ll use from now on to decide which Operating System – Windows or Ubuntu – that you want to boot into. The first (and default) entry is Ubuntu. Lower down in the list you’ll find Windows. Use the up and down arrow keys to select the Operating System you want to use, and hit Enter on your keyboard to start it.

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  42. Assuming you selected Ubuntu, it will start up and place you at the log-in screen. Enter your password in the space provided, and hit Enter.
  43. Welcome to Ubuntu! :)

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  45. A final word. When you start Windows for the first time after you install Ubuntu, you may be prompted to go through a “disk check”. This is completely normal. Just let it do its thing, after a few minutes you’ll be at the Windows login screen. Again, it will only happen the one time after your Ubuntu installation.
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