The Complete Guide: How to Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows 8

This comprehensive guide will take you step by step through the process of installing Ubuntu Linux on your Windows 8 PC – so that you can use both Operating Systems on the same computer.

Before you dive into this, you should be aware of a few things, and you’ll need to set aside (ideally) an hour or two. Here goes –

  1. There are known issues (read: problems) that you may encounter depending on the make, manufacturer and model of your PC. It’s worth the time to Google something along the lines of “company model number ubuntu” – replacing “company” with the brand of your PC and “model number” with the actual model number of your PC. If you can’t find any information at all, the next suggestion applies even more to you…
  2. It’s a very good idea to perform a complete backup of your system first. While very unlikely, it is technically possible that if you do something wrong, you could wipe out your installation of Windows 8. Again, it’s not likely, but it’s safe to have a backup. You should be doing it anyway, right?
  3. Most of the problems that occur are related to one of two things – incompatible hardware and/or boot issues that have to do with the new way Windows 8 machines (can) boot. Here’s the good news. The method outlined in this guide allows you to try Ubuntu before you actually install it. So you can confirm that Ubuntu works perfectly fine on your PC before you actually install it. If it doesn’t, you can back out and it will be as if nothing ever happened. If you install Ubuntu and find that you have boot issues, there are a number of ways to fix them – which I will outline.

So keeping the above information in mind, if you still want to jump in (you should!) – follow these steps:

  1. Create a bootable USB thumb drive of the version of Ubuntu you want to install. In this tutorial I’ll be installing Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) – but the process is nearly identical if you’re installing an older version such as 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin), 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) or newer versions like 13.10 (Saucy Salamander). If you’re not sure how to create a bootable Linux thumb drive, we’ve got you covered. Just follow the steps in this tutorial. Once you’re armed with the bootable thumb drive, continue with the next step.
  2. Make sure your bootable USB thumb drive is plugged into your PC and close any open programs. From the main Windows 8 interface, bring up the “Charms Bar” and click Settings.
  3. Now select Change PC settings.
  4. From the PC settings menu, select General.
  5. Scroll down to the Advanced setup section and click the Restart now button.
  6. Select Use a device
  7. At this point you should see a list that has at least one item in it – your USB thumb drive. Click that item.
  8. Your PC will restart and after a minute or two, a ‘new’ boot menu will appear. You can use the up and down arrow keys to make your selection, but the one we want to use is Try Ubuntu without installing, which is the first item in the list. Hit the Enter/Return key on your keyboard to select it.
  9. Ubuntu will load. Now’s the time to try it out. Connect to your home network, make sure it works, play a video or three, surf the net, make sure sound is working etc. For my particular laptop, the touch-screen worked perfectly in Ubuntu – as did all the other hardware.
  10. If you’ve found problems or for whatever reason have decided not to install Ubuntu, click the Power “cog” in the upper-right corner of the screen and select Shut Down…. Your PC will power off, you can take out the thumb drive and start up as normal. There will be absolutely no trace of Ubuntu on your computer.
  11. If you’ve decided to install Ubuntu – double-click the Install Ubuntu xx.xx icon on your Desktop.
  12. Depending on which version of Ubuntu you’re installing, the next few steps might be slightly different or in a different order. The screenshots and steps in this tutorial are from 13.04, if you’re installing a different version, you might notice things are a bit different. If you see a different screen, just scroll down in this tutorial till you find the one most similar to it.

    Select Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 8. That way you’ll be able to use both Windows 8 and Ubuntu – you decide which one you want to use each time you start your computer. Click the Continue button.


  13. click to enlarge

  14. Select your language and click Continue.
  15. On the Preparing to install Ubuntu screen, make sure to select Install this third-party software if you want to be able to listen to MP3 files, watch Flash video etc. Again, click Continue.

  16. click to enlarge

  17. As illustrated in the screenshot below, you’ll be presented with a screen that displays the size of your primary hard drive – split into two sections. The first section (the one on the left) illustrates how much hard drive space you want to allocate to Windows 8. The second section (the one on the right) illustrates how much hard drive space you want to allocate to Ubuntu. Use the ‘slider’ in between the two sections to decide how much space you want to give each Operating System. Note: You’ll need to give Ubuntu at least 6GB for it to install. At a minimum, I would suggest 20GB. Click the Install Now button when you’ve made your selection.
  18. Click Continue.
  19. Select your geographical location from the menu, then click the Continue button.
  20. Select the Keyboard Layout you want to use in Ubuntu, and (yep, yet again) click the Continue button.
  21. Now you’ll need to specify your Ubuntu ‘personal’ information. Fill out each field and… click Continue.

  22. click to enlarge

  23. Now you can sit back and watch Ubuntu install. Or go make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. It actually doesn’t take as long as you might think – you’re certainly in the home stretch now. If you’d like to read little ‘tips’ about Ubuntu as you watch the installation, click the ‘Next’ button in the main window (see the screenshot below).
  24. The ‘Tips’ will actually rotate even if you don’t click the Next button.
  25. Finally! Click the Restart Now button.
  26. Going forward, you’ll see a new menu each time your PC starts. Use the Up and Down arrow keys on your keyboard to select either Windows 8 or Ubuntu from this menu. Confirm each one works properly. If both work – congratulations you’re finished!!!
  27. If everything didn’t go so smoothly, keep reading.

  28. Did you get the error message:

    error: can’t find command ‘drivemap’.
    error: invalid EFI path.

    when you tried to start Windows 8? If so, proceed immediately to this tutorial.

  29. If you received a different error, head over to the Ubuntu Support Community where you can find FAQs, live chat support, and very helpful forums. It’s almost impossible that whatever problem you have, someone else hasn’t already had, and someone else has provided a fix for. You can also leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to assist you.
{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Eoin July 12, 2013, 7:04 am

    Awesome guide, got it installed and everything but I can’t see the menu when my computer starts, it just goes straight to windows 8 :(

  • Ross McKillop July 12, 2013, 12:23 pm

    @5f03c343cd84e4ba70871b0fd3ecd9a1:disqus – the installation finished, everything seemed fine, and there’s no new boot menu? What model PC do you use?

  • Ross McKillop July 12, 2013, 12:25 pm

    @ca331ad7a596e159c1ad479ec9bef857:disqus- that’s what I outlined in this tutorial: https://www.simplehelp.net/2013/07/10/how-to-fix-the-cant-find-command-drivemap-error-after-installing-ubuntu/ – but @5f03c343cd84e4ba70871b0fd3ecd9a1:disqus’s issue is that he can’t even get into linux to run boot repair…

  • statcat July 13, 2013, 11:51 pm

    After step 8 I just get a blank black screen. Nothing ever appears even after waiting 10 minutes or more. Any suggestions? I am trying this on new HP pavilion machine that came with windows 8 preinstalled.

  • Ross McKillop July 14, 2013, 2:09 am

    @da91a59a04f45254e4b62321c232d5d1:disqus – so you hit Enter to “Try Ubuntu without installing” – and it just sits there doing nothing? Or the screen that should show the “try ubuntu without installing” never actually appears?

  • Tori July 14, 2013, 11:29 pm

    Thank you so much! I spent ages trying to get mint 15 to work with no luck, so I looked into Ubuntu, found this, and it worked in no time! Great and easy to follow!! Also, for me, step 12 appeared after step 14.

  • Ross McKillop July 15, 2013, 3:30 am

    @3617b390adf56adb8cd1ee54acc57cf5:disqus – Thanks! I’m guessing you installed a version of Ubuntu other than 13.04? The steps are similar but not identical – and I should have been more clear on that. I’ve updated step #12 to explain that if you’re not installing version 13.04, the steps may be in a different order or the screenshots might not be exactly identical. Glad it worked for you!

  • thanks September 25, 2013, 3:28 am

    I followed the tutorial you linked to for how to set up my USB key for booting and I am pretty sure its correct. However, when i get to step 7, i dont see my USB key named on the list. I have a generic “USB key” option, which I click, but then the computer restarts straight into windows. any advice?

  • Nasrin September 25, 2013, 11:52 am

    try ubuntu w/o install option does appear but after clicking on that a blank screen appears

  • Erica Sousa October 7, 2013, 8:56 am

    Hi! Thank you for this tutorial, it’s very helpful.
    But I have a problem on step 6. My computer don’t have exactly the option ‘use a device’, cause my system is not UEFI (this is what I understood after searching on google… I’m not expert on this stuff).
    I did see some options that look similar to this, but I’m afraid to do something wrong and irreversible. Can you help me?
    Thanks! :)

  • lt October 7, 2013, 6:36 pm

    I have the same exact problem as Eoin. Everything run smoothly during the installation – no errors reported. However, after restart at the end of installation, no boot menu appears (step 23) – the computer boots straight into Windows 8. My desktop pc is a Lenovo C340 All-In-One. Thanks for any suggestions/help!

  • Sam October 9, 2013, 2:26 pm

    I know this technique , but the point is ,after the Ubuntu installation is complete,i cant resize or shrink any space from my c drive to keep andy documents, movies,musics ,games it on windows , I cant keep my documents,movies, musics in c cuz its too risky of losing data and I don’t have external hdd .at next format I might lose my data .how to fix That? is there a way to create a specific amount of partition for storing data..

  • Jomar Amador November 8, 2013, 4:11 am

    My OS is windows 8.1 and i tried to dual boot using ubuntu 13.10. But i’m having a problem in step 12 where it suppose to say “This computer currently has windows 8 on it. What would you like to do?”. But mine only say’s “The system doesn’t detect any OS” and has the option of “install ubuntu” instead of “Install Ubuntu Alongside windows 8″…so it seems the ubuntu installation can’t detect my OS…

    Can Anyone help me out?

  • Shary November 11, 2013, 11:20 am

    My problem is with Step 12:
    When the caveat box pops up, it claims that there is no other O/S on the hard drive and I’m offered to either “Erase the entire disk and install Ubuntu” or “Something Else”
    Obviously, since I want to keep Windows 8, in addition to Ubuntu, I aborted the procedure and trying to figure where to go next ….

  • jennifererrasta December 30, 2013, 6:09 am

    Wow that’s a wonderful comprehensive post. thank you for the effective and awesome information. I’ ll try.

  • Caesim January 6, 2014, 5:17 am

    You have to choose “Something Else”. Then you have to manually set the partitions. Better you read what to look for in a dualboot.

  • Anirudh Bhargava January 12, 2014, 9:32 pm

    I clicked on try ubuntu without installing. There I cannot connect to my home wireless network. What should I do? I am a beginner with linux enviornment

  • Hana Hanifah February 19, 2015, 11:17 am

    I have problem on step 15.
    I got “install ubuntu alongside windows 8” but when I click continue, it’s not going to step 15. My computer restarting and do not go back to ubuntu install shield. What should I do? I don’t want to erase my previous OS.

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