Ubuntu Linux dual boot on Dell laptop

by oneafrikan on June 28, 2005

As I’m writing this, Ubuntu is busy installing xserver-xorg on my Dell Latitude c840 laptop, thankfully. I’ve made a few mistakes to get here, so hopefully this will help you avoid them altogether.

1. Read https://wiki.ubuntu.com/WindowsDualBootHowTo before you do anything else. Read it and understand what you’re going to be doing before you start.

I used an old copy of Partition Magic to make the partitions, following the instructions to the letter, but made the mistake of giving it too many instructions, and playing with drive letters, all at the same time.

Do one step at a time, reboot to make sure it’s working, then do the next step.

If you’ve got a Dell, when you look at your partitions you should notice that there is a small partition at the start of the disc. Ignore that, working as per the instructions. I thought that it would have something to do with the way GRUB was configured, but turns out it didn’t.

So in my instance, the GRUB setup was as advertised – (hd0,1).

2. One of the things you want to do is make Windows understand that there are other operating systems on the drive, and it needs to play nicely. I was a bit unsure as to how to configure the boot.ini file manually (more like I didn’t want to have to make more mistakes), so I did some research, and here are the breadcrumbs:
_ Google: edit boot.ini winxp linux
_ How We Set Up Our System to Boot Red Hat Linux With Our NT/Windows 2000/XP OS Loader
_ Convert a Windows system to dual-boot Linux on a second drive
_ BootPart 2.50: Boot Partitions for WinNT

I used BootPart to do the dirty work for me (why reinvent the wheel?), after reading the text file that comes with the package – it explains nicely what you need to do from the command prompt to get the right partition into the boot loader. Thanks to Gilles Vollant!

Other than that, the install went fine ;-)

Some observations:
They really did make a Linux for humans here, gotta say so. In the last 6 weeks I’ve installed both Red Hat 9 and Ubuntu, and although the Red Hat install was easier cos I was using an old 486 past it’s prime, and had formatted a drive specially for the install, the Ubuntu interface is cleaner and easier. There are less things to go wrong (remember that this was a dual boot install so there are more hoops to jump thru) and I didn’t need to configure anything other than the usual stuff like language, location and time zone.

As I’m typing this, Ubuntu has loaded for the second time now, all fine. I got the Windows boot menu, then went through the Ubuntu boot process. I must say that the desktop interface is really impressive – no more black and green terminal type UI. Some work colleagues and I had a big discussion about this the other day, and I tried to convince them that the latest Linux dektops are looking uber cool, but they were having none of it. Just wait till I show them a screengrab ;-)

Tags: ubuntu linux, open source


I’m currently dual booting Windows XP and Slackware 10 on my PC. I like Slack a lot. I just need to install GRUB; I’m currently booting Linux up with a boot disk (floppy), which takes bloody forever.

by Josh on June 28, 2005 at 6:11 pm. Reply #

I can imagine.

GRUB works fine for me ;-) To be honest, after I got through one or two things that I had to learn in the process, it was pretty much plain sailing… I can also imagine that running Ubuntu on it’s own would be even easier…

by Gareth Knight on June 29, 2005 at 1:49 am. Reply #


by jhj on June 4, 2007 at 4:46 am. Reply #

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