Computer Software

Dual Boot with Linux on a Windows Vista laptop

Dual Boot OS ELementary Luna a Windows Vista laptop

Before you begin…..

Make a set of “System Restore” CDs if you have not already done so.

Warning: if you purchased a laptop, it will have a pre-installed version of Windows on the HD, which you have to activate using a serial number which is on a sticker on the underside of the machine. This pre-installed version of Windows is known as an “OEM” (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version. The Windows installer CD supplied with the machine, if there is one in the box, cannot re-install this OEM version of Windows: if you wipe out Windows by mistake you can only re-instate Windows using the Restore CDs supplied with the machine, or the Restore CDs you made yourself.

The Windows installer CD can be used to install Windows in an emergency, but you will not be able to activate Windows because the serial number on the bottom of the machine will only work with the OEM version pre-installed on the HD. This CD can however be used to repair your boot block, so don’t throw it away.

If you do not have a set of Windows Restore CDs for your laptop do not proceed any further with this project until you have made them.

So here we go…..

Dual Boot with Linux on a Windows Vista laptop


New installation of OS Elementary on 12gig partition.

This is the Procedure I followed:

On the windows side of the machine:

1. Downloaded and burned CD of iso image of OS Elementary Luna 64bit.
2. Downloaded and installed EASUS partition manager (freeware)
3. Used EASUS partition manager to erase the “D:Data” partition.
4. Used EASUS partition manager to merge the “D” partition with the “C”
partion, making one partition.

5. Re-boot the machine. Used F2 key during POST to enter BIOS, changed boot order to make the CD boot first.
6. Booted from the CD
7. On the top right, connected to WiFi, entering password.
8. Now online. Updates while installing.
9. Clicked “install OS Elementary”
10. Chose “install alongside existing operating system”
11. Used the slider to make the partition for installation 12Gig.
12. Ran the installer.

This went okay, and the CD popped out of the tray when the installer had finished.

13. Reboot. Entered BIOS during POST again and changed boot priority back to the hard drive.
14. Rebooted into OS Elementary.

Now on the Linux side of the machine.

To avoid crashes do this immediately after installing:

Open a terminal

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

The “Dock” at the bottom of the screen is called the “Plank” in OS Elementary.

Hot tip: you can add applications to the dock by right-clinking on them when they are running and selecting “keep in dock”.

Lion Theme

The “Tweak” application is used to change themes. It will be in the System Settings pane after you enter the following commands in the terminal.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:versable/elementary-update
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install elementary-tweaks
sudo apt-get install elementary-lion-theme

To be installed

Ubuntu One

sudo apt-get install pantheon-files-plugin-ubuntuone

Ubuntu One stores your files onto an internet “cloud”. This is similar to Dropbox and Google Drive. Good for transferring your JMRI roster between machines.


This method of installation has to be taken, because WUBI is not available for OS Elementary Luna. Of all the methods, WUBI is the least dangerous to your Windows installation. The method of using EASUS partition manager to erase the partition and have the OS Elementary Luna installer reinstate it is more fool proof than any other method I have tried. If you decide you don’t like OS Elementary, go back to EASUS on the Windows side, and erase the partition in re-format it for NTFS naming it “DATA”. ¬†Your machine will then be back as it was before the operation.

Hot tip: the “EasyBCD2.2” program (freeware) will remove the GRUB menu from your machine. If you cannot boot into Windows, boot from a Windows install CD, and choose “repair”.


Computer Software

How do I Dual Boot Vista and Linux?

The “WUBI” installer, which allows you to install Xubuntu etc inside Windows Vista is not included with the latest distro (12.04), so what can you do?

The first option, is to install an earlier version, say 11.10 and go for the “Distribution Upgrade”.

A drawback with WUBI is that it creates a very large file called “root.disk” which contains a disk image of your Linux installation. If you get an error on this file, you sometimes cannot recover your data. This does not happen very often, but using WUBI, there is a definite risk of a loss of data.

So what is the alternative method?

The method I used was to use “EASEUS Partition Master 6.5.1 Home Edition” (Freeware) to create a blank partition of 10 gig within the “DATA” partition on my Vista Laptop. Then I downloaded Xubuntu 12.04 “alternate” installer.

I then used the alternative (non-graphical) installer to erase and partition the 10 gig sub-partition I had created. The installer creates the sub partitions within this partition i.e. the “swap”and “home” partitions.

Warning: it is very easy to erase your Windows installation by mistake! If you are not at all sure, choose “go back”!

It is easy to tell which partition is which because you know if you created a 10gig partition, the size of the partition must be this value, or approximately this value if you did not specify 10gig exactly. If the value is the size of your whole drive, then it is the wrong partition, and you don’t want to format it!

To understand the procedure without running the risk of wiping out your Windows installation, insert a 4 gig or larger size USB flash drive and use the Linux installer to partition and install to the USB flash drive. You can then set your machine to boot from that as a test.