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How to dual boot Ubuntu 20.04 and Windows 10

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If you want to run Ubuntu 20.04 on your system but you already have Windows 10 installed and don’t want to worry, because you have a couple of options.

 

One option is to run Ubuntu inside of a virtual machine (VMware) on Windows 10, and the other option is to create a dual boot system. Both options have their advantages. A big advantage of a dual boot system is that both operating systems will have direct access to the computer’s hardware, that means no virtualized hardware and unnecessary overhead.

A dual boot system gives the best of both worlds. It works by prompting you at startup to select which operating system you’d like to load into. So, you’ll have to reboot your computer each time you want to load into a different operating system. Make sure you consider this before deciding to proceed with the dual boot option.

Grub
Grub Preview

In this tutorial, you will learn:

  • How to dual boot Ubuntu 20.04 and Windows 10
  • How to load into Ubuntu 20.04 or Windows 10 at system boot

You should be ready to begin. At this point, you should have accomplished the following:

  • Backed up your important files
  • Created Windows installation media
  • Created Ubuntu installation media

Software & Hardware Requirements 

1. Two USB flash drives (or DVD-Rs)
2. A Windows 10 license
3. Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

Download and launch the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Once you launch the tool, it will walk you through the steps required to create the Windows media on a USB or DVD-R. Note: Even if you already have Windows 10 installed, it’s a good idea to create bootable media anyway, just in case something goes wrong and you need to reinstall it.

4. Ubuntu installation media
Download the Ubuntu ISO image.

5. Etcher software (for making a bootable Ubuntu USB drive)
Download the Etcher

Once you have downloaded and launched Etcher, click Select image, and point it to the Ubuntu ISO you downloaded in step 4. Next, click Select drive to choose your flash drive, and click Flash! to start the process of turning a flash drive into an Ubuntu installer. (If you’re using a DVD-R, use your computer’s DVD-burning software instead.)

 

Installing Windows

Insert the Windows installation media you created into your computer and boot from it. How you do this depends on your computer, but most have a key you can press to initiate the boot menu. On a Dell PC for example, that key is F12. If the flash drive doesn’t show up as an option, you may need to restart the computer. Sometimes it will show up only if you’ve inserted the media before turning on the computer. If you see a message like, “press any key to boot from the installation media,” press a key. You should see the following screen. Select your language and keyboard style and click Next.

Windows 10 Version 20H2 Update Read More

Windows 10

Click on Install Now to start the Windows installer.

Windows 10 Install Now window

On the next screen, it asks for your product key. If you don’t have one because Windows 10 came with your PC, select “I don’t have a product key.” It should automatically activate after the installation once it catches up with updates. If you do have a product key, type that in and click Next.

Activate windows

Select which version of Windows you want to install. If you have a retail copy, the label will tell you what version you have. Otherwise, it is typically located with the documentation that came with your computer. In most cases, it’s going to be either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro. Most PCs that come with the Home edition have a label that simply reads “Windows 10,” while Pro is clearly marked.

Select OS

Next, Accept the license agreement by checking the box, then click Next.

License & Terms

After accepting the agreement, you have two installation options available. Choose the second option, Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

Type of install

The next screen should show your current hard disk configuration.

Partitioning

Your results will probably look different than mine. I have never used this hard disk before, so it’s completely unallocated. You will probably see one or more partitions for your current operating system. Highlight each partition and remove it.

At this point, your screen will show your entire disk as unallocated. To continue, create a new partition.

Partitioning

Here you can see that I divided the drive in half (or close enough) by creating a partition of 81,920MB (which is close to half of 160GB). Give Windows at least 40GB, preferably 64GB or more. Leave the rest of the drive unallocated, as that’s where you’ll install Ubuntu later.

Your results will look similar to this:

Partitioning

Confirm the partitioning looks good to you and click Next. Windows will begin installing.

Installing

If your computer successfully boots into Windows, you’re all set to move on to the next step.

Installing Ubuntu

Now use the Ubuntu installation media you created earlier to boot into Ubuntu. Insert the media and boot your computer from it. Again, the exact sequence of keys to access the boot menu varies from one computer to another, so check your documentation if you’re not sure. If all goes well, you see the following screen once the media finishes loading:

After booting into the Ubuntu installation, you’ll be presented with the traditional prompts. On the first one, select “Install Ubuntu.”

Installing Ubuntu

Select your keyboard layout and click continue.

Ubuntu keyboard layout

The “Updates and other software” options are up to you. Usually, though, you’ll want a normal installation along with the updates and third-party software. Those options save you time and hassle later on. This is the part that makes installation alongside Windows 10 different from a normal installation. The Ubuntu installer automatically detects that we have a pre-existing Windows 10 installation on our system, so there’s really nothing fancy we need to do here, except make sure the “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10” option is selected before clicking on continue.

Ubuntu type of installing

The next screen asks whether you want to erase the disk or set up a dual-boot. Since you’re dual-booting, choose Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10. Click Install Now.

Installation type

Next, you get to decide which hard drive you’d like to install Ubuntu to. If you choose to install it to the same drive as Windows 10, Ubuntu will allow you to shrink that pre-existing Windows partition and make room for the new operating system. Alternatively, if you have multiple hard drives, you can choose to keep the two installations completely separate and select a different drive for Ubuntu at the top of the window.

You should try to allocate a minimum of 10 GB to your Ubuntu install. You can drag the divider left and right to choose how you want to divide your hard drive space between the two operating systems. Notice the Windows installation is formatted with NTFS and the Ubuntu installation with ext4. Click “install now” when you feel good about your space allocation.

Ubuntu partition selection

The next couple prompts will ask some general questions about your timezone and a username and password. Fill all this out and be prepared to wait a little while as the installer resizes the hard drive partitions and installs Ubuntu.

When it’s finished installing, you’ll be asked to reboot the system. Then, you’ll be able to select which operating system to boot into.

Grub menu
From now on, when you start your system, the GRUB loader will ask you which operating system you want to load into. Use your arrow keys to scroll up and down, and press enter to choose an option. After making your selection, the chosen operating system should load as normal.

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