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How to Install Ubuntu and Windows Vista or 7 as a Dual Boot on your Dell PC


As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers are no longer receiving new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft. This article will no longer be updated and remains for information only. Please visit the Microsoft site for the full end of support statement.

This article provides information on how to install Ubuntu onto your Dell PC in addition to an already existing Windows Vista or 7 operating system.


Table of Contents:

  1. Do you need to Dual Boot your PC with Ubuntu and a legacy Windows OS?
  2. Things to know and check before you start an install
  3. Windows needs to be the First Boot on the Hard Drive
  4. Setting up the Install Partitions
  5. Installing Ubuntu as the Second Operating System
  6. Configuring the Boot Order

1. Do you need to Dual Boot your PC with Ubuntu and a legacy Windows OS?

This guide takes you through how to set up your PC in order to dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows.

Note: If you install an operating system other than the one that shipped with your system, then you do so at your own risk. Dell can't certify that the hardware will be compatible and we will not be able to support the system in that configuration. This article is provided as information for those customer who want to dual boot, but it is carried out at your own risk.

Where Windows is already installed on your PC or you will install windows first before installing Ubuntu.

It's recommended a Windows operating system should be installed first. Windows doesn't include Non-Microsoft operating systems in it's boot-menu. Installing windows can also affect any information already on your Hard Drive.

This article will deal with legacy Windows Operating Systems such as Vista and 7.

If you want to install a recent Windows operating System such as Windows 8 or 10, please use the article linked below:

Have you checked your system type is one of those certified by Canonical as being suitable for Ubuntu?

  1. If not, then please go to the Canonical site External Link and check if your model has been tested by Canonical and is suitable.

  2. If you have and it's supported on this list then carry on.

Note: If your system did not ship with Ubuntu and you have an issue that requires Technical support Assistance to resolve. You may be asked to return the system to the condition it shipped from Dell and advise if the issue continues at that point. If it doesn't then there would be limited support possible at that point.


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2. Things to know and check before you start an install

There are three things you need to take into account before you start off an Ubuntu Install :

  1. To Check the type of hard ware you are trying to install to?
  2. To Check the type of BIOS settings that would affect your install?
  3. To Check what version of Ubuntu you are looking to install?
What type of Hard Ware are you installing to and will it change how you go about your install?

The type or format of your storage media can affect how you would go about installing Ubuntu on your PC. That can be anything from installing on one of the new M2 cards, to installing on a standard SATA hard disk drive, to installing on the same SATA hard disk drives in an Intel Matrix RAID configuration. Check that the hardware of your PC will allow you to make the kind of install you need or read through the articles linked below to get an idea of how to change your installation method to accommodate your system hard ware :

Note: Please be aware that USB 2.0 and older removable media devices are not supported on systems using the new Intel SkyLake Processors. The Chipsets for the CPUs no longer support the USB 2.0 Hub.
What type of BIOS is setup on your system and will it change how you go about your install?

The difference between Legacy and UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS setups, can be the difference between an install succeeding or failing. A Legacy Windows OS will usually install on a Legacy BIOS, whilst a recent Windows OS will need to install on a UEFI BIOS.

Which version of Ubuntu are you looking to install?

Ubuntu as with any other operating system is constantly looking to improve and better it's usage and performance. What is different with Ubuntu is that you have the option of two updates at any time :

The first is the most recent LTS (Long Term Support) release.

This update is available every two years and is fully supported by Canonical with updates for five years. It's considered a tested and stable build.

The second is the most recent Normal release.

This update is available every 6 months and is only supported by Canonical with updates for 9 Months. These normal releases are considered to be cutting edge but can have issues because of this. These builds are usually used by testers and developers.

If you are looking instead to upgrade to a new version of Ubuntu, then please check out the article linked below :


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3. Windows needs to be the First Boot on the Hard Drive

Windows needs to be Installed.

If Windows is not already installed then you will want to go to one of the guides on the link below to select the correct install guide for the Operating System (OS) you will be using.

Note: Please remember that while setting up your boot partition in the Windows Setup, you can partition the Hard Drive further to leave space for the Ubuntu install later on. This will save you a lot of time and effort later on. Remember anytime you work on an operating system it is best practice to have completed a recent backup in case anything goes wrong.
Windows is already Installed.

Most PC's come with a version of Windows already installed and it will take up the whole hard-drive. The Windows partition needs to be shrunk. This will free space for the Ubuntu partition.


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4. Setting up the Install Partitions

  1. It's best to do this step from within the windows OS.

For Windows Vista & 7 - Legacy operating systems you would use Disk Management.

  1. You can click on the Start Button at the corner of your Taskbar and Right click on My Computer and select Computer Management and go to Disk Management

    or you can press the Win+X keyboard shortcut and select Disk Management from the menu that appears.

  2. You can use the Windows Partition Manager to shrink the partitions.

Note: Don't try and create a partition for Linux here. The Ubuntu Install will deal with this.
Note: If you have resized the windows boot partition and cannot boot up windows, then you can use the Windows Recovery tools to fix it. See here for guides on this.
  1. Once you have sufficient Un-allocated Space on the Hard Drive, then its straightforward to install Ubuntu as the second operating system. You will want to boot from your Ubuntu DVD or USB drive.


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5. Installing Ubuntu as the Second Operating System

  1. Have you got a copy of the latest DVD or USB installation media from Canonical? These will include the latest updates and fixes for this operating system.

    If you have decided which version of Ubuntu you want to install, you can download the appropriate Ubuntu ISO from Canonical External Link.

  2. Tap rapidly on the F12 key at the Dell splash screen on start up. It will bring up and Boot Once menu. Using the Cursor / Arrow Keys, select your method of boot and press the ENTER key.

  3. When the setup boots, choose the Try Ubuntu option. This option will check that your hardware is seen okay by Ubuntu.

  4. When you're ready to proceed, click the Install Ubuntu button. The install wizard will appear to prompt you through some choices.

  5. Select your install language and click Continue.

Language Selection

  1. The Preparing to install Ubuntu window appears. Choose the applicable options and click Continue.

Preparing to Install

  1. If you do not have a wired connection plugged in, the install will take you through setting up a Wireless Wi-Fi connection.

Wireless Setup

  1. The Installation type window appears. Several options are available.

    1. If you want to Dual Boot install Ubuntu alongside other Operating Systems, read the guide below before you select the Install Ubuntu alongside Option. Go to step 13.

    2. If you want to install Ubuntu over your entire hard drive, click Erase Disk and Install Ubuntu. Then select the Hard Drive that you want to install Ubuntu onto. You want to read the guide below for more information.

    3. If you want to manually setup various partitioning on the Hard Drive, read the guide below before you select the Something Else option.

Installation Type

  1. During installation you will be asked How do you want to partition the disk ?

  2. In the setup choose to install the OS to either :

    1. The largest available free space

      1. Usually down as Resize IDE1 master, partition #1 (hda1) and use freed space

      2. Choose the size of the new partition as a percentage of the Hard Drive and click Forward.

      3. Continue with the Install.

    2. Select a partition that you have already created for Ubuntu.

      1. Usually marked down as Manually edit partition table.

      2. Select the partition you want from the list provided and press Enter.

      3. Click Size then ENTER and Yes and ENTER again.

      4. Choose the size in Gigabytes and press ENTER.

  3. You can create further partitions if you use the guide below.

Note: You will need at least 10GB for your Ubuntu install Partition.
  1. Select Finish partitioning and write changes to disk.

  2. Click Install Now. From this point you can't cancel the installation.

  3. You need to setup a few configuration settings. The Where are you? window appears next.

Where are You?

  1. Select the location closest to where you are and click Continue.

  2. The Keyboard layout window appears. Select the correct keyboard layout for your system and click Continue.

Keyboard Layout

Note: If you are unsure what your layout is, you can now select the Detect Keyboard Layout button for help.
  1. The Who are you? window appears. You want to fill in your information at this point.

Login Screen

  1. While the operating system installs, the screen will scroll through different screenshots that give you further information about the Ubuntu revision you are installing on your system.

Installing System

  1. When the install wizard finishes, you will get a the Installation is complete message window up. Click Restart Now to restart your computer.

Installation Complete


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6. Configuring the Boot Order

  1. GRUB2 is the default Ubuntu boot manager. This gives you two choices :

    1. Ubuntu is independent and this means you don't have to write to other operating systems. The only thing in your computer outside of Ubuntu that needs to be changed is a line of code in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the Hard Drive. Which is booted by the BIOS.

      1. The MBR code needs to be changed to point to the Ubuntu boot loader.

      2. Once this is done you will see a list of operating systems when the PC starts and you can choose which one to boot. It will default boot to Ubuntu after a ten second countdown.

      3. If you select Windows then it will load Windows for you at the Windows boot sector. Which is the first sector of the Windows partition.

      4. If it goes wrong you can run a repair from the install CD.

    2. If you have a problem with changing the MBR code you can install the code for pointing to GRUB to the first sector of your Ubuntu partition instead.

      1. If you do that during the install process then Ubuntu won't boot, until you change the windows boot manager to point to Ubuntu's boot sector.

      2. Windows Vista and 7 no longer utilise boot.ini, ntdetect.com, and ntldr when booting. Instead they ship with an command line utility called bcdedit.exe. You can find more information from the Microsoft External Link pages.

Note: There are Third party programs that accomplish the same things and might have a easier interface, but you use them at your own risk.
  1. Ubuntu is now installed.

  2. You can go to the guide below for some initial setup information :

Note: If you have completed the installation and there are any issues, the easiest and quickest resolution is to run the install again


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Additional Information :

Note: Additional Software support is provided by Canonical through the following methods:
Technical Support is provided by Dell :


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Article ID: SLN151792

Last Date Modified: 12/18/2017 12:06 PM


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