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Questions on Dual-Booting Linux/Win8 on Inspiron 15R

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I recently got a new Dell laptop, Inspiron 15R, and I would like to be able to dual-boot with Windows 8 and Linux. I am not familiar with Windows. I use Debian based Linux flavors, though I've only used 32bit versions on PCs with BIOS (not UEFI). I have never set up a dual boot system, I usually just run Linux, and only one at a time unless I'm running from a USB. The laptop is currently running Win 8, basically as it came. I have not updated to Win 8.1. I have not moved any files to the laptop yet.

Questions:

1. If I use "Dell Backup and Recovery", will the reinstall disks allow me to do a completely clean install of Win 8?

2. Will the reinstall disks recreate the factory partitioning setup and include backup partition?

3. Can I move the backup partition that's preinstalled to other media (I need 4 partitions for dual boot-Win8, root, /home, swap)?

4. Can I leave the backup partition, have my 3 Linux partitions, no Win partition, and reinstall Windows from the backup partition should I need to?

5. Can I choose which software gets installed when I create/use the backup disks?

6. Can I add software that I've installed when I create the backup disks?

7. Do I need the Windows product key to reinstall? If so, where is it? (no sticker on the bottom of laptop)

8. Can I use the product key or backup disks to run Win 8 in a Virtual Box on Linux?

9. Can I run Windows on a USB stick (or SD card) like I can with Linux?

10. Can I install Win 8 to an external hard drive?

10. Is it better to shrink the Windows partition or reinstall Windows on a new partition?

11. How small can the Windows partition be?

12. Will Windows be able to access the /home partition? If not, is there a way to set up a separate /home partition on Windows that Linux can access? Or to make the /home partition readable for Windows?

13. Does setting up dual boot in any way void my warranty on the laptop hardware?

14. If I end up doing an single boot of Linux and using Wine for Windows software, will that void my warranty?

15. Does opening my laptop to change out any non-compatible hardware (possibly wireless card) void the warranty on the other hardware?

16. Since the laptop came with Win 8, is it possible to install older versions of Win on it instead of 8?

17. Since the laptop came with Internet Explorer, can I just copy that program and run it in Wine? (It's really the only Windows-only software I need, for testing software)

I'm sorry there's so many questions, I'm still trying to figure out all my options before doing anything permanent. Thanks in advance for any help ๐Ÿ™‚

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Philip_Yip
5 Iridium

RE: Questions on Dual-Booting Linux/Win8 on Inspiron 15R

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1. If I use "Dell Backup and Recovery", will the reinstall disks allow me to do a completely clean install of Win 8?

No it won't be a "clean" install. It will be an install of factory settings. i.e. Windows any preinstalled drivers and preinstalled software such as McAfee. Ensure that you update Dell Backup and Recovery to version 1.7.1.2 before using it. See here for more details:

http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/dell-backup-and-recovery/

You need a Reinstallation DVD to clean install, call Dell Technical Support for it.

2. Will the reinstall disks recreate the factory partitioning setup and include backup partition?

The recovery USB will recreate the system partitions.

3. Can I move the backup partition that's preinstalled to other media (I need 4 partitions for dual boot-Win8, root, /home, swap)?

You will have problems doing this, unless you can fit multiple drives to your system and have a Linux hard drive and a Windows hard drive separately.

4. Can I leave the backup partition, have my 3 Linux partitions, no Win partition, and reinstall Windows from the backup partition should I need to?

No it won't function like that, you won't be able to boot from the recovery partition making it useless. You can boot from the recovery USB however.

5. Can I choose which software gets installed when I create/use the backup disks?

No as mentioned before its not a "clean" install and drivers and prebundled software such as McAfee will be included.

6. Can I add software that I've installed when I create the backup disks?

No unless you get a Reinstallation DVD and then install all your software on 1 large Windows partition with nothing else on the drive and then use Dell Backup and Recovery. Or you purchase a premium version of Dell Backup and Recovery.

7. Do I need the Windows product key to reinstall? If so, where is it? (no sticker on the bottom of laptop)

Its embedded in the BIOS see here:

http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/a-clean-install-of-windows/microsoft-product-activation/ob...

8. Can I use the product key or backup disks to run Win 8 in a Virtual Box on Linux?

No you can't the license is OEM and the VM has a virtual BIOS which will be recognised as another computer. It won't work and you will have product activation issues. Media created with DBaR won't run on a virtual or non Dell BIOS.

9. Can I run Windows on a USB stick (or SD card) like I can with Linux?

No.

10. Can I install Win 8 to an external hard drive?

No.

10. Is it better to shrink the Windows partition or reinstall Windows on a new partition?

Its usually better to clean install. You need the Reinstallation DVD however.

11. How small can the Windows partition be?

It depends how much you want to add to it. At least 20 GB however.

12. Will Windows be able to access the /home partition? If not, is there a way to set up a separate /home partition on Windows that Linux can access? Or to make the /home partition readable for Windows?

You can make a partition for Windows and Linux to share.

13. Does setting up dual boot in any way void my warranty on the laptop hardware?

No the warranty is for hardware and not software. Dell would normally have you restore the system to factory settings if assisting you trough troubleshooting so Windows only. They will still cover the hardware though.

14. If I end up doing an single boot of Linux and using Wine for Windows software, will that void my warranty?

No. Same as above.

15. Does opening my laptop to change out any non-compatible hardware (possibly wireless card) void the warranty on the other hardware?

It should be ok, so long as you don't damage it. Usually these changeable parts are readily accessible. Confer with the user manual when adding/removing parts.

16. Since the laptop came with Win 8, is it possible to install older versions of Win on it instead of 8?

Windows 7 64 Bit can be installed but you'll need a new Windows license unless it came with Windows 8.0/8.1 Professional (in which case you can use downgrade rights to Windows 7 Professional). You may struggle with older versions.

17. Since the laptop came with Internet Explorer, can I just copy that program and run it in Wine? (It's really the only Windows-only software I need, for testing software)

I don't have much experience with Wine but it won't be as straightforward as copying a .exe for IE11.

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads


#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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3 Replies
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RE: Questions on Dual-Booting Linux/Win8 on Inspiron 15R

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for some reason it deleted the link I put in. In #1, in quotes, it should say Dell Backup and Recovery and link to http://www.dell.com/support/contents/us/en/19/article/Product-Support/Self-support-Knowledgebase/software-and-downloads/dell-backup-solutions/Dell-Backup-and-Recovery

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Philip_Yip
5 Iridium

RE: Questions on Dual-Booting Linux/Win8 on Inspiron 15R

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1. If I use "Dell Backup and Recovery", will the reinstall disks allow me to do a completely clean install of Win 8?

No it won't be a "clean" install. It will be an install of factory settings. i.e. Windows any preinstalled drivers and preinstalled software such as McAfee. Ensure that you update Dell Backup and Recovery to version 1.7.1.2 before using it. See here for more details:

http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/dell-backup-and-recovery/

You need a Reinstallation DVD to clean install, call Dell Technical Support for it.

2. Will the reinstall disks recreate the factory partitioning setup and include backup partition?

The recovery USB will recreate the system partitions.

3. Can I move the backup partition that's preinstalled to other media (I need 4 partitions for dual boot-Win8, root, /home, swap)?

You will have problems doing this, unless you can fit multiple drives to your system and have a Linux hard drive and a Windows hard drive separately.

4. Can I leave the backup partition, have my 3 Linux partitions, no Win partition, and reinstall Windows from the backup partition should I need to?

No it won't function like that, you won't be able to boot from the recovery partition making it useless. You can boot from the recovery USB however.

5. Can I choose which software gets installed when I create/use the backup disks?

No as mentioned before its not a "clean" install and drivers and prebundled software such as McAfee will be included.

6. Can I add software that I've installed when I create the backup disks?

No unless you get a Reinstallation DVD and then install all your software on 1 large Windows partition with nothing else on the drive and then use Dell Backup and Recovery. Or you purchase a premium version of Dell Backup and Recovery.

7. Do I need the Windows product key to reinstall? If so, where is it? (no sticker on the bottom of laptop)

Its embedded in the BIOS see here:

http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/a-clean-install-of-windows/microsoft-product-activation/ob...

8. Can I use the product key or backup disks to run Win 8 in a Virtual Box on Linux?

No you can't the license is OEM and the VM has a virtual BIOS which will be recognised as another computer. It won't work and you will have product activation issues. Media created with DBaR won't run on a virtual or non Dell BIOS.

9. Can I run Windows on a USB stick (or SD card) like I can with Linux?

No.

10. Can I install Win 8 to an external hard drive?

No.

10. Is it better to shrink the Windows partition or reinstall Windows on a new partition?

Its usually better to clean install. You need the Reinstallation DVD however.

11. How small can the Windows partition be?

It depends how much you want to add to it. At least 20 GB however.

12. Will Windows be able to access the /home partition? If not, is there a way to set up a separate /home partition on Windows that Linux can access? Or to make the /home partition readable for Windows?

You can make a partition for Windows and Linux to share.

13. Does setting up dual boot in any way void my warranty on the laptop hardware?

No the warranty is for hardware and not software. Dell would normally have you restore the system to factory settings if assisting you trough troubleshooting so Windows only. They will still cover the hardware though.

14. If I end up doing an single boot of Linux and using Wine for Windows software, will that void my warranty?

No. Same as above.

15. Does opening my laptop to change out any non-compatible hardware (possibly wireless card) void the warranty on the other hardware?

It should be ok, so long as you don't damage it. Usually these changeable parts are readily accessible. Confer with the user manual when adding/removing parts.

16. Since the laptop came with Win 8, is it possible to install older versions of Win on it instead of 8?

Windows 7 64 Bit can be installed but you'll need a new Windows license unless it came with Windows 8.0/8.1 Professional (in which case you can use downgrade rights to Windows 7 Professional). You may struggle with older versions.

17. Since the laptop came with Internet Explorer, can I just copy that program and run it in Wine? (It's really the only Windows-only software I need, for testing software)

I don't have much experience with Wine but it won't be as straightforward as copying a .exe for IE11.

Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads


#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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RE: Questions on Dual-Booting Linux/Win8 on Inspiron 15R

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Thank you very much! ๐Ÿ™‚

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