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

Summary: This article provides information about how to install Ubuntu onto your Dell computer in addition to an existing Windows 7 or Vista operating system (OS).

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content


Note: Windows Vista customers no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support or online technical content updates. Microsoft stopped them as of April 11, 2017. This article is no longer updated for Vista and remains for information only. Go to the Microsoft site for the full end of the support statement.

Table of Contents:

  1. You want to Dual Boot your computer with Ubuntu and a legacy Windows OS?
  2. Things to know and check before you start an install
  3. Windows must 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


You want to Dual Boot your computer with Ubuntu and a legacy Windows OS?


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

Note: If you install an operating system (OS) other than the OS that shipped with your computer, then you do so at your own risk. Dell cannot certify that the hardware is compatible. We cannot support the computer in that configuration. This article is provided as information for those customers who want to dual boot, but it is carried out at your own risk.

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

It is recommended a Windows operating system should be installed first. Windows does not include Non-Microsoft operating systems in its boot-menu. Installing windows can also affect any information already on your Hard Drive.

This article deals 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, use the article that is linked below:

Have you checked that your computer model type is one of those certified by Canonical as being approved for Ubuntu?

  • If not, then go to the Canonical site This hyperlink is taking you to a website outside of Dell Technologies. and check if Canonical has certified your computer model.

  • If you have and it is supported on this list, then carry on.

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

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Things to know and check before you start an install


There are three things that you must check before you start an Ubuntu Install:

  1. To check the type of hardware 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 does it affect 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 computer. That can be anything from installing on one of the new M2 cards. Installing on a standard SATA hard disk drive. Installing on the same SATA hard disk drives in an Intel Matrix RAID configuration. Check that the hardware of your computer allows you to make the kind of install you need. Or you can read through the articles that are linked below. These give you an idea of how to change your installation method to accommodate your system hardware:

Note: USB 2.0 and older removable media devices are not supported on computers using the new Intel SkyLake Processors. The Chipsets for the CPUs no longer support the USB 2.0 Hub.
What type of BIOS is set up on your computer and does it change how you go about your install?

The difference between Legacy and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) BIOS setups can be the difference between an install succeeding or failing. A Legacy Windows OS usually installs on a Legacy BIOS, while a recent Windows OS must 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 is 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 Long-Term Support (LTS) release.

This update is available every two years and Canonical fully supports it with updates for five years. It is considered a tested and stable build.

The second is the most recent Normal release.

This update is available every 6 months and Canonical only supports it with updates for 9 months. These normal releases are considered to be cutting edge but can have issues because of this. Testers and developers use these builds.

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

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Windows must be the First Boot on the Hard Drive


Windows must be installed.

If Windows is not already installed? Then go to one of the guides on the link below and select the correct install guide for the Operating System (OS) you use:

Note: You can partition the Hard Drive to leave space for the Ubuntu install later on. Remember this while setting up your boot partition in Windows Setup. This saves you a lot of time and effort later on. Remember anytime you work on any operating system, it is best practice to have completed a recent backup in case something goes wrong.
Windows is already installed.

Most computers come with a version of Windows already installed, and it takes up the whole hard drive. The Windows partition must be shrunk. This frees space for the Ubuntu partition. 

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Setting up the Install Partitions


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

For Windows Vista and 7 - Legacy operating systems, you would use Disk Management:

  1. Click the Start Button at the corner of your Taskbar and right-click My Computer and select Computer Management and go to Disk Management.

    Press the Win+X keyboard shortcut and select Disk Management from the menu that appears.

  2. Use the Windows Partition Manager to shrink the partitions.

Windows 7 Special Menu

Windows 7 Shrink Volume

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 Unallocated Space on the Hard Drive, then it is straightforward to install Ubuntu as the second operating system. You want to boot from your Ubuntu DVD or USB drive.

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Installing Ubuntu as the Second Operating System


  1. Have you got a copy of the latest DVD or USB installation media from Canonical? These 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 This hyperlink is taking you to a website outside of Dell Technologies..

  2. Tap rapidly on the F12 key at the Dell splash screen on startup. It brings 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 checks that your hardware is seen OK by Ubuntu.

  4. When you are ready to proceed, click the Install Ubuntu button. The install wizard appears to prompt you through some choices.

  5. Select your install language and click Continue.

Welcome Screen

  1. The Keyboard layout window appears. Select the correct keyboard layout for your computer and click Continue.

Keyboard Layout

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

Updates and Other Software

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

  2. 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 14.

    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 set-up various partitions on the Hard Drive, read the guide below before you select the Something Else option.

Installation Type

  1. During installation you are 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. Marked 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. Marked down as Manually edit partition table.

      2. Select the partition that you want from the list that is 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 require at least 10 GB for your Ubuntu install Partition.
  1. Select Finish partitioning and write changes to disk.

  2. Click Install Now. From this point, you cannot cancel the installation. 

  3. You must set up 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

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 enter your information at this point.

Who are you?

  1. During the operating system install, the screen scrolls through screenshots of information about Ubuntu.

Help and Support

  1. When the install wizard finishes, you see the Installation is complete message window appear. Click Restart Now to restart your computer.

Installation Complete

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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 do not have to write to other operating systems. You must change a line of code in the Master Boot Record (MBR) of the Hard Drive. Which is booted by the BIOS.

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

      2. Once this is done, you see a list of operating systems when the computer 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 loads 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. Do you have a problem 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, Ubuntu does not boot, until you change windows boot manager to point to Ubuntu's boot sector.

      2. Windows Vista and 7 no longer use boot.ini,, and ntldr when booting. Instead, they ship with a command-line utility called bcdedit.exe. You can find more information from the Microsoft This hyperlink is taking you to a website outside of Dell Technologies. pages.

Boot Repair

Note: There are third-party programs that accomplish the same things and might have an 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: Canonical provides additional software support through the following methods:
Dell provides Technical Support:

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Article Properties

Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations

Last Published Date

07 Feb 2023



Article Type