Skip to main content

How To Dual Boot Linux and Windows 11

Dual Boot Linux and Windows 11
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Taking your first steps into the world of Linux can be a scary proposition. After all, we have a whole new world of terminal commands, desktop environments and applications to learn. Thankfully Linux installation has improved leaps and bounds from the earliest text based installers used in the late 1990s (Debian and Slackware) via graphical installers in the early 2000s (Corel Linux, Mandrake). From the 2010s we have seen better graphical installers providing reassurance as we test out Linux.

The first steps into Linux fall under two paths. A single board computer such as the Raspberry Pi. Or more traditionally a dual boot setup, where Windows and Linux are installed to the same machine, often on the same boot drive. Using a custom boot menu, GRUB, we can choose between the two operating systems when we power on our PC.

In this how to, we shall learn how to dual boot Linux with Windows, using Ubuntu and Windows 11. The steps are the same with Windows 10 or with

Creating a Linux Install USB

Our Linux distro is typically downloaded as an ISO image (ISO originally being referred to as CD / DVD sized images) of a live Linux OS that we can test on our machine. To use the ISO with a UEFI / Secure Boot system we need to use Rufus, a popular free utility that writes ISO files to USB Flash drives.

Our goal is to create a bootable USB stick containing our chosen Linux OS. A minimum capacity of 8GB is recommended for your USB drive.

For this project you will need

  • Computer running Windows 10 / 11 (We tested with Windows 11)
  • USB Flash drive, 8GB or larger
  • Linux distro (we chose Ubuntu)

1. Download and install Rufus for your operating system.

2. Insert a USB drive into your machine and open Rufus.

3. Select your USB drive using Device, and then click SELECT and select the Linux OS that you wish to install. In our case it was Ubuntu 22.04.1.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Select the GPT partition scheme and click START to write the OS to the USB drive. GPT is the latest partition scheme and necessary for installing Ubuntu on a UEFI system. It is gradually replacing MBR.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. When prompted select “Write in ISO image mode” and click OK.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Read and understand the prompts to ensure that Linux OS will be written to the correct drive. There is no going back should you make a mistake.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Click CLOSE to exit Rufus and remove the USB drive from the machine.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

How to Install Linux for Dual Boot

The Linux installer has come a long way. Gone are the old days of scary user interfaces and in their place are inviting and easy to use installers that guide you through the process. We’re going to use the Ubuntu 22.04.1 installer to split our 256GB NVMe drive in half. Giving Windows and Ubuntu enough space for a basic dual boot install. Then we will follow a typical Ubuntu installation.

1. Insert the USB drive into your computer and boot from it. Each computer is a little different, Some will offer a function key to select a boot device, some need to be selected from the BIOS.

2. From the GRUB menu select “Try or Install Ubuntu” (or your Linux OS of choice) and press Enter . The GRUB menu is a custom boot menu used on Linux devices. It can also be customized to show a background image

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. When prompted, click Try Ubuntu to load the OS into RAM as a “Live Distro”. Live Distros give us enough of the operating system to test on our machine without making any changes to the system. They are also useful as recovery devices to boot broken computers.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Test your hardware to make sure that everything you need is working. Check audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc before moving onwards.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Double click on the Install icon to launch the installer application.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. Select your language and click Continue.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Select your preferred keyboard layout and click Continue.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

8. Select a Normal Installation and optionally install third-party software, then click Continue. Third-party software includes drivers and applications which may not match the permissive license used by your Linux distro. If you would like to know more, check the website of your chosen Linux OS.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

9. Select “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot Manager” and click Continue. Any other option will either delete the entire contents of the drive, or require manual configuration, so take great care.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

10. Ensure that the correct drive has been selected, and slide the center slider to adjust how much space each OS will have.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

11. Click Continue to write the changes to the disk. Check that everything is correct before moving onwards. Changes made now cannot be easily remedied.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

12. Click Continue when asked if you are sure.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

13. Set your location and click Continue.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

14. Set up your user account, with your real name, computer name, username and provide a strong password. Click Continue when ready.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The installation will take a few minutes to complete.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

15. Click on Restart Now to reboot your computer.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

16. Remove the USB drive and press Enter when prompted.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

First Linux Dual Boot

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The first boot of a Linux dual boot system requires a little fine tuning in our BIOS. We need to tell the system to boot from our Linux install, which will trigger the GRUB menu to load. From there we can select an OS to boot from. Each BIOS is a little different, so use these steps as a general guide and refer to the manual for your motherboard for more specific information.

1. Open your BIOS menu. See our story on how to enter your BIOS if you don’t know how to do this already.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Select the Boot menu.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Select UEFI NVMe Drive BBS Priorities.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Set Boot Option 1 to be the Linux install.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Check that the change has been made, then save and exit the BIOS.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

6. The system will now boot to GRUB, choose your Linux OS and press Enter. If we leave GRUB for 10 seconds, it will choose the default option, typically Linux.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. Boot to the Linux desktop and check that everything is correct.

8. Reboot to GRUB and select Windows to check that everything is working.

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".

  • Heat_Fan89
    As someone who has done this in the past it is an informative article. What could have been added was how to remove Ubuntu or Linux from a dual boot environment in the event the user no longer wants Linux. In the past trying to remove Linux would blowup Windows Boot Mgr.
    Reply
  • newtechldtech
    Why dual boot ? Just boot Linux from USB 3.2 SSD drive and save time and energy .
    Reply
  • andrep74
    I’m surprised you didn’t at least mention WSL2, which works really well under Windows 10 and 11. Installation is also far easier.
    Reply
  • Nikolay Mihaylov
    Heat_Fan89 said:
    As someone who has done this in the past it is an informative article. What could have been added was how to remove Ubuntu or Linux from a dual boot environment in the event the user no longer wants Linux. In the past trying to remove Linux would blowup Windows Boot Mgr.

    With a UEFI boot system you just go to the BIOS settings and set the Windows Boot Manager as the #1 entry and voila!
    Reply
  • Nikolay Mihaylov
    andrep74 said:
    I’m surprised you didn’t at least mention WSL2, which works really well under Windows 10 and 11. Installation is also far easier.

    Frankly, I prefer to install Linux manually in a hypervisor of my choosing, whichi is never Hyper-V. With WSL2 you are bound to have Hyper-V activated which precludes using any other hypervisor.

    Also, I find both Cygwin and WSL1 very usefull. Cygwin more so, because it has proper terminal window, where select is copy and middle click is paste. But these are more for command-line jockeys like myself.

    Generally, I prefer to go in the other direction - run Windows in VM hosted on a Linux machine. With GPU passthrough I can have close to native performance. On an old Threadripper 1920X machine with sufficient memory I have even done 2 Windows machines simultaneously, both with dedicated GPUs, plus a third one for the Linux host.

    Anyway, I have this question to the knowledgable audience here - what is the proper way to license Windows 10 for use in a VM? Do the cheap OEM keys that are being advertised so often by the tech-tubers work for a VM installation?
    Reply
  • mitch074
    This article is incomplete on a very sensitive matter, and that's too bad because it is otherwise very nice.
    Using GPT for the install media makes the boot disk incompatible with older computers that don't use UEFI, and even more modern systems that have a buggy boot process.
    Rufus gives you the possibility of using an MBR-compatible scheme (it chain-loads a GPT with a MBR sector, making it work in both types of machines).
    But GPT is necessary for SecureBoot to work, right? Thing is, only Ubuntu and Red Hat are compatible with Secure Boot, and Rufus strips those away (if you want SecureBoot to work you need to clone the ISO onto the media instead).
    So you'd need to add a section on how to disable SecureBoot in the article, especially on laptops where this can be VERY finicky (e.g. some models allow it only once you've set a BIOS admin password, or other niceties).
    Peripheral compatibility isn't much of a problem with dual-booting Linux; BIOS/UEFI settings are MUCH MORE LIKELY to cause headaches. As such, you should also make sure you have the latest BIOS/UEFI flashed on your system. for an often much better Linux experience (hardware makers usually test against Windows and that's it, causing huge problems with UEFI compliance and power management in Linux - many quirks are known and worked around, but some need manual intervention).
    Reply
  • Mandark
    newtechldtech said:
    Why dual boot ? Just boot Linux from USB 3.2 SSD drive and save time and energy .
    Better yet use a virtual machine. I detest any dual boot system or any system with multiple operating systems on it. Huge waste of time and energy.
    Reply
  • Mandark
    Nikolay Mihaylov said:
    Frankly, I prefer to install Linux manually in a hypervisor of my choosing, whichi is never Hyper-V. With WSL2 you are bound to have Hyper-V activated which precludes using any other hypervisor.

    Also, I find both Cygwin and WSL1 very usefull. Cygwin more so, because it has proper terminal window, where select is copy and middle click is paste. But these are more for command-line jockeys like myself.

    Generally, I prefer to go in the other direction - run Windows in VM hosted on a Linux machine. With GPU passthrough I can have close to native performance. On an old Threadripper 1920X machine with sufficient memory I have even done 2 Windows machines simultaneously, both with dedicated GPUs, plus a third one for the Linux host.

    Anyway, I have this question to the knowledgable audience here - what is the proper way to license Windows 10 for use in a VM? Do the cheap OEM keys that are being advertised so often by the tech-tubers work for a VM installation?

    cheap keys are stolen keys. Microsoft can deactivate them at any time. You can use windows 10 without a key for as long as you like with very minor restrictions like changing the wallpaper.

    The keys may work, but they are not guaranteed to work
    Reply
  • MartenKL
    Admin said:
    Windows and Linux co-existing on the same machine.

    How To Dual Boot Linux and Windows 11 : Read more
    Wow, please do not follow this guide unless you really like hassle and an inconvenient way of using Linux and Windows on the same machine. Depending on what you want to do there is a pure virtual machine or WSL 2 and specific guides for different distributions of doing a mix.
    Reply
  • SleepyD
    Nikolay Mihaylov said:
    Frankly, I prefer to install Linux manually in a hypervisor of my choosing, whichi is never Hyper-V. With WSL2 you are bound to have Hyper-V activated which precludes using any other hypervisor.

    Also, I find both Cygwin and WSL1 very usefull. Cygwin more so, because it has proper terminal window, where select is copy and middle click is paste. But these are more for command-line jockeys like myself.

    Generally, I prefer to go in the other direction - run Windows in VM hosted on a Linux machine. With GPU passthrough I can have close to native performance. On an old Threadripper 1920X machine with sufficient memory I have even done 2 Windows machines simultaneously, both with dedicated GPUs, plus a third one for the Linux host.

    Anyway, I have this question to the knowledgable audience here - what is the proper way to license Windows 10 for use in a VM? Do the cheap OEM keys that are being advertised so often by the tech-tubers work for a VM installation?

    Are you able to run Linux in hyper V at full resolution? I have an ultra wide 34 inch monitor and I am not able to run it at its native resolution of 3440 x 1440. The only issues I’ve had with my multi boot PC is I had to disable TPM.
    Reply