Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

an alternative title for this is : "how do I reinstall windows XP onto an Ubuntu only netbook"

I installed Ubuntu 12.4 by wiping Windows and not creating another partition for Ubuntu in the hard drive. I realize that, this was a mistake. I have tried repartitioning using various tools, So that I can run Windows alongside Ubuntu, using my copy of Windows from another PC, but it has all become too complex.

I love Ubuntu, wish I could keep it on its own, but I am tired of trying because, I need Windows for work related things. In particular, I have to instal my "Wacom intuos graphics tablet" with a serial port, but this appears too technical to me to achieve that in Ubuntu.

I think I now have to first remove Ubuntu, reinstall Windows and then, reinstall Ubuntu by partitioning it properly, as I was advised to begin with.

I would appreciate any answers very much, but I need answers in plain English unfortunately, because I do not understand much of the abbreviations used in Ubuntu forums.

I should add that my treasured Ubuntu system is on an HPMini netbook, so it all has to be done with USB's. which does complicate things. Sorri :/

share|improve this question
Do you still have your windows installation discs and activation codes? If so this should be fairly simple and, if not, you'll probably need to buy a new copy of windows, after which it will again be fairly simple. – Garry Cairns Jun 23 '12 at 11:46
yes, sort of. I created an USB bootable windows XP stick, using "winsetupfromusb". Using my windows startup disk from the PC. – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 11:35

This isn't really a case of uninstalling Ubuntu, just that of installing Windows.

Stick the Windows CD in, and tell it you want to use the whole disk when it asks how you want things arranged. That might involve asking it to delete the existing Ubuntu partition (it's been years since I've actually looked at the Windows installer).

In short: much what you did with Ubuntu, just with a different CD :)

share|improve this answer
when I put in the USB bootable stick, nothing happens, if I restart the computer it just opens in ubuntu. I also tied booting up by pressing F9 and choosing boot from usb, but this doesnt work either. I just get a message saying windows had to shut down before it loads up – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 11:42

I'd just put in the Windows install CD, partition to your liking, install Windows on one partition and then Ubuntu on the other. You don't really need to uninstall Ubuntu first.

share|improve this answer
You are correct, although I understand from other who've tried this that it's easier to reinstall windows for the whole system then do the partitioning with Ubuntu subsequently. – Garry Cairns Jun 23 '12 at 11:49
Yes I have the disks. My ubuntu OS is on a netbook. I can use a desktop PC but not for long, I have to lie down. Can I transfer the XP disks to a USB stick? – Jo Blick Jun 23 '12 at 11:52
@Dragon the windows installation usb does not work, I think this is because my ubuntu drive is not partitioned. I am working on this. – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 12:16

Windows will not see the drive while it is formatted as EXT4 for ubuntu. You can use Gparted Live or boot the Live Ubuntu install disc and use Disc Utility to format and partition the drive. Format the first partition as NTFS for installing windows on, and the other partition as EXT4 for Ubuntu /root.

You may also want to create separate /home and swap partitions for Ubuntu.

Once the drive is partitioned & formatted you can install windows & then Ubuntu.

share|improve this answer
thanks Fernhill, I need to reach the stage where windows is recognised. I am retrying to create a bootable USB of my windows XP. My HP Mini had windows 7 on it but it costs 40 pounds to buy another copy and I overwrote it installing Ubuntu. I will report back after trying to reinstal windows using the bootable USB and then if this doesn't work, will try to find out how to "boot the Live Ubuntu install disc and use Disc Utility to format and partition the drive." .......... – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 9:02
Have a look at our simple guide on partitioning using Disc Utility. We also have a good guide on booting from CD if you need it. Please up vote our answer if it was helpful. – Fernhill Linux Project Jun 24 '12 at 9:26
Fernhill, to clarify: I need to partition the drive BEFORE I try to install windows, using "disk utility", from a rebooted, live cd of ubuntu. I have just created a new live USB stick and will try this.. – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 11:46
That is correct, and the windows partition needs to be the first partition on the drive, formatted as NTFS. – Fernhill Linux Project Jun 24 '12 at 11:48

Without going too much technical - most of the actual technical are already documented perfectly in the site - you need to follow this steps if you do no want to remove Ubuntu to install a dual Windows + Ubuntu system:

  • Boot from the Ubuntu LiveCD
  • Choose to test Ubuntu so you have access to a desktop, run gparted from the dash
  • Since you have 1 big partition for Ubuntu you will ask gparted to shrink it leaving enough space to install Windows.
    • gparted will shrink the Ext4 partition from Ubuntu and leave some disk space free and empty
    • There should be no issues there, but please make a backup of important data before doing so
  • Reboot your system and insert the Windows installation CD. Windows will ask you what to do, tell it to install and it should show you the free area of your disk and the installation destination. Depending on the version of Windows it won't even see the other partition from Ubuntu, or will not be able to identify it correctly
  • Let the installation run and install Windows on that space, once it is done it will install the Windows boot loader in to the MBR from the disk. That will leave your Ubuntu data intact but the Windows boot loader will only allow you to boot to Windows
  • When the installation from Windows is done boot again from the Ubuntu LiveCD and use Boot Repair to replace the Windows boot manager with GRUB. GRUB will allow you to either boot Ubuntu or Windows.

Here are a couple of links that will help you with the technical side of your question:

Resize a partition to create free space for antoher OS

Repair the boot from a system to allow multi booting

share|improve this answer
Thanks Bruno, but already tried partitioning the drive.the bootable USB of windows XP I created, is not being recognised by the system when I try to run it alongside ubuntu,using Gparted. I am doing this on a HP mini 110 netbook because I can't sit up for long enough to use a desktop PC any more. So it all has to be done using USB's. I don't understand the sentence "Choose to test Ubuntu so you have access to a desktop, run gparted from the dash". also,have not installed ubuntu alongside windows. I wiped windows by choosing to instal ubuntu on the whole drive. – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 9:21
having half followed fernhill's instructions,but getting confused about the options in disk utility for partitioning, I now think I understand your sentence "choose to test ubuntu ...."etc. so am planning to try your idea. I have printed your instructions out. ........ – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 13:18

Put your Windows installation disc in the CD/DVD drive and reboot. Install Windows in a partition which you think more suitable. If you are using Windows XP, It will display Linux partition with "Unknown" label, with incorrect total size (0 bytes may be). That partition is the one, which contains Ubuntu. Delete that partition when you are on repartitioning stage of Windows XP installation. Then install Windows as usual.

After you finished installing Windows, You can install Ubuntu alongside Windows by following any of the tutorial available on the Internet.

Here is some good links for Windows XP installation

Here are some links for help with Ubuntu installation:

share|improve this answer
this was helpful Anwar, and I clicked "unhelpful" feedback by mistake. Thanks! – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 8:57
@JoBlick, you can accept the answer, if you are satisfied. what about an upvote – Anwar Shah Jun 24 '12 at 8:59
what is an upvote? also, the problem still exists. I am unable to instal windows XP from the bootable USB stick I created. I am now trying it again. I am using a netbook and an USB 2GB stick and a "winsetupfromUSB programme" perhaps the title of my question needs changing to "how do I reinstall windows XP onto an Ubuntu only netbook? – Jo Blick Jun 24 '12 at 10:05
You can click on the up tick mark on the left side of the answer and also accept that by clicking on the right sign. check this question for help – Anwar Shah Jun 24 '12 at 10:11

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.