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I am new to linux and Ubuntu and wish to create a system that can boot both Windows 7 (for windows specific applications) and Ubuntu (I wish to become familiar with linux and Ubuntu for work). I have already read through a lot of material, but found nothing for quite what I am looking to do, and I am not sure how or where I should start.

I have a 120GB solid state drive on which I want to locate the windows and linux OS, as well as other applications that would benefit from the SSD. I additionally have a 1TB hard drive that I want to use for data/storage.

From what I have read, I understand that I will need to partition the drive(s) or use Logical Volume Management to set up the dual boot environment that I envision. I hope to share the data stored on the 1TB hard drive between the two operating systems, but if this is not feasible then splitting the 1TB hard drive into two or more smaller partitions would be fine.

I have previously installed windows to the SSD and 'migrated' the User's folder to my 1TB data drive (without manually setting up a partition or anything). This worked fine for a while, but the system proved unstable and no longer works, except in 'safe mode'. I have all of my data backed up, so I intend on "starting over" and re-installing windows along with ubuntu. I don't want to keep anything that is currently on the ssd or hdd.

In short: --I have a 120 GB solid state drive I want to put Windows 7 and Ubuntu on. --I have a 1TB hard disk drive that I want to use as data storage for the two operating systems. --What is the best way of going about this? I want the system to be as stable as possible while maximizing the benefits of using an SSD to boot from/run applications. + Any advice or information would be appreciated!


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what ssd did you get? –  user194862 Oct 17 '13 at 0:27

8 Answers 8

I actually did this for myself a few months ago. The process is a bit long, and read through the entire thing before you make any decisions as to whether you want to do it or not. You will need to change your registry, and although I have not experienced any problems so far, you may if you don't do everything as I did.

First, set up your partitions in a Ubuntu live disk. Copy all your information to a safe volume in case something happens. Then, wipe all your drives.

Install Windows first. When you create your account during installation, choose a spare account name. It doesn't matter what this name is, except for the fact that it cannot be the name you want to use in the future. I would call it something like "spare."

After installing Windows, create an account with your real account name, but do not log into it yet. Go into regedit, and change all instances of C:/Users to D:/Users (or whatever drive you have your storage on, be it D:, E:, F:, G:, etc. Don't change anything like C:/Users/Administrator, though, only the ones with C:/Users and the ones that would pertain to you.

After doing this load of registry edits, go and restart your computer and log into your new account. If you've done everything right, your new account's profile should be in the drive you had set it to be.

If it is, great. Delete the spare whose account is still on C:/. Do whatever you want on Windows, and after that, install Ubuntu.

I can expect that you can install Ubuntu without any instruction. During installation, I installed my user folder in the normal directory in the same partition as my main installation. I then created symlinks on my user folders by using the commands:

rm -r ./Documents
ln -s /media/Storage/Users/Tyler/Documents ./Documents
rm -r ./Downloads
ln -s /media/Storage/Users/Tyler/Downloads ./Downloads
rm -r ./Music
ln -s /media/Storage/Users/Tyler/Music ./Music
rm -r ./Pictures
ln -s /media/Storage/Users/Tyler/Pictures ./Pictures
rm -r ./Videos
ln -s /media/Storage/Users/Tyler/Videos ./Videos

Tyler is my username on Windows, and Storage is the name of my storage partition.

These commands don't include the templates and the Desktop folder, although I expect that they would be easy to implement.

These symlinks do not have the pretty images, and I have not found a permanent fix for that at this moment. I can set the icon image, but it is reset. I suspect that this is because it needs to mount every time I start up, and that resets the images. I'll post a fix if I find one.

If you want to automount your storage partition upon startup in Ubuntu, you'll need find which partition to mount. In a terminal, use

sudo fdisk -l

You should receive a list of partitions. Mine looks like this.

tyler@Tyler-PC:/$ sudo fdisk -l
[sudo] password for tyler: 

Disk /dev/sda: 320.1 GB, 320072933376 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 38913 cylinders, total 625142448 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xf64a0fce

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *        2048   125831167    62914560    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda2       125831168   188745727    31457280   83  Linux
/dev/sda3       188745728   608364543   209809408    7  HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
/dev/sda4       608364544   625141759     8388608   82  Linux swap / Solaris

Search "Startup Applications" and add the command

udisks --mount /dev/sda3

sda3 should be replaced with the one for the disk you have. I had remembered that I had set mine to sda3 when I made my partitions. Also, it is my largest.

After that command, upon startup, you shouldn't need to navigate to your storage partition via nautilus to mount it. I'd only discovered that fix yesterday; as I use Eclipse to develop in Java, needing to mount it via nautilus every time was extremely obnoxious.

Good luck!

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Fine, If you feel comfortable using Gparted then you will have to re-size your partitions.

Now, I have noticed that the use below has suggested using 'Wubi.exe', that is an alternative... It has its + & -'s (more later?).

I have also noticed some advocating:

wiping all your drives, via umop aplsdn

HOLY SMOKES becareful listening to gun slinging cowboys...

When you were in 'Live-user' mode using Gparted did you see several partitions for Windows? If you did, good. *Do not delete or change those unless you want to trash Windows. *

1st, Try to resize the largest windows partition to give Ubuntu 20gb - 60gb.

Q. How much do you use Windows? How much do you think you would like to load/play with software on Ubuntu?

2nd, After you have backed up your 'stuff' install Ubuntu from the live-user desktop. This is helpful for several reasons, One the wifi or network connection you have will make the updating process go a little more smoothly. More to come...

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You should've edited your previous answer, instead of posting a new one. –  green7 Apr 13 '13 at 12:05

Symbolic Links

I recently setup a new computer for dual booting Ubuntu and Windows and I came up with a solution using symbolic links. I found that symbolic links can be the best thing to setup the two operating systems if you'll be using them both regularly. This guide will walk you through setting up your system to keep all of your personal files on your larger drive and let you access them seamlessly from each OS.


Partition the SSD as whatever sizes you want with two partitions, I would use 60GB partitions. Use the whole 1TB as NTFS so both operating systems can read it. Windows will need a NTFS partion and Ubuntu will work best with an ext4 partition on the SSD.


I would install Windows first so Ubuntu can setup your boot manager for you. You don't need to do anything to Windows at this point. When installing Ubuntu next set where your large drive mounts when picking where to install to, for more info on this check out this guide. I would recomend mounting to /media/Data/ Once you have them both installed and the 1TB is formated as NTFS you can put all of your presonal files on the big drive. You can also just create empty folders but it's not as easy to visualize.


Once your files are in place you will need to link them. In both Windows and Ubuntu you will be creating a new "folder" when you link so you can't leave the old one there.


In Windows the command you'll want to use will be mklink /J LINK_LOCATION ORIGINAL_LOCATION so if you have the Windows drive as C: and the 1TB as D: with your pictures in D:\User\Pictures you would use mklink /J "C:\Users\USERNAME\Pictures" "D:\User\Pictures" after deleting the Pictures folder in your user folder.


You will use ln -s ORIGINAL_LOCATION LINK_LOCATION to link in Ubuntu. Note that the directories are switched compared to Windows. So using the picture example again and assuming you mounted the 1Tb to /media/Data you would use ln -s /media/Data/User/Pictures/ /home/USERNAME/Pictures after deleting the Pictures folder in your user folder.


After this you should be ready to go! Keep in mind you can link any folder you want off of the SSD. The user folders such as Music, Pictures, Documents, Videos, and even Desktop can all be moved to access from both operating systems. You may also want to move other folders like "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps" or "/home/USERNAME/.local/share/Steam/SteamApps" depending on what large programs you plan on using since the SSD has a more limited capacity.

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I would start slowly if I were you, i dont say that tongue-in-cheek either. What I would do first is get a 1 gb thumb drive (or whatever you call it) and download the Ubuntu 'cd' or 'dvd'. Do you need 32 bit or 64 bit? I would take that .iso file and then install it on your thumb drive (using the directions given on the Ubuntu site) and 'play' with it. DO NOT Install anything yet! Wait... Run Ubuntu off the usb drive and in live-user mode. See what the software is like... Do all the drivers work? Does your video and sound card work well? Can you figure out gparted?

In other words, load the Ubuntu o.s. onto the thumb drive so that you boot off of it. Set you bios to load the os from your thumb drive first and try 'Your' new operating system. Then try Linux mint, Fedora or anything...same thing download it, put it on your thumb drive and play around with it for a week or so. THEN get ready to start breaking things. ;D

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oaxacamatt, I already have ubuntu booting from a flash drive, and I like what I see. I also prefer ubuntu since it is the same distro I am using at work. I have a pretty good feel for GParted at this point as well. –  treystaff Jan 22 '13 at 0:12

You can divide the partition of your drive ,But first you have to enter the Windows OS and Right Click My Computer > and Click Manage > Storage > Disk Management And Divied the partitions ilke these EX: Drive C is for Windows, And Drive D is special for Ubuntu.

Now you have two partitions C and D

Copy the Ubuntu ISO and Wubi.exe in Drive D (If u're not using CD)

If you're using the CD, just plugin the CD at the boot at usually And there's must be show a form like this enter image description here

It's Ready!, You're Ready to Install Ubuntu in Dual Boot ;)

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This doesn't answer the OP's question. –  umop aplsdn Jan 22 '13 at 1:08

Partition and format your 1TB space into two. One using ext4 for Ubuntu and the other using NTFS for Windows. Ubuntu will be able to detect both your ext4 and NTFS partition though but not will only be able to detect the NTFS. This is the kind of setup I use on my laptop using only one hard disk though and partitioned into 4 drives.

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You could keep your Windows installation on the SSD and resize its partition to make room to Linux. Or you could wipe everything and create new partitions, 1 NTFS for Windows and 2 for Linux (ext4 and swap). You would need to use a program such as Gparted or Easeus. Sometimes it's advised to remove the hard disk while installing Windows on the other one.

Remember to configure your BIOS to boot from the SSD.

Then you can install Windows and later Linux, using GRUB to boot both systems. Or you can also use Windows bootloader to boot both systems (google it), it's a matter of taste.

And the other disk, the big one. You could just fully format it as NTFS, allowing both systems to acces it. Or you could consider to install again both OS in this disk in case you ever need to repair or access the SSD from the HDD if it gets corrupted for any reason (changing boot order on the BIOS).

You should install the software that needs to be loadaded quickly onto the SSD and configure the temp folders and pagefiles to be on the SSD.

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Well, I don't know why previous answers suggest to act on registry key or hard links. There is a simple way to do this. First,partition your SSD. I think 2 partitions are too little. I'm currently using 5 main partitions:

  1. Windows: containing Windows OS. Depending on how you use this OS. I think that for a normal user it should be large from 40 to 60 GiB.
  2. Ubuntu root (/): containing most of Ubuntu system. Again, the size dependes on what you plan to install, but as a standard go for about 20 GiB.
  3. Ubuntu home (/home): containing the home directory. It is useful to keep your home directory separated from the rest for many reasons. Reserve 5 GiB for your home directory. Follow this link
  4. linux swap. Well, I think this is a very useful partition and you necessarily need this if you want to use hibernation on Ubuntu. The size mostly depends on how much ram do you have, but I think, but as a general rule my opinion is that it should be at least 1.5 times your ram.
  5. FastFiles. I'm using this directory for others stuff like standalone applications, VirtualBox hard disks, ... The size again depends on your use.

See more on the argument at this link.

Then, format your HDD as a NTFS, as suggested before. You want to use just one partition containing all your data.

To change your default user directories (Download, Documents, ...) N.B.: My suggestion is to move also your Desktop folders on the HDD drive.

Windows http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310147

Ubuntu The easiest way to do this is by using ubuntu tweak (sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak). Launch the program and go to Admins> User folder. Then change everything as you want.

If you have any trouble, I can help in any way ;)

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