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

I used to have Windows XP on my laptop but switched over to the latest Ubuntu version. Unfortunately, there are programs that I would like to use on the Windows side, but cannot because I have no access to it anymore.

  • What is the way to reinstall Windows as a partition so that I can dual boot?
  • Is the Windows XP install CD and product key the only thing that I need to install Windows XP again?

I don't have a Windows recovery CD :(

Any help would be grateful. Thanks!

share|improve this question
Depending on your software, and if you need to share data between Ubuntu and Windows, or if you like to run applications at the same time you may want to consider installing XP in a virtual machine on your Ubuntu host. – Takkat Mar 30 '11 at 6:42
you could also search for floss alternatives for those apps and if that doesn't cut it use wine or playonlinux. – Alaukik Mar 30 '11 at 12:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

This has been well documented on the web with many tutorials. It will take as long as it takes to install windows and ubuntu. Which will be about 3 hours. If you want to recover that data on your previous install, that is a different problem.

You might already have the option to boot into windows. Check if these instructions on how Grub the application that loads the different operating system works. It may help you to just display the option to load the system you want windows or Ubuntu at start up. Display Behavior

official Ubuntu documentation.

Here is a video going through the steps

If you want to install windows after Ubuntu. You will need to reinstall grub. Windows automatically over writes the MBR, portion of you hard drives partitions and breaks your ability to boot into Ubuntu. These instructions will explain how to fix your boot loader by reinstalling grub. GRUB 2

You will still need to create space for your windows installation. Assuming that you install Ubuntu on to your disk with one partition covering the whole disk.If you need to shrink a partition, you need to boot up on a live disk and open gparted. It gives you the option to resize a partition but you can not do this on a mounted or disk. Which is why you need to boot up into a live disk. Here are screen shot of how to do that.

I recommend understanding how partitioning works specifically the MBR or master boot record. You need to understand the limitations such as you can only have 4 primary partitions. An extended partition need to occupy the entire remaining disk space if you want to have more then 4 primary partitions.

share|improve this answer
I was looking to install Windows after I have Ubuntu on my laptop, so it is sorta opposite to what you're suggesting. However, the official Ubuntu doc does say to have Windows first and then install Ubuntu. My question would be .. is that necessary? – O_O Mar 31 '11 at 1:37
@o-o You can still do that. Though you will need to fix the boot loader. I have edit instructions on how to do that. I have done this multiple times. – nelaar Mar 31 '11 at 6:23
@o-o and to answere you other question yes, you only need an xp install disk and product key to install xp again. Those recovery disk provided by manufactures are there to set up the system with all the software that they think you need. Those disk will include most of the drivers that you need. But you can download them from the manufacturer web sites eg acer or from your individual component manufacturer web site eg nvidia – nelaar Mar 31 '11 at 6:27

Hope this helps. You need to create a partition (if it is not already there) using NTFS, for this you may install GPARTED on Ubuntu, resize your Ubuntu partition to leave some space for your new Windows installation.

You'll need the Windows XP Install Media, if you don't have it you may download it, you just have to be sure you get the right version (Profesional edition, mediacenter,...), may have acces to an installation CD from a frind, the important part is the PRODUCT KEY requested during the installation process.

Once you reinstall Windows you will probably have to rebuild GRUB so it populates the right OS to boot from.

share|improve this answer
How do you rebuild the GRUB? – O_O Mar 30 '11 at 1:56
see my answer here: – bumbling fool Mar 30 '11 at 15:29
Looking back on the official Ubuntu docs for dual booting here, is it possible that Windows will just install over everything? Should I just back up everything, then reinstall Windows, then do Ubuntu again? Thanks! :) – O_O Mar 31 '11 at 1:40

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.