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How do I set the bootloader so that in my dualboot with Windows 7/Ubuntu 11.04, Windows start up as standard instead of Ubuntu?

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16 Answers 16

up vote 92 down vote accepted

Customizing the /etc/default/grub file

There are two ways of doing this using editing a grub file. These are described in the Ubuntu Community Documentation Grub2 page

The two ways are:

  • Boot which ever operating system you booted last time, the "saved method"
    • This is the one I use. It lets me decide which one I going to use and will allow me to reboot into that system, handy when I'm updating.
  • Boot a specific operating system by default.
    • The answer to your exact question.

Finding the menuentry to set as the new default

To start we need to find out what we are booting or want to boot. Open a terminal with Ctrl+Alt+t and type in grep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg:

user@YourComputer:~$ grep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg
menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.35-31-generic' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.35-31-generic (recovery mode)' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.35-30-generic' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.35-30-generic (recovery mode)' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+)" {
menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+, serial console 115200)" {
menuentry "Windows NT/2000/XP (loader) (on /dev/sda1)" {
menuentry "Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.32-34-generic (on /dev/sdb1)" {
menuentry "Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.32-34-generic (recovery mode) (on /dev/sdb1)" {
menuentry "Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.32-33-generic (on /dev/sdb1)" {
menuentry "Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.32-33-generic (recovery mode) (on /dev/sdb1)" {
menuentry "Windows Vista (loader) (on /dev/sdc1)" {

You can see that the "saved" method can come in handy when booting multiple operating systems. Save the name of the entry you want e.g. Windows NT/2000/XP (loader) (on /dev/sda1), we need it later.

Editing the /etc/default/grub file

Type in the terminal sudo nano -B /etc/default/grub and your password if asked. The nano editor will open.

A. Saved method - In my preferred way, I made the following changes from the standard grub file.

  • I changed the value of GRUB_DEFAULT to saved:

  • I enabled the SAVEDEFAULT functionality by adding the following line:


B. Specific menuentry - In the way you are asking for

  • Change the value of GRUB_DEFAULT to the name of the Windows system you want to always boot. The name of the corresponding Grub menuentry can be found as described in the previous section.
  • I wanted to have Window XP always set as default at boot, I would set GRUB_DEFAULT to "Windows NT/2000/XP (loader) (on /dev/sda1)":

    GRUB_DEFAULT="Windows NT/2000/XP (loader) (on /dev/sda1)"

You could also set GRUB_DEFAULT to the line number in the menu entry list (with 0 being the first), but when the kernel in Ubuntu is updated grub adds the new kernel to the top of the list, you would have to change the number, since Windows is the last one in the menu entry list. You can see this in my menu entry list.

Update the boot configuration

Now you have to run update-grub to update the system generated grub.cfg file in the /boot/grub/ directory.

Type into your terminal sudo update-grub and your password if asked:

user@YourComputer:~$ sudo update-grub
Generating grub.cfg ...
Found background: /usr/share/images/grub/Apollo_17_The_Last_Moon_Shot_Edit1.tga
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.35-31-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-2.6.35-31-generic
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.35-30-generic
Found initrd image: /boot/initrd.img-2.6.35-30-generic
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+.bin
Found Windows NT/2000/XP (loader) on /dev/sda1
Found Ubuntu 10.04.3 LTS (10.04) on /dev/sdb1
Found Windows Vista (loader) on /dev/sdc1


Notes on nano

nano is especally easy to use in the terminal. Move around with the arrow keys. Type in you addtions, delete the unwanted.

The -B or --backup option backs up the previous version of it to the current filename suffixed with a ~. Very handy in case of the dreaded Fat pfinger effect.

When you are through, Ctrl+o will allow you to save your edits by hitting Enter and Ctrl+x will close. These and other options are shown at the bottom of the terminal screen with the ^ indicating Ctrl.

^G Get Help    ^O WriteOut    ^R Read File   ^Y Prev Page   ^K Cut Text    ^C Cur Pos
^X Exit        ^J Justify     ^W Where Is    ^V Next Page   ^U UnCut Text  ^T To Spell

Notes about nano, sudoeditor and other editors

Some in the Ubuntu community suggest sudoedit instead of nano. I recommend nano — which is the default sudoedit editor in later distributions of Ubuntu — instead of sudoedit, because the default can be overridden in non-obvious ways, unless you are an administrator. sudoedit is safer in that it automatically saves a backup copy of the edited file, but the -B command line option in nano does the same thing. nano is more intuitive than editors like vi or emacs, which are very flexible but require learning a lot of commands, shortcuts or different modes.

If you prefer not to use the nano editor and prefer the Gnome Text Editor, instead of sudo nano -B use gksu gedit. I generally do this for large files, and /etc/default/grub could easily be considered a large file. Thus type in gksu gedit /etc/default/grub instead of sudo nano -B /etc/default/grub. Note that the Gnome text editor does not automatically make a backup!

Notes on my grub file

I made some changes to grub for my personal needs. Such as the background picture of the moon launch. How to do these are discussed at the Ubuntu Community Documentation page on Grub2, recommended.

Good luck!

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This incredibly complex, but excellently written answer makes a mockery of your username, sir. Well done! –  Scaine Nov 27 '11 at 12:13
Keep it simple is based on the Einstein quote: "Things should be as simple as possible, but not too simple." (The last three words are omitted when some quote this). Thanks for the kudo... –  keepitsimpleengineer Nov 28 '11 at 20:24
love it help me a lot , but as i saw , GRUB customizer it much easy :P XD –  Rani.Shemer Dec 2 '11 at 20:38
This is an absolutely brilliant answer. Thanks so much for providing all that useful context; it's really, really appreciated. –  iono Apr 13 '13 at 9:02

With a bit of command line trickery, you can get the default of grub to always be a particular grub entry - for example Windows - no matter when a new kernel is installed.

In a terminal type:

fgrep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg

This will display all your grub entries - for example

enter image description here

Highlight the entry you want to default to - for example Windows 7 in the screen-shot. Right click and choose copy


gksu gedit /etc/default/grub

Change the entry



GRUB_DEFAULT="Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda2)"

i.e. paste the entry you want (including the quotes)

Save, then type

sudo update-grub


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Thanks @fossfreedom. Simple and working like a charm!! –  AboAmmar Jan 18 at 23:56

You need to edit the /etc/default/grub file to set Windows as your default OS.

First Step. Determine the Windows OS' position in the grub menu. To do this, open a terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T and type the following:

grep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg

This will list the grub menu entries. I'll use my grub menu as an example:

menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.38-8-generic' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.38-8-generic (recovery mode)' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+)" {
menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+, serial console 115200)" {
menuentry "Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda1)" --class windows --class os {

You will then select the Windows partition, in my case "Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda1)" including the double quotes and copy it.

Second Step. Open the /etc/default/grub file. To do this, type the following on the terminal:

gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub

It will open the /etc/default/grub file with gedit. Look for the GRUB_DEFAULT=0 line and change it's value from 0 to the selected Windows menu entry by pasting it. .

GRUB_DEFAULT="Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda1)"

Alternatively, you can use an integer value specifying the index position of the Windows OS, take note that index starts counting at 0, so in my example, the Windows OS value would be 4, therefore you can also set


After which, you need to update grub by typing

sudo update-grub
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You can follow this nitstorm answer here ,

You will have to add Grub-customizer through

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

Then launch it from dash , application lens.

enter image description here

the above menu will be different to yours, so choose wisely and select the Windows 7 entry and from the top Menu bar , select the ^ arrow to move it upward to have the top position , while booting.

For booting into Windows directly select the preference and reduce the boot-time to load windows.

enter image description here

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Use startup manager, which you can start from the dash. There you can use the OS to start with in the dropdown menu.

startup manager

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Sorry I just saw that you said that startup manager is not working in the 64bit version. you can try instead grub customizer Install Grub Customizer in ubuntu Open the terminal and run the following command sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install grub-customizer Once you install you can open from Applications -> System Toiols -> Grub Customize –  dago Nov 26 '11 at 17:50

Change the value of GRUB_DEFAULT in /etc/default/grub to whatever windows is on grubs list of available operating systems when you boot. For example in my case I would have to change that line from




After that, run sudo update-grub.

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This method needs to be modified to always correctly identify the correct menu entry (for windows). This method will only work in the simplest setup, and may NOT survive a kernel update or other changes. See: ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1195275 –  david6 Nov 27 '11 at 5:52
Today only the newest kernel has 2 entries (recovery and normal boot), all other kernel's are grouped in "other kernels" (or something similar, I don't recall the name). So I have to disagree, it survives kernel updates. –  imbaer Nov 27 '11 at 10:40
I added the comment because your example used =6 –  david6 Nov 27 '11 at 20:35
That's right, it should be =5. –  imbaer Nov 28 '11 at 8:40

It can be done easily with a GUI tool called "Grub Customizer".

What is Grub Customizer?

Grub Customizer is a graphical interface to configure the grub2. The application allows the user to add, remove, freeze, rename and reorder boot menu items

How to install?

Hit Alt+Ctrl+T to open terminal and run following commands one by one:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

How to use?

  • Once installed, Hit Super key (Windows key) to open Unity dash and search for "" and open it.
  • Select the Linux group by clicking on Linux and move it down by clicking on down arrow in toolbar. Once done, Click on save. That's it!

enter image description here

Remember that you can't move single entries out of their respective group like Ubuntu can't be moved out of Linux group.

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Nice, didn't know there was a GUI for GRUB2 configuration. +1 on this one ;) –  ruffEdgz May 17 '12 at 13:43

Identify the name of the Windows entry

On the GRUB, there should be an entry like Windows 7 (loader) (/dev/sda1). We need to know what's that name on your machine, so open a Terminal and run the following command:

$ fgrep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg

The output should be something like this:

if [ x"${feature_menuentry_id}" = xy ]; then
export menuentry_id_option
menuentry 'Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon 64-bit, 3.5.0-17-generic (/dev/sda6)' --class linuxmint --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry 'Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon 64-bit, 3.5.0-17-generic (/dev/sda6) -- recovery mode' --class linuxmint --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+)" {
menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+, serial console 115200)" {
menuentry 'Windows 8 (loader) (en /dev/sda1)' --class windows --class os $menuentry_id_option 'osprober-chain-06B66EA8B66E97C7' {
menuentry 'Microsoft Windows XP Embedded (en /dev/sda4)' --class windows --class os $menuentry_id_option 'osprober-chain-7246B3A846B36C0B' {

Look at the line we were talking about! In my machine, it is Windows 8 (loader) (en /dev/sda1). Write the name of your entry somewhere, and now let's set is as the default.

Setting the Windows entry as the default

That's easy!

First, open our configuration file with gedit (a text editor) as root, running this command:

$ gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Search for this line:


And modify the 0 with the name of your Windows entry. In my computer:

GRUB_DEFAULT = "Windows 8 (loader) (en /dev/sda1)"

Now just save the file, close gedit, and update grub.

Updating GRUB

Just run this command:

$ sudo update-grub

Now just restart, and the Windows entry should be highlighted as the default!

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Is a very easy to use graphical GRUB2 settings manager. For now, it only allows you to edit the GRUB2 menu entries: reorder, rename or add/remove entries. It will also allow changes to background image and menu timeout. Since these are actually scripts which generate the boot.cfg file, Grub Customizer changes the actual script order and then generates a new boot.cfg so if you then run "sudo update-grub", your customization won't be overwritten.

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From my experience, I noticed that it's not so easy to change boot priority for Win7/Ubuntu 11.04. Utility, like Startup Manager seems like isctrying to change the default boot system, yet nothing happens after restart (11.04 continue to boot by default). I such case I suggest Grub Customiser Grub Customised on WebUpd8, which works well with Grub2. I just removed all absolete boot options (there are many), leaving only 11.04 and Win7. And then changed a boot priority. Now, everything works well :)

Good luck.

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I have used Startup Manager on my parents' desktop dual-booting Windows XP and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, and aside from the fact that you have to re-run it every time you upgrade to a new kernel, it has worked nicely. –  Christopher Kyle Horton Jul 14 '11 at 18:54
Hi ! I suppose it's a matter of how Grub2 treat new kernel installs. It does not take in account new grub2 menu inserts :) –  Vincenzo Jul 16 '11 at 8:28

This is actually quite easy to do. First, you need to find out what Grub names your Windows entry. You can do that by looking in /boot/grub/grub.cfg or by running this command:

sudo cat /boot/grub/grub.cfg | grep -i Windows | sed -e 's/^.* "//g' -e 's/".*$//g'

What that command does is search for Windows in /boot/grub/grub.cfg and remove the text outside of the " characters.

The command will output something like Microsoft Windows XP Professional (on /dev/sdb2).

Now, open /etc/default/grub by running:

gksudo gedit /etc/default/grub

and change:



GRUB_DEFAULT="Name of your Windows menu entry"

Lastly, run:

sudo update-grub

to regenerate the Grub menu. And that's it! Future upgrades won't mess this up. Your Windows menu entry will always be selected by default.

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edit the file /etc/grub/default

there you find the entry


when you first start your computer and get the grub menu the first entry in your boot menu is 0 so if the second entry in your boot menu is Windows change this digit to 1

save, quit, run the: update-grub command and reboot to behold your new changes!

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@ Daniel Guzman You seem new to Linux/Ubuntu.(judging from your choice of keeping windows the default OS.I am sorry if i am wrong) So when you carry out the above procedure,be careful and take care that you do not mess up with anything other than what is written.You might get into trouble. :) –  Nirmik May 16 '12 at 20:12
I could be wrong but didn't 11.10 use grub2 and isn't the /etc/grub/default more of an older grub1 change? Just wondering. –  ruffEdgz May 16 '12 at 21:29
11.10 uses grub2, my examples are from 12.04. But it's the same –  tomodachi May 20 '12 at 13:22

You don't need to install the grub-customizer!!!

i do not know what ubuntu you have installed, so I am not sure that your OS is using grub2 or the old grub, but it is more likely that you have grub2.

So, this is what you have to do for grub2:

grep menuentry /boot/grub/grub.cfg 

This command gives you an output saying what startup possibilities / OSes you have.

this is a sample output:

menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.38-8-generic' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {

menuentry 'Ubuntu, with Linux 2.6.38-8-generic (recovery mode)' --class ubuntu --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {

menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+)" {

menuentry "Memory test (memtest86+, serial console 115200)" {

menuentry "Windows 7 (loader) (on /dev/sda1)" --class windows --class os {

As you may can observe, Windows 7 is on the 5th line of the output.

Next, you open the /etc/default/grub file with your text editor and sudo priviledges and modify the GRUB_DEFAULT value to (the number of the line where you have Windows 7 minus one, because the grub option index starts from 0)

So, if windows 7 is on the 5th line, you need GRUB_DEFAULT=4

if windows 7 is on the 7th line, you need GRUB_DEFAULT=6

To save the changes, type sudo update-grub. AND this is everything.

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Next time you boot your machine, count in shich position Windows 7 is placed in GRUB menu. (remember you have to count from 0 - i.e. if Windows is in the third row, then its position is 2 and so on). Boot into ubuntu, open a terminal and write

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

then modify the line




where N is the position (starting from 0) of Windows7 entry in grub menu. Tell me if you need more info about this.

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So if my windows is placed in position 2 then i will write "2" in the command where you wrote "N"? –  Rasmus Mathiesen Jul 13 '11 at 17:42
if it's in the second row, then you have to put 1 (the first row is numbered 0) –  Juan Sebastian Totero Jul 13 '11 at 17:47
thus the formula for "N" is: <line its on in human numbering> - 1 –  Thomas W. Jul 13 '11 at 17:53
Right right, that´s what i ment ;) –  Rasmus Mathiesen Jul 13 '11 at 17:54
Actually it doesn't, because when upgrading warns you the file it's installing has changed, and prompts you if you want to change it, modify it or install a new one. Never had problems upgrading. –  Juan Sebastian Totero Jul 14 '11 at 9:53

I use grub customizer to do that. You can have it automatically boot into a certain OS every time or just boot into whichever OS was booted last. It is easy to install and use.

In ubuntu, open your package manager; under settings you should find "Configure Software Sources." Click on that and enter your password. Now click on the second tab entitled "Other Software" and press the add button toward the bottom. Enter in the PPA for grub customizer :


Click OK and a couple of new lines will show up; close the Software Sources dialog now and push the check for updates button on your package manager if it didn't already start to update the available packages. Type into the search function : "grub-cus" and you will see the grub customizer at the top of the list. Mark it for installation then click apply to start the process. Agree to install any dependencies so they get installed automatically as well.

After installation, you can find grub-customizer by typing "grub" into the search dialog or you can also find it in the menu under Applications>Settings>Grub-Customizer.

Alternately you could just open a terminal and run the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

You may want to pick out a pretty picture to use as background to your grub boot menu.

Here are some links if you want to learn more before starting:

Launchpad PPA for Grub Customizer

Guide on How to Geek with walk through and pictures

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Normally when I have to "mess up" the Grub I use "Grub Customizer", it has a GUI so you can see easily what you are changing. Just type this into the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

Then search in the Dash for grub customizer and change the predefined entry to Windows.

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I haven't used this, but I think this should be merged in to the other question as an answer if this closes. –  hbdgaf Apr 6 '13 at 22:57
it is not necesarry to install software for changing the grub order. you can do it also with grub-customizer, but it is more difficult than by command line, i think –  fromnaboo Apr 6 '13 at 23:56

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