I want to install Ubuntu 16.04 on my new PC and to keep Windows 10. I have a 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. I have read that I should install Ubuntu on the SSD. I am now at the partitioning step and I have to choose where to install Ubuntu. If I choose "Install ubuntu alongside Windows 10" I am under the impression that it will be installed on the HDD. Therefore I chose the advanced partitioning option. The installer shows me my partitions (I did not create anything):

  • /dev/sda
    • /dev/sda1 (efi, Windows Boot Manager, 272MB)
    • /dev/sda2 (16MB)
    • /dev/sda3 (126712MB (53182MB used) ntfs)
    • /dev/sda4 (1027MB, ntfs)
    • two free space partitions of 1MB and 5MB
  • /dev/sdb with two ntfs partitions (one of 986GB and one of 13 GB)

What do I have to choose as device for boot loader installation? Do I have to create new partitions? I am a bit lost and I don't want to lose Windows.

Moreover where should I put my personal files? On HDD or SSD?


3 Answers 3


Use Gparted for modifying your partitions. The GUI interface is easy to use for resizing, moving, creating and deleting partitions. As the first answer advises, you may consider backing up your important data before the operation. I will mention that the gparted partition manager is very robust and with care, the data would hardly be corrupted. I have modified partitions twenty years, using gparted almost like using a word processor and have never lost 1 byte of data. Just be particular which partitions you choose to delete, if any.

You can use either of your drives for the install. I you chose the Alongside Windows option, the installer will shrink the partition according to your specification with the slider and use the space you give it to create what it needs for the installation. It'll create two partitions, one for swap and one for the actual install.

You can manually create the partitions for the install. You should create a partition for Ubuntu that has at least 50 gigs. This will be an ext4 type partition. You'll also need to create a swap partition. This should be about 1 1/2 the size of the ram have in your computer.

On the do something else option choose the partition you create for the installed. Set it for root /. I wouldn't recommend your trying to create separate partitions for /home or any of the other options. Ubuntu will automatically create your /home folder no different from the way Windows create your /users/home directory.

Specify your boot disk which is most likely /dev/sda for your boot drive. This will automatically give you both Windows and Ubuntu in the boot options menu to select from.

The install won't affect your Windows partition. Only the partition where you specify the install. It'll just add Ubuntu to the Boot partition of your specified drive.

Where should I put my personal files

By default they will be in your /home/yourname directory. You'll find this in the file browser when you boot into Linux. The same way you find your personal files in Windows in c:\users\yourname. Any new file or document you create will be placed there by default. You'll also have default folders of Pictures, Videos, Documents, Downloads, Music, and Desktop to choose from, that will be clearly visible in your File Browser.

The File browser

From Ubuntu you will be able to easily mount your Windows partition and browse and use your Windows Documents. However, you can't do it the other way around. Windows can't access the Ubuntu partition.

  • thanks a lot! why should the ubuntu install partition have at least 50 giga? If I have only 50 giga for it will it be fine or is it really useful to have more? Since I have about 72 giga free on sda and 16GB of ram can I create a swap partition of 20GB (not really 1.5 * ram) and use what remains (a bit more than 50GB for the install partition?)
    – fonfonx
    Oct 1, 2016 at 15:59
  • When I wrote "where should I put my personal files", I wanted to know if the /home directory will be on the HDD or on the SSD. Is there a way to choose between the disks once logged into ubuntu? I am familiar with linux but not with several disks...
    – fonfonx
    Oct 1, 2016 at 16:03
  • The standard installer doesn't use a separated /home. Go to "something else" and do the partitioning yourself if you want other scheme. Then /home will be where you created it. Yes, it makes (some) sense to put /home in the HDD.
    – user589808
    Oct 1, 2016 at 16:06
  • 1
    @fonfonx Why 50 gigs While you could install Ubuntu in 8 Gigs and less, there are lots of applications available for Ubuntu from the software center that is easy to install. Some of the applications such as Google chrome, it's caching and downloads will consume a few gigs quickly. Then you might want to install various media programs for playing music, DVD's, and even creating Movies, etc, you may very soon find this stage again of having to resize, move, and manipulate your drive again. Having at least 50 gigs will give you room to breath. 20 gigs would be sufficient for your swap. Oct 1, 2016 at 16:13
  • @fonfonx where should I put my personal files You mentioned the key. You are not fluent with navigating disks. So why should you start out as a new user trying to. Just install the OS and use it at it's defaults. Make those type of changes if you see fit. Do you see a reason to put your Windows Personal Files on a different disk? If you do decide to put them on a different disk you'll have to be sure it's a formated ext4 partition. I believe a little more work than the novice you're describing yourself as, should have to tackle. Oct 1, 2016 at 16:16

Since your Windows partition is in the SSD, by choosing "Install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10", Ubuntu will probably be installed also in the SSD. However, since your /dev/sda3 partition takes up too many space, there is no space left for Ubuntu to be installed. My suggestion is to back up your files in Windows (those on /dev/sda3) to the 1TB HDD, and try to shrink the partition with tools like EaseUS Partition Manager. After resizing, create another partition large enough to hold Ubuntu. As quoted from official manual:

minimum is 8 GB. It is recommended to make it at least 15 GB.

You shall be able to install Ubuntu to the SSD after doing all these. It'd be safe to let Ubuntu installer do the installation fully automatically.

  • Is it possible to directly shrink the size of /dev/sda3 directly with the ubuntu installer partitioning assistant?
    – fonfonx
    Oct 1, 2016 at 15:23
  • In doing so, you might lose data on the Windows partition. Oct 1, 2016 at 15:25

There are many ways to do this... each with its pros and cons... here's my 2 cents.

First, IF you're going to modify your Windows partition, it's best done from WITHIN Windows using the Disk Management app. Any other way and you risk damaging your Windows installation. Personally, I'd boot Windows, defrag first, then resize to make room for Ubuntu.

Second, because your SSD is smallish, and reducing the Windows partition to make room for full Ubuntu will squeeze you, I'm going to suggest that you put a minimal Ubuntu root-only installation on the SSD (say a 40GB partition), and then put /home and /swap (16GB) on the HDD. This way, Ubuntu can install its GRUB boot manager such that you can dual-boot Windows or Ubuntu, and the bulk of your Ubuntu files will be on the HDD. It's good to have swap on the HDD, to increase the life of the SSD.

In any case, disable fast boot in the power control panel in Windows, and disable hibernation (powercfg /h off). This will reduce the chance of file corruption on Windows.

If you're wanting to share files between Windows and Ubuntu, you can create a NTFS partition on the HDD for your pictures/music/etc. and then mount that partition on both OS.

Cheers, Al

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