Dual Boot

How do I run two (or more) operating systems on the same computer?

Dual-booting (generally Multi-booting) is the common term for installing two (or more) operating systems on a computer. Each time the computer boots, the user selects one to run. Another way to install more than one operating system is to operate virtual machines within a "real" operating system installation. Examples of Dual-Booting are:
  • Boot Camp for Apple computers, which allows users to have OS-X and Windows in separate disk partitions and boot either.
  • Linux installations which install Linux in a separate partition to Windows and then configure a bootloader such as Grub to boot either. (Ubuntu Help page)
  • Installing Ubuntu within a Windows partition. This is distinct from a virtual machine. The user still selects one operating system to run when the computer boots.

Why this is a bad idea

Dual-boot systems are sometimes simple to set up and are, in some cases, useful things to have. However, the Computer Support Group at CSE do not setup or support dual-boot environments on self-administered machines for a number of reasons:
  • The actions of one operating system (Windows) may not account for the presence of another and some actions can make one or both operating systems unbootable.
  • Setup, Booting and Partitioning are time-consuming and more likely to be problematic for the end-user, especially if they are unfamiliar with dual-boot environments.
  • Managing two operating systems on one computer, keeping them both backed-up, well patched and in good order is often not practical.
  • Sharing one set of files across operating systems can be difficult.
  • Recovery of corrupt dual-boot environments and/or user-data is time-consuming and usually requires specialist knowledge.
  • CSG do-not support multiple copies of the same software on the same machine in different environments. Common packages, like Microsoft Office and Mathworks Matlab, are natively available under macOS and Windows.
And particularly with Apple Bootcamp:
  • macOS maintains certain authority over the second OS and 'some' traditionally legitimate second-OS activities can corrupt both environments.
If you choose to make your computer dual-boot, you should be prepared to fix the system yourself if a problem occurs.

I setup up dual-booting, but now it does not work.

The Computer Support Group will not put your system back together for you. CSG can assist by saving partitions to a backup drive so you can access your data. After that you might install a fresh copy of one operating system.

Alternatives to dual-boot

Ubuntu-Linux inside Windows

From the FAQ:

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a new Windows 10 feature that enables you to run native Linux command-line tools directly on Windows, alongside your traditional Windows desktop and modern store apps. … When WSL is enabled (it’s an optional feature), we download a genuine Ubuntu user-mode image, created by Canonical. Our Bash.exe application, when started, then loads and runs the native Bash shell and Linux command-line tools from the Ubuntu image.



Run your own Virtual Machine

Running Virtual Machines can be much easier than installing operating systems directly onto your hardware. Wikipedia gives general reasons for virtualising. You can get VMware licences from CSE. Apple users should only install Windows in a Virtual Machine, if they need to run Windows specific software not natively available under macOS. MS Windows install media is available for CSE Staff & Students through the ELMS service.
Last edited by robertd 03/03/2017