Please help me install Linux (dual boot) on Windows 7 PC

Due to hardware problem on Compaq yesterday, today I am the proud owner of a Toshiba laptop (Satellite L840). It has Windows 7 installed.

I want to change this to a dual boot machine with Fedora Linux also installed. (Rather than looking for my old Fedora CD and hoping it’s still sound, I intend to just download Fedora.) Googling I see that I can let either Windows or Linux/Grub control the boot. I’m used to Grub, but might let Windows control if that’s simpler.

So what do I do? Google can take me to instructions, but what are the best instructions? I’m sure I’ve a better chance of getting useful correct answers from Dopers than Googling randomly! Googling took me to . Are there better instructions? This page says, in part, “The procedure used is suitable for experienced computer users.” I’m afraid I don’t qualify anymore, so welcome Doper advice.

Those instructions look pretty good - it is doing what I would expect

  • shrink Windows 7 partition
  • install Fedora into free space
  • rewrite MBR to install GRUB
  • configure chainloader to boot Windows 7 as well

The only manual stage is shrinking the Windows 7 partition (do this in Windows 7, as noted in the text). The Fedora install should do the rest.


Thank you. I’m clicking ahead to see what oncoming questions I’ll have. I need to choose between “32-bit” and “64-bit” Linux. Does it matter? Simplicity and reliability are much more important to me than performance, if that’s an issue.

It appears that after downloading Fedora, I’ll need to burn a CD to proceed with the installation. Is that correct?

Sorry if my questions are stupid and ignorant. I’m afraid that not asking them would be even stupider! :cool:

(ETA: I’ve had dual-boot systems before but usually had someone else do most of the install. The shop that sold me the laptop would have done it today but lacked a Fedora CD so couldn’t. Perhaps I should have waited but kids and I are all addicted to Internet so I was in a hurry. :slight_smile:

64-bit, you have a 64-bit processor and there is no reason not to these days. Although the link I followed for the laptop suggested that it was an UltraPotable - so, easily drunk :wink:


You know the maxim - there are no stupid questions.


Another question, please. :eek: The instructions I will follow (with relevant part underlined) have

But the Disk Management display shows:

Data (D: )   Simple    Basic   NTFS Healthy (Logical Drive)                                                   478.99 GB (capacity)  476.22 GB (free) 99% free ...
Win764 (C: ) Simple    Basic   NTFS Healthy (System, Boot, Page File, Active, Crash Dump, Primary Partition)  117.18 GB (capacity)   88.27 GB (free) 75% free ....

(Looking at D: I see autorun and a folder AutoPlay. In that folder there are five folders (dat01, Docs, Icons, Plugins, Scripts) some empty some not.)

What gives? Most of the space is on “Data (D: )” Do I want to ignore
“Right-click the Win7 volume, and click Shrink Volume.”
and instead shrink Data (D: ) ?

The guy who prepared my machine at computer store knew my intention to install dual-boot Fedora. Is it possible he created D: to save me a step? :confused: :confused: The store is an hour’s drive away (in a town the tourbooks call “Nakhon Nowhere” :smack: ) and communication is poor. Perhaps I should have bought the laptop at the giant computer market in Bangkok but, as I say, our Internet addiction made this an emergency. The kids are now happy and excited. :smiley: I’m the only one who wants Linux.)
(In the unlikely event all of D: was intended for Linux, I’ll need to expand C: , not contract it, as my intention is to leave plenty of space for Windows – Linux can use the Window’s partition but not vice versa, right?)

Uncertainties like this make the directions seem confusing and even scary to me, and I am surprised others find the process easy! Is something wrong with me?

Does it have to be Fedora? Because damn, this is way more complicated than just running the Ubuntu or Mint installer.

Last time I bought a laptop, the store installed Ubuntu and I quickly learned I hated Ubuntu. The good news was, that with the partitioning for dual boot already taken care of, it was trivial to install Fedora (from CD) on top of, replacing Ubuntu. (I didn’t bother looking for that Fedora CD since it’s several years out of date and, in my experience, likely to have developed read errors.)

I’ve downloaded the Fedora 650 MB image and will burn a CD tomorrow. Perhaps I could drive back to Nakhon Nowhere this weekend, Fedora CD in hand, and let the guy there do it for me. (Lack of Fedora CD was the only reason it came this way. I searched a half-dozen major computer stores in the town for such a CD. Perhaps you’ll see why I complain about isolation here “I have to drive an hour … just to get to Nakhon Nowhere!” :smack: :smiley: )

Yeah, I’ve had my system get hosed trying to use Fedora to resize a Windows partition. I don’t have any experience using a Windows partition resizer, but I’ve never had a problem using the one on Ubuntu or Mint. I’d burn a second CD with one of those before trusting the Fedora one.

I am not sure what is on D:, it is pretty odd with the Autorun. Run an antivirus scan, because I can be paranoid and some viruses propagate using autorun on shared disks.

Anyhow, I suggest backing up any files on D:, then delete the entire partition. Expand C: to give you enough space in Windows, then set up Fedora using the remaining free space.


That is weird. It’s not that unusual to have another partition, but that is usually for recovery purposes. It looks like they set up your computer to have your documents and programs separate from the OS, which is a good idea, but not something that usually comes standard. (It would be very useful for dual booting, for sure.)

(That is, unless the autorun and folder files are something weird. Try running the Autorun file and see what it is. I’d guess a driver install, which you don’t really need to keep, but it’s good to check.)

It shouldn’t matter, though, as you can still use it as a document storage, no matter what’s in it. I’d probably shrink it just enough to have the same amount of space for your Linux partition as the Windows partition, plus however much memory you have, to use as a swap partition (other people probably have different opinions on that part.)

Linux should be able to write to the D:\ partition natively , but it will make the drive “dirty.” A solution I’ve found (but not tested) is Paragon’s NTFS&HFS for Linux 8.5 Express. This should give you full NTFS access. Then you can just keep all your documents on the D: drive. (You can also install programs on the D: drive, too, but you probably won’t be able to use them on the other operating system.

TL;DR version: Shrink the D: drive. Then use it save documents so you can use them in either OS.

EDIT: I assumed that a computer wouldn’t come with a virus on it, but si_blakely has a valid point. It wouldn’t hurt to nuke the D: drive as he suggests in the second sentence. But I still suggest saving some extra partition space for a document partition. After nuking the D: drive, create a new, smaller one, leaving enough room to install Linux as I mentioned above.

Progress report … or rather Frustrations report.

  1. I downloaded 64-bit Fedora. Its checksum (which I needed to download freeware to calculate) is 2627def33f1d88669fa4b9fc20365787 . More freeware or such seems necessary to confirm this checksum ( :smack: ) and I didn’t, but doubt that is the problem.

  2. Perhaps I should have shrunk D: but instead I deleted it altogether, intending to Extend C: But the Extend option in the menu is faded in color (i.e. unavailable?). Does that mean I’m an unauthorized user? If so, why did it let me delete D: ?

I click on some Help options; they mostly take me to URL’s online at There I mostly see unanswered queries from users with problems like mine. :smack:

So instead of Extending C: , I re-created D: but with about half the space of before.

Ready to move onward …

  1. I boot the Fedora CD. It seems happy for a short while but then presents

Googling, I see others have had similar problem for years. Lots of complaints; few answers. One guy succeeded by booting from USB memory stick rather than CD. At least one disgruntled Fedora installer just switched to Mint over this issue. (I can’t remember exactly why I found Ubuntu unusable beyond that it was very “friendly.” So friendly, IIRC, it didn’t even seem to have the concept of superuser password, :smack: )

  1. Maybe I’ll try the memory-stick option…

  2. I’m trying to view my difficulties as a source of amusement! :smiley: … And I still wonder if my difficulties are due to my own inadequacies, and if so, which?

Ubuntu uses sudo for privilege escalation, rather than a separate root account - so that administrative tasks can be performed by a user more transparently (but still only when they expressly authorise it) - it’s possible to choose whether users have or do not have the ability to use sudo, so if you are a ‘sudoer’ user, that’s more or less functionally equivalent to knowing the root password anyway, just easier to use.

Interestingly, MS now does privilege escalation in Windows in a similar sort of way.

(I usually type the root password just once after installation, to set the user on a setuid program I then use similarly to sudo.) Ubuntu’s sudo silliness was just one example; IIRC the whole presentation seemed overly “friendly.”)

I don’t want a friendly Unix; I want a simple old-fashioned one. I was happy with a tty-interface 30-odd years ago that didn’t even have job-control, and that would be good enough for most of what I need to do today!

Instead I see Linux trying to behave more and more like Windows!

<shrug> It’s not as if Ubuntu invented sudo. Sudo even predates the Linux kernel.

That’s fine - and it’s one of the reasons why Linux is fantastic - you can have it just the way you want it.

Ubuntu isn’t exactly trying to be like Windows, it is trying to be ‘friendly’, because there is a huge section of the desktop market that wants exactly that - they don’t want to use the command line in any OS - and that’s not wrong. I think on the whole, it’s a good thing that mortals can use Linux now, if they want.

But yeah, I agree - Ubuntu probably isn’t the optimal choice for you.

There are different sorts of partitions - Primary partitions (of which you can have four) and one extended partition (which can contain any number of logical partitions). Your C: was a Primary partition, and your D: drive was a Logical partition in an Extended Partition container. When you deleted the D:, you deleted the Logical partition but the Extended partition remained, so the C: could not be expanded. Stupid Microsoft Partition editing tools, I hates them. They hide some of the detail, and are also capable of stupendously stupid acts of daftness. You could try again - delete the Logical partition D:, then delete the unlabelled Extended Partition that covers the remainder of the disk that is not C:. Then you should be able to extend C:.

Trying to continue as you are may cause problems, as Logical Partitions are not quite the same as Primary partitions when it comes to booting OSs (although Grub does deal with this stuff pretty well now). You could also have the D: drive, but create it as a second Primary partition, instead of in an extended partition. It is just more useful that way, and allows Fedora to make a Primary Partition, too.

Your CD boot issue looks to be related to how the computer BIOS reports the list of disk devices - the reported UUID of the CDROM does not actually work to find the compressed image for the RAM disk. I have seen this problem too (not with Fedora, I seem to recall). I think it can be fixed with a Boot Parameter, but going to a USB disk may be best. Use LiveLinux, it is a cracking tool. The USB boot disk does not seem to have the addressing issues that CDROMs have.

Good luck


I forgot about Microsoft doing that–it’s been so long since I’ve used their partitioning tools. I usually just use a gparted boot disk. I agree, delete both the logical and extended partition, then create a primary one for D: if you need a shared documents partition. (It sounds like you may not, if you want Linux only for stuff that could be done that long ago.)

I want to thank you very much si_blakely. Your answers have been more useful and better informed than anything I found via Googling. Give me a poke next time you’re in Bangkok and I’ll drive over and buy you a beer! Heck, forget the beer – I’ll treat you to a massage at the best parlor in Rachada!

Extended C: successfully as you described. Downloaded LiveLinux. It complained (after several minutes) when I told it to copy the CD I’d created, but succeeded when I told it to just download Fedora again. I then booted it successfully, got to an Install to Hard Disk option, but went no further. For one thing there was no mention of Grub or partitioning and I was paranoid its “intent” was to treat my drive as virgin.

For another thing, I need to buy some sort of USB port expander. This laptop came with only three slots which are already used up with modem, external mouse and external fan underneath. (I want the fan, suspecting lack thereof contributed to premature demise of previous laptop.)

Follow-on question: I could just use the LiveLinux/Fedora memory stick, without Grub, linux partition, etc. Are there reasons I will regret that approach? I’m not worried about disk performance, but do have one concern. (Asking this question will demonstrate how ignorant I am, but that boat has already sailed. :smack: ) I need to create tarballs in which files are genuine Unix files, i.e. with permission bits. Will I need some sort of “native Unix” partition just for that?

I have not tried the latest Fedora install, but it won’t destroy any existing partitions unless you ask it to. The questions about partitions come a bit later.

Anyhow, you could just use the live USB (without regrets). LiveLinux lets you create a persistence file. This is an ext2 partition in a loopback file mounted as an overlay on the read-only LiveCD filesystem. Changes and new files are stored in the persistence file. This is a real Unix filesystem, with permissions and all. There are some restrictions about what you can replace, but it does work well.

Also, you could just create an ext2 partition on your USB stick (use PartEd or similar) and mount that for your tarballing. You could then just use the Virtual Machine functionality to run your LiveUSB install without even dual-booting. Or just install VirtualBox on Windows, and create a Virtual Machine for Fedora using some of that free disk space - no risk to your disks, and you just fire up Linux when you need it, without even rebooting. The performance of VirtualBox is great.

Never yet managed to stop over in Bangkok as we travelled between the UK and NZ. We expect to be heading back to NZ (permanently) sometime late this year, but it is unlikely that Thailand will be on the itinerary, due to Emirites being the preferred carrier (30kg each to NZ is a big win even if it means a long leg from Dubai to Sydney)
:mad: I’d love that beer - I suspect that my wife might be a bit :dubious: about the massage :wink:

Glad to help.