Windows + Linux: how to fix the dual boot problem

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Even you hate Windows operating system and Microsoft company in particular. But sometimes you have to use software based only on Windows.  The first reason – special software subject. Of course, we all know about Wine, but it doesn`t work always. And it shouldn’t work always, because Windows, Linux and OS X system conceptions is too different. The second reason – usage necessity in work for accordance to corporate policy. There could be LDAP question or a strange desire of your employer. In short, there are many reasons to setup Windows and use it for a while. The best way will be dual boot installation.

I won’t explain details of question “How dual boot works?” or “How to go to dual boot?”. You can find a lot of resources to feed your interest. [1] [2].

I`d like to pay attention on one problem I forced in dual boot installation. I couldn’t set up Fedora Workstation 23 after Windows 10, cause I got stuck in HDD partition. The problem reason was like this.

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I tried to fix it by few solutions. I changed disk partitioning settings in Windows disk management – didn’t work out. I changed BIOS parameters – the issue still was. The solution laid deeper, but also closer. I felt like a fool after dual boot process . The trouble lied in a bootsector of my hard disk. My HDD had MBR partitioning and new Fedora versions don`t accept this type. Actually I never cared about type of my bootsector up to this moment.

You can solve it by MBR-to-GPT conversion. Under the cut few ways to do it. I did a second one, but it’s not a panacea.

1. Convert through Windows Disk Management.


You can launch the Disk Management through dialog box (Win+R), typing there diskmgmt.msc. Choose disk for Linux, delete all volumes in this disk (right mouse key -> “Delete Volume”), press right mouse key on the disk line and choose “Convert to GPT Disk”. After conversion leave this disk empty and boot from Linux installation ISO.

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It works fine if your PC has more than 1 drive and you’re don’t care of data loss. Don’t forget to make a disk data backup before the time you get started. But this method is impossible, if you have just one disk. Windows cannot allow delete itself.

2. Convert during Windows installation.


If you just started to set up Windows, this method is the easiest for you. Before the disk partitioning window appearance, get a Windows command line (Shift+F10) and use “diskpart” tool.

diskpart

At first check your disk system about GPT partitioning.

listdisk

If you see a “*” symbol in the “GPT” column – that means your storage device has GPT label and bootsector is not your problem. But usually it doesn’t contain anything when you faced with error described here. Select disk you want to convert, delete all volumes and convert to GPT. After conversion exit command line and get through installation process. Example of command consequence is below.

select disk 1		#1 means disk number you need to convert
detail disk		#check disk volumes
select volume "volume №"
delete volume
convert gpt
disk list		#double check a GPT label on disk
exit

If you can’t understand what I want to say, you can watch a short video tutorial.

This option fits you well if you just started to set OS environment in your PC/laptop. Otherwise you should reinstall Windows and lose all data in converted device.

3. Convert with disk partition software.


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Also you may install in your Windows system non-bootable program. I mean a kind of software converting hard disk bootsector without system reinstallation and data loss. There is a wide choice of programs: as a free soft (Aomei Partition Assistant, EaseUS Partition Master) and a non-free (Acronis Disk Director, Minitool Partition Wizard).  The main window for conversion looks like in the picture above.

It seems the less complicated option to solve the issue, but actually it’s not. You take responsibility for ultimate result. It could crash your disk system at all and you can`t use your device any more till the disk rehabilitation. Also possibilities of suchlike tools on SSD drive isn’t clear to use this way.

After conversion just try again to install Linux-distro on free part of disk. Before the start of installation drive partitioning should work carelessly. After that you can continue setup process and finish Dual Boot customization. On the first boot running you’ll see the boot menu. Windows Boot Manager will be an option to start the Windows. It looks like that.

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Have fun and don’t use Windows too much!

P.S: I never tried this way of troubleshooting for another Linux-distros, thus I’m not sure that you could face with such troubles. But if you forced, you can extract anything from this post. It should help you too.

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