Dual Operating Systems

I’ve been asked this many time since I run dual-boot with Linux on a couple of computers. Here is an email reply that I thought would be good for the blog.



You were telling me one time how to use 2 different operating systems on a computer. I saw your post for the Unbuntu and have seen it used on a netbook just in passing. Looks really cool….

As far as using 2 different OS, would it be virtual machine I’m remembering?
There are a couple of ways to run a 2nd operating system now. It’s actually much easier than the “old days”. Here are the main ways:

Virtual Machine

In simplest terms a virtual machine is a program that simulates hardware in a software environment. For instance you may have heard of “Parallels on a Mac” which is how people can run Winodws inside a Mac. You start your virtual machine like you would start MS Word, but instead the program boots another operating system.

You could be running Windows 7, but have an XP virtual machine in case you have older software that just won’t run under 7. You could even have Win 98 for that matter – or you can install Linux.

  1. Download and install VirtualBox on your Windows computer.
  2. Download the Ubuntu ISO file (you don’t have to burn it to a CD in this case)
  3. Run VirtualBox and create a virtual machine – have it mount the ISO and install Ubuntu Linux.
Ubuntu Wubi Installer

You can download and install the Wubi Ubuntu Installer. This allows you to install Ubuntu similar to any other program in Windows – you can remove it through the Add/Remove in your Windows Control Panel.

*Takes time as it will auto-download the full Ubuntu installation (approx 700MB)
*Just to be safe, make sure you have a good backup of any important files!

Dual Booting
You can download the Ubuntu ISO and burn it to a CD. Then boot your computer to the CD and let Ubuntu take over. There will be a point where you can tell it to use “x amount of free space” on your drive and install alongside Windows.

When you restart your computer, you will be given a choice to boot to Linux or Windows.

*Most “dangerous” way – if you make a mistake you may not get back to Windows.
*Just to be safe, make sure you have a good backup of any important files!