How to install Windows and Linux on the same PC

Installing and running both Windows and Linux on the same personal computer (PC) is now incredibly easy with the advent of new tools like dual boot systems. Creating a dual boot system allows users to run both operating systems and still be able to switch between them when needed. In this article we’ll discuss how to install and setup a dual boot system for both Windows and Linux on the same PC.

Windows and Linux are the two main platforms to choose when we want to install several operating systems on the same personal computer, in one very interesting multi-boot configuration to take advantage of the best of both worlds.. We leave out macOS because Apple does not license the system to third-party vendors and – except for special installations using Hackingtosh – forces you to buy a Mac if you want to use it.

It must be said that the bulk of consumers only use one operating system on their PC. And most likely Windows, since Microsoft has total dominance of the OEM channel and the vast majority of new PCs are delivered with Windows pre-installed.

Users who want to try other things beyond Windows or those who already use Linux, but need Windows to run some applications or games (or just for fun) have several possibilities, from the always interesting virtual machines to the use of “Live” formats capable of running operating systems from an optical media or a USB pendrive.

Both methods are simple to realize and use, but have compromises, especially on the hand of performance. Those looking for the best experience should go for multiple installations that we are going to talk about today and that have compelling advantages: you get maximum hardware performance, the different systems occupy their own space without interfering with the rest and the boot menu allows you to start them and switch between them in seconds in a convenient and simple way.

Windows and Linux on the same PC, from scratch.

The last few years we have been offering you guides to perform several of these configurations, such as Windows 11 and Ubuntu 21 or Windows 10 and Windows 11. But its possibilities go much further, since you will practically only have to have enough space in the internal storage and perform the process in a specific order to install what you want. You can choose other versions of Windows, combine them with Linux and even install macOS under hackintosh in the same process, although the latter is much more complicated to perform.

On this occasion and as an example, we are going to use the latest versions of Windows 10 and Linux Mint 21, with installations from scratch (clean). If your computer already has Windows and you want to keep it, we will also go over how to install Linux next to it. Of course, you can use other versions of Windows or any other GNU/Linux distribution.since the process to be performed is identical.

Windows and Linux

Hardware required

Until Windows 10, the hardware requirements for installing Windows and Linux together on the same computer were virtually identical, and according to Microsoft officials summarized as:

  • Processor 1 GHz or faster or a system on a single chip (SoC).
  • RAM: 1 GB for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 32 GB for 64-bit OS.
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver (Windows)

Clarify that these requirements are absolute minimums that will give you to install and little else. You will need a better processor, more RAM, storage and more advanced graphics if you want to get a good experience on both Windows and Linux. If you decide to install Windows 11, you already know that the minimum requirements have changed and you will need to add a DirectX 12 compatible graphics chip; a UEFI firmware compatible with the ‘Secure Boot’ feature and a TPM version 2.0 secure platform module.

To give you an idea, we used a 2022 ASUS TUF Dash laptop, with 11th generation Intel CPU, RTX 3060 GPU, 16 GB RAM and a single 500 GB PCIe SSD. It is not mandatory that you use a current computer. You can use PCs with older hardware and, as mentioned above, use other versions of both Windows and Linux.

Windows 10 installation

If you follow us regularly you will know the process from memory. We start from scratch, with the SSD of the laptop completely empty, to perform a clean installation. In this type of configuration always install Windows first and then Linuxso that the boot loader of the latter (GRUB) is used to boot one or the other. We leave you a step by step of the whole process:

Downloading the ISO image

  • Access the official Windows 10 portal and click on “Download the tool now”.
  • Run the downloaded file which will correspond to the latest stable version: “MediaCreationTool22H2.exe”.
  • Accept the license terms and select to create an installation media.

  • Select language, Windows edition and architecture.
  • You will arrive at a choice screen between “USB flash drive” where the tool itself will create the installation media on the fly or “ISO file” to create it later with your favorite application. Select the second option to download the “Windows.iso” image.

Creating the installation media

  • Download the Rufus application or another of your choice to “burn” the image downloaded in the previous point.
  • Preferably, use an empty USB flash drive of at least 8 GB capacity (you can also do it on a DVD).
  • For a Windows 10 installation on a modern computer, configure the software as in the image and create the bootable flash drive. (If your computer is older you can opt to change the partition scheme to MBR and the target system to BIOS).

Installation

Installation is very simple. You only have to be careful when creating the partitions, leaving free space for the later installation of the Linux distribution.. In this way:

  • Insert the created media into a USB port and access the BIOS-UEFI to select it as the first boot device. (If you do not remember the UEFI access key you can check this practical where you have all brands of laptops).
  • Start the installation by selecting the language and the version of Windows for which we have license.
  • In this step you can complete the license section or omit it to do it later.
  • Select the custom installation and you will get to the partitioning process (You will see the empty disk because we have set it up this way to do everything from scratch).

  • Create the partition of the size you need for Windows 11, leaving an unallocated space to install Linux Mint later, as in the example image 86 GB.
  • From there install Windows 10 as you normally would.

Linux Mint installation

The installation of a GNU/Linux distribution is today. as easy as installing Windows and no user with minimal knowledge should have any fear of the free system. The installation is automated as we will see below and on a PC with SSD is done in a few minutes.

Download ISO image

Downloading the image is straightforward and occurs without the cumbersome process that Microsoft imposes for Windows 10.

  • Simply access the Linux Mint web portal and click on the Downloads button.
  • You will see three editions to choose from: Cinnamon (the most popular and modern); MATE (traditional over GNOME 2) and Xfce (the simplest and lightest).
  • We select the Cinnamon Edition with the possibility to download via Torrent or choose one of the available servers for direct download.
  • In any case we will get the latest stable version: “linuxmint-21.1-cinnamon-64bit.iso”

Creating the installation media

  • Use a USB flash drive preferably (failing that, you could also use a DVD).
  • If to create the media with Windows we had used Rufus, here we will use the application recommended by the manufacturer, Balena Etcher.
  • We download the application from its web page and install it (it also has a portable option that does not require installation).
  • Simply load the downloaded ISO image and flash it (Linux Mint 21 works perfectly in EFI modes used by Windows).

Installation

Linux installation has made extraordinary progress in an almost automated and lightning-fast process. From a pendrive connected to a USB 3.2 port and installing on an SSD, it took just over 5 minutes on this computer.

  • Insert the created media into a USB port on the machine and make sure the flash drive is placed as the first boot media in the BIOS/UEFI as we saw in the Windows installation.
  • You will enter the graphical installation mode which is self-explanatory. Click on install and select the language, the keyboard layout and the type of installation. Leave the downloading of the latest updates for later.
  • You will come to an important section that shows how easy it is to install Linux. As you will see in the image below, the installer recognizes the installed Windows system and allows you to install Mint next to it without touching the existing partitions at all and creating its own in the empty space.

  • Click on “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot manager”. The rest of the screens are trivial and the installation will finish without further action. On a computer like the test one, with the NVMe SSD and a fast pendrive, it completes in no time, just 5 minutes.

Once the Ubuntu installation is complete, every time you reboot you will have the GRUB bootloader available, which will allow you to. boot Windows 10 or Linux Mint in a simple and fast way.. You can also select the system to boot in the BIOS-UEFI, but it is more cumbersome to access it each time.

In the firmware, if you select Linux as the first boot partition you will have access to its boot loader and you can boot either system. If, on the other hand, you only want Windows on a daily basis and Linux eventually, you can put the Windows Boot Manager first and the system will boot directly into Windows 10 without going through GRUB.

Windows and Linux on the same PC with Windows already installed.

If you bought a new laptop it would probably come with a pre-installed Windows whose installation. takes up the entire storage drive. In this case it is also possible to install Linux and obtain a dual boot configuration. If, as in our case, we already had Windows 10 installed, the first step is done and we would only need to create space for the installation of Linux Mint. If you need help you can review the Disk Partitioning special that we updated this week.

We review the process of preparation of the partitions:

  • Right-click on the Start button to open the Disk Management tool.
  • You will see several partitions, the recovery partition or others. We are interested to act on the main partition, in the example the C: called SYSTEM that is completely occupied with Windows.

  • Right-click on the main partition and select shrink volume.

  • In the dialog box that appears select the amount of space to shrink which will be the size of the partition for Linux Mint. We select 86 GB for the example.

  • Here each user will have to select the space they want to reduce depending on their availability and usage focus. Or use a second storage unit if you have on your computer.

You don’t have to do anything else on the partitioning issue. except leave a free space as we have seen. Install Linux as we saw in the previous step in the empty space we have created. The installer will do the rest, it will format the free partition, install the Linux next to Windows and create the boot system.

Insist that this type of multi-boot installation on the same computer is ideal to take advantage of both operating systems. They offer better performance than a ‘Live’ format or virtual machines.They do not interfere with each other and the boot manager allows access to each of them in seconds at the click of a button.

The guide we have offered you is a use case with two specific operating systems, but you can mount a larger number of them, use other versions of Windows, different GNU/Linux distributions and even macOS by using techniques of Hackintoshalthough this process is much more complicated than the one described above. Don’t be afraid. Enjoying Windows and Linux on the same computer, with the maximum level of performance that your hardware allows, is possible with this method.

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