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You want to install Ubuntu on your Windows computer, don’t you? The thing is, you’re not 100% certain, yet. What if it goes wrong?

Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can try Ubuntu Linux and see whether you really like it, from running a Live CD to installing the OS in a virtual machine, before going all the way and installing it alongside Windows to dual boot.

You might even abandon Windows altogether, converting your device into a 100% Ubuntu computer!

Are You Ready to Switch?

The first thing to do is work out whether or not you’re ready to switch to Linux The Ultimate "Should I Use Linux?" Checklist The Ultimate "Should I Use Linux?" Checklist Deciding whether switching to Linux isn't so easy, because Linux isn't perfect and sadly not for everyone -- although we'd like to think that. Is it for you? Read More . That you’re reading this is a good sign that you have strong inclination to try out Linux 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux I was a Windows user for years, but was doing things that have taught me I'm a Linux user at heart. Wondering if you're a secret Linux user? Here are the warning signs. Read More , and the ideal place to start is with Ubuntu.

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While Linux isn’t identical to Windows 7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching 7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching Read More , Ubuntu is the most accessible Linux distribution, offering both an intuitive user interface and a solid package manager.

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If you’re feeling particularly brave, you might have spent some time thinking about how to use Ubuntu as your new, main operating system, replacing Windows entirely. For this, you will need to understand how you can migrate your data from Windows to Ubuntu Migrating From Windows 7 To Ubuntu: The Ultimate Guide Migrating From Windows 7 To Ubuntu: The Ultimate Guide Despite what all the Linux haters say, choosing Ubuntu is logical and migrating from Windows 7 & to Ubuntu is a breeze. This article summarizes the process and provides solutions to the most common beginner... Read More , assuming that is the version you’re going to be switching to.

Which Linux Version Should You Choose?

As you’re probably aware, several flavours of Linux Why I Switched From Windows 7 To Elementary OS Luna Why I Switched From Windows 7 To Elementary OS Luna Bye bye, Windows. Hello, Linux! Here's what convinced me that eOS Luna is a better bet than Windows 7. Read More are available. Some are intended for hardcore enthusiasts, while others come with a Windows-esque user interface, designed to help newcomers to the platform ease their way in.

Ubuntu is a happy medium between the two types of Linux distribution, and while the remainder of this guide applies specifically to Ubuntu, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take a look at our list of the best Linux distributions The Best Linux Distributions The Best Linux Distributions There are many Linux distributions available for a number of different purposes, which makes it difficult to choose at times. Here's a list of the very best to help you decide. Read More  and try some alternatives.

After you’ve downloaded your Linux distro, remember to burn it to DVD in preparation for installation. If a DVD isn’t available, USB flash devices can also be set up Running Linux from USB: Are You Doing It Right? Running Linux from USB: Are You Doing It Right? Did you know that can keep data persistent, or even do a full install for Linux, on a USB drive? Read More as installation media.

Not that you should install just yet.

Get Started: Test with Live CD or Virtual Machine

Before installing Ubuntu, you should spend some time with the operating system in live mode, which enables you to load the OS from the optical disc into your computer’s memory. Do this by inserting the disc, rebooting your PC and selecting Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer from the boot menu. Soon Ubuntu will appear, giving you the chance to try out the apps and become more familiar with everything before making the decision to install. While some functionality may be missing here, this is the best way to take your first steps towards Ubuntu.

Not all Linux distributions have a live mode, so check the documentation if you’re looking at an option other than Ubuntu.

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For ease of switching between Windows and Ubuntu, meanwhile, as well as testing the OS at your convenience without the somewhat inflexible presence of the Live CD (you can’t switch to Windows easily when running a Linux distro from the DVD), you may instead consider using a virtual machine.

As Joel recently wrote, you can keep your main computer safe by testing new operating systems in a virtual machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More . Briefly, free tools like VMWare Player and VirtualBox create a virtualized software PC using your device’s hardware.

Using a virtual machine is an easy way to try Ubuntu Linux. If you’d like to go with that option, have a look at our detailed VirtualBox guide How To Use VirtualBox: User's Guide How To Use VirtualBox: User's Guide Learn to use VirtualBox. Get virtual computers up and running inside your computer, without having to buy any new hardware. Read More .

Dual Booting Windows 8 and Ubuntu

After discovering that you quite like Ubuntu, you may still have reservations about switching completely. The answer here is to dual boot Ubuntu with Windows Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu If you discover that Windows 8 isn't quite your cup of tea, and you have no feasible path to downgrade, it may be a good idea to dual boot with Linux to have an alternative... Read More , which is essentially done by creating a new partition on your computer’s hard disk drive and installing the Linux OS into this, as explained in our Windows/Ubuntu dual booting tutorial How Do I Install Ubuntu on a New Windows 8 Computer? How Do I Install Ubuntu on a New Windows 8 Computer? The introduction of personal computers with Windows 8 preinstalled with them also introduced a controversial under-the-hood modification - Secure Boot. Secure Boot is a technology which is included in any new computer that has Windows... Read More .

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Following installation, you’ll see a boot menu each time you boot or restart your computer, with your preferred operating system selected using the arrow buttons on the keyboard.

(Incidentally, if you are interested in dual booting Ubuntu and Mac OS X How To Install Linux On A MacBook Pro Retina How To Install Linux On A MacBook Pro Retina MacBook Pros come with some very nice hardware, but some people want more. Some people want Linux. Read More , this is also possible.)

Help! I’ve Made a Terrible Mistake!

In the unlikely event that you realize that Ubuntu Linux doesn’t cut the mustard for you and your productivity takes a terrible nosedive, the best thing that you can do is switch back to Windows. If you have been using a Live CD or virtual machine so far, this shouldn’t be an issue.

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However, if you installed Ubuntu to dual boot alongside Windows, then you might be happier switching back to the primary operating system and deleting Ubuntu from your HDD How To Safely Uninstall Ubuntu From A Windows Dual-Boot PC How To Safely Uninstall Ubuntu From A Windows Dual-Boot PC Read More . Fortunately this is relatively straightforward and can be done safely, without any loss of data.

The process involves backing up your Linux data to an external device, then switching to Windows to delete the partition and restore the MBR. The explanation we provided for XP users still applies through Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.

Meanwhile, if you decide that actually, yes you do quite like this new OS, you can install Ubuntu as your computer’s sole operating system Bring an Old Computer to Life With Ubuntu Bring an Old Computer to Life With Ubuntu Give an old computer a new life, using Ubuntu. Outlining everything you need to know to get an Ubuntu distro on to an old slow computer. Read More , ideal for bringing an old computer back to life or enjoying new functionality on a modern device.

Do you have plans to dual boot Ubuntu or another Linux distro on your Windows PC? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Thinking lady via Shutterstock, Optical drive via Shutterstock

  1. Joshua
    February 25, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    I have a question on Linux dual-boot with Windows 7/8. Where to put Linux Swap partition besides Linux OS partition? I am asking this question because I run out room on the Hard drive for swap partition. Also would Ubuntu 14.04 works on the Intel 7260 wireless-AC adaptor?

    I have a Lenovo ThinkPad T410 laptop running Windows 7 Pro 64 bit with legacy BIOS on motherboard and MBR partition on the 320GB HDD. There are 4 primary partitions on the hard drive already before Linux. They are System (1.17 GB NTFS), Windows7_OS (C:)(250GB NTFS, 189GB full), Lenovo_Recovery (9.77 GB NTFS), and FILES (30 GB NTFS, 25 GB full).

    The legacy MBR allows 4 primary partitions only. So where can I setup a partition for LINUX OS? Do I have to wipe out this last partition FILES to leave room for Linux? Or shrink this last FILES partition and split out a logic partition for Linux OS, but then what about Linux Swap partition?

    I have another Lenovo ThinkPad T540p running Windows 10 Pro 64 bit with UEFI boot on motherboard and GPT partition on the 240 GB SSD SATA-III. There are also 4 primary partitions already jus like the T410 setup. I guess I don't have worry about how many more primary partitions I can create on top the existing 4 because of the modern GPT. But do I have to turn off the "Secure Boot" and "Fast Boot" in the BIOS?

    Thanks,
    Joshua

  2. Rosika Schreck
    January 31, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Hello altogether,

    As far as the topic of Linux is concerned I have a question of a more general nature.

    I´ve got two computers, a PC and a laptop.
    The PC is a Lenovo H520e and the laptop is a medion Akoya E6222.

    The PC has WIN8.1 Home (64bit) and the laptop has WIN7 (64bit) as operating system.

    What I want to do is turn both the PC and the laptop into dual-boot systems.
    The second OS should be Linux Ubuntu, preferably 14.04LTS (64bit).

    My question now is:

    Could there be any danger or risk for the respective hardware when using a Linux-driven
    system on a PC/laptop that originally was sold with a pre-installed version of Microsoft´s operating-system?
    I mean is Linux alright for existing motherboard,RAM, fans etc?

    I just want to be on the safe side before applying any changes.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    Greetings
    Rosika

  3. MegaMan
    May 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    It's worth noting another way and maybe the easiest way to use / test Ubuntu providing you are not running windows 8 is Wubi
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/WubiGuide

    Also most installers now install along side windows, they will allow you to resize a partition to install to, else boot into a live CD/USB (unetbootin) and use gparted to resize your windows partition.

  4. Albin
    May 12, 2015 at 1:19 am

    You unfortunately don't mention that a hard drive (e.g. C: Drive) installation of Ubuntu, Mint, etc. not only creates an easily removed partition, it also installs the GRUB boot loader, which really is not a "friendly" thing to get rid of if the user eventually decides not to dual boot Linux. This is not a "stopper" but it is reason to be careful that you really really want Linux on the drive.

    I strongly suggest a long, serious trial run with a "persistent" Live USB install, which will not affect the C: Drive and will let the user test hardware compatibility, performance, and the look and feel of the Linux version risk free. "Persistence" lets the user save software installations and settings changes between reboots, in a special container. Ubuntu / Mint and other versions support it, and it makes serious on the road testing a reality. I suggest an 8gb thumb drive with half devoted to "persistence" and spending enough time to learn all you need to learn.

  5. Zap
    May 11, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Linux on a USB flash drive is faster, more secure, and less prone to crashing than Windows on HDD, and I have used both for many years, and can get a lot of Window's software to run on Linux, and Linux can also be easily replaced if something goes wrong. Windows is geared for average users and it does it's job great. Linux is geared for computer scientists, hackers, geeks and it does it's job great. But Linux is difficult for an average Windows user with no Linux experience, I became an average Windows user much quicker and easier than an average Linux user, that was some years ago. So in conclusion I really like Linux on USB flash
    drives and have many, but I'm not very fond of CD/DVD's, and HDD's.

  6. The Advocate
    May 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    WTF? The Title of the article had absolutely NOTHING to do with the content. This was like writing an article called "Why Coffee is amazing" and then writing 14 pages about 70's muscle cars.

    • Christian Cawley
      May 11, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Really? Why on earth has no one else pointed this out?

      Why don't you tell us what you were expecting, and we'll go from there, right?

  7. Nev
    May 9, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I dual boot windows with Linux mint but end up using mint 95% of the time

  8. Lévis
    May 8, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    The new Ubuntu Zorin OS 9 will let you just .....

  9. Michael Massey
    May 8, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Once a year I'd try Ubuntu or Mint and always ended up not able to print or some other major problem that I'd give up and go back to Windows. To my surprise when I tried the most recent version of Mint everything seamed to fall into place. Now my main computer and my laptop are running Mint. My media server will eventually be swapped over. I still use Win7 at work.

  10. Brad
    May 7, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    As an individual who only recently decided to "dip a toe" into the Linux world, I found that dual booting was quite easy and straight forward.... except that in the case of some OEMs there may not be an available partition space to use. In the case of my HP they already have 4 partitions set. This was the part that took the most research on my part. Which partition to delete? As it so happens, the boot partition is what you want to delete and then when you next reboot it will repair and add the boot loader to the C: partition. Of course, the caveat to that is that you can't delete the boot partition if you use Bitlocker. Just thought I would throw this out there.

  11. Suat ATAN
    May 7, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    As a veteran dualboot Windows and Ubuntu user i exhausted with conspiracy of Microsoft. After Windows 8 , MBR tool doesn't allow booting. so i can't use Ubuntu. I know there are some method but it difficult

  12. power manger
    May 7, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Windows it abominable. I don't understand why not everyone abandon Windows and switching to Linux.
    Linux and BSD systems are the best in the world and can easily replace Windows
    Make your life easy and comfortable to learn some new things in your life

    • PowerUser
      May 7, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Sorry but Linux as a desktop OS is nowhere near Windows in terms of features and support. Linux will make simple users life harder. Windows will always be better.

    • dragonmouth
      May 7, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      " Linux will make simple users life harder. "
      In what ways will it make life harder?

    • Hugo
      May 10, 2015 at 6:52 am

      "Why don't we use both?"

      (Cue Mexican music and cheering crowds)

    • dragonmouth
      May 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      @Hugo:
      PowerUser made a strong, declarative statement. I was wondering if he just trolling or could he substantiate it.

  13. kt
    May 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    I have Windows 7 on a 2tb hd and pclinuxos 64 kde on a 300 gig 10,000rpm hd. I set my bios to boot the linux hd 1st unless I decide I'm in the mood to wait a half hour to boot up some solitaire! Withe the low price of hd's these days, it's easier to just dedicate different os's to different hd's. It disables the use of RAID, but it's just easier.

  14. ELLEN
    May 7, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    MINT Is better than ubuntu

    • Luke Warm
      May 7, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      MINT as based on Ubuntu.

    • Richard Palmer
      May 12, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Depends what you want and what machine you're working with. I've tried both and am currently on Mint but only because Xubuntu software changes prevented pulse audio from working on my ACER laptop.

      Both refuse to handle switching graphics management between the ATI and integral Intel low power devices. Unfortunately I'm not a software engineer and so cannot fix this.

    • Richard Palmer
      May 12, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      A good option for trying a Linux OS in Live CD format is to use a software package such as Unetbootin to install the Linux ISO image you've downloaded onto a fast memory card or usb stick. You'll need to tweak the BIOS so the the machine will boot from the external memory card or usb stick but then just boot up and try the distro. This saves on DVD use (most Live Linux OSs are too voluminous to fit on a CD) and if your machine is fairly modern the external disk will transfer data pretty quickly giving a very pleasing system response time. Nothing is written to the Windows partitions by this method (unless you wish to save work files to your Windows "My Documents" partition space. Be careful with this unless you know what you're doing. Unless you wish to access files created under Linux when back working in Windows you can simply save the files on your external memory device.

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