Dual booting Windows 7 and Fedora 12 (or any other distro)

Lately some people I know have been upgrading their PCs to Windows 7, and have trouble with dual booting it alongwith Linux based operating systems. I looked around and found a way that works. The problem lies in the way Windows 7 creates partitions. If you set aside say, 32000 MB to install the OS, it’ll create two partitions: one small partition (< 100 MB) for the boot manager (I guess this is taken from /boot partition of Linux distros) and another one with 31900 MB where the actual files are copied (In most PCs this is C:). I tackled this problem in my own way:

1. Boot up the system from a live Linux CD.
2. Create an NTFS partition in which you will install Windows 7, with enough space.
3. Create ext3/4 partitions for /, /boot and /home as you wish.
4. Create a swap partition if needed.
5. Now install Windows, choosing the NTFS partition.
6. Then install Linux, the usual way.
7. GRUB will automatically detect Windows 7, and add it up to the boot menu.

That’s it, and you’ve got a nice (but not fully free) dual boot PC running.

Note: I tested this for installing Fedora 12 and Debian 5 alongside Windows 7, and both attempts were successful. It works for openSUSE 11.2 as well.

64 thoughts on “Dual booting Windows 7 and Fedora 12 (or any other distro)

  1. The problem many people face is that they’re being forced to use Windows. If this changes, there’ll be no need for this post. I wish that day arrives, and soon.

  2. Why not we just insert the windows cd first and through its partition manager create a ntfs partition and leave some disk space unpartitioned for fedora and continue installing windows and then after finishing with windows install fedora?

    1. If you create a single NTFS partition while installing Windows 7, what it does is, allocate a small partition for boot manager and the remaining for the main OS files. So it does things of its own which it shouldn’t and that’s why I don’t use Windows 🙂

      1. If I install a Linux distribution, it will install load of unneeded and unwanted software that I have to manually remove after the installation. Even Linux does things on its own and people are just idiots.

      2. No software is ever perfect. But you can create and use a custom kickstart file to install only the minimal software you want. Almost all GNU/Linux distros have packages most used by the largest number of users, and if you don’t want any, you can mark it during the setup procedure. This customization is rarely possible in other proprietary operating systems. And oh, did I tell that you can create a distro on your own that has all software that you fancy, and none that you don’t need?

    1. You can create it as primary or extended, it doesn’t matter. I use primary partitions though, since my laptop runs into troubles with LVM and extended partitions.

  3. that good way to go. . but here I am already install windows 7 and will install fedora. i have create 10GB partition for fedora, please send me a grub for dual boot. thanks

    1. There’s no need to edit the grub menu. Pretty much all current distros detect the presence of another OS and add it to the grub menu. You might want to test out chainloader values in some cases.

  4. i ve already installed window 7 and vista on my system with 320 gb hd and 2 gb ram, can i install fedora 12 on my system without lossing windows

    1. It is easy to create a dual boot, and sorry, don’t spread malware and software piracy(keygens). Stop software piracy, adopt free software.

  5. Hi,
    I would like to know if someone would like to help me ( I’m a dummie 😦 ) explaining me exactly what I have to do for dual booting win 7 and a Linux distribution.

    I’m not sure that this is the right place so if I did a mistake i’m really sorry.
    I’m sorry also for my bad english

    1st problem my pc is an HTC shift which has just one USB port without any cd reader and at the moment I can’t buy an external one.
    I’ve tried using the software unetbootin from windows to burn my iso to a USB memory but the only 2 distributions that works with my pc are the debian netinstall and ubuntu 8.04.
    Ubuntu’s net installer doesn’t work with my pc because the installers tells me that can’t find any
    When I’ve tried the fedora 12 netinstall a window which told me that the installer wasn’t able to find the image of the installation appeared.
    Well I decided to try to install Linux debian 5.0 and i followed with the netinstall. When I was installing linux my pc already had the NTFS partitions for win (windows was already installed) and an unlocated space.With the debian installer i used this free space to create an ext3 partition / and with about 100 mb i did a swap partiton.Then i’ve decided to install GRUB on the ext3 partiton to leave the MBR as windows wrote it .When all finished and i rebooted the system and the only thing that i was able to see was a windows’s window which displayed an error.So i thought to use the super grub disk USB that i had to try to restore something.I wasn’t able to start windows .The only think i was able to do was to boot using the option: boot from the first hard disk second partiton.In this way I was able to select to boot debian or windows longhorn (i’m not sure it was written in this way) from the GRUB recently installed. Debian worked… i was able to boot it and to login… but i wasn’t able to boot windows from the grub.So i tried to use my USB memory with windows installation to repait the windows error but windows installer couldn’t find a solution.

    The truth is that i’ve no idea of what to do and my knowledge is to restricted to understand many posts on the net…I even don’t know how does an unix system works also if i’ve read something about this.

    Please If some one wants to help me i wolud be pleased

    1. An easy way is to get an ISO of the DVD image, then copy it onto a USB flash storage device.


  6. When setting up a triple boot with XP, Fedora 12, and Windows 7 on three separate hard drives, should I install XP or Fedora first?

    1. Install XP first, since all Linux distros detect Windows and update the bootloader configuration accordingly. Install Fedora after installing both versions of Windows.

  7. This worked for me. My main OS Windows 7.
    However, I went through all Fedora installation process that created partitions “/boot” and “/”. After that I installed Windows 7. It is important that you delete all partitions except “/boot” before installing Windows 7.
    Then during Fedora 12 installation you need to delete all logical/virtual volumes (which are probably created by Windows installation process), re-assign “/boot” to remaining “/boot” partion and create “/” and other linux partitions. Fedora will recognise Windows 7 and include it into boot loader.
    When in Windows 7 disk manager you can create another partition for disk “D:” of the remaining disk space.
    It is also my experience that Fedora 12 LiveCD doesn’t install 64bit version, so you need to download full installation dvd image.

  8. I also had this problem but i worked much to solve this after installation of Fedora I can not load my Windows 7 at last I found in fedora system ==> administration
    ==> bootloader there I selected default boot loader other and after that everything
    is OK.

  9. this is good info. can you give more details?
    I have win 7 in a 40gb HD and another HD is of 280GB. No other partitions are there. It has 4 Gb RAM.

    How to install fedora 13 on it ?
    Would I be needing more partitions ? if yes how to create them ?

    1. Yes you need to create partitions for Fedora 13. You can create partitions using the installer. Select the 280 GB hard disk to install the OS, and it’ll take care of the partitioning. I would suggest disconnecting the 40 GB hard disk before installing. You can add the GRUB entries later, after installation.

      1. its a laptop PC . How can I disconnect the 40 GB HD ?
        I hope i will not screw win7 after this .

  10. Hi salvassn,

    thnx for the blog.

    can you tell me the procedure step by step as m new to install the OS like windows 7 and fedora as well.

    1. Hi Rajpal, Glad you liked the blog.

      You’ll need a Live CD to accomplish that (if you’re following this post). A simpler way is to install Windows 7 normally first. Then while installing Fedora, choose to install the bootloader on the partition itself and not on the MBR:

      Select /dev/sda2 or /dev/sda3 rather than /dev/sda

      Then install EasyBCD in Windows 7. It’ll detect the presence of other operating systems and add it to your boot menu.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  11. hello salvassn,
    how r u?
    i just want to know that can i install windows 7 after already installing fedora 12 on my 40 gb partition of 250 gb hard disk,with 206 gbs left over?????

    1. Hi abhishek, I’m doing great. Yes, you can install Windows 7. Once you install that, you can use EasyBCD from http://neosmart.net/dl.php?id=1 and install it to manage the boot menu. Or you can boot into recovery mode from Fedora DVD and restore GRUB 🙂

    2. u may install fedora 12 ur any other open source os without losing ur window via virtualbox or vmware .
      use it and feel d difference .

  12. Hi,

    I was wondering if you can help me with this or point me in the right direction.

    I installed windows 7 first on SDA. Then installed Fedora 13 on SDB.

    Grub didn’t seem to pick it up.

    Now I can switch between the two OS’ if I change the boot order, but that’s about it.

    Any ideas?

  13. instead of fedora or debian use ubuntu, the ubuntu os works fine with the traditional way we are installing ie first windows then linux

  14. Hi, i just picked up a subject system programming and i have to install Fedora 12. My laptop HP pavilion DV6-12345 has 7 installed. when i try to boot from Fedora DVD it gives me options like
    1.Install or upgrade an exixting system
    2.Install system with basic video driver
    3.Rescue installed system
    4.Boot from local drive

    1 and 2 i have tried but it stops in DOS kind of mode giving error like…
    DMAR: No ATSR found
    DRHD:handling fault status reg f0001ffb
    Kernel panic – not syncing : DMAR hardware is malfunctining

    I dont know about unix,lunix kind of stuff and its my 1st time plz help or i’ll be way behind of my schedule…

    GOD my mind is being made that lunix is so difficult.

    1. I have noted this issue with several laptops myself, and haven’t found a solution so far. But you can install Fedora on a virtual machine using VirtualBox in such circumstances. The performance won’t be as snappy as on a real PC, but I recommend you allocate 20 or more gigabytes of storage and more than a gigabyte of memory for this machine. And all the best for your course too 🙂

      1. I think i have found my mistake. my architecture is x86_x64 while i was trying to boot from i386 based image.well now i m downloading a x86_x64 based image….Could this be a possible solution?

  15. I think i have found my mistake. my architecture is x86_x64 while i was trying to boot from i386 based image.well now i m downloading a x86_x64 based image….Could this be a possible solution?

    1. It doesn’t really matter. i386 should and will run on both i386 and x86_64 architectures, but the reverse is not true. Anyway, try your luck and post back the result. Good luck!

      1. Well it was a success. and now i have to do the partitions. well actually i m thinking (as u suggested) to make partions using fedora then installing 7 and then fedora.
        Processor and Architecture Types
        Processor Manufacturer and Model: Intel (except Atom 230, Atom 330, Core 2 Duo, Centrino Core 2
        Duo, or Xeon), AMD (except 64 or x2 dual-core), VIA C4, Apple MacBook Pro
        Architecture Type for Fedora: i386
        Processor Manufacturer and Model: Intel Atom 230, Atom 330, Core 2 Duo, Centrino Core 2 Duo, and
        Xeon; AMD Athlon64/x2, Sempron64/x2, Duron64
        Architecture Type for Fedora: x86_64
        Processor Manufacturer and Model: Apple Macintosh G3, G4, G5, PowerBook, and other non-Intel
        Architecture Type for Fedora: ppc
        my current drive is 465GB. so i wana install 7 in First 400 Gb and Fedora in last 65Gb.
        Guide me if i m wrong….
        first i have to create a non-LVM drive of 400Gb,forcing it to be primary partation(using ext2,ext3 or ext4 methods) and then LVM of 65Gb within which i have to specify a boot partition,partation for fedora and a swap partation.

        My questions:
        1.wat are “ext” which version of ext will be detected by windows 7?
        2.The boot partition should be created within the LVM (in this case 7 will not detect it) or out of the LVM(in this case the 400Gb for 7 can be used as boot partation)!!!!
        3.what are mount point and where they should be used?

        Guide me

  16. Well no ext methods are being detected by the windows. too much downloading i have done so dont wana dowload live cd. is there anyother method to make Custom NTFS partions. obviously win 7 will create that silly 100Mb.so!!!!!!!!

  17. I did it…..yessssssss
    I did the partitions as u said and left the 400 GB untouched. Loaded 7, it didn’t recognized the other drives but except that untouched 400GB. i simply created a new drive of all that GB and guess what? it didn’t ask for that silly 100MB. well installed 7, and then fedora and i got a dual boot system.
    Thanks…..your blog realy helped….atleast it made me to try myself.

    1. Great work Sajjad. I was away at work today, so didn’t check the comments. Good to know you tried and succeeded 🙂

    1. Yes, you need to create an NTFS partition of sufficient size before installing Windows 7. That makes dual booting an easier process 🙂

  18. Hello,
    I would like to know how to split the disk in the first step within Live CD.
    Should I use “fdisk”?

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