We will explain how to install GNU / Linux together with Windows 10 on a computer so that you can choose to use any of the two operating systems. The process of installing any distro erasing the other system that is on the computer is the same as we said when we explained how to install Linux on your old computer, and now it’s time to do the same but without sacrificing Windows so you can also use it occasionally when you need it. In this article, we will discuss the distributions you can choose from, and we will explain the process of creating a bootable USB to install it and installing it together with Windows 10. We will explain it so that both systems share the same hard drive, so you’ll also have to make some modifications to free up space on the hard drive where you have Windows.
Surely, if you have never installed GNU / Linux you can be intimidated by how extensive this tutorial is today. Do not be scared by the length of the text, since my intention has been to explain it as thoroughly as possible so that it is very clear. Actually, as you’ll see later, it’s a simpler process than it seems you’ll master right away. If you are an expert in GNU / Linux, possibly all these processes you know them by heart. But as we are in Engadget Basics, my intention is that those people who have never ventured to do something similar or have touched Linux can do so without problems. We will mention the two available methods, both the direct option of Install next to Windows and the partitioning of the hard disk to optimize the new distribution.
First, you have to choose a distribution
The first step you have to take before you start is to choose which distro you are going to use. Distros are the distributions that are created from GNU / Linux, which is the heart of all of them. Saving the huge differences, and to be clear, it is as if they were different operating systems, but all of them sharing practically the same base on which other elements such as the desktop environment or file systems add. Unlike the article in which we explain how to install Linux on an old computer, in this case, we will not put any restriction on the age or power of the PC. This means that starting from a modern computer, you will be able to use the distribution you want. In Xataka Basics we have already listed the main distributions of Linux so you have nowhere to start.
When power is not a factor to decide, there are other aspects that you can take into account. One is the type of desktop, which will give the distro one appearance or another. However, considering that some distributions have different versions with several desktop environments, it is not such a decisive factor to make you choose one or the other. Taking into account that we are in Engadget Basics, the most obvious factor is the support and ease of use. You have distributions like Arch Linux that are very modular and versatile, but that requires quite advanced knowledge. Distros like Manjaro take that same base and try to bring it closer to a user with less knowledge, but it can still be a bit complicated, and when looking for help you can find many technicalities that will cost you understand.
At the other end of the scale, we have distributions like Linux Mint or Ubuntu, which are based on another called Debian. These two distributions are focused on a first-time audience, so they are ideal for taking the first steps. In addition, by sharing the same base they have a common catalog of applications, and the solutions of the problems for one can serve many times for the other. To this, we must add that they are two of the most popular distros that exist, which means that there are hundreds of blogs, forums, and communities created around them where you can find help when you encounter some problems. For this reason, it is going to be one of them that we choose in this article.
Another aspect that you have to take into account are the bits of the operating system, which have to be the same as those of your computer’s CPU. In the Windows 10 configuration, you can see the bits of your CPU. If you have 64 there is no problem, it is a modern CPU and all the distros have versions for it, but if you have 32 bits you will have to look for a distro that still has a version for such old computers. In the end, I opted to use Ubuntu because it is perhaps the best known and one of the most thrust they are giving out of the purely Linux sector. However, its interface is not so similar to Windows, so if you want a more familiar experience you may be more convinced by Linux Mint or variants such as Kubuntu. On the other hand, if you want a distro more similar to the macOS interface, elementary would be one of the clearest options.
Do you need to deactivate Secure Boot?
One factor you should keep in mind when choosing distribution is whether it can work with the Windows Secure Boot boot protection. It is a protection that makes sure that no strange applications are executed before starting Windows, and that it can block the start of some Linux distros. Distros like Ubuntu are already adapted to work with this protection, but if you are going to use another one, you should look in your documentation if you are prepared for it. In case you want to use a distribution that is not prepared for Secure Boot, in this article we explain how to deactivate it from the UEFI. Of course, keep in mind that the decision to allow deactivating the mode depends on the manufacturers, so it is possible that there are cases and computers where you can not do it directly.
Before you start, make room for Linux
For this tutorial, I am using a computer with the boot mode LEGACY in which I have done a clean installation of Windows 10. Therefore, the first step will be to make room for the new tenant inside the hard disk by modifying the partition in which it is installed the Microsoft operating system. To perform this process, enter the Create and format partitions of the hard drive application that you will see when writing “partitions” in the start menu.
Once you open the disk manager, right click on the C: drive or the secondary hard drive where you are going to install the Linux distro(1). It will open a menu with several options on things you can do with the unit, and in it, you must click on the option Reduce volume (2). With this option, you can reduce the partition of that hard drive and leave free space to create others in which to host your Linux distro. The process is that simple because usually on the disk you will have a single partition. In case you want to install the GNU / Linux distro on an already partitioned hard drive, you will have to choose the partition you want to reduce at the bottom to free up space and choose the option to reduce volume.
A screen will open where you have to choose when you want to free space from the hard drive partition. The only thing you have (and can) to write is the size of the MB space in which you want to reduce the partition, which will be the same space that you release. Above the figure, you will see the available space, and below the space that will remain for Windows once you have made the reduction. Once the amount has been decided, press the Reduce button. After making the changes, the Disk Management application will show you on the hard drive where you have made a black space called Unassigned. This space has the size that you have set before, and it is a memory of the hard disk that is not partitioned. This is the memory that we will use later to install the Linux distro.
Prepare your bootable USB
We now turn to prepare the USB boot with which to install the distro you have chosen. The first step will be to download the ISO file that you will later mount on the USB. In the case of Ubuntu, which is the one we are going to use, go to its download page and download the version you need. You’ll see two versions, both 64-bit, the LTS and the latest release. The LTS versions are long maintenance, with less news but more stable, so I think it is the best to install if you are new. As for the ISO files, as we already explained in depth, they are the format used to store an exact copy of a file system of an optical unit. It is like having what is inside a CD or a DVD, so you can make copies of the operating system or what is in both other DVDs and a USB.
Once you have the ISO image, you have to download the application with which to create the USB boot. You have many among which you can choose, although we have opted for Rufus for taking time being the great reference in this field. Therefore, go to the official Rufus website, and in the Downloads section, click on the latest version to download it
Once it has been downloaded, double click on the Rufus application. You will not need to install anything since it will start automatically. Now, connect to the computer the USB you want to use, and check that the USB appears in the field Device (1) that you have at the top. Now click on the option Select (2) to choose the ISO image with which you want to create the USB boot. When you click on Select, a file browser will open. In it, you have to search and select the the.ISO file of the distro that you have downloaded, and press the Open button so that it is selected in Rufus. Once you have selected the ISO file, the rest of the default options are the correct ones for practically any case or computer. Therefore, unless you have advanced knowledge and want to change something by the specific specifications of your computer, leaving everything as is and pressing the Start button is enough to create your USB.
When you click Start, Rufus will issue a warning telling you that the version of the syslinux bootloader that it uses is older than the one requested by the ISO. So you must press the Yes button for Rufus to connect to the Internet and automatically download the version you need.
Install Linux with Windows 10
Once you have it ready, you have to boot the computer from the USB. To do this, put the USB into a slot and then turn on the computer by pressing immediately the key that runs the drive selector for the boot. In general, this should be F12, but depending on the BIOS and the PC they can be others such as F1, F8, F9, F10, TAB or ESC. When you see the menu, select the USB boot drive and press Enter to boot the computer through it.
Ubuntu next to Windows configuring partitions
Although this other method is dispensable if you directly choose the option to install next to Windows, you will also be able to make more personalized customization. To do this, select the More options box. With this mode, you can manually create the partitions in which Ubuntu is installed or another distribution, something a little more complete but that will help you optimize the performance of the distro. There are several configurations of partitions that you can perform depending on the use that you are going to give the PC, but we are going to teach you how to make one of the classic ones with three partitions. One will be the root partition to host the essential files of the distro. The other will be the swap area, which will save the temporary files on the hard drive when all the RAM is occupied. And then there will be the Home partition to store your personal files.
Having separated the / home directory in a different partition helps a better physical organization of your data on the disk, and makes it easier to format one of them without touching the other. In this way, for example, you can reinstall GNU / Linux distributions on your computer without needing to move your data and settings, and you can even have several distros on the same computer sharing the same user data. And once you have taken these last two steps, the distribution you have chosen will begin to be installed next to Windows 10. If everything went well, the next time you turn on the computer a screen will appear in which you can choose which operating system to start, that will allow you to use without problems both Windows and Ubuntu or another distro that you have chosen.