Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dual booting Debian Wheezy and Windows 7

My ASUS CM6870 desktop computer came pre-installed with Windows 7. The following outlines the steps to set up dual boot of Debian Wheezy and Windows 7.

  1. Re-partition your hard drive.

    Initially, Windows takes up the entire hard drive. Two 'letter' drives were allocated on this disk: C, and D. The C: drive holds the Windows system with plenty of unused space. The D: drive stores user data, and is practically empty.

    Before installing Linux, you need to re-partition the hard drive to allocate space to Linux.

    I used the native Windows 7 Disk Manager for the task. Specifically, I shrunk the C: drive and deleted the D: drive entirely. Be sure that you leave enough unused space in the C: drive to hold future user data.

  2. Create Debian install media.
    • Download the install ISO image from the Debian web site. I chose the Live install ISO.
    • Burn the ISO onto a CD or DVD.

      If you are going to dual boot with Windows 7, don't copy the iso onto the USB stick. The Debian installer running from the USB stick boots in EFI mode. Your Windows 7 system was most likely installed in BIOS mode. As a result, the Debian installer may not detect the Windows 7 partitions. You may not be able to boot into Windows 7 if you run the Linux installer from the USB stick.

  3. Insert Live CD/DVD and reboot.
  4. In the boot menu, select Graphical Install, and follow the on-screen instructions.
  5. At the Partition Disks step, select Manual.

    To preserve the existing Windows partitions, manually configure the disk.

  6. While installing the GRUB bootloader, the installer will detect other operating systems residing on the hard disk.

    In this case, it does detect a Windows operating system: Vista (rather than Windows 7). That is 'normal' for Windows 7. Click Continue.

  7. Continue with the instructions on the screen until you finish the installation.

The next time you reboot the computer, the bootloader will display a menu which includes Windows 7 as well as Debian Wheezy.


Anonymous said...


David said...

Thanks for saying it could be done. I tried this on a couple Win7 laptops with a just-shrunk "C:" partition, ran into a problem where "scanning partitions" paused forever at about 50% ("Debian Squeeze installation freezes at partitio"), solved it by manualy repartitioning at the command-line and edting ".../partman-base.postinst" as suggested in unclouded's comment dated 2012-12-10 07:58 there.