Sunday, April 22, 2012

Installing Fedora 16 (Verne) dual-boot with Windows 7

Back in February I finally got around to installing Fedora 16 (Verne) as a dual-boot option on my Windows 7 home machine. I was helped considerably by an impressively detailed tutorial on How to dual-boot Fedora 15 and Windows 7 posted on the blog, which was invaluable for the tricky steps of partitioning and boot loader set up.

In this post I give an overview of what I did for my own dual-boot installation, with some hints and tips that I picked up in the process.

Preparation: back up the existing system

My first step was to make an image of the existing system on an external hard drive so that I could recover everything if the installation should fail for any reason. To do this I used Clonezilla Live, which can be burned onto a CD or other bootable media (I used the 1.2.12-10 AMD64 iso). I found the Clonezilla website quite difficult to navigate but there are very detailed usage instructions at, and while Clonezilla Live's menu-driven structure might feel a bit retro to those used to a slicker UI, the program itself turns out to be very easy to use.

Note that the size of the resulting image file (and hence the amount of space required on the external drive) depends on how much of the disk actually contains data, rather than the size of the disk or partition being imaged. So although the Windows partitions had been allocated the whole of my 1 TB hard drive, in this case only about 70 GB was in use and the corresponding image file was even smaller at around 45 GB.

Repartitioning: create space for the Fedora installation

Having created the image the next step was to free up some space by shrinking the size allocated to the Windows partitions (the LinuxBSDos dual-booting tutorial assumes there's already some free space available for the Fedora install). To do this I used GParted Live (version 0.11.0-10), a free partition editor that runs from bootable media and works with 64-bit systems. Launching the GParted application from the bootable CD is covered at and there is comprehensive documentation on how to use it (with screenshots) at However I think the user interface is pretty intuitive on its own. For my installation I reduced the Windows allocation down to 50% of the disk space, leaving around 500 GB of unallocated space.

Installing Fedora 16

I was now in a position to install Fedora into the free space. I downloaded and burned the Fedora 16 installable live media (aka Live Desktop CD) from (make sure you get the appropriate 32- or 64-bit version for your system), which also allows you to try out Fedora without installing (see my previous post on Fedora 15 and Gnome 3 user basics if you're unfamiliar with the Gnome 3 desktop).

Detailed information about the installation procedure can be found in the extensive Fedora 16 Installation Guide but in summary this is what I did:
  • Booted the system from the Fedora Live Desktop CD and started the installer via Activies/Applications/Install to Hard Drive.
  • Clicked through the installer screens and set up keyboard layout, computer name, network setup, computer name, and timezone etc (generally if you're installing a vanilla home desktop system then the default options should be okay) until I reached the Type of installation screen. Here I needed to tell the installer where to put Fedora:
    • Choose the Use Free Space option to use the unallocated disk space, and
    • Make sure the Review and modify partitioning layout option is checked.
    before clicking through to the next screen.
  • The next step was to modify the assigned logical volumes to my preferred layout (here the detailed instructions in the LinuxBSDos blog post were invaluable; I strongly recommend consulting them if you're unfamiliar with logical volumes and partitions). For my installation I changed the Fedora defaults to set up the following new partitions:
    • lv_root (/): 10 GB
    • lv_home:
      • /home: 75 GB
      • /boot: 500 MB
    • lv_swap: 16 GB
    Generally it's recommended to only use the space you need for the new installation and leave unused capacity unallocated; keeping /home separate from the root partition means that I can share user directories between multiple Linux installations in future; and the recommendation is that swap should be allocated around twice the size of the system RAM. However more elaborate partitioning schemes can be created, with various pros and cons - there's useful information on this in the Recommended Partitioning Scheme section of the Fedora documentation.
  • Having set up the partition layout, I then needed to change the location of the Fedora boot loader (GRUB) from the default of Master Boot Record to First sector of boot partition. The reason for this is that any changes that are made to the Master Boot Record (MBR) (such as installing GRUB) are liable to be overwritten by future Windows updates, so it's better to manage the boot options from within Windows after Fedora has been installed:
    • Click Change Device and select First sector of boot partition (I'd recommend verifying that the correct location is shown before clicking Next to complete the installation, and also making a note of the boot loader location for reference later).
At this point I was finished and the installation could complete, which was a relatively quick process (in my case it took around 5 minutes).

Configuring the Windows boot manager

Once the installation process had completed the computer rebooted directly into Windows, so to be able to access Fedora I needed to update the Windows boot manager: for this I used EasyBCD 2.1.2 (EasyBCD is a Windows bootloader editor freely available from NeoSmart Technologies) as recommended in the tutorial. Once installed in Windows I was able to add a new entry for Fedora 16:
  • Click on the Add New Entry tab
  • Select the Linux/BSD tab and select the partition that the GRUB boot loader was installed to (which I made a note of earlier)
  • Select Edit Boot Menu to view the change
Then restarting the system then gave me the option of booting either Windows or Fedora 16.

(Note that using this method, when Fedora 16 is selected you get the Linux GRUB boot loader rather than just booting directly into Linux; however it should be possible to configure GRUB to boot Fedora immediately.)

Post-installation Fedora set-up

Once Fedora 16 was booted for the first time, there were a few standard post-installation steps to complete: agreeing to the user license, setting up the date and time - usually I select the option to synchronise over the network - and creating a non-root user account. I also ran the Software Update application to pull in any updates (this also fixed the settings for my monitor, which initially weren't properly configured). It was then possible to start building up the software inventory and configuring the system to my personal preferences.

The final thing I did was to make donations to the Clonezilla, GParted and EasyBCD projects, as I would have been unable to set up my dual-boot system without them. It's also worth taking a moment to acknowledge the efforts of the Fedora community and the wider Linux community for making a complete operating system available and easy to install at no cost to the end user.

For my part I hope that this overview will be useful to someone else - and good luck with your own dual-booting installations.

No comments:

Post a Comment