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When it comes to dual booting, the general notion is that you start with a Windows system and then install Linux on top. You choose whether you want to boot into Windows or Linux during the boot process.
What if you were in the opposite situation? What if you have a PC with only Linux installed and you want to dual boot Windows and Linux?
In this guide, I will teach you how to install Windows after dual boot with Ubuntu Linux.
Dual-boot Windows on an existing Ubuntu Linux system
I tested this tutorial on an Ubuntu system with UEFI and GPT partitioning scheme. In theory, the same steps should apply to most, if not all, Linux distributions.
Here is everything you need to carry out the procedure safely and easily:
- A Windows 10 bootable USB stick (USB key, Pen Drive) of at least 8 GB in size
- A live Ubuntu USB stick (USB key, Pen Drive) of at least 4 GB in size
- A computer with UEFI boot and only Ubuntu Linux installed on it
- Internet connection is required to create the live Windows and Linux boot disk
- One way to backup your important data to external drive (optional but recommended)
You can also manage this tutorial with a single USB key. Create the live Linux USB first, create the partition for Windows using this Live Linux USB, and then use the same USB key as a bootable Windows USB.
I recommend that you read the entire tutorial before starting to follow the steps.
Step 0: backup important data
Here’s the thing. You are going to play with the disk partitions and the boot configuration. If you screw it up, you will lose your data.
Having a backup on an external drive will provide you with a safety net. In the worst case, if things go wrong, you can install Windows or Linux and copy the data to your system.
How is a backup made? The simplest method is to have an external USB drive or SSD and copy files from Documents, Music, Pictures and other folders where you have saved your files.
Step 1: create a Windows bootable USB
If you have access to a Windows system, you can follow the instructions on the Microsoft website to create a Windows bootable media.
If you only have a Linux system, creating a Windows bootable USB could be tricky. Fortunately, a handy open source tool called Ventoy helps a lot in this case.
Connect your USB with at least 8GB in size and format it. Now, download the Microsoft Windows ISO.
Next, download the latest version of Ventoy. Extract the folder and run the VentoyWeb.sh script with sudo. It will give you the URL when you run it. Copy this URL and paste it into a browser.
It will open a web page with Ventoy running on it. Go to the UEFI installation and hit the install button.
Once installed, you will see two partitions on the USB drive: VTOYEFI and Ventoy. You need to copy the downloaded Windows ISO image to the Ventoy partition.
Once the copy is finished, DON’T BE IN HURRY to disconnect the USB yet. Click the unmount option from the file manager.
Well. So now that you have a Windows bootable USB, it will be a good idea to give it a try and see if it works.
How do you do that? Plug in Windows USB, reboot your system. When the system turns on again and displays your system manufacturer’s logo, press the F2 / F10 / F12 keys to enter BIOS setup.
When in BIOS, choose to boot from USB. In some cases, you may need to disable Secure Boot from BIOS setup.
If the creation of the Windows bootable USB was successful, you should see the Ventoy screen and select to boot into Win10.
After this, you will see a screen about installing Windows. Don’t go with the installation part yet. Close it and shut down your system and then start Linux again.
This verification was necessary because you need to have a working Windows bootable USB. Without that, there will be no point in following the rest of the tutorial.
Remove the bootable USB from Windows at this stage.
Step 2: Create a live Ubuntu Linux USB
You might be wondering why you need a live Ubuntu USB here when you already have Linux properly installed.
The reason is that you need to modify the existing partition and make some free space where you will install Windows. But you cannot modify an already mounted partition on Linux. When you use Linux, your disk is mounted. You will not be able to modify it and create a new partition on it.
This is why you need a live Linux USB. Boot from the live USB and create the necessary partition on the disk from the live session.
Now that you know why, let’s move on to creating a live Ubuntu USB. First, download the Ubuntu ISO image from its website. Any version of Ubuntu will work.
Now, connect the USB with at least 4GB in size.
In Ubuntu, you can find the Startup Disk Creator tool. You can also use Etcher on Linux. The choice is yours. Here, I will use Startup Disk Creator.
The process is really simple. Your connected USB should be recognized. It should automatically find the Ubuntu ISO as well. If not, you can always search for it. With that set, just hit the “Create Bootable Disc” button.
It should take a few minutes to create the live Ubuntu USB. You can hit the Let button below.
Step 3: Boot from a live USB and free up space for Windows
Well. Now boot from the USB Linux live.
Restart the system. When it turns on and displays the manufacturer’s logo, press the F2 / F10 / F12 keys to access BIOS setup. Here, go to the boot order and boot from the Linux USB.
When you see this screen, go to Test Ubuntu.
Now that you are in the live session, open the Disco app. Is already installed.
In the Disks application, carefully select your computer’s primary hard drive / SSD. This is where you have Linux installed. As you can see in the image below, I have an ESP partition (for UEFI boot configuration) and a single Linux partition. This is the partition that needs to be resized to free up space for Windows.
If you have a boot, swap, and root partition configuration, you must resize the boot partition.
On resizing, it will show a minimum size. You cannot shrink the disk below this point. Of course, it will leave some extra space for Linux use.
Note that the “partition size” is for the Linux partition. In the image below, I shrunk the Linux partition to 120GB from 256GB. This gives you 136GB of free space for Windows installation.
When you press the resize button, it may take up to a couple of minutes to complete the resize process.
As you can see from the image below, I now have three partitions on my system. One is 500MB ESP partition (for UEFI boot), 120GB Ext4 partition for Linux, and 136GB free space.
You now have dedicated free space where you are going to place Windows. Turn off your system now.
Step 4: Boot from Windows USB and start installing Windows
Plug in your bootable Windows UBS. Once again, reboot your system, access BIOS setup, and boot from USB. By now, you know how to do this. You already did this in step 1 while checking the Windows bootable USB.
You should see the Ventoy screen if you created the Windows bootable USB with it. Hit Enter.
You should see the Windows logo. After a few seconds, you will see the option to choose the language, time, and keyboard.
The next screen will give you the option to start the installation. Click “Install Now”.
On the next screens, it will ask for the Windows license key. If you don’t have it, skip it. You can also activate Windows later. You will be prompted to choose a version of Windows and accept the end user license.
On the next screen, go with the custom installation option.
You will now reach the partition screen. Select the free space (unallocated space) that you created in step 3 and press the Next button.
It will take a couple of minutes to copy the files and install Windows.
After that, your system will reboot automatically and this time it will directly boot into Windows.
Windows installation is not complete. On the next boot you will be prompted to configure Windows for use and this is very annoying but very easy to follow.
I’m not going to detail this part because I know you can handle the setup part, which is waiting and pressing the next button most of the time. However, I am sharing some screenshots for reference only.
Once you have successfully installed Windows, it will likely start Windows by default. You need to get Grub dual boot screen back.
Step 5: recover the Grub bootloader
Once again, reboot your system and when it turns on, go to BIOS setup. From the boot sequence or boot order, move Ubuntu up the order. You may have to use the arrow keys or F5 or F6 and the screen may look different for a different system.
Save and exit and this time you should be booting into Ubuntu. The battle is not over yet. The grub bootloader may not be aware of the presence of Windows. So it is a good idea to update grub on Ubuntu.
All you have to do is open a terminal and use the following command:
Restart your system one more time. You should be greeted with the familiar grub home screen giving you the option to choose between starting into Ubuntu and Windows.
And that brings us to the end of this long journey. It takes some time and effort, but if you want to install Windows after installing Ubuntu, surely you can.
If you still have questions let me know in the comment section and I will try to answer you.
Final remarks: How to get Windows After Ubuntu Linux in Dual Boot
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