Windows 11 and Ubuntu in dual-boot

How to dual-boot Linux and Windows (2024)

You can run Linux alongside Windows on the same computer with a dual-boot setup, and here's how.

UPDATED 5/9/2024: Although you can now install different Linux distros through WSL or virtual machine on Windows 11 (and 10), including Ubuntu, Mint, Kali, and Fedora, sometimes you may still need to use the full-blown version of Linux to access the full hardware capabilities for the best experience and performance.

If you don’t have a spare computer to install a full version of Linux, you can modify your current installation to run a Linux distro alongside Windows on a dual-boot setup. I’ll outline the steps to dual-boot Windows 11 and Linux using Ubuntu because it’s among the most popular distros, but you can refer to these instructions for almost any distro you want to use or if you’re using Windows 10.

Finally, it’s possible to set up a dual-boot Windows 11 with BitLocker enabled, but you must disable encryption before proceeding with the configuration. You can turn BitLocker on again after installing Linux.

In this guide, I will explain the steps to create a dual-boot system with Windows and Linux. You can also set up a dual-boot system with two different versions of Windows.

Dual-boot Windows 11 and Linux (Ubuntu)

Warning: It’s important to note that even though it’s safe to use this process to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 11, creating a full backup of your computer before proceeding in case you need to roll back is still recommended.

Step 1: Shrink Windows partition

Although the Ubuntu setup includes an option to install alongside Windows 11 (or 10), sometimes it may not work as expected. Instead, it’s recommended to shrink the Windows partition to make room for the Ubuntu installation before proceeding and use the manual setup during installation.

You can also use a secondary (internal) drive instead of changing the setup partition. This way, you can separate each operating system on a different physical drive without having to modify an existing partition.

If you have a device without an operating system, use these instructions to perform a clean install of Windows 11 (or Windows 10 with these steps), and then continue with the instructions below.

To shrink a partition on Windows 11 with Disk Management, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Create and format hard disk partitions and click the top result to open the Disk Management console.

  3. Right-click the drive you want to change its partition size and select the Shrink Volume option.

    Disk Management shrink volume

  4. Confirm the amount of space to shrink the partition (in megabytes). 

    Change partition size

    Quick note: Ubuntu (and most distros) requires at least 25GB of available space.
  5. Click the Shrink button.

Once you complete the steps, you’ll end up with a small partition and some unallocated space to install Ubuntu. You can also use other methods to change the size of the partition on Windows 11.

Step 2: Create Linux bootable media

You’ll also need to download the Linux ISO file containing the latest version of Ubuntu, which you can use to create a bootable media. You can download Linux Mint from the official site, Fedora can be downloaded here, and Kail Linux from this site.

On Windows, the easiest way to create a USB bootable drive with Linux files that will boot on BIOS or UEFI is by using the Rufus tool.

To create a bootable Linux USB media, use these steps:

  1. Open Rufus page.

  2. Click the Download option for the latest version.

  3. Save the file onto your computer.

  4. Double-click the .exe file to launch the tool.

  5. On “Device,” use the drop-down menu and select the USB flash drive.

  6. Click the Select button.

    Rufus create Linux USB

  7. Choose the Linux ISO file (in this case, Ubuntu).

  8. Click the Open button.

  9. Choose the MBR option in the “Partition scheme” setting.

  10. Choose the BIOS or UEFI option in the “Target system” setting.

  11. On “File System,” select FAT32.

  12. (Optional) Confirm a name for the drive in the “Volume label” setting.

  13. Choose the FAT32 option in the “File system” setting.

  14. Continue with the default settings as they are.

  15. Click the Start button.

  16. Choose the “Write in ISO image mode” option (if applicable).

    Write in ISO image mode

  17. Click the OK button.

  18. Click the Yes button (if applicable).

  19. Click the OK button.

After completing the steps, you can proceed with the steps below to create a dual-boot system with Ubuntu and Windows 11.

Alternatively, you can use the Ventoy utility to make any installation media bootable by dragging and dropping the ISO file into a USB drive.

Step 3: Dual-boot Windows 11 and Linux

Once you have shrunk the Windows 11 (or 10) setup partition and created the Linux bootable drive, you can proceed with the dual-boot setup.

To dual-boot Windows 11 and Linux, use these steps:

  1. Restart your computer with a Linux USB bootable media.

    Quick Tip: If your computer is not starting into the Ubuntu (Fedora, Kali, or Mint) setup, you may need to access the system BIOS to change the boot settings to start from USB. Typically, you can change these settings by pressing one of the functions (for example, F2, F8, F12), Delete, or ESC key. However, check your computer manufacturer’s support website for more details.
  2. Select the “Try or Install Ubuntu” option and press Enter to continue.

    Grub Ubuntu Linux

  3. Choose your language.

    Linux install language settings

  4. Click the Continue button.

  5. Continue selecting your accessibility preferences.

    Linux install accessibility settings

    Quick note: You can configure visual, hearing, typing, and input settings.
  6. Click the Next button.

  7. Choose your keyboard layout.

    Linux install keyboard layout

  8. Click the Next button.

  9. Select your network connection.

    Linux install network connection

  10. Click the Next button.

  11. Select the Install Ubuntu option.

    Linux install option

  12. Click the Next button.

  13. Choose the Interactive installation.

    Linux Interactive installation

  14. Click the Next button.

  15. Choose the Default selection option.

    Linux install default selection

    Quick tip: The “Default selection” option sets up a leaner installation of the operating system with only the essential utilities. You can then use the App Center app to add more apps. The “Extended selection” adds more tools that are typically useful for offline situations.
  16. Check the “Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware” option.

    Linux setup driver installation

  17. Check the “Download and install support for additional media formats” option.

  18. Click the Next button.

  19. Choose the “Install Ubuntu alongside Windows Boot Manager” option.

    Linux setup dual-boot option

  20. Click the Next button.

  21. Create a local Linux account.

    Linux setup create local account

    Quick note: In this section, do not try to use the “root” username and choose the name for your computer.
  22. Click the Next button.

  23. Change your timezone (if applicable).

    Linux setup timezone setting

  24. Click the Next button.

  25. Click the Install button.

    Linux dual-boot install

  26. Click the Restart now button.

Once you complete the steps, Linux will install on your device alongside Windows 11 (or 10).

If you plan to test this setup with VMware Workstation Pro, consider that Ubuntu 24.04 is not officially supported and may encounter issues. For instance, I encountered graphics and networking problems while writing this guide. If this is your case, you may be able to mitigate the graphics issues by disabling the 3D graphics and the auto-adjust interface features. If the problem is the network, you must install the drivers manually.

When the time comes, you can use these instructions to safely uninstall Linux from the dual-boot system.

Update May 9, 2024: This guide has been updated to ensure accuracy and reflect changes to the process.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].