How to dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows 10

Although on Windows 10, you can now install different Linux distros, including Ubuntu, SUSE, and Fedora, sometimes you may be still required to use the full-blown version of Linux to access a particular tool that you need to get the work done.

If you don’t have a spare computer to install a full version of Linux, you can alternatively modify your current installation to run Ubuntu alongside Windows 10 on a dual-boot setup. Also, since Ubuntu Linux has been improving significantly over the years, their installation has gotten easier as well.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to create a dual-boot system with Windows 10 and Ubuntu 17.04.

How to shrink Windows 10 partition to install Ubuntu

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

Warning: It’s important to note that even though it’s safe to use this process to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10, it’s still recommended to create a full backup of your computer before proceeding in case you need to rollback.
  1. Open Start.

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

  3. Right-click the (C:) partition, and select Shrink Volume.

    Shrink volume on Windows 10

  4. Select the amount of space to shrink in megabytes. (Ubuntu requires 5GB of available space for the installation, but it’s recommended to select at least 10GB or more.)

  5. Click Shrink.

    Disk Management Shrink Volume settings

Once you’ve completed the steps, you’ll end up with a small partition for Windows 10 and some unallocated space that you can now use to install Ubuntu.

How to create an Ubuntu bootable media

You’ll also need to download the ISO file containing the latest version of Ubuntu, which you can use to create a bootable media.

On Windows 10, the easiest way to create a USB bootable drive with the Ubuntu files that will boot on BIOS or UEFI is using the Rufus tool.

  1. Download Rufus.

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

  3. On “Device,” use the drop-down menu and select the USB flash drive you want to use.

  4. Under “Partition scheme and target system type,” use the drop-down menu and select MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI.

  5. On “File System,” select FAT32.

  6. Under “Cluster size,” leave the default selection.

  7. On “Create a bootable disk using,” select ISO image, and click the drive icon.

    Rufus tools with Ubuntu ISO

  8. Select the Ubuntu image, and click Open.

  9. Click the Start button.

  10. If you’re prompted to download additional files to create a bootable drive using a Linux distro, click Yes.

    Rufus addon files

  11. Select the Write in ISO Image mode option.

  12. Click OK.

    Rufus ISOHybrid image detected

After completing the steps, you can proceed with the steps below to create a dual-boot system with Ubuntu and Windows 10.

How to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10

Once you shrunk the Windows 10 partition and created the Ubuntu bootable drive, you can now proceed with the dual-boot setup.

  1. Restart your computer with USB drive with the Ubuntu installation files.

    Quick Tip: If your PC is not starting into the Ubuntu 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 (e.g., F2, F8, F12), Delete, or ESC key. However, make sure to check your computer manufacturer support website for more details.
  2. Using the keyboard, select your language, and press Enter to continue.

  3. Select Install Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu setup menu

  4. Click Continue.

    Ubuntu language setup

  5. Check the Download updates while installing Ubuntu option.

  6. Check the Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware, Flash, MP3 and other media option.

  7. Click Continue.

    Ubuntu updates and drivers selection setup

  8. Select the Something else option.

  9. Click Continue.

    Ubuntu installation type

  10. Double-click the free space, the unallocated space you created on Windows 10 (or right-click it and select Add).

    Ubuntu partition tool

  11. Under “Use as,” use the drop-down menu and select Swap area to create a swap partition.

  12. On “Size,” select the amount of space for the swap partition. Typically, it should be at least 1.5x or 2x the size of the amount of RAM installed on your computer.

  13. Click OK.

    Ubuntu create swap partition

  14. Double-click the free space, the unallocated space you created on Windows 10 (or right-click it and select Add).

  15. Set the amount space on megabytes you want to use for the installation.

  16. Under “Mount point,” use the drop-down menu and select root “/” as the mount point.

  17. Click OK.

    Ubuntu install partition

  18. Select the ext4 partition you just created and click Install Now.

    Ubuntu install now step

  19. Click Continue to begin the Ubuntu installation.

    Ubuntu write changes to disk confirmation

  20. Select your timezone, and click Continue.

    Ubuntu select timezone step

  21. Select your keyboard layout, and click Continue.

    Ubuntu select keyboard layout step

  22. Enter the information to create a new account, and click Continue.

    Ubuntu account creation step

Once you’ve completed the steps, Ubuntu will install on your device alongside Windows 10.

How to customize Ubuntu Grub menu

After the installation, you’ll notice Ubuntu’s Grub boot menu, which allows you to select the OS you want to start. However, you can customize the menu to set Windows 10 as the default using Ubuntu.  

  1. Start your device on Ubuntu.

  2. Right-click on the desktop, and click Open terminal.

  3. Type the following command to tell Ubuntu where to get the app files and press Enter:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
  4. Type the following command and press Enter:

    sudo apt-get update
  5. Type the following command to install the Grub Customizer application and press Enter:

    sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

    apt-get install Grub Customizer

  6. Open the Ubuntu menu.

  7. Type Grub Customizer and click the result to open the app.

    Ubuntu menu search for Grub Customizer

  8. Select the Windows 10 entry at the bottom of the list, and click the up-arrow button to move the entry all the way to the top.

  9. Click the Save button.

    Grub Customizer

After completing the steps, simply restart your computer, and Windows 10 should now be the default option during boot.

Grub menu Windows 10 and Ubuntu dual-boot

If you come across any issues and you have any technical questions, remember that you can always ask questions at PUREinfoTech forums.