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Boot Linux using Windows 7 boot loader

Windows 7 and Linux live together on the same hard disk in perfect harmony. I had Windows 7 installed first, and a few GBytes of free space at the end of the hard drive which I left unpartitioned. Here is how to install Ubuntu:

  1. Download Ubuntu and burn the ISO on a CD.
  2. Boot from the CD, and install it. Make sure that you choose an empty partition, and also make sure that you select to install the boot loader on the Linux partition (example: on “/dev/sda3”, and not on the main MBR “/dev/sda”).

Until here you have an Ubuntu installation which you cannot boot, yet.

Here is how to configure the Windows 7 boot loader to include Ubuntu in the boot choice menu:

  1. Download EasyBCD and install it. EasyBCD is free for non-commercial use and offers a nice GUI to edit the Windows 7 boot loader menu.
  2. Do the following in EasyBCD — Add New Entry -> Operating Systems -> Linux/BSD:
    • Type: GRUB 2
    • Name: Ubuntu
    • Device: (Automatically configured)
  3. Finally, click on “View Settings” in EasyBCD. You should see something similar to the following:

    Entry #2
    Name: Ubuntu
    BCD ID: {1d486d61-64cc-12a5-7d94-af2f5df01535}
    Drive: C:\
    Bootloader Path: \NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr

EasyBCD ships the “stage1” boot loader of GRUB2 (\NST\AutoNeoGrub0.mbr), so you don’t have to do anything else. Just reboot your Windows 7, and the boot menu should present a choice between “Windows 7” and “Ubuntu”.

A note of caution: It is highly recommended that you do a backup of your whole hard disk before you try to install Ubuntu or modify the boot loader options.

P.S. There is no “boot.ini” in Windows 7. You could modify “boot.ini” in Windows XP to achieve the same result, but this does not apply for Windows 7.


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