There is no doubt about it – Linux works great alongside both Windows 7 and Windows 10! Many of my doubts about it being wise to install Linux alongside Windows OSs have been removed by incredible flexibility and almost automatic control over Linux installs .. Ubuntu and Mint for sure.
Not five years ago, my tests usually ended up with Vista and/or WIN7 getting tangled up with Linux in their boot managements – same in even earlier tests with just Vista. Seemed Ubuntu was offering new versions more often, and I wanted to check each one as they came out – yes, their LTS versions were supported for 3-5 years, but I wanted to switch to new releases when they came out – since each one seemed better than the previous. I spent many hours reinstalling Windows and/or attempting to get rid of GRUB problems .. and even lingering Windows Boot Manager problems. Not this time – in tests on WIN7 using Ubuntu & Mint, and WIN10 also using Ubuntu & Mint.
I used to use a ‘Hot Swap’ trayless SATA rack for 3.5″ SATA HDD, but now use a ‘Thermaltake BlacX Hot-Swap SATA External Hard Drive Docking Station‘ since they also include the SSD 2.5″ option (make sure to get one that has an eSATA connection – the USB connections seem to have problems with OSs). I disconnect all other HDD and SSD and use the Docking Station for quicker access to the test drives.
Installed WIN7 on a test 250 GB HDD. Since this was a test, I disconnected the internet connection to avoid license problems, and selected ‘skip activation‘ when the WIN7 install brought it up. Next, I installed Ubuntu 18.04 alongside – allowing Ubuntu to choose the partition options and such it wanted. WIN7 ended up on 134 GB Partition 1, and Ubuntu used the remaining 116 GB as – Extended Partition 2, and File System Partition 5. Went perfectly .. GRUB bootloader offered Ubuntu and Windows 7 selections .. both worked.
Erased the 116 GB Ubuntu partition with GParted and created a new ext4 partition. WIN7 would not boot, and inserted WIN7 disk to try repair, but WIN7 could not repair the boot problem. Inserted Rescatux disk and had it repair Windows MBR problems .. gotta love this Rescatux utility!
With WIN7 still installed and booting again, I let Mint 19.1 handle the almost auto install setting alongside Windows – using that new ext4 116 GB partition. Again, no problems! Mint’s GRUB bootloader offered the proper OS selections, and both worked. Some years back, I would’ve spend hours trying to get just WIN7 and Ubuntu working together the way I wanted .. this time, I had erased Ubuntu and then installed Mint alongside the same WIN7 installation. Only problem was in the MBR after erasing Ubuntu, and Rescatux fixed that quickly and easily.
Used GParted to erase all partitions on the test HDD, and had it create a new 250 GB NTFS partition for Windows 10. Again, since this was a test, I left the internet disconnected to avoid license problems, and chose ‘Don’t have product key‘ selection when WIN10 installation asked about product key. This time I used Mint as the first install alongside Windows. Perfect again! About the same size partitions as in the WIN7 and Ubuntu install.
Erased the Mint partition/s with GParted and created a new ext4 partition. WIN10 would not boot, and inserted WIN10 disk to try repair, but WIN10 could not repair the boot problem. Inserted Rescatux disk and had it repair Windows MBR problems .. again, gotta love this Rescatux utility!
With WIN10 still installed and booting again, I let Ubuntu 18.04 handle the auto install setting alongside Windows – using that new ext4 partition that Mint had been on. Again, no problems! Ubuntu’s GRUB bootloader offered the proper OS selections, and both worked. As with the WIN7 test, the only problem was in the MBR after erasing Mint, and Rescatux fixed that with no problems.
I wanted to conduct the tests this way because WIN10 may be the last Windows version – just their automatic updating of it. Both Ubuntu and Mint easily installed alongside Windows, and GParted handled that Linux partition whilst leaving WIN7 and WIN10 alone. The new Linux flavors/versions were then able to install alongside that same version of Windows. I found it amazingly easy – great job Linux!
Ubuntu still remains my favorite Linux flavor, but Mint has recently become a close second (bumped Puppy to #3!). In the past, I have tested most of the Linux flavors, but didn’t bother with them this time, since Ubuntu works so great. Probably an individual choice; however, I know that Ubuntu and Mint both work great alongside Windows now, and could see someone installing either on the same drive as a Windows OS.