Manual WayFirst things first, you’ll need to make space on your hard drive for the Ubuntu installation. While your hard drive may be showing free space within your Windows partition, you’ll actually need to shrink the partition itself in order to produce the necessary space to create a partition for Ubuntu.
There are two ways you can do this — by using Windows’ Disk Management Tools (which you can find by right clicking on “Computer” in the Start Menu, and choosing Manage, then looking in the left-side pane), or by using a partitioning tool such as GParted within Ubuntu’s Live environment.
You’ll generally find two or three partitions already on your hard drive – these are all related to your Windows installation. Simply shrink down the largest of these partitions by however much space you want to give your Ubuntu installation. You’re shrinking this partition because the other two are related to Windows’ boot process and should not be altered in any way. After you’ve shrunk the partition, you do not need to create new partitions for your Linux installation as you’ll make the necessary partitions in the Ubuntu installer.
Boot your computer from the Ubuntu media and choose to install the operating system. Please note whether you saw a purple screen with a small keyboard icon at the bottom center or a black and white selection menu while the media loads, as this is important later. When asked about how to allocate space, choose to do “Something else”. This will open a partition editor screen where you can create your partitions. You’ll need to create 1-2 partitions here, depending on your system and your own preferences.
If you saw the purple screen while the media was loading, then your system used legacy BIOS to boot the media. Within the allocated space, you can create a Linux partition (preferably ext4) and set its mount point to root (“/”). If you wish to have a swap partition (which acts as a place for data stored in RAM to go for hibernation or as an overflow container), you can leave enough space to create one. The good rule is for the swap partition to be twice as large as the installed amount of RAM.
Also don’t forget that if you’ll end up having more than four partitions, you’ll first need to make an extended partition that spans across all of the unallocated space on your hard drive before creating the Linux and swap partitions within the extended partition. Once you’ve done this, continue with the rest of the installation. Ubuntu will install GRUB to your MBR, which can allow you to choose between Ubuntu and Windows during each boot.
If you saw a black and white selection screen, then your system used EFI to boot the media. Choose to do “Something else” when asked about how to allocate space. You’ll probably want to reuse Windows’ EFI partition as EFI partitions need to be at the beginning of the hard drive, and using it for Ubuntu as well will not destroy the contents needed to boot Windows. The EFI partition should be formatted as FAT32, and typically with only 100MB.
You may increase this size to 200MB if you wish to go through the struggle of having to move the other partitions out of the way first to make the room. Then choose the EFI partition, and make its mount point be
/boot/efiif it’s not already.
Then continue to create your Linux partition(s) (and swap partition if desired), and finish with the installation. An EFI version of GRUB will be installed which will allow you to choose between Windows and Ubuntu during each boot.
Troubleshooting and ConclusionThese tips should help you be able to dual boot Windows 8 and Ubuntu. The chance of any issues occurring is very low, but feel free to comment on the article with any questions that you may have. The only concern is if you get a “Secure Boot” or “signature” error when you try to boot the Ubuntu installation media. If that happens, you will have to go into your system’s BIOS and disable the Secure Boot option. For other troubleshooting, check out this article on installing Linux on a Windows 8 PC.
If you’re new to Ubuntu, check out our great Ubuntu guide for beginners!