Dual boot with Windows

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This is a simple article detailing different methods of Arch/Windows coexistence.

Potential Data Loss

Renaming Files on NTFS partitions

Windows is limited to filepaths being shorter than 260 characters.

Windows also puts certain characters off limits in filenames for reasons that run all the way back to DOS:

  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  •  : (colon)
  • " (double quote)
  • / (forward slash)
  • \ (backslash)
  • | (vertical bar or pipe)
  •  ? (question mark)
  • * (asterisk)

These are limitations of Windows and not NTFS: any other OS using the NTFS partition will be fine. Windows will fail to detect these files and running chkdsk will most likely cause them to be deleted.

Fast Start-Up

Fast Start-Up is a feature in Windows 8 that hibernates the computer rather than actually shutting it down to speed up boot times. Your system can lose data if Windows hibernates and you dual boot into another OS and make changes to files.

NTFS-3G added a safe-guard to prevent read-write mounting of hibernated disks, but the NTFS driver within the Linux kernel has no such safeguard.

BIOS Systems

Using a Linux boot loader

You may use GRUB or Syslinux.

Using Windows boot loader

With this setup the Windows bootloader loads GRUB which then boots Arch.

Windows 7/8 boot loader

The following section contains excerpts from http://www.iceflatline.com/2009/09/how-to-dual-boot-windows-7-and-linux-using-bcdedit/.

The remainder of the setup is similar to a typical installation. Some documents state that the partition being loaded by the Windows boot loader must be a primary partition but I have used this without problem on an extended partition.

  • When installing the GRUB boot loader, install it on your /boot partition rather than the MBR.
    Note: For instance, my /boot partition is /dev/sda5. So I installed GRUB at /dev/sda5 instead of /dev/sda. For help on doing this, see GRUB#Install to partition or partitionless disk
  • Under Linux make a copy of the boot info by typing the following at the command shell:
mkdir /media/win
mount $my_windows_part /media/win
dd if=$my_boot_part of=/media/win/linux.bin bs=512 count=1
  • Boot to Windows and open up and you should be able to see the FAT32 partition. Copy the linux.bin file to C:\. Now run cmd with administrator privileges (navigate to Start > All Programs > Accessories, right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator):
bcdedit /create /d “Linux” /application BOOTSECTOR
  • BCDEdit will return an alphanumeric identifier for this entry that I will refer to as {ID} in the remaining steps. You’ll need to replace {ID} by the actual returned identifier. An example of {ID} is {d7294d4e-9837-11de-99ac-f3f3a79e3e93}.
bcdedit /set {ID} device partition=c:
bcdedit /set {ID}  path \linux.bin
bcdedit /displayorder {ID} /addlast
bcdedit /timeout 30

Reboot and enjoy. In my case I'm using the Windows boot loader so that I can map my Dell Precision M4500's second power button to boot Linux instead of Windows.

Windows 2000/XP boot loader

For information on this method see http://www.geocities.com/epark/linux/grub-w2k-HOWTO.html. I do not believe there are any distinct advantages of this method over the Linux boot loader; you will still need a /boot partition, and this one is arguably more difficult to set up.

UEFI Systems

Both Gummiboot and rEFInd autodetect Windows Boot Manager \EFI\Microsoft\Boot\bootmgfw.efi and show it in their boot menu, so there is no manual config required.

For GRUB(2) follow GRUB#Windows_Installed_in_UEFI-GPT_Mode_menu_entry.

Syslinux (as of version 6.01) and ELILO do not support chainloading other EFI applications, so they cannot be used to chainload \EFI\Microsoft\Boot\bootmgfw.efi .

See also