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What is the state of Dual booting in 2020

Way back when and I couldn’t afford more than one computer I would dual boot. Windows XP and Linux and later Win7 and Linux. Some time back I gained the luxury of having multiple computers around me in my home office. At this point, I stopped dual booting as I have the hardware to run multiple configurations. Well, things have changed, I’m back to a single desktop PC and a now very old Laptop.

In a perfect world, I would be happy to run Linux 24/7, I have tried and failed badly. Like an old junky, I need my fix of Redmond’s finest from time to time. I would be most happy spending 90% of my time in Linux and 10% on Windows. I’m not smart enough for VfIO, the proper answer for my use case is dual booting.

I have heard that Windows 10 does not play well with dual-booting systems, is this true? Can I just slap Linux on a second drive and expect it to work. Most importantly can the dual boot survive Win10’s biannual big update?

Most if not all of the time I was dual booting it was pre-UEFI am I going to run into problems?

I would prefer to not have to clean install Windows 10, just shuffle some drives about, or just add one. Then once there is the space slap Linux USB in and let it do its thing. Using Grub to handle the boot time selection.

Or, would it be better to rely on the BIOS drive selection/boot order at POST so Win10 boot is not interfered with at all?

The state of dual booting is “don’t”.

Every x86_64 processor sold since Core 2 Duo supports virtualization extensions. Virtualization allows you to run multiple operating systems at once without ever having to reboot.

Mature virtualization systems allow you to dedicate real hardware to virtual machines in the form of PCI passthrough.

Multiple disks and UEFI boot selection is the next best choice.

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I would recommend dual-booting if you use Windows for games, or some other hardware-accelerated or real-time application. I, like you, am not interested in struggling with VFIO. However, it’s my understanding that virtualization is fine for pretty much any other use-case, even without GPU passthrough.

Speaking from my own experience running a Windows/Linux dual boot for the last 3-ish years:

Neither OS has sabotaged the other on either of my 2 systems. Yet.

Yes. Although sometimes the installer decides to overwrite Windows’ MBR with GRUB, which can be problematic. (I’ve had this particular issue with Ubuntu only, not sure if it’s reproducible or fixed.)

I run LTSC (formerly LTSB) so I don’t receive the big feature updates. I don’t think Windows will wipe your Linux drives but don’t quote me on that.

I haven’t had any UEFI-related issues myself. I left secure boot turned off, although I think Linux is supposed to work with that these days? Sometimes a disk will be listed twice in boot options. Most (all?) UEFI motherboards retain legacy support, but you shouldn’t need it.

Best practice is to install Windows first anyway.

This is what I do, you can make the GRUB screen look kind of nice—at least, compared to the UEFI screen. Ubuntu and variants should automatically let you pick a boot device in GRUB. It’s actually impossible to set GRUB to hidden or truly instant on Ubuntu and friends currently, so this is your only choice for GRUB’s behavior (Thanks, Canonical!). You can always mash the delete key for UEFI if that stops working; I don’t think there’s any functional difference.

If you have the drives, you may as well dual-boot if that’s what you want to do. If the two OS’s start sniping at each other, the worst I would reasonably expect is a damaged MBR; it’s a pain, but you can repair that from an install disk or flash drive with an ISO burned. Rebooting is a pain, even with 2 NVMe drives, but that’s truthfully the only complaint I have about the setup.

I´m also running dual boot with Fedora and Windows on two machines for the past year (maybe two, maybe more). I have no idea at this point. Did not have any issues what so ever with it.

Virtualization is all fine and handy dandy, but I never really was at the point where I had two more or less equally capable (or right now two at all) gpu´s to pass one to a VM. That windows f*cks up your dual boot OS in this day and age would be news to me. But I don´t necessarily doubt whoever had bad experiences with dual boot in the past. I just did not.

Either way with wsl being where it is now and me having a NAS with proxmox on it I find myself less and less inclined to even boot into Linux on my desktop, because I can do everything on Windows that I could on Linux, but not quite the other way around unless I shell out the $ for another GPU and spend a day figuring everything out to work well enough. Witch “well enough” for me is a quite high standard given how I do tryhard in some games and I would absolutely notice “minor hickups” that usually aren´t there, that you won´t necessarily see on an average frame chart. Things like “does the mouse and keyboard feel right without passing threw a USB controller”, also. I think you could convince a lot of people (like myself) to actually go ahead buy a GPU and try it if you made some kind of test with actual esports players. Blind test them and see if they can tell the VM and the Windows machine apart at all. I for one would really be interested into that.

Although, I do think that can be done. I do also think you would need a kvm switch that also does switch your keyboard and mouse back and forth and that sets you back another 500 bucks or so. That all for the privilege to run Linux as your boot OS was something I could never justify for myself. There where times where I thought “You know what I gotta do that at some point”. But at the end of the day I don’t really need to have it.


The three things I need to use Windows for right now are

  • gaming (to some extend) and elgato capture card does not work on Linux either for the switch, I´m not a streamer, but I like to have the ability to watch things again I did not quite understand, or share it on discord with a close circle of friends
  • discord streaming does not work on Linux very well if you have multiple screens. All the screens are one big screen and nobody can see anything. There may be alternatives, but I would have to force my friends on said alternative
  • Visual studio is WIndows only, that one is the easiest to workaround technically there is the option to use vscode or jetbrains rider (witch I really like the last one). But I do work at a C# company where we use Visual studio all day and have some .net (non core) projects that won´t work on Linux at all no matter what I use.

All three of those things are non issues on my notebook, because I don´t do or want to do either of them. So that runs Fedora when I´m home (or otherwise not at work) and I don´t really have any reason to change that. I actually use the exact same notbook at work and then it runs Windows. Again no issues yet what so ever with dual booting, yet.

The state of dual booting is fine and still holds up for certain configurations.

Though from my experience it always works easiest with installing Windows first and with that particular drive as the only drive connected to the system. Linux is always easiest to install afterwards.

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Yup, especially because Linux distros go out of their way to make installing Linux easy on systems that probably already have Windows on them. Windows does not need to do that. It comes preinstalled.

But its more of a “you get to use the nice installer wizard that just does everything” kind of issue, rather than an inability to do it the other way around.

Oh the horror story of 2015… it was the best of times, it was the worst of times… It was the day a Windows update destroyed my system.

Granted, I had no backups and no Snapshot of the system.

I have not Dual Booted a system since. I have an i5 4690k and a ton of crap drives laying around, I could make this work somehow. I ended up virtualizing my Windows install on my little 4 core for 4 apps I wanted to use ( Photoshop, Illustrator, Cinema4D, Ableton Live ) . Now they run even better as virtualization is better performant now as well. Although I have moved from those programs, If I ever need to use them, they are literally 1 VM away.

The OP hasn’t stated his use of Windows, Maybe they don’t need to passthrough hardware…

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Thanks for the input guys. I have avoided dual-booting for many of the conserns rased. It is also good to know that some of you do dual-boot and have not run into issues.

To answer some of the questions, Yes I need Windows for gaming in particular. I’m aware that there are some in the community that are advocates for hardware pass through. My thought are that I’m just not confident in my own skill set to do it. Not just that but there are hardware requiremnets. Some of it I don’t have and for at least the next 3 to 6 months can not get. I’m in the UK and we have just entered lockdown. It’s going to be at least 3 months, more like 6. As such I can’t just get hold of a kvm or an extra monitor. Heak I have a second keyboard but not a mouse. So VFIO is out even if I do get a case of the braves and jump in.

One day VFIO with be a check box at install or a single diolog box with a couple of drop down options. When it’s muppet proof this muppet will give it a go.

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I use Linux for pretty much all my work and hobbies, (software development, mostly network/system software) but I don’t use a Linux desktop. It’s mostly been through SSH for me.

Recently, Windows with wsl2 has almost become like a Mac, a pretty capable terminal with a local development environment that might even be able to build something. (I need to spend more time to figure out how to use vs code remotely better).

What do you use Linux for?

What do I use Linux for? Nothing productive! Heck I don’t do anything productive… Reddit, YouTube and some gaming on the weekend. I have used every Microsoft OS since DOS 5 and Linux since the mid-late '90s. As for Windows and Linux in 2020 they both have their uses, strong point and weak. I find Linux less agrivating on a day to day basis. I’m sat at my computer from waking up till I go to bed. For a lot of what I do I could be running a Rasberry Pi and Rasberryian. But I’m not I have the full on desktop gaming PC. Becasue a few times a week I want to play games with my old clanmates.

Becasue I’m sat at my desk for a great many hours getting ticked off with the weak points of my computers Operating system (Windows) when I know there is an OS I could be running that ticks me off way less, is agrivating. This is nothing more than personal preferance, an old git ‘shouting at clouds’.

The best solution was more than one computer. A day to day rig running Linux and a Windows PC for gaming. Unfortunatly I no longer have the space for two desks. I’m not confident enough (want the agrivation), have the hardware, to run the games in virtulisation.

What I think I will do is drop a spare SSD in my rig and install Linux. Use the BIOS options to choose the OS at boot.

Yep ! That’s what I’d do. Install them separately (to prevent any confusion with auto detection of boot partitions. i.e. which gpt boot partition needs to contain which kernel).

You can experiment with VMs and vfio later (using the same setup if you so choose)

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