Win/linux Dual boot on 2 hard drives

I have never used or installed linux before and it's time for my bi-annual "clear the crap out and format windows" session. I reckon now is good time to get started with linux, especially thanks to Steam.

Will probably give Ubuntu a go to start with.

I have a 40 GB SSD and a 2TB Sata drive.

Windows 7 64bit will be the priority OS for gaming reasons so for the time being it will remain on the SSD. After all programs are installed I don't think much room will be available for linux on the same drive. I am hoping to install linux onto a partition in the sata drive instead.

If I install onto the sata drive, should I use the "Install along side windows" option they provide:


Or just get the regular installer?


Any idea how the boot manager might behave? Also hoping to avoid have to boot via BIOS priority options.


Any other newb advice is appreciated too. Worst case scenario is it goes wrong and I need to format machines which is happening anyway.


Much appreciated.


It might a little tricky to set up Linux at first (BTW I recommend Mint over Ubuntu for Windows users), becuase when ubuntu asks where to install, you're going to have click "Something else" and manually set the partitions yourself.

You'll need at least 2 partitions, optionally 3 or more (depending on how modular you want your install). You need to create an EXT4 parition (5GB or more) and make sure the mount point is "/"; this is where Ubuntu/Mint will install. The second partition should be Swap, which is like a pagefile for Linux. It should 1 - 2 times your RAM capacity. Once you create a partitions, select it the EXT4, and on the bottom where it asks where to install the bootloader, make sure it's your SSD (and not a partition on the SSD; ie SDA, not SDA1 SDA2, etc). The bootloader (GRUB2) should see most, if not all, operating systems installed on permanent drives, and automatically set up a dual-boot, though I haven't done this myself and can't confirm it.

I can test in a virtual machine to confirm it, if need be.

Hope it's not too confusing. There are guides on installing. I tend to get a little technical.

GRUB  (Ubuntu's Bootloader) may not like booting off a seperate disk, I'd look into a custom GRUB configuration, have a google around before you go ahead and wipe your SSD.

This may be of use to you..

There is a free version, go to the bottom and it's there 

Grub2 is better. And already comes with Linux. And pre-configures itself upon install. And is customizable. And is free-er.

Yup, GRUB2 will detect any OS on any disk and configure itself. If it doesn't and you've installed your GNU/Linux distro on the HDD, you just remake the grub config file after mounting the SSD (which would only be the case if you use a more security oriented distro than Ubuntu based distros, because those automount all local disks out of the box) and after reboot everything will be in the grub menu. Always install windows first though because it overwrites the MBR.

GNU/Linux distros only need a very small root partition, it will fit on the SSD no problem, and the home partition can be on the HDD. Basically the same thing you do with Windows to make it fit on a 40 GB SSD when you put the program files and documents on the HDD and keep the windows directory and root on the SSD, only simpler. Windows takes about 25 GB I think for a full install without anything extra, GNU/Linux with a lot of stuff extra will install in less than 10 GB no problem.


Thanks all for the advice. Got sorted after a little bit of tinkering.

It's working qute nicley now, simple setup and nothing too fancy. Not sure if I'm getting the maximum speed out of Ubuntu on the Sata drive but I intend on upgrading the processor to a compatible quad core in a month or two, should suffice until I can save up for a more up to date gaming rig.


Might try and play around with boot options once I get more comfortable with Linux.

It's quite satisfying to be playing Uplink on a linux distro :)


Again thanks all for their input.