Operating system | Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux : Guide (2024)

How to Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux

Life is full of choices. co*ke or Pepsi. Manchester United or Liverpool. Windows or Linux. But what if you didn’t need to choose one or the other? What if you could have both?

It might not work for mixing soft drinks - yuck! - or following different football/soccer clubs (fans typically pick one team and stick with it). But it CAN work for PC operating systems, where it’s possible – easy, even – to install both Microsoft Windows and a Linux OS on the same PC. It’s called a dual boot, allowing you to choose which OS to load and run each time you boot up your system.

Doing office tasks, surfing the web, or playing video games? Launch Windows. Writing software code, or worried about your confidential data being hacked? Use Linux. In a dual boot environment, each distinct OS is fully installed and available to use with whatever compatible software you install.

Keep reading to learn more about dual boot PCs and how to load a Linux distribution on a Windows 10 system. There’s also an option to use a new Windows 10 feature to load and run a complete Linux distro at the same time you’re running Windows, with results that closely approach – but don’t quite match – running each OS separately.

IMPORTANT: The instructions shown here are high-level and abbreviated compared to those provided by each Linux distributor. They’re meant only to help you decide if you’re capable of installing Linux on your Windows PC. If you proceed, follow the steps provided by your Linux distributor. Lenovo is not responsible for any problems that occur if you opt for create a dual boot set-up.

Try Windows Subsystem for Linux

Before you go through the dual boot set-up process, consider whether you need to create a full-fledged, dual boot system at all. You might have the Linux capabilities you need within the Windows OS you're already running.

Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft provided the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), a so-called "compatibility layer" that – for the first time – allowed users to run a limited Linux environment directly within Windows. With WSL, users could use Linux command line tools, initiate Bash shell scripts for automated tasks, install software with a Linux package manager, and so on.

WSL quickly earned praise, especially with experienced Linux users already familiar with the OS's unique commands, scripts, and so on. For new users, though, something was missing: WSL couldn't deliver the fuller experience of a complete, stand-alone Linux distribution.

This gap was filled with the release of the latest version, WSL 2, in 2020, featuring a full Linux kernel optimized by Microsoft. Among other improvements, WSL 2 allows you to run complete Linux distributions – Debian, Ubuntu, whatever. You’re no longer limited to running only selected Linux commands and utilities.

Best of all, with both WSL and WSL 2, you don't have to dual boot into Windows OR Linux. Both can run at the same time. You can use Windows as usual while your Linux distro is fully available (simultaneously) in what Microsoft describes as a lightweight, custom virtual machine.

Installing Windows Subsystem for Linux

All PCs with Windows 10 can run the original WSL but WSL 2 is only available with newer versions of the OS 2. For X64 systems, WSL 2 is compatible with Windows 10 Version 1903, Build 18362 or higher. For ARM64 systems, WSL 2 is compatible with Windows 10 Version 2004, Build 19041 or higher.

Most of the files needed to initiate WSL and WSL 2 on your PC are already present within your Windows 10 OS. So installing it involves simply enabling the existing WSL and virtual machine components and then downloading and installing the latest Linux kernel and other files, including your preferred distro.

Specific instructions for installing WSL and WSL 2 are beyond the scope of this article. Visit the Microsoft website for complete installation steps, including an optional short-cut for members of the Windows Insider Program. Also, consider backing up your most valued personal and system data in case unanticipated errors occur as you move along.

WSL isn’t a perfect Linux experience. Some WSL users report slight delays accessing the Windows file system and lament the lack of direct access to low-level hardware controls via their Linux interface. There’s also said to be a slight performance lag in the VM environment where WSL operates. If these limitations concern you, consider the full dual boot set-up described next.

Dual boot Windows 10 and Linux

Users who won’t be satisfied with anything but a fully capable, independent Linux installation should consider creating a true dual boot system, so they can run EITHER Windows or Linux without compromises. Fortunately, the major Linux distributors make this process very easy, with automated set-up utilities that do most of the work for you.

Each Linux distributor’s process is slightly different. So for simplicity, we’ll provide a few details about how to dual boot Windows with one popular distro, Debian.

NOTE: The details we provide here are not the complete steps. We provide them merely to help you determine if you want to (and are capable of) creating a dual boot system. Always consult your Linux distributor’s website and follow the specific installation steps provided there.

Dual booting Debian Linux and Windows 10

Before you begin setting up a dual boot Windows 10-Debian Linux system, you’ll need to know how to “image” bootable installation media, change the boot order on your PC, and allocate an empty internal storage partition (this last item is optional, as the Debian installer includes a sub-set of steps that can guide you through the partitioning process). See How to Install Linux for brief details on some of these procedures.

BEWARE: Always back up your important personal and system data before installing or modifying an operating system. While the provided tools and utilities include features to safeguard your existing OS and data, unanticipated problems can occur. Better safe than sorry.

To install Debian and Windows 10 in a dual-boot set-up, consult the complete installation steps and tutorials available at the Debian website, debian.org. In the meantime, to help you decide if you're up to the task, here's a high-level, abbreviated look at the involved steps:

  1. Download a Debian installation package and image it on a DVD, Flash drive or other media. [Additional options include purchasing a preloaded Debian installation DVD from a vendor or using the cloud image Debian provides for this purpose.]
  2. Create a new, unallocated (empty) partition* on your internal storage drive using Windows' Disk Management utility.

*The Debian installer (see step 4) can guide you through this partitioning process, but if you've got the skills, creating your partition now will make the later steps go faster.

  1. Change your PC's boot order so it will boot from the appropriate media slot (DVD, USB, SD card, etc.) rather than internal storage.
  2. Reboot your system to initiate the Debian installation.

Once the process begins, you'll see a visual interface where you'll choose between a guided or manual installation. You'll declare your location, language and other basic preferences, as well as items like your Debian hostname, domain name, default usernames and passwords.

Partitioning is covered (you'll either select the empty partition you created beforehand or let the installer guide you through the steps of creating one). Eventually, you'll be asked to confirm your changes (i.e., write them to the disk), after which the process proceeds with installing various Debian components and software packages, including the "desktop" environment you wish to use (Cinnamon, KDE, Xfce, etc.).

As a final step, you'll be prompted to install the Grub bootloader – a utility that detects multiple operating systems on your PC and allows you to choose which one to load when you reboot. In a multi-partition environment, the Grub bootloader gets placed on the partition running Windows.

Remember, the steps outlined here are incomplete. For full details, consult the Debian website, debian.org.

Lenovo Linux laptops, computers and workstations

Lenovo now offers a wide selection of ultra-reliable Think-brand laptops, desktops and workstations with the Linux OS preinstalled. Have the reliable portability of the latest ThinkPad laptop or mobile workstation, or the brawny business power of a ThinkCentre desktop – now with select models of each featuring the Linux OS right out of the box.

Browse all of our latest Linux laptops and computers today.

Operating system | Dual Boot Windows 10 and Linux : Guide (2024)


Is it a good idea to dual boot Linux and Windows? ›

Dual booting itself does not directly impact the performance of your computer unless one of the operating systems has higher hardware requirements than the other. However, it's essential to ensure that both operating systems are properly optimized and maintained to achieve optimal performance.

How to set up dual boot windows 10 and Linux? ›

Process to Set Up a Dual Boot with Ubuntu and Windows
  1. #1 Backup Your Data. ...
  2. #2 Create a Bootable Ubuntu USB Drive. ...
  3. #3 Partition Your Hard Drive. ...
  4. #4 Disable Fast Startup in Windows. ...
  5. #5 Boot from Ubuntu USB Drive. ...
  6. #6 Install Ubuntu. ...
  7. #7 Install GRUB Bootloader. ...
  8. #8 Complete Installation and Reboot.
Jan 9, 2024

Is dual booting Windows and Linux safe on Reddit? ›

I have never had issues having dual/triple boot with Linux and Windows, and I have over 10 years doing this. Just you need to distribute the partitions properly for each OS. And always you need install first Windows and after Linux to prevent issues. Unless you install them to separate physical drives?

Is dual booting stable? ›

Yes, it is completely safe to go for Dual Boot Windows and Linux OS, but there are risks involved. If your system cannot run a virtual machine due to its resource-intensive nature, there's no harm in going for dual booting.

Why is dual booting bad? ›

One of the main disadvantages of dual-boot is that it requires you to reboot your computer every time you want to switch between the operating systems, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient. You also need to allocate enough disk space for each operating system, and partition your hard drive accordingly.

Does dual booting slow down your computer? ›

This setup allows you to run two operating systems on the same computer, but you might wonder how it impacts your machine's performance. Dual booting doesn't inherently slow down your computer; instead, it's a matter of how you manage resources and configure each operating system.

Which OS to install first in dual-boot? ›

When you're setting up Dual Boot, you should install Linux first onto Disk 1 and then Windows onto Disk 2. In your BIOS, set your Linux OS to boot first, and this should allow you have a GRUB menu where you can select Windows or Linux, this is what I do. Edit: Meant to say Install Windows first to make things easier.

Why do hackers prefer Linux over Windows? ›

Linux's command-line interface and powerful tools (like Bash and Python) are a force-multiplier. Understanding the intricacies of Linux enables elite cyber criminals to craft sophisticated exploits that sow more chaos, lead to more damage and turn up higher yields than attacks leveraging other operating systems.

Which Linux is best for dual-boot with Windows? ›

Best Linux distro for Windows users of 2024 in full:
  1. Deepin Linux. Best Debian distro for Windows users. ...
  2. elementary OS. Best Ubuntu distro for Windows users. ...
  3. Linux Mint. Best unique distro for Windows users. ...
  4. Zorin OS. Best Linux distro for Windows users with older machines. ...
  5. Ubuntu.
Apr 9, 2024

Is dual boot a security risk? ›

Dual boot setups can complicate the task of monitoring and controlling security measures. Security tools and policies that are effective on one operating system might not be compatible or applicable to the other. This can lead to inconsistencies in security practices and gaps in protection.

Does dual boot consume more RAM? ›

Dual-booting doesn't depend on the RAM of the system! Only one OS can run at a time and it uses the RAM while it is working! RAM doesn't affect if you can dual boot or not but RAM is very useful for proper and fast working of that OS! You only need a RAM that is enough to run a specific OS fast and properly!

Can dual boot viruses spread? ›

It depends, which kind of Operating Systems you're dual booting in your system. If your both the OS are of Windows then, yes, the probability of getting infected both of the OS is higher. But, if your one OS is Windows and other one Linux then you don't have to worry about it.

Can I keep Windows and Linux together? ›

With dual boot, you can install Linux alongside Windows on your computer, allowing you to choose which operating system to use at startup. This requires partitioning your hard drive and installing Linux on a separate partition. With this approach, you can only use one operating system at a time.

Can you dual-boot Linux and Windows on the same drive? ›

Even though the recommended way to setup a Linux/Windows dual booting system is to first install Windows, it can be done the other way around. In contrast to installing Windows before Linux, you will have to set aside a partition for Windows, say 40GB or larger, in advance.

Should I dual-boot Windows or Ubuntu first? ›

Even if neither system is present yet, you should install Windows 10 first and then set up dual boot with Ubuntu. You can use other distributions based on Ubuntu in the same way at the same time as Windows 10. For example, Linux Mint, Lubuntu, or Xubuntu can also be used for dual boot.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

Last Updated:

Views: 5687

Rating: 4 / 5 (71 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Lawanda Wiegand

Birthday: 1993-01-10

Address: Suite 391 6963 Ullrich Shore, Bellefort, WI 01350-7893

Phone: +6806610432415

Job: Dynamic Manufacturing Assistant

Hobby: amateur radio, Taekwondo, Wood carving, Parkour, Skateboarding, Running, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Pres. Lawanda Wiegand, I am a inquisitive, helpful, glamorous, cheerful, open, clever, innocent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.