Installing a dual-boot with Windows without partitioning

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Introduction to Wubi
Installing Wubi
Change default boot order
Remove Wubi

Introduction to Wubi

Many Windows users who are interested in trying Ubuntu are afraid of repartitioning their drives to set up a dual-boot (a dual-boot allows you to choose at boot-up whether you would like to use one operating system or another). Yes, there are other options, like running the live DVD or installing Ubuntu as a virtual machine inside Windows. But it's also nice to know there is still another option—Wubi is a program that comes on the Ubuntu Desktop DVD (otherwise known as the live DVD) that allows you to install Ubuntu as a dual-boot by installing it as a huge file inside of Windows and then modifying the Windows boot loader to add an entry for Ubuntu.

The nice thing about this approach from a Windows-user standpoint is that there is no risk of accidentally deleting your entire drive, you don't have to know anything about partitions, and you can easily remove Ubuntu from the dual-boot if you want to go back to a strictly Windows-only system.

Apparently this is now called Windows installer. No biggie. It still functions the same way.

Installing Wubi

Go to the Wubi website and download the Wubi installer.

From your download folder, double-click Wubi and let it run. If you're prompted by User Account Control, obviously click Yes.

Go ahead and pick the options you want. And be sure to enter a username and password before clicking Install.

At this point (before you click Install), you have two options. You can let Wubi download the Ubuntu disk image file for you, or you can make sure your own Ubuntu .iso is in the same directory as the Wubi installer.

Wait for all the processes to finish.

You'll be prompted to reboot when the processes finish. You can reboot at your convenience or right away.

It was so quick I couldn't take a screenshot, but you may see some text appear briefly on a black screen right after you reboot and get past the BIOS screen. That's fine. Just wait for it.

This first time you boot into Ubuntu, you may notice a progress bar for Ubuntu installing itself. This will take a while (maybe another 10 minutes), but it will involve no user interaction.

When the installation is finished, after you reboot, you'll have the option to select (with the Up and Down arrows on your keyboard) whether you would like to boot into Windows or Ubuntu. You have ten seconds to pick an option, but the default will be Windows.

Change default boot order

Wubi sets up the dual-boot so that the default boot choice is Windows. If you want to change the default to be Ubuntu instead, go to the Control Panel in Windows.

Go into your Advanced System Settings.

In the Default operating system drop-down menu, select Ubuntu instead of Windows. Then click OK when you're done.

Remove Wubi

If you don't like Ubuntu, you can uninstall it just like any other Windows program by going to Programs and Features in the Control Panel and select Uninstall/Change for Ubuntu.

Click Uninstall.

Click Finish.

Believe me—this is a lot easier than trying to remove Ubuntu from a traditional dual-boot (one that involves repartitioning the drive and reinstalling the Windows boot loader). I've seen far too many Ubuntu Forums threads or Yahoo Answers questions about how to remove Ubuntu for me to recommend a traditional dual-boot as the standard dual-boot for new users.

Last updated 10/20/12 04:47

If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please post in this Ubuntu Forums thread or leave a comment on my blog.

I will not give help to people posting in the above places. If you require technical support, start a support thread on the Ubuntu Forums. That is the appropriate place to ask for help.