Dual boot Windows 7 Starter and Ubuntu

Recent netbooks come pre-installed with Windows 7 starter and support booting from USB/Removable storage devices. This tutorial describes the additional steps to dual boot with Ubuntu (10.04 or higher) and to tweak Grub2 configuration.


The minimum requirements are:

    • BIOS support for booting from any removable devices.
    • USB flash drive with at least 2 Go of storage space.
    • Internet connexion.

In the next sections, I assure that your BIOS boot order is configured to try Removable Devices first (You need to enter the BIOS setup utility, locate and navigate to the Boot Order options then make and save changes).

Hard disk setup

Pre-installed Windows 7 Starter often occupies the entire disk space. That means you are not allowed to make any new partition to install Ubuntu without changing partitions layout. Although, Windows includes a built-in functionality in Disk Management to shrink and expand partitions, I present another method based on open-source tools that can be used for general disk partitioning purposes:

1. Download and install LinuxLive USB Creator.
2. Download the GParted Live iso file.
3. Create a Bootable Flash Drive: Run LinuxLive USB Creator to install the GParted Live on an USB flash drive.
4. Reboot your netbook using the newly created bootable media.
5. Partition your drive by making enough free space for the future Ubuntu installation (You can also create a Data partition for your needs).

Ubuntu installation

The installation requires the following steps:

1. Log on to Windows 7 Starter again, insert the USB flash drive then open Download Ubuntu.
2. Follow the instructions in Burn your CD or create a bootable USB stick section to create an Ubuntu USB flash drive based installer.
3. Reboot your netbook using the newly created bootable media.
4. Install Ubuntu in the free space previously created. At the end of the installation process, let it install GRUB boot loader to the MBR of the disk.

Grub2 tweaks

The purpose is to change the way titles are displayed on the Grub2 menu and to remove unwanted entries.

1. Backup original files.

$ sudo cp /etc/grub.d/10_linux /etc/grub.d/10_linux.bak
$ sudo cp /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober.bak
$ sudo chmod -x /etc/grub.d/*.bak

2. Remove memtest entry.

$ sudo chmod -x /etc/grub.d/20_memtest86+

3. Customize entries.

The /etc/grub.d/40_custom file is used to place custom entries. It also does not get overwritten by Grub updates.

Remove from the file /boot/grub/grub.cfg the lines enclosed by the following delimiters and add them to /etc/grub.d/40_custom (our Windows and Ubuntu installations will likely not change). Rename the title following each menuentry keyword or remove its associated section to reflect your installation.

### BEGIN /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober ###
### END /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober ###

Disable automatic detection of installed operating systems.

$ sudo chmod -x /etc/grub.d/30_os-prober

4. Change the Boot Order and Default Timeout.

These parameters can be changed by altering the values of GRUB_DEFAULT and GRUB_TIMEOUT in the /etc/default/grub file.

5. Update the grub and reboot to see the new changes.

$ sudo update-grub && sudo reboot

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