Multi-boot systems



Sometimes it may be necessary to use two or more operating systems on your computer. One reason for this is that we need to work with platform-dependent applications that do not work on the system we have used so far, but we may also want to install another or third operating system just for experimentation to get a better understanding of (reason) t. Whatever your purpose is to use multiple systems on your machine, installing dual-boot or multi-boot systems can be a great solution for most applications. The point is that multiple operating systems are installed on your computer, and when you boot your machine you can choose which one to boot.

This category includes tutorials for installing two or more operating systems on a single machine (dual-boot / multi-boot).


There are many variations of these installations, so decide which version is right for you based on your parameters and your circumstances. It is important to take these factors into consideration before setting up any installation, because if we make the wrong decision, we may later limit ourselves to installing the next system (eg few or no partitions left, unsupported partitioning scheme, etc.). Therefore, it is definitely worth thinking in the long run what systems you want to use on your computer later, and which installation is the best choice for you, considering the hardware capabilities of your computer.

In my case, there are basically three important factors that determine how to install a dual-boot or multi-boot, the combination of which can result in quite a few variations. These are:

1. Operating system

The first thing to do is to think first about what operating systems you want to use on your computer. In this series of descriptions, I deal with the following (this list can of course be expanded if you need it):

  • Debian
    • Debian 9 (Stretch)
    • Debian 10 (Buster)
  • Windows
    • Windows 7
    • Windows 10
  • Ubuntu
    • Ubuntu LTS 18.04

So the composition, combination and order of these also matters, such as which one to install first, second, etc.

For Windows 7, it is worth noting that although this version has reached the end of its life cycle, which means that it will no longer receive any support, including updates, from January 2020, 14, it is still used and still likely to be used by many. it will be for a while, so it is worthwhile to deal with it. For example, a dual-boot installation that requires installing a Linux distribution on a Windows 7 that has been running for years.

1. b. architecture

Here is another important factor, namely the architecture of the operating systems to be installed. These are worth grouping as follows:

  • 32-bit
  • 64-bit

For example, 32-bit systems are more restrictive about the following aspect. However, in these dual-boot / multi-boot tutorials, I only deal with 64-bit systems, which have been commonplace for years. If there is an exception, I will of course indicate this separately in the description.

So the choice of operating systems already pretty much defines the following point:

2. Motherboard firmware type

Another important factor is the motherboard firmware type, which in some cases may already be decided by the choice of operating system above (since some combinations are mutually exclusive). These can be:

  • BIOS: On older machines, around motherboards manufactured before 2010, but still widely used. They are MBR partitioning scheme which can boot from up to 2 TiB disks and can handle up to 4 primary partitions on a hard disk drive.
  • UEFI and BIOS: Approximately on UEFI motherboards manufactured between 2010 and 2020 CSM aid. They handle both MBR and GPT partitioning schemes. The GPT partitioning scheme is able to boot from disks larger than the order of magnitude.
    For example, these motherboards can be used to create a dual-boot combo of an older operating system installed on an MBR and a newer operating system installed on another GPT drive, if needed.
  • UEFI only: These are motherboards made after 2020 that already have CSM support removed, so they cannot boot in BIOS mode, so they can only boot from partitions with the GPT partitioning scheme.

So, as we can see, there is more to do here. So this is something to keep in mind when thinking about installing multiple operating systems. At this link we can see which operating systems are compatible with UEFI.

3. Number of storage pools used

And finally, this is an important factor in how many HDDs we want to install on the systems you want to install. These can come in many different designs:

  • Using a Hard Drive: Operating systems are installed on separate partitions on an HDD.
  • Using Multiple Hard Drives: The systems are installed on several separate HDDs.

The number of partitions should also take into account that each operating system not only uses one primary partition, but also creates different system, system recovery, swap, etc. partitions during installation. This gives you an average of 2 partitions per operating system.

So in the light of the above, it can be seen that, for example, an MBR-based hard disk on an older BIOS machine can have a maximum of 4 primary partitions, which limits the number of operating systems that can be installed. Let's say a laptop has only one hard disk drive.

Apart from these factors, there can of course be other influencing parameters, but I think if you chose them well at the very beginning of the dual-boot or multi-boot installation, you will be able to modify the rest on the go.

I present the installation examples on the VirtualBox machine, which can boot the virtual machines in BIOS mode or UEFI mode, so they are perfectly suited to installing on a real machine environment.

Little by little I make several versions (of course within reasonable limits) so that they can be used as widely as possible. Hopefully, with time, there will be many variations of these, so according to the above considerations, I will include the components in a given installation in the titles of the tutorials to create a more transparent system.

Making a bootable flash drive

To build dual-boot / multi-boot systems, you will need an efficient installation tool. The most efficient and convenient way to install an operating system, if you install it on a physical machine, is to create a bootable flash drive. Here are a few ways to do this on both Linux and Windows:

So, once you have obtained the ISO files for the systems you want to install, you can use the above methods to burn it to any USB key.

Operating System Testing with Live Versions (Optional)

If you want to install a Linux distribution, there are Live installation kits for them to boot into your computer so you can test your system without installing it to make sure it is properly managed. Fortunately, most distributions have such an installation image, so you should write this to the flash drive. And after trying the live system, rebooting from the same machine can install the tried system on it.

Creating a recovery flash drive (optional)

If you have problems starting up your operating system during the installation process, you can go to the following link to get a repair tool:

Creating a recovery flash drive using GParted Live

List of dual-boot and multi-boot tutorials

The completed dual-boot and multi-boot tutorials are listed here. From these, select the situation closest to your circumstances and deployment intentions, and prepare the installation.

Category content:

(The following are coming soon!)