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First time use of linux on laptop without OS


I am a windows user for all my life now and just bought a lenovo thinkpad x230 without any OS pre-installed. I´m curious for linux and would like to try it.

I have some questions:

the thinkpad comes with intel core i5, 500GB ROM and 2x 4GB RAM. So i think i can use 64 bit versions of OS. I would like to use windows and linux.

Do i create partitions and what size before installing any OS (i plan to install windows 7 pro and maybe for starters ubuntu)? Or is it best to install e.g. linux beforehand and run windows from there in a virtual box?

I haven´t tried any of these options - please tell me about pro´s and con´s and how it would work in practice..

2) there is literally nothing pre-installed - even BOOTMGR-which is apparently necessary for installing an image isn´t installed. How can i install a linux version best, then?!


  • LegacyUserLegacyUser Posts: 0
    edited March 2013
    Hey Angelika,

    1) Since you're starting with a blank PC, it will be much easier to just install the first OS (Windows) and let it take up all of your disk space. THEN take your Linux CD/DVD/USB and partition how much space you want Windows to have and how much you want Linux to have with the Linux partitioner. After that, you should have a dual boot system, and the two OSes should have the amount of space desired.

    2) Having no boot manager (loader) is no real problem at all. When you install Windows, it will install its own boot loader, then when Linux is installed, it will install its own boot loader (GRUB). A boot loader has nothing to do with installing an image (if the image is applied to its media right) it just can't boot into a preexisting OS without one. And since there is no preexisting OS... All you need to do is to go into BIOS, and select your DVD/CD drive to be your Master boot device. Then your computer will recognize the Windows disc when put in to the DVD player as the Boot device (Different kind of boot than the non existing boot manager/loader)

    So really, no sweat. Just follow step one, make sure the DVD player is the master boot device at first. (If you are installing Linux on a USB, make sure to make the USB device the master boot device the second time around.) And all will be done.

    Let me know if you have any more questions.

    Thanks for stopping by Linux.com
  • Hey Izzy,

    Thanks for your answer!

    About the partition: until now i worked with windows - partitioning the hard drive into one smaller one, on which there would be the OS, a second partition for programs, a third for storing e.g. backups and data.

    With the "dual boot system" i would have to choose between windows and linux at the booting process? meaning i could not switch between OS while working on a dokument e.g.
    is there a major advantage to "dual booting"?!

    if i installed linux in a virtual box - it would need some memory space - would it be clever to create a separate partition (like above) for the virtual box?


  • Okay, I'm probably going to tick off a few members with this answer, but here it goes:

    First, no, you can not actively switch between to OSes, it's either one or the other on start up.

    Second, the only advantage to dual booting is if each OS is needed for their own special applications. Such as Windows for gaming and Linux for working on a private MySQL. If Linux is just a toy (or Windows, either way) then it would just be best to install the non-needed OS in a virtual box if those are your only two options. (Though doing so will eat up WAY more system resources than just booting into the OS). And no, a separate partition for the virtual box is not a good idea, because the virtual box only operates in the current partition that you are in, so the separate partition would just be unused space.

    Third, if you just want to try out Linux because its cool *and it is :)*, then the best route would be to just install a Linux image on a flash drive then boot into that every once and a while. Until then, if Windows suits your needs, I'd just stick with it. (I'm speaking from personal experience, after working with UNIX OSes for two + years, I've finally settled down with Windows 7 for the sole reason of: it does what I need, and it does it well. If Linux or Mac or BSD did what I needed it to do the best, I would go with that. Don't let fanboism or "the grass MUST be greener on the other side" mentality dictate how you handle your computer.

    So no matter what you choose, Linux, Mac, BSD, Windows; just go with what works, it'll all be outdated in a few decades anyway. :)

    Happy Partition Hunting,
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    I guess I can add some input ;)

    The decision to use virtualbox from within windows or have a dual boot system comes with a few item to question.

    1. Any Os in virtualbox will have limited performance compared to a native dual boot installation. The processes will be slower and applications that require 3d acceleration may not work properly, so for gaming that would kill the potential. What is more important to you, being able to quickly switch between OSs or have proper performance without the potential of a window error taking out both OSs?

    2. With a virtual installation you can open the same file on both operating systems if the file is being shared through a network file share, local access is restricted to a single OS at a time.

    3. You will want to install windows first, but with limited space. This is because windows will always overwrite any bootloader on the system and because resizing a partition can lead to lost data or limitations on the minimized size. Starting windows with the correct smaller partition will help you to avoid those problems.

    Also, on the recommendation of using a liveCD to play, it works well in theory but the performance loss is substantial, a native or virtual installation would deliver a much better experience.

    Please report back with any additional questions.
  • Mfillpot, has spoken. ;)
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