That Time I Dual Booted Ubuntu on my Main Computer

July 31, 2017

Recently, I briefly dual booted Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on my main computer. This was my first time dual booting, so I decided to write about it. Here's how it went.

1. Why Dual Boot

I ultimately made the decision to try dual booting for a few reasons:

  1. I wanted to try a completely different operating system and using it as a personal operating system. I previously used Debian Linux on an old PC to run a Minecraft server for my little brother and his friends. He was using a old laptop that I handed down to him. When that laptop died, I decided to backup the world, shut down the server, reinstall Windows 7, and make it his new PC. Outside of that, I've never used linux.
  2. I wanted to learn how to properly learn Linux and the Linux terminal. That way in the future I'd be more experienced with using the Linux terminal.
  3. I'm a big fan of free software and open-source software, so I figured Linux would be a good place to try out a bunch of it, since quite a bit of open-soure and free software is only available via linux.
  4. I decided to use Ubuntu because I'm new to linux, and Ubuntu is supposed to be easy to use, so I figured it would suit me well.
  5. I decided to dual boot because I still wanted to use Windows for all of my Adobe apps, and all of my Steam games that don't have Linux and/or Ubuntu support. (I could use Wine, but not everything is guaranteed to work on it. Also, I wanted to be able to remove Ubuntu and go back to just wanting Windows 10 if I didn't like it.

2. Preparation

I used to use a 3 TB external hard drive by Seagate to store a bunch of my data, such as old data, backups, etc. However, upon running CrystalDiskInfo to check the health of my hard drives, I found that my external drive was given a "Caution" status, due to the fact that it failed 3 S.M.A.R.T. tests. As a result, I got a new 4 TB Western Digital My Book, and moved 2.21 TB of data off of the old drive to the new one. I then made a backup of all of the files that were currently on my PC to the external hard drive. At this point, I was ready to set up the dual boot.

3. Setting Up The Dual Boot

To start, I went into the Windows 10 settings and reset Windows, meaning that it would be like new. Once that was done, I shrank the Windows partition by 50 GB. I then booted into the BIOS settings and turned off secure boot. Then I booted into a flash drive I had with Ubuntu on it, and installed Ubuntu to dual boot.

Installation was easy enough, I simply just opened the installer, went through the process of selecting all of my options and how I want it installed, and let the installer run. There was no commands to be run or anything. After about 30 minutes of waiting, Ubuntu was now dual-booted onto my PC alongside Windows 10.

4. Using Ubuntu

For the next 24 hours, I would pretty much exclusively use Ubuntu. On boot, I was given a startup menu by GNU GRUB asking me whether I wanted to boot into Ubuntu or Windows 10. Ubuntu was pretty easy to use, and was very user friendly. I actually had to use command prompts way less than I expected. I was able to get Steam, Discord, Keepass 2, OBS, etc up and running.

However, I ran into several problems. For starters, my computer has two hard drives, a 250 GB SSD for the OS, and a 2 TB HDD for data. I wanted to get folders such as the Desktop or Downloads folder to my 2 TB HDD, but I was unable to find a solution that worked for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. I have a lot of data, so this is a must-have.

In addition, oddly enough, I was noticing worse performance on games such as TF2 than I was getting on Windows. I like to max out my settings on games like TF2.

I also tried to install the GNOME desktop environment due to my dislike of unity. The version of GNOME I installed for Ubuntu was very buggy, so I uninstalled it. Uninstalling it was a pain, as that caused several issues, such as the startup screen still being the Ubuntu Gnome startup screen, instead of the Ubuntu one. At this point, I had enough, and decided to go back to just using Windows.

5. Going Back

Going back to just using Windows was a pain. I thought I could just run a command in the Windows terminal to remove GRUB. However, it turns out that my computer uses UEFI. I tried to use a OS removal tool, but that failed. So I used my Windows recovery flash drive, which completely reinstalled Windows. Instead of installing Windows 10, it installed Windows 8, which is what my computer came with. (I later upgraded to Windows 10) So once Windows 8 was installed, I proceeded to use this offer from Microsoft (which is basically a free upgrade to Windows 10 without any sort of catch) to upgrade back to Windows 10. After all of that, I was finally back to just Windows 10, and GNU GRUB was finally gone.

6. Conclusions

I don't hate Ubuntu, nor do I hate Linux. However, it just doesn't suit my needs. If I had a hard drive I could dedicate to Ubuntu, or the entire system was dedicated to Ubuntu, I probably would've liked it more. I'd also probably like it more if I installed it on a laptop instead of a desktop (preferrably a Thinkpad laptop). I'll probably try to use Linux in other ways in the future, however, for now, I think I'm just about done with it.