After damaging my primary PC I found myself stuck with a HP Mini 311-1037NR, running on Windows 7. Everything is good about it, except its processor.
It runs Windows 7 on 3GB RAM, which is more than sufficient. The 160GB hard drive also ensures that Windows doesn’t lag. When it comes to the processor however, it’s pretty slow, featuring an Intel Atom processor, clocking 1.60GHz.
Personally, I’m not a fan of Windows 7, but that processor speed will perform woefully, if I upgraded to Windows 10. I need to find an operating system I can use alongside Windows 7, and the only viable alternative is a Linux distro.
There are many variants of the Linux OS, all optimized to work perfectly on low-end PCs. Linux isn’t a bad option for an operating system, so I chose to install Linux.
Another issue popped up. The PC is a mini-laptop, and as is the practice with most mini laptops, it doesn’t feature a disk drive, to make it ultra-portable. Also, I don’t want to go too advanced, as I formatted my other PC trying to create a partition from the command prompt.
I don’t want to use a USB pen drive either, as I have to risk losing all my information, and I can’t afford to lose the information on my USB. I had to find a way to dual boot Linux and Windows without creating a disk partition or using an installation disk or a bootable USB.
After some research, trial and error, I finally succeeded in finding a way to dual boot Linux and Windows on my laptop without using a USB or installation disk.
You can also find yourself in my situation; “how do you dual boot a Linux OS and Windows 10, 8 or 7 without a USB pen drive or an installation disk?”
Let’s find out.
.How to dual boot Linux and Windows
Setting up your computer for the task
As we’re essentially trying to make our computer perform a function without the necessary hardware, it means we have to install some extra software to ensure the operation goes smoothly.
• Download the Universal Netboot Installer (UNetbootin)
The software that assisted me in installing the OS was UNetbootin. UNetbootin simply means Universal Netboot Installer. It allows you to load a Linux distro directly into a part of your hard drive, and load it from there.
When you use UNetbootin, your original operating system is not deleted or eliminated. It will be available for opening every time you boot your computer. We’ll be looking at this in more details later in the article.
You can download UNetbootin online. It is a lightweight program that takes less than 5MB of your storage, so it downloads in a second or two.
• Get your Linux distro (Slax for this guide)
The next step is to get a copy of the Linux distro you’re trying to install. For this guide, I’ll be choosing Slax Linux, a Linux distro that’s lightweight, but intuitive. It is a few megabytes less than 300MB, so downloading it won’t take much time.
UNetbootin can reliably install a number of Linux distro on your computer, ranging from “Damn Small Linux” to “Ubuntu”. Anyways, this tutorial is focusing on installing Slax.
You can download Slax Linux on Slax.org.
The download will be an ISO file (preferably), so we can run it on our virtual disk drive to finalize the installation.
Now that you have your ISO image file and UNetbootin, it’s time for a clean install. This process is known as dual-booting, and we can safely say we’re dual-booting Linux alongside Windows 7. This is because the process installs an additional operating system to the computer, making the computer run two operating systems at a time.
So, here’s how to dual boot Windows and any Linux distro on your computer.
• Open UNetbootin
It doesn’t need an installation, although it’s an executable (.EXE) file. This is much of an advantage as we don’t have to spend tons of minutes waiting for a program to install (recall Microsoft Office).
Navigate to the folder where UNetbootin is located on your computer. It should be in the downloads folder, if you’ve downloaded it on your computer.
However, if you got it from a friend or downloaded it somewhere else, it might be in a different folder. Somehow, just find UNetbootin and click on it.
• Select the distro you’ll like to install and the version
Using the == Select Distribution == dropdown, select the version of Linux you’re trying to install. There is quite a large number of Linux distributions there, and it is highly recommended that you install a distro that’s officially supported by the software.
When you select what distro you want to install, all the available versions for that distro are made available in the dropdown just after it. Fortunately, we don’t have to go through much issues knowing what Slax Linux version we’re installing. The only available version is Latest_Live.
As you can see from the picture above, when you select your preferred distro and its version, UNetbootin automatically gives you information about it.
• Link the ISO file on your computer
In order to help UNetbootin find the downloaded operating system and subsequently install it on your machine, it has to know where exactly it’s located.
Select ISO from the dropdown at the bottom of the program’s interface to indicate that you’re installing an ISO file. Click on the button containing three dots and it loads Windows Explorer. From Windows Explorer, find the ISO file and select it.
As we’re running Slax Linux here, we won’t have anything to do with the “Space used to preserve files across reboots (Ubuntu only)” option. You’ll have to allocate a space if you’re actually trying to install Ubuntu.
At the last line, the first dropdown, which is automatically USB Drive should be changed to Hard Disk. The Drive option wants you to select what disk drive you want to install it to. I am obviously selecting C:\ because I have no other physical drives or partitions.
When it’s all set, click OK. It’s then left to UNetbootin to dual boot Linux and Windows on your machine.
UNetbootin starts to extract the necessary files from the ISO image file. Depending on how large the Linux distro you’re trying to install is, you might have to wait for quite a while. Start up a game or do something else.
When it’s completely extracted, click on Exit.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed the process of dual boot Linux and Windows.
When next you turn on your computer, you’ll be asked to choose what operating system you want to start up with.
The first operating system is always Windows, but the second will be UNetbootin. When you select UNetbootin, Slax Linux, or any other Linux distro you’ve installed will boot up.
Not everyone has access to a USB or disk. Installing Linux doesn’t require those. Once you’ve gotten UNetbootin and your favorite Linux distro, you can easily dual boot Linux and Windows without any issues.
Got into any errors, quickly comment below and I’ll get to you in an instant.