Dual boot Vista and Linux


Posts: 4,909   +8
OK, I had to investigate this just recently, so I thought I would share. Here is what to do if you want to add Linux to Vista's boot menu, rather than using Grub in the Master Boot Record.

# Install Vista as normal.

# Install Linux, but install Grub to the bootsector of your / partition (which from now on we will call /dev/sda3) and NOT the MBR (i.e. /dev/sda)

# Boot Linux from the install CD, choose rescue mode.

# From the command prompt in rescue mode, mount your Linux installation partition, i.e.

mount /dev/sda3 /mnt/sysimage

then chroot it:

chroot /mnt/sysimage

reinstall Grub just to make sure that its working OK

/sbin/grub-install /dev/sda3

now, make a file image of the bootsector of /dev/sda3:

dd if=/dev/sda3 of=bootsect.lin bs=512 count=1

copy the bootsect.lin to somewhere you will be able to get it back when in Vista.

# Now, back in Vista

copy bootsect.lin to c:\

open a command prompt with cmd, and do the following:

bcdedit /displayorder {current}

bcdedit /create /d "Linux" /application BOOTSECTOR

(should say something like created entry, it will give it a name, like {cfc90cf0-f718-11db-b281-005056c00008} )


bcdedit /set {cfc90cf0-f718-11db-b281-005056c00008} device boot
bcdedit /set {cfc90cf0-f718-11db-b281-005056c00008} PATH \bootsect.lin
bcdedit /displayorder {cfc90cf0-f718-11db-b281-005056c00008} /addlast
bcdedit /timeout 5

# Reboot, Linux is now in the boot menu which if you select it you will go into Grub.

Easy, eh??
Thank you for your info. I have similiar but different thing.... I have using linux operating system and for my backup I am using windows server. it's awesome to work with two different operating system.
Change to device value.

This is excellent and concise help but I had to make a change to get this to work for Windows7. I had to change the device value in the following manner.

bcdedit /set {cfc90cf0-f718-11db-b281-005056c00008} device partition=C:

More information on bcdedit can be found here:

A useful command to list all entries in the current store is:

bcdedit /enum

Thank you for your well researched post.


cleverly done -- but WHY? The most important part is the install sequence
  1. Windows
  2. Linux (brandx)
  3. Grub
which preserves the Windows startup nicely.

Was there a particular problem with Vista+Linux+Grub you were solving?
Yes, you are correct that Grub preserves the Windows login during install to the MBR. (At least for the Ubuntu 9.04 installation.) My need for the Windows controlled MBR was an attempt to track down an error with imaging the final build of both Win7 and Ubuntu 9.04 with Acronis True Image Home 2009.

I am building this computer in the hope of attracting my nine year old nephew's attention to computers and hope he will try things and break the installation. The Acronis image will allow me to put it back together relatively quickly.

Unfortunately, I have been receiving an error in Acronis telling me the partition is corrupt. This error led me to believe that Acronis was unable to read the MBR with Grub installed. It has taken me several days of troubleshooting in my sparse free time to figure out the error is caused by the logical partition I used to create a fifth partition to allow swap space and a FAT32 partition for fileswapping between Windows and Linux. I expect the Acronis error will disappear when I image with the Sector by Sector option.