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Windows plus Linux Mint

Are you sure you want to dual boot?

This is more complicated than installing Linux in place of Windows.

If that's what you really wanted, see: Install Linux Mint

In any case, it is wise to do a complete disk image backup first.

Get a blank USB flash stick 4GB capacity

You need a blank USB flash stick for the Linux Mint installer which you will download.

Release free space on your hard drive for use by Linux

In Windows, run diskmgmt.msc (It's usually in Windows/System32)

You will see a list of your disk partitions and how much of each is being used.

Ideally, your main one is less than half used and you will return the unused half to freespace for use by Linux.

Personally, I would not dual boot without at least 400GByte of freespace but you need at least 130GB as an absolute minimum.

Right-click the Windows main partition and select shrink partition

Follow the prompts until done.

Note whether there is a partition for EFI or UEFI

UEFI is associated with the BIOS. When dual booting in a system that uses UEFI, your Linux boot program must go in the UEFI partition.

In any case, it must go in the same partition as the Windows boot file.

Note information that you want handy when installing Linux Mint

Later, when using Linux, you will be able to see and access all your Windows files but you won't see information inside programs, such as email account settings.

Make a note of all your account settings for connecting to the Internet and to your email server.

Access the BIOS

You need to access the BIOS. If you don't know how, google search using your computer's make and model name followed by "access the BIOS". It may involve function keys or a special hidden button.

Prepare the BIOS by changing key settings as follows:

Reboot into Windows as normal

Insert the blank USB flash stick

This will be used as a bootable drive for Linux Mint. Don't worry, when you have finished, you will boot from the hard drive on your computer as normal. Booting from a flash stick is just part of the process of Installing Linux Mint.

Download Linux Mint installation file

Download Linux Mint. At the time of writing, you get it from https://linuxmint.com/download.php. If you don't know which desktop edition then you certainly want the one called Cinnamon. If you don't know whether you want 32-bit or 64-bit, Look on your computer for folders called "Program files". If one of them is Program Files (x86), you want the 64-bit version, otherwise the 32-bit version. This is a ".iso" image file which means that your computer can boot (start) from it instead of launching Windows.

Make the flash stick a bootable Linux Mint image

The Linux .iso file must be written to the flash stick as a disk image. Unfortunately, you probably need to download an app/program to do this in Windows such as Rufus, but it is free.

Note how to get the boot menu on your computer

Find out how to get "boot options" or "boot menu" when your computer is started. The easiest way is to google search using your computer's make and model name followed by "boot menu". Typically there is a key to press at start up such as F12. Some other computers have a special mini button hidden away near where the power lead connects.

Shut down completely then start with boot menu

Shut down your computer with the Linux Mint flash stick still in place. Give it time and make sure it has completely shut down. Switch back on doing whatever is needed to get the boot menu. If this works, from the boot options select the option that mentions USB or flash drive. Definitely don't select Windows. It should now launch from the flash stick in Linux Mint.

Play with Linux Mint before installing it.

You can practice using Linux Mint with it running from the flash stick though this is not a good way to keep your options open indefinitely. Click the "menu" button at bottom left to see what software comes as standard. In the left column, one down from the top usually, is the button for the software manager. Click that and see the many other programs that are either pre-installed or can be installed easily.

Start the installation process

Decide on the 3 disk partition sizes

Click on the Freespace that you created earlier.

You have to create 3 new partitions. Decide how much to give to each:

Create the Linux root partition

Wait until the root partition appears in the partitions table. It may take a while

Create the Linux home partition

Wait until the home partition appears in the partitions table. It may take longer!

Create the Linux swap partition

Wait until the swap partition appears in the partitions table.

Select the device for boot loader installation

If there is a partition in the list with type "efi", select that partition from the dropdown list.

If you noted earlier which was the Windows boot partition, select that one.

Otherwise leave the selection on the one that the installer chose.

Click the Install Now button

You will be asked for various information. The answers are obvious.

Eject and remove flash stick

Open up the Files explorer near bottom left of screen

In the left column, find the USB flash stick

Right-click and select Eject

Restart computer into the Boot menu (not BIOS!)

If the screen says GNU GRUB at the top right and Linux Mint etc on the next line, and Windows Boot Manager further down, you don't need to change anything. This is the screen you will always see from now on when you restart normally. You can select whether to boot in Windows or Linux each time. If you leave it for several seconds, it just boots in Linux Mint by default.

If the screen says something like "please select boot device", there are three possibilities:

That should be it. Restart the computer normally and it should boot up in the GNU GRUB screen where Linux Mint is the default boot but you can select Windows whenever you want to.

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