How to Dual Boot Windows and Debian

Use Debian as the second OS on your Windows 10 PC

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Want to run Linux on a Windows PC? If you know how to dual boot Debian and Windows, you can switch between operating systems whenever you want.

These instructions are for installing Debian 8 Jessie on PCs running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 8.

Where to Get Debian for Windows

The first step is to download the appropriate ISO file for your computer's architecture. For 64-bit systems, go to https://www.debian.org/distrib/netinst in a web browser and select amd64 under Small CDs or USB sticks to download the Debian ISO file. If you're running a 32-bit version of Windows, select i386 under Small CDs or USB sticks.

Download the Debian ISO for your computer's architecture.

How to Prepare Your PC to Boot Debian From a USB

To prepare your PC for dual booting Linux and Windows, you may need to shrink your Windows partition to make room for Debian. If your system uses UEFI, you must also disable Windows Fast Startup so that you can boot from a USB device:

Back up Windows with Macrium Reflect or another software backup tool before you begin in case something goes wrong.

  1. Right-click the Windows Start menu and select Power Options.

    Right-click the Windows Start menu and select Power Options.
  2. Select Additional power settings on the right side.

    Select Additional power settings.
  3. Select Change what the power button does.

    Select Change what the power button does.
  4. Select Change settings that are currently unavailable.

    Select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  5. Uncheck the Turn on Fast Startup box and select Save Changes.

    Uncheck the Turn on Fast Startup box and select Save Changes.

How to Create a Bootable Debian USB Drive

You will need to download and install the Win32 Disk Imager to burn the ISO file to the USB drive:

  1. Insert a blank USB flash drive into one of the USB ports on your computer.

  2. Launch Win32 Disk Imager and select your USB drive under Device.

    Launch Win32 Disk Imager and select your USB drive under Device.
  3. Select the blue folder under the Image File section and select the Debian ISO file you downloaded.

    Select the blue folder under the Image File section and select the Debian ISO file you downloaded.

    If you don't see the ISO file listed, set the File type to All.

  4. Select Write.

    Select Write.
  5. Select Yes to confirm.

    Select Yes to confirm.
  6. Restart your computer and hold down the Shift key until you see the option to boot from the USB drive.

If your computer boots into Windows, you may need to change the boot order in the system BIOS.

You can do anything in the live version of Debian that you can do when it is fully installed, but any changes you made will be lost when you reboot.

How to Dual Boot Debian and Windows 10

To install Debian so that you can dual boot Windows and Linux:

  1. Select Graphical install.

    Select Graphical install.
  2. Choose your language, region, and keyboard layout.

    Choose your language.
  3. When you get to the Configure the network section, give your PC a hostname and assign your network a domain name if you want.

    Give your PC a hostname.

    If your PC doesn't automatically detect your network connection, you may be prompted to set up a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.

  4. In the Set Up Users And Passwords section, you must choose a root password, which will be required for processes that need administrator access. You'll then be asked to create a user name and password.

    Create a root password.
  5. In the Partition Disks section, choose Guided - use the largest continuous free space and select Continue.

    Choose Guided - use the largest continuous free space and select Continue.

    You'll be given the option to create one single partition for Debian or set up a separate home partition. The following steps are the same regardless of which one you choose.

  6. On the screen showing how the disk will be partitioned, choose Finish partitioning and write changes to disk and select Continue.

    Choose Finish partitioning and write changes to disk and select Continue.
  7. Select Yes and Continue to confirm.

    Select Yes and Continue to confirm.
  8. In the Configure the Package Manager section, choose Yes under Use a network mirror and select Continue to download Debian packages for your region.

    choose Yes under Use a network mirror and select Continue

    You can skip this step, but you will eventually need to install Debian packages to get the most out of your new operating system.

  9. In the Software Selection section, choose the Linux desktop environment you want to use.

    Choose the Linux desktop environment you want to use.

    Make sure the boxes beside print server and standard system utilities are also checked before selecting Continue.

  10. On the Finish the Installation screen, select Continue.

    Select Continue on the Finish the Installation screen.

With the setup complete, reboot your computer and remove the USB drive. A menu should appear with an option to boot either Debian or Windows. Whenever you want to change operating systems, just restart your computer.