How to Dual Boot Windows 8.1 and Elementary OS

Elementary works well as a second OS to install with Windows

What to Know

  • Segregate drive space from Windows and create a bootable Elementary OS USB drive.
  • Next, plug the USB drive into your computer and follow the procedure for booting to USB.
  • Connect to the internet and choose Install Elementary OS > Install Alongside Windows.

This article explains how to dual boot Windows and Elementary OS. Instructions apply to Elementary OS 5.1 and Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10.


Before you get started, you should:

How to Boot Into Elementary OS

The process to dual-boot Windows and Elementary OS is much like the process for other major distributions.

With Elementary OS on a USB drive, plug the drive into your computer. Follow your computer's procedure for booting to USB.

How to Connect to the Internet

If you are using an Ethernet cable directly plugged into your router then you should automatically connect to the internet.

If you are connecting wirelessly, click the network icon in the top-right corner and choose your wireless network. Enter the security key.

Connecting is useful because the installer pulls relevant application and security updates released since the original disc image came to market.

How to Run the Installer

On the desktop, double-click the Install Elementary OS icon. That icon launches a wizard that offers a graphical walk-through of the configuration process. Follow the screens.

Elementary OS installation screenshot

Need more precise instructions for installing Linux? Check out How to Install Linux for more context.

Options of note:

  • On the Prerequisite screen, we recommend you leave Install Third Party Software selected. If you de-select it, your machine will more closely hew to free-and-open-source principles, but at the price of losing some proprietary codecs for multimedia playback and for managing network adapters.
  • On the Installation Options screen, select Install Alongside Windows. This setting allows for more granular partitioning of the hard drive.

Drive Configuration

When you resized a Windows partition to make space for Linux, you should have left at least 20 GB. When the Elementary installer reaches the partitioning setup screens, select the space left over from that earlier process.

Boot Manager

In most cases, the default settings correctly install the boot manager. Older computers used BIOS, but newer machines use EFI, which manages boot volumes differently.

If you cannot see Elementary OS after you boot, check out How to Get Ubuntu to Boot Before Windows; the process is identical for Elementary.

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