Fedora is one of the more-popular Linux distributions available (for free, of course) on the market today, and has gained most of its popularity due to its simplicity and ease-of-use. Fedora is a Linux distribution that looks good (obligatory screenshots link), does what you need, and makes it easy to get things done.

Step-by-Step Fedora and Windows Dual-Boot Guide

Here’s a step-by-step screenshot guide to installing Fedora and getting it to place nice with Windows Vista’s (or 7/8) bootloader.

You can use these steps whether no matter whether you are installing Fedora before or after Windows.

The Fedora Side of Things

  1. Step One
    Insert your Fedora CD into your CD-ROM drive and restart your PC. You’ll see a screen like the one below; choose “Install or upgrade an existing system,” then hit <enter> to begin.
  2. Step Two
    Continue with the on-screen menu until you’re presented with the option of partitioning your hard drive. At this point, you can either let Fedora partition your drive for you (assuming you have some free space on there already) or manually create your partition layout. Either option is fine, just be sure to select the “Review and modify partition layout” checkbox.
  3. Step Three
    If you opted to manually partition your drive, now is the time to do so. Resize existing partitions (be careful not to change their order around though!) to create some free space, and create an xfs or ext3 partition to be mounted as root (“/”).
  4. Step Four
    Fedora is one of the operating systems out there that understands the needs of dual-booters and makes it easy to get things working. To this end, once you continue on to the next page in the Fedora setup process, you’ll be asked where you’d like to install GRUB, Fedora’s bootloader. On this page, just check the “Configure advanced boot loader options” box and press “Next” to continue. If you have entries other than “Fedora” in that list, you may want to remove them for a smoother dual-boot procedure later on.
  5. Step Five
    Since we elected to modify advanced bootloader options on the previous screen, Fedora will now ask us where we want to install GRUB to. There are two options: the MBR and the bootsector of the Fedora partition. Choose “First sector of boot partition” to put GRUB in a place that EasyBCD can access later on, then hit “Next” to continue.
  6. Step Six
    At this point, you’re done setting up the bootloader in a manner that will work with EasyBCD and Windows Vista without losing any data or putting existing operating systems at risk. Go ahead and continue setup until you come to the “Installation Complete” page; at which point you should remove your Fedora CD from the drive and reboot your PC.
       

Adding Fedora to the Windows Bootloader

If you installed Fedora before Windows Vista/7/8, now would be the time to get your Windows DVDs out and install it to your PC. Once Vista installed, grab yourself a copy of EasyBCD and install it to get started.
  1. Step 1
    Launch EasyBCD and go to the “Add/Remove Entries” page:
  2. Step 2
    Choose the “Linux” tab from the bottom-half of the EasyBCD screen:
  3. Step 3
    Choose the partition that you installed Fedora to earlier from the drop-down menu, then press “Add Entry” to save the changes.

At this point, your dual-boot configuration is complete. Go ahead and restart your PC: you should now see an option to boot into Fedora in the Windows Vista boot menu.

Completing Fedora Setup

  1. Step 1
    Pick the Fedora entry you just created from the Vista bootloader. You should see a screen like this one as Fedora begins to load (pretty, isn’t it?):
  2. Step 2
    Before long, you’ll come to the final stage of Fedora setup where you’ll be asked to provide some information and prompted to select a couple of preferences.
  3. Step 3
    Continue through the prompts customizing Fedora to your liking. Once all that is complete, you may be asked to reboot your PC once more to save the changes…. And, this time, you’ll be presented with the Fedora logon screen!
     

Afterthoughts

Time to give yourself a pat on the back… careful though, not too hard!

Welcome to the wonderful world of multi-booting. It’s an excellent way to make the most of available resources – there’s absolutely no need to have more than one PC just to use another OS. Use whatever OS is best for whatever task at hand – that’s the golden rule of dual-booting, and one that we all live our lives by.

Drop by our forums and say hi, we’d love to hear about how your dual-booting experience is going!