Dual Booting Windows and Linux with BURG
How to dual boot Windows and Linux and have a cool looking boot menu to select which operating system to load.
GRUB is the default bootloader for many Linux distributions, and while it is capable of dual booting multiple operating systems, it is a little bland. In this guide we look at how to install BURG, the graphical bootloader from the people who brought us GRUB.
Why Dual Boot?
A dual-boot configuration is essential for PC gamers who want to run Linux since virtually no games are developed for Linux. While you can configure them to run under WinE, it's often much simpler and faster performance to just reboot and play it in Windows.
You may also have software such as Adobe Creative Suite, which only runs on Windows. For these applications, it is often a good idea to run them in Windows, so dual booting is another ideal solution to this.
What is a bootloader?
A bootloader is a tiny piece of software which lives in a special part of your hard drive or SSD. It is the job of the bootloader to tell the CPU what operating system (OS) to load and how to load it. Typically it will load up the kernel which is the core of the OS, and once loaded it will take over and load the rest of the system, the drivers, libraries and so on.
Normally a bootloader will only contain instructions to load one operating system, however, for some people, this is a bit restrictive especially if you want to dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu for example. The bootloader would need to know how to load the Windows kernel as well as the Linux kernel.
This is where GRUB and BURG come in. GRUB is a Multiboot bootloader. It was derived from GRUB, the GRand Unified Bootloader, which was originally designed and implemented by Erich Stefan Boleyn.
While it does a good job of allowing multiple operating systems to be booted, it's not the best looking. Wouldn't it be nice to have a nice graphical menu? This is where BURG comes in.
What is BURG
BURG is relatively new bootloader which is based on GRUB. It stands for Brand-new Universal loadeR from GRUB. It is also GRUB spelt backwards. BURG allows you to replace the boring text based menu of GRUB with a nice graphical menu with logos and background images. BURG is also themeable, you can download BURG themes to customise its appearance.
How to dual boot Linux and Windows 10
Dual boot Linux and Windows 10 is an easy process as long as you follow these step by step instructions and remember the golden rule - always install Windows first. This is because Windows has no idea or concept of another operating system and the Windows installer will overwrite any and all bootloaders Linux (or any other OS) will have installed. Linux, on the other hand, will happily detect Windows and automatically configure GRUB with the Windows boot option.
For this, you will need a Windows installation CD/USB as well as the installation media for your chosen Linux distribution. You should also have backed up anything on your hard drive you wish to keep, as Windows will typically format the drive during the installation process. You can dual boot using multiple partitions on the same hard drive, or you can dual boot using two separate hard drives.
The first step to dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu is to install Windows 10. I've linked in a separate guide for that if you're not familiar with the process. It is an easy process, just follow the steps through.
Next, we need to install Linux. Again, I've linked in a guide to installing Ubuntu. Be sure to select the option which installs the Linux system alongside Windows, the other option will format the drive again.
Once the Linux installation is complete, you should now have a dual booting system. When you turn your computer on you should see the GRUB bootloader showing options to dual boot Ubuntu and Windows.
How to Install BURG
The process for installing BURG is simple. These instructions are for Debian/Ubuntu/Mint but a similar process should be followed for other distributions.
Boot into your Linux operating system and launch the terminal.
Add the BURG PPA to the repository
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:n-muench/burg
Then use the following command to download and install the loader, themes and emulator
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install burg burg-themes
During the installation, it should ask you to write the new boot loader to MBR. If you skip that step, you can later use the following command to update MBR of sda1
sudo burg-install "(sda1)"
You can launch BURG emulator using the command:
This will show an emulator displaying the current theme, as well as allowing you to select alternate themes. There are several which come preloaded with BURG and you can also download BURG themes and install new styles for your boot menu.
Do not use Grub Customizer to configure BURG as it just corrupts burg.cfg file and renders the BURG system useless. If this happens, typically you will have the BURG bootloader menu but displaying a text based menu similar to GRUB. You cannot change themes, nor can you configure it. The only thing you can do is to completely remove BURG and switch back to GRUB, then install BURG again avoiding GRUB Customizer.
sudo apt-get remove --purge burg burg-common burg-emu burg-pc burg-themes burg-themes-common
How to Install BURG themes
BURG themes are simply archive files which you need to extract to
/boot/grub/themes. Once extracted, run the BURG emulator and hit F2 to select a theme and F3 to change resolution.
If you wish to remove BURG and return to GRUB, simply run these commands in a shell prompt.
sudo apt-get remove --purge burg burg-themes sudo add repository -r ppm:n-muench/burg sudo update-grub
Dual Booting Problems
As with everything in life, there are a few issues with dual booting two different operating systems. These are listed below, along with a few workarounds.
Access to files
Linux will be able to read any of your files stored on the Windows partition without much trouble, however, Windows will not and cannot read from the Linux partition. This is down to the filesystem type. While there are third party drivers which allow Windows to read EXT3/4, they are buggy at best. The best solution I've found is to use a separate partition or hard drive for data storage. This can be NTFS or exFat both of which can be read by Windows and Linux. Simply use this to store your files and you can access them from either system.
As a bonus tip, storing your data separate from the OS means that you can format and reinstall the OS without having to backup and restore all your data each time. It's totally separate hard drive.
Adobe and FlexNet
Adobe products use anti-piracy management software called FlexNet. This software in part sits between the bootloader and beginning of first partition. This is also the area which GRUB is installed, so installing Adobe CS3 and above will over-write GRUB. If you try and reinstall GRUB you get a message such as:
Sector 48 is already in use by FlexNet; avoiding it. This software may cause boot or other problems in future. Please ask its authors not to store data in the boot track.
If you are planning on using Adobe products in Windows, you should install them before Linux to prevent your system from becoming unbootable. You can also uninstall FlexNet, but this won't stop the bootloader from being overwritten. It may also affect your licencing.
If you have any tips for dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 10, please share them in the comments below!
Last updated on: Thursday 5th October 2017