• Dual-boot question

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    My introduction to the cyberworld was in the era of Windows Vista, making me a relative newcomer.  When Windows 7 came out, I bought and installed in my desktop a second hard drive containing a legal copy of that OS in one of the two extra bays provided for the purpose (Turned out to be pretty simple, even for a newbie).  Since then, on bootup, a black screen appears asking for a choice between the two OS’s, and defaulting to 7 after 30 seconds if I don’t select Vista.  I normally choose 7, which of course is a great improvement over Vista.

    Recently, I’ve been told that the two OS’s do not operate independently of each other, and that elements of both are in play when I select the W7 option at bootup.  If true, it would mean that both hard drives are running, which to my (limited) understanding would slow the computer substantially.  I find this somewhat curious, since the Vista OS was complete and fully functional when it was the only OS in the machine.

    Further, it is interesting that the screens generated in each OS using Start>Computer show almost identical numbers on amount of disk usage, divided between  local disk, OS, and recovery.  However, the letters used for each of these are different between the two OS’s (Unable to determine how to add screenshots to this post).

    My thought is that only one of the hard drives, with the complete and discrete Vista or 7, is running at any one time.  Hard to imagine that elements of one system could migrate to the other.  Could it be that the disk usage bar graphs shown are the same because the drives themselves are off-the-shelf stock items, subsequently loaded with the OS by Microsoft (or others)?  And, to take that theory a step further, perhaps those bar graphs are not truly accurate, but “default” values placed by the manufacturer of the disk?

    Please don’t laugh, I’m no expert, and my questions are not in jest!



    Viewing 5 reply threads
    • #319563

      No, if you are dual booting, the two different OS’s aren’t using parts of each other; each OS is totally independent.

      Both hard drive are indeed running.  When you start up your PC, both hard drives spin up and continue to run.  There are options which can be set for periods of inactivity when the HDD’s can be allowed to spin down, but when Windows is running and you are actively using the system, both hard drives are going to be spinning.

      As for the disk usage, etc. graphs, there’s a good chance that they will be very similar, particularly if you are using the same programs in Windows 7 that you were using in Vista.

      Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
      We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #319584

      I’ve used dual booting for some time with different operating systems, including Linux.
      My current setup has two ssd’s, one running W7 the other W10 on the Insider Program.
      The only issues I came across were basically cross interference. I found errors occurring with System Restore, and with the recycle bin.
      I should mention I have other HDD’s for data which exist for both operating systems.
      I disabled system restore, prefering to use disc images for system backup.
      I also removed the drive letter from the op sys I wasn’t using, so that it wouldn’t show in explorer in the sys in use.
      Since then I’ve had no overlap problems.
      In short, go ahead and do it, and learn from the experience.


      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #319583

      I think we might be using slightly different nuanced versions of the word “independent.”

      When you boot either Vista or Windows 7, it is independent from the other as far as the operating system is concerned.  When you select 7, for example, you’re not running any Vista code at all, and the Vista installation could be broken beyond all recognition and you’d never notice it if you only booted 7, as long as the bootloader is still okay (the little bit of code on the hard drive that the computer uses to begin the boot process).  The bootloader contains the menu options for both versions of Windows.

      Both operating systems and their respective installations are independent, but that doesn’t mean that it’s independent in the sense that selecting one OS on one hard drive turns the other one off.  As bbearen wrote, both hard drives will spin up when the PC is powered up, and will stay that way until told to spin down or until they have power cut and they have to spin down.  This is normal, and hard drives are meant to remain spinning for hours on end in case they’re needed.

      This means that when you boot into 7, the hard drive containing Vista can still be accessed by Windows 7, and it can read or write data on that drive.  Vista isn’t running, but the hard drive containing it is.  In terms of the OS and the code that runs, it’s independent, but if you understand “independent” to mean it’s like the Vista drive isn’t even there while you are in Windows 7, it’s not.  That’s okay, though.

      The energy needed to merely keep a drive spinning is trivial, and the Windows power settings can be set to spin an unused drive down after an interval, so then it’s not using even that.  While the drive is sitting there idle, it’s not slowing anything down or causing any ill effects other than slightly higher power consumption and heat generation.  On a desktop it’s pretty trivial, but on a laptop it might help noticeably to have the drive sleep where it can, though a SSD would be even better.

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      • #319585

        ^ Me (I used to fix these mistakes a lot…)

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

    • #319708

      Responses much appreciated.  I’m thinking about taking this a step further.  Since I long ago basically abandoned Vista in favor of 7, I’m considering trying to install Mint on the original hard drive, in place of Vista, and then I’ll have Internet access using Mint but keep using 7, a system I am very happy with.  Some of the programs I use don’t have Mint versions.

      I’m thinking that Internet browsing with 7 might get chancy once Microsoft throws 7 under the bus and ends support.  Not too interested in W10.


      • #319762

        I installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS over a Vista installation on a old laptop. Added the default firewall and ClamTK (antivirus) and I’m good to go (thinking of adding a rootkit). I still like my Win7 machines but it’s good to have backup plans. I’m nowhere near as comfortable with Ubuntu as with Win7, but I’m getting there.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #319728

      At some point, I would expect browser devs to stop supporting 7, as they did with XP and Vista.  At that point, it would be using a vulnerable browser on a vulnerable OS– not a good combo.

      I would say to go ahead with the Mint plan.  You might find you don’t need Windows much anymore, so you can avoid the booting back and forth most of the time.  When I first started the migration to Linux, I liked it, but the idea of only Linux kind of seemed… intimidating.  Not anymore, though!  I still have Windows as a boot option since I already paid for it, but I could easily get along without it.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #319736

        Ok, now this is getting embarrassing.  Me again… sorry PKCano!

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #319946

      I installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS over a Vista installation on a old laptop. Added the default firewall and ClamTK (antivirus) and I’m good to go (thinking of adding a rootkit). I still like my Win7 machines but it’s good to have backup plans. I’m nowhere near as comfortable with Ubuntu as with Win7, but I’m getting there.

      Thanks for that.  I’m seeing this change as a major project (for me) and I expect to study all the instructions, etc. before getting started, in an attempt to avoid a fiasco.

      Do you have to format the drive that was originally Vista before doing the Linux install?

      • #320011

        No reformatting of the hard drive is required. Once you get your computer to boot off a usb flash drive, just pop the drive in, start the computer and choose the install option. You’ll be given the choice of overwriting the Vista stuff and only having Ubuntu (what I would call single boot), keeping the Vista and installing Ubuntu “next to” it (dual boot), or some other technical options about disk partitions, sizing, etc. I just ignored the technical stuff because I didn’t understand it and because I had a plenty large hard drive, etc. I’m sure @Ascaris can explain the partitioning stuff far better than I can, although as I say I don’t think you need to worry about it.

        Once I learned how to make a bootable flash drive with Ubuntu on it and how to boot the computer off the drive, the install was easy. Connecting to wireless internet was about the same as with Windows or a Mac. Then you’ll have a basic functioning computer with which you can create documents, view pdfs, etc. etc. basically do what you can do in Windows, albeit with different programs. Compatibility with Windows programs may be another kettle of fish, though.

        For me, the hard part is going beyond some things that come with the standard installation. Installing Opera was a snap, but getting midi files to play was painful. Configuring the firewall was merely confusing, and Clam TK is IMHO a complete piece of junk.

        My main reason for doing all this was to have a basic functioning computer with internet access in case all else headed south. I now have that. But, I also now have an iMAC, which as they say “it just works”, no hassle, no fuss no muss.

        I’ll also add that my experience is with Ubuntu only. I installed it on 2 computers. From what I’ve read here, Mint seems to be more user friendly, and perhaps easier to tweak and get set up the way you want/need with other browsers, firewall config, antivirus, midi files, etc. Perhaps some folks here have experience with both Ubuntu and Mint and can make a more thorough comparison.

        Hope this helps, and good luck!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #320012

        Do you have to format the drive that was originally Vista before doing the Linux install?

        As a requirement, no. And if it were a modern SSD and well trimmed I would not bother. But this drive is old enough to have Vista on it, so without reading all the above (sorry) I’ll assume it is a well aged magnetic spinner. This gives a few good reasons to allow the time to do a full format with error checking before trusting it as a new OS boot drive. Alternatively, use a new drive. You’ve done the work before, it is inexpensive, and you could keep the Vista drive for posterity, if another archived backup is not needed.

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