Home Dual Boot Dual Boot Zorin OS and Windows: A Step-by-Step Guide

Dual Boot Zorin OS and Windows: A Step-by-Step Guide

A Step-by-Step Guide to Install Zorin OS Alongside Windows.

By Karthick
11.2K views

Zorin OS is a user-friendly Linux distribution that is designed to be a great alternative to Windows. It is easy to use, has a modern look and feel, and comes with a variety of pre-installed software. If you are looking to try Zorin OS, but you don't want to give up Windows completely, you can install Zorin OS alongside Windows operating system. This means that you will be able to choose which operating system you want to use when you start your computer. This tutorial will walk you through the steps of dual booting Zorin OS and Windows.

What's so Special about Zorin OS

Zorin OS which started as a hobby project back in 2008 is now one of the popular distributions in the linux world. The initial version of Zorin OS was released in July 2009.

The current version of Zorin OS is 16.3 and it is based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. Zorin OS is widely popular for its polished interface and smooth desktop experience. It provides a Windows-like experience by default to make sure users switching from Windows get adapted quickly.

Zorin OS comes in four different editions.

  1. Zorin Core
  2. Zorin Lite
  3. Zorin Pro
  4. Zorin Education

Zorin CORE - Zorin Core can be downloaded free of cost. It offers all the necessary features that you expect to have in the operating system. Zorin Core comes with a polished Gnome desktop interface. You will get access to popular apps like LibreOffice Suite, Zorin Connect, etc. and you can also install any packages available in the Ubuntu, flatpak, or Snap repositories.

Zorin LITE - Zorin Lite is the same as Zorin Core but it comes with an XFCE desktop which is lightweight. This version is targeted at machines with low computing power and older hardware.

Zorin PRO - Zorin Pro is a paid version that comes with a few additional features. You will get all the features available in Zorin Core. Additionally, you will get access to premium desktop layouts, customized wallpapers, Productivity software, and Zorin installation support.

Zorin EDUCATION - Zorin Education is targeted for education purposes and comes with a set of apps to teach maths, science, geography, music, and other subjects.

Some of the notable features of Zorin OS include,

  • Flexibility to choose between free and paid versions.
  • Zorin Connect, a native app can be used to connect your phone and computer.
  • A single interface connecting APT, Flatpak, and Snap to manage the lifecycle of package management.
  • Polished Gnome desktop environment.
  • Lightweight XFCE desktop environment for older hardware.
  • Comes with kernel 5.15.
  • Improved touchpad gestures.
  • Windows and Mac-like layouts.
  • Introduction of fractional scaling.
  • Improved taskbar features.
  • Telemetry is disabled for better privacy.
  • Better security with UFW.

Advantages of dual booting Zorin OS and Windows

  1. Versatility: You get the flexibility to choose between two different operating systems, each with its strengths, depending on your needs.
  2. Software Compatibility: Windows is known for its wide range of compatible software and games, allowing you to run your favorite applications hassle-free.
  3. Security: Zorin OS, being based on Linux, offers robust security features, reducing the risk of malware and viruses.
  4. Innovation: Zorin OS provides access to the latest Linux innovations, offering a fresh and efficient computing experience.
  5. Privacy: Zorin OS prioritizes user privacy, which can be a significant advantage if you're concerned about data security.
  6. Learning Opportunity: Dual booting allows you to explore and learn about two different operating systems, enhancing your computer skills.
  7. Separation of Work and Play: You can use Windows for work-related tasks and Zorin OS for personal or creative projects, keeping them separate.
  8. Backup: If one OS encounters problems, you can use the other as a backup or to troubleshoot issues.
  9. Customization: Zorin OS offers extensive customization options, letting you personalize your desktop environment to your liking.
  10. Cost-Efficiency: Zorin OS is free, reducing the overall cost of your computer setup.

What You will Need

  • A computer with Windows 10/11 installed.
  • A USB drive with at least 8GB of storage.
  • The Zorin OS installation ISO image.
  • A bootable media creator, such as Etcher or Rufus.

Prerequisites

Before installing Zorin OS alongside Windows OS, you should do the following tasks:

  • Make sure that your computer has enough storage space for both operating systems.
  • Back up your data in your Windows instillation before you start the installation process.

Dual Booting Zorin OS and Windows Step-by-Step

For demonstration purpose, I will be using Windows 10 and Zorin OS 16.3 which is the latest release. The procedure is the same for Windows 11 too.

Installing Zorin OS with Windows Dual boot mode consists of the following steps:

  1. Download the Zorin OS installation ISO image from the Zorin OS website.
  2. Create a bootable USB drive using Rufus.
  3. Boot your computer from the USB drive.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to install Zorin OS.
  5. When you are prompted to choose a partition layout, select the option to install Zorin OS alongside Windows.
  6. Follow the remaining instructions to complete the installation.

Step 1: Preparing Windows for Dual Boot

The first step in the dual boot process is to complete some steps in the Windows OS. Here is the list of actions that need to be completed on the Windows side.

  1. Windows 10/11 should be already installed as the primary operating system which I believe is already satisfied.
  2. Validate if the disk partition scheme is set to GPT.
  3. Validate if Windows installation is using BIOS or UEFI.
  4. Disable secure boot in your system's BIOS or UEFI settings.
  5. Allocate some free space to install Zorin OS in a separate partition.

Let me explain the above steps in detail. I assume the first requirement for installing Windows is already satisfied.

1. Check the Windows Disk Partition Scheme

Open the PowerShell. Run the 'Get-Disk' command and look for the last section of the output. It will show you the partition style as GPT or MBR. If it shows as GPT then you are good to proceed to the next step.

$ Get-Disk
Get Windows Partition Scheme
Get Windows Partition Scheme

2. Check Windows BIOS Mode

To verify whether your Windows system is using BIOS or UEFI, follow the below steps:

  1. From the Windows start menu search for the keyword "System Information".
  2. Open the "System Information" application.
  3. Under the "System Information -> System Summary" section look for the "BIOS Mode" field
  4. If you see the BIOS mode is set to "UEFI" then it is running in UEFI mode.
  5. if you see the BIOS is set as "Legacy" then it is running in BIOS mode.
Check BIOS or UEFI Mode
Check BIOS or UEFI Mode

If your output says "UEFI" then the requirement is satisfied and you are good to move to the next step.

3. Disable Secure Boot

Secure boot allows only OEM-signed bootloaders to be loaded during the boot process. Also, the secure boot does not go well with some linux operating systems so it is a better choice to disable it.

First, you should make sure that secure boot is enabled or disabled. Open the "system information" utility from the Windows start menu and search for the keyword secure boot.

Check Secure Boot State
Check Secure Boot State

If it says state of Secure Boot "OFF", you are good to proceed to the next section. If you see the secure boot state as "ON", then you should proceed to the following step to disable it.

Secure boot can be disabled from the BIOS interface. Follow the below steps to go to the BIOS interface.

  1. From the Windows start menu type "Settings".
  2. Select "Recovery" from the settings.
  3. Select the "Advanced startup" option and click "Restart now".
Restart Windows
Restart Windows

Upon restarting, your system will enter the Advanced startup mode from where you have to click "Troubleshoot".

Select Troubleshoot
Select Troubleshoot

Next, click "Advanced options".

Click Advanced Options
Click Advanced Options

In the Advanced Options window, click "UEFI Firmware Settings".

Click UEFI Firmware Settings
Click UEFI Firmware Settings

Finally, click on "Restart" which will take you to the BIOS settings window.

Click Restart
Click Restart

Now the system will be rebooted and the UEFI/BIOS window will be displayed. The interface that you see in the below image is for the HP manufacturer and if you are using different manufacturers then the interface might change. Look for 'Secure Boot' under boot configuration and disable it.

Secure Boot Option in HP Laptop
Secure Boot Option in HP Laptop

4. Create a Disk Partition to Install Zorin OS

This is an important step in the dual boot process. Here you are going to create a separate drive partition to install your linux operating system. From the start menu search for 'create and format hard disk partitions'. It will open the disk management utility.

Windows Disk Management Utility
Windows Disk Management Utility

First, you should decide how much space is needed for Windows & Zorin OS and accordingly, the partitions should be created. In my case, I have divided my 1TB hard drive space to be nearly equal for both operating systems.

If you do not have any unallocated space then shrink the existing volume to create unallocated space. Right-click on any existing partition and click 'Shrink Volume'. You should see a dialog box similar to the below image. Under the highlighted section enter the size in MB to shrink.

Shrink Volume in Windows
Shrink Volume in Windows

Now you have enough space for Zorin installation. Let us go ahead and download Zorin OS and create Zorin OS bootable media.

Step 2: Download Zorin OS

Go to to the official download page of Zorin OS. You can choose to download the Zorin Core or Zorin lite as free versions and Zorin Pro as paid version.

Once the Zorin ISO is downloaded you need to write it into a USB medium. There are many tools available for Windows, Linux, and Mac to create a bootable USB medium. I am using Rufus which is a popular tool to create a bootable USB medium on Windows OS.

Step 3: Create Zorin OS Bootable Media

Go to the Rufus official website and scroll down the main page where you will see the download option. Click on the version and the respective .exe file will be downloaded.

There is no installation required for Rufus and you can click the .exe file and the utility will be launched.

  • The 'Device' section on Rufus will detect the plugged-in USB drive and display the selected drive.
  • The 'Boot Selection' section is where you have to select the iso image you downloaded.
  • The 'Format Options' section lets you set the volume label and file system type for the USB drive.
Create Zorin OS Bootable Media using Rufus
Create Zorin OS Bootable Media using Rufus

Once all the necessary options are selected click 'START' button. Once the process is completed you will see the status as ‘READY’.

Please note that Rufus is available for Windows OS only. If you already have a Linux system, you can use any one of the applications to create bootable Zorin media.

Command line bootable USB creation tools:

Graphical bootable USB creation tools:

Step 4: Start Zorin OS Installation

1. Reboot your machine and press any of the boot keys (F8, F9, F12) to show the boot loader options. Select the USB medium to boot. The Zorin OS installer process will be started and you will be displayed with options like as shown in the below image.

If you wish to install it along with NVIDIA drivers then choose option 3 else go with option 1.

Zorin OS Installer Page
Zorin OS Installer Page

2. Next the installer will prompt you to choose between 'Try Zorin OS' or 'Install Zorin OS'.

Try Or Install Zorin OS
Try Or Install Zorin OS

If you want to try the Zorin before making any changes in your disk drive, choose 'Try Zorin OS' option. If you wish to start the Zorin installation right away, click 'Install Zorin OS'.

If you choose to 'Try Zorin OS', you can later run the installer by clicking on the installer icon on the desktop.

Run Zorin OS Installer from Live Desktop
Run Zorin OS Installer from Live Desktop

3. In this step, choose the desired keyboard layout and click 'Continue'.

Select Keyboard Layout in Zorin OS Installer
Select Keyboard Layout in Zorin OS Installer

4. In this step, you will be prompted with three options.

Download Updates - If you enable the option, the installer will automatically update all the packages to the latest version. You can also do it manually by running ‘sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade’ after the installation.

Drivers & Media Formats - Enabling the option will install additional media codecs and hardware drivers. You can also install them manually after the installation.

Census - Zorin developers collect the number of users anonymously. Enable the option to not send anonymous data.

Zorin Updates and Other Software
Zorin Updates and Other Software

5. In this step, you will create disk partitions for Zorin OS. The installer will prompt you with three options.

Install Zorin alongside the Windows operating system - If you choose this option the partitions for linux will be automatically created.

Erase Disk & Install Linux - This will wipe out the existing Windows operating system and install Zorin OS.

Something Else - This option lets you create manual partitions. This is the best method since we will have full control of the number of partitions, partition types, and size.

Choose Installation Type for Zorin OS
Choose Installation Type for Zorin OS

Select 'Something else' and click Install now which will take you to the partition manager window. In the partition manager window, you can see the disk, existing Windows partition, free space, etc.

Zorin OS Disk Partition Manager
Zorin OS Disk Partition Manager

Here I am going to use my 475.9 GB of free space to create linux partitions. Click on the 'free space' and then click the '+' icon. This will open a dialog box to create partitions. Provide the following information and click OK.

  • Enter partition size in MB (E.g. 250000)
  • Choose type and location of the partition (E.g. Primary and Beginning of this space)
  • Select File system type (E.g. Ext4)
  • Select Mount point (E.g. /home)
Create New Partition for Zorin OS
Create New Partition for Zorin OS

Repeat the same step and create the partitions as per your preferences. In my case, I created 4 partitions.

/home250GBEXT4
root (/)100GBEXT4
Swap16GBSwap
/boot1GBEXT4
My Partition type, size and filesystem type for Zorin OS
My partition Setup for Zorin OS
My partition Setup for Zorin OS

Now click 'Install Now'. It will prompt you with the list of disk changes and ask for a confirmation. Press 'Continue' to write the changes to the disk and the installation will be started.

Disk Change Confirmation
Disk Change Confirmation

6. Choose the location which will also set your system date and time.

Select Timezone
Select Timezone

7. Enter the host name and user ID information which will be created during the installation and will be used as the login user. The user will be automatically added to the sudo group.

Enter New User Details
Enter New User Details

8. Now the installer will start installing the files. Please be patient until the installer completes its job.

Zorin OS Installation Progress
Zorin OS Installation Progress

Once the installation is completed, restart the machine by clicking 'Restart Now'.

Zorin OS Installation is Completed
Zorin OS Installation is Completed

9. Post reboot the GRUB login screen will appear. You can select Zorin or Windows Boot Manager to boot into the respective operating system. By default, it will boot into Zorin OS if no input is provided from your end.

Dual Boot Zorin OS and Windows
Dual Boot Zorin OS and Windows

Now, the Login screen will be displayed where you need to log in with the username you created during the installation process.

Zorin OS Login Screen
Zorin OS Login Screen

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Zorin OS 16.3 in a Windows dual boot setup. Now install your favorite software and other tools and get started with the operating system.

Check Zorin OS Version Details
Check Zorin OS Version Details

FAQ: Dual Booting Windows and Zorin OS

Q: What is dual booting?

A: Dual booting is a setup that allows you to have two different operating systems installed on the same computer. In our case, it's Windows and Zorin OS. You can choose which one to use each time you start your computer.

Q: Why would I want to dual boot Windows and Zorin OS?

A: Dual booting lets you enjoy the benefits of both operating systems. Windows offers software compatibility and familiarity, while Zorin OS provides a familiar alternative to Windows OS with security and innovation. You can switch between them based on your needs.

Q: Is it safe to dual boot my computer?

A: If done correctly, dual booting is safe. However, there are risks involved, such as data loss if not done properly. Make sure to back up your important files and follow our guide carefully.

Q: Do I need to purchase Windows and Zorin OS licenses?

A: You'll need a valid Windows license. Zorin OS, on the other hand, is free to use, so no purchase is necessary.

Q: Can I add more than two operating systems to my computer?

A: Yes, you can! It's possible to have multiple operating systems installed on your computer and choose between them during startup.

Q: Will dual booting slow down my computer?

A: Dual booting itself won't slow down your computer significantly. However, the more software and files you have on your hard drive, the more it can impact performance. Regular maintenance can help keep your computer running smoothly.

Q: What if I want to remove one of the operating systems later?

A: You can remove one of the operating systems by following guides given below.
- How To Safely Remove Linux From Dual Boot Windows
- How To Safely Remove Windows From Windows-Linux Dual Boot
However, it's important to back up your data and be cautious during the removal process to avoid losing files.

Q: Can I switch between Windows and Zorin OS without restarting my computer?

A: Generally, you'll need to restart your computer to switch between operating systems. However, there are virtualization solutions that can allow you to run one OS inside the other without a full restart.

Conclusion

Dual booting Zorin OS and Windows is a great way to try out a new operating system without giving up your old one. This tutorial has provided you with the steps you need to dual boot these two operating systems. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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6 comments

krzysztof September 13, 2023 - 1:35 pm

Zorin 16.3 is based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, not 22.04

Reply
sk September 13, 2023 - 2:13 pm

As mentioned in the official Zorin 16.3 release notes, Zorin OS 16.3 is powered by the same version of the Linux kernel as in Ubuntu 22.04 LTS (GA). Please read here -> https://blog.zorin.com/2023/07/27/zorin-os-16.3-is-released/

Reply
James September 18, 2023 - 3:51 pm

I used to dual boot, two different Linux OS’s, but I stopped doing that, it is no longer worth the hassle. Between UEFI and os-prober being disable by default it became a real hassle.
I bought an inexpensive reconditioned laptop instead. One OS per computer. Life is much easier now.

Reply
Scott M. Allen September 18, 2023 - 10:27 pm

Hard Drives are so cheap now – why would anyone dual boot these days. Seperate drives for each operating system. Just because you “can” doesn’t mean you should…. I haven’t dual booted in at least three years.

Reply
Umar May 16, 2024 - 12:40 am

What to do if my bios mode is legacy?

Reply
sk May 16, 2024 - 11:28 am

Go to BIOS settings and disable Secure boot. The rest steps are same as described in the article.

Reply

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