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A Beginner’s Guide To Dual Booting Windows And RHEL

A Complete Guide on Setting Up Windows 11 and RHEL 9 in Dual Boot Mode.

By Karthick
4.6K views

Windows and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) are two of the most popular operating systems in the world. Windows is known for its ease of use and compatibility with a wide range of software, while RHEL is known for its stability and security. If you're looking for a way to get the best of both worlds, dual booting Windows and RHEL is a great option.

Dual booting allows you to install both operating systems on the same computer. This means that you can choose which operating system to boot into each time you start your computer. This can be a great way to use Windows for everyday tasks like browsing the web and playing games, and then switch to RHEL for more demanding tasks like development or server administration.

Dual booting Windows and RHEL is a relatively simple process, but there are a few things you need to do to make sure it goes smoothly. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Windows Dual Boot setup. We'll also provide some tips on how to troubleshoot any problems that you might encounter.

Getting Windows Ready For Dual Boot

Dual booting RHEL and Windows is a two-step process. Before installing RHEL OS you need to perform some steps on the Windows side.

  1. Windows 10/11 should be already installed as the primary operating system.
  2. Check if the disk partition scheme is set to GPT.
  3. Check if Windows is using BIOS or UEFI.
  4. Disable secure boot in BIOS or UEFI settings.
  5. Shrink existing partitions to create some free space to install RHEL OS.

Let me explain the above steps in detail. I assume the first requirement of installing Windows 10/11 is already satisfied.

1. Check Disk Partition Scheme

The simplest way to check the disk partition scheme in Windows is to open the PowerShell and run the 'Get-Disk' command which will show the disk partition style as the last output.

$ Get-Disk
Check Windows Partition Scheme From Powershell
Check Windows Partition Scheme From Powershell

If the output shows as GPT, you are good to proceed with the next step.

2. Check Windows BIOS Mode

Follow the below steps to validate if Windows is using BIOS/UEFI mode.

  • Go to the Windows start menu and search for the "System Information." keyword.
  • Under the "System Summary" section look for the "BIOS Mode" parameter.
  • For the UEFI mode, the value will be set as "UEFI" and for the BIOS mode the value will be set as "Legacy".
Windows BIOS/UEFI Mode
Windows BIOS/UEFI Mode

If the output shows as UEFI, then you are good to proceed with the next step.

3. Disable Secure Boot

During the boot process, secure boot only allows OEM-signed bootloaders to be loaded. Also, in some cases, secure boot might create some problems with the Linux operating system. It is safe to disable the secure boot from the BIOS interface before moving to the next step.

You can check if secure boot is enabled or disabled from within Windows.

  1. Press the Windows key + R shortcut to open the "RUN" dialog box.
  2. Enter "msinfo32" in the dialog box and hit Enter.
  3. Look for the "Secure Boot State" entry under the system information section.
  4. If the Secure boot state is set to ON, it means the secure boot is enabled. If it is set to OFF, it is disabled.
Windows Secure Boot State
Windows Secure Boot State

If the secure boot is enabled, follow the below steps to disable it.

  1. Go to the Windows start menu and type "Settings".
  2. Select "System > Recovery" from the settings.
  3. Click "Restart now" from the Advanced Startup option.
Restart Windows Operating System
Restart Windows Operating System

After the system restarts, you will be directed to a window where you need to choose the "Troubleshoot" option.

Select Troubleshoot
Select Troubleshoot

Select "Advanced options" from the next window.

Select Advanced Options
Select Advanced Options

Next, select "UEFI Firmware Settings".

Select UEFI Firmware Settings
Select UEFI Firmware Settings

Select "Restart" which will take you to BIOS/UEFI firmware settings.

Restart to Change UEFI Firmware Settings
Restart to Change UEFI Firmware Settings

Upon restarting your system, you will be guided to the UEFI/BIOS settings interface. Keep in mind that the user interface for BIOS setup can differ depending on the manufacturer. Below, you can find an example image from a DELL Inspiron.

Regardless of your computer's manufacturer, you should be able to locate the secure boot option under the boot settings/configuration. Simply disable secure boot and save the changes you've made. This step is crucial to ensure a smooth dual boot process.

Disable Secure Boot
Disable Secure Boot

4. Create Partitions for Linux

This is an important step in Windows side setup. You are about to install RHEL and have two different operating systems in the same physical drive.

You need to have two separate partitions where one partition will have the Windows operating system and another partition will have the RHEL operating system.

From the Windows search bar, type "Disk Management" and open the utility.

Windows Disk Management Utility
Windows Disk Management Utility

If you do not have any free space in the drive, you have to shrink a partition to create free space. Right-click on the partition you wish to shrink and click "Shrink". Enter the size in MB and click shrink.

Shrink Volume in Windows
Shrink Volume in Windows

Now that you have completed all the necessary Windows side setup, let’s proceed with downloading the RHEL ISO image and creating USB bootable medium.

Download RHEL ISO Image

Unlike other operating systems, you can not download the RHEL ISO image straight away from the Red Hat website. You need to have a Red Hat account. If you do not have a Red Hat account, create one to download the ISO image.

RHEL 9.2 is available for free to download from Red Hat Developer's website. Visit https://developers.redhat.com/products/rhel/download page and click "Download" button.

Download RHEL ISO Image
Download RHEL ISO Image

You will redirected to the RHEL developer login page. Enter your credentials and your download will begin automatically.

RHEL Download Notification
RHEL Download Notification

Create RHEL Bootable USB with Etcher

Once the RHEL ISO image is downloaded, you need to write the image to an external USB drive. There are a lot of popular open-source tools to create a bootable USB medium. Here, I choose Etcher which is a simple-to-use, and cross-platform tool.

1. Download the etcher installation file for Windows and install it. The installation will be the same as any normal Windows software installation.

Download Etcher
Download Etcher

2. Once the installation is completed, open the Etcher utility from the Windows start menu. Make sure the USB driver is plugged in before proceeding with the next step.

Etcher User Interface
Etcher User Interface

3. Select the ISO image by clicking on "Flash From File" option. Select the target which is the USB drive.

Create RHEL Bootable USB with Etcher
Create RHEL Bootable USB with Etcher

4. Now click "Flash" to start the process.

RHEL Bootable USB Creation in Progress
RHEL Bootable USB Creation in Progress

Once the process is completed, exit Etcher. Reboot the machine and choose the USB medium to boot from.

If you already have any other linux distribution and wish to create a USB medium then we have some articles that are going to help you in achieving it.

Command line bootable USB creation tools:

Graphical bootable USB creation tools:

Dual Booting Windows and RHEL Step-by-Step

STEP 1 - Make sure the USB device is plugged in and restart the machine. Press the bootloader shortcut key (F12, F10, F9) based on your machine which will take you to the window and display a list of available bootable devices. Choose the connected USB device.

Select Boot Device
Select Boot Device

After booting the machine from the USB bootable medium, you will be directed to the GRUB window. Choose the first option "Install Red Hat Enterprise Linux".

Start Red Hat Enterprise Linux Installation
Start Red Hat Enterprise Linux Installation

STEP 2 - RHEL uses the anaconda installer. Once you have completed 'Step 1,' the anaconda installer will load the startup scripts and initiate the installation wizard. Before starting the main installation, the installer will prompt you to select the installation language, which will be utilized throughout the entire installation process.

Choose Installation Language
Choose Installation Language

STEP 3 - In the next window, you will see all the installation options that can be configured. The options that are marked with a 'warning' sign are mandatory and without configuring them, you will not be able to proceed to the next step.

RHEL Installation Summary
RHEL Installation Summary

There are totally four sections and each section has a couple of parameters to be configured. Let’s go through each section in detail.

STEP 4 - Let’s start with a simple and mandatory configuration which is 'User Settings'. You need to set the password for the root user and create a user account that will be used as the regular user.

To create a new user click 'User Creation' which will open the following window. Fill in the username and password. If you wish to allocate superuser privilege to the user, select the 'Make this user administrator' checkbox. This will add the user to the 'wheel' group which grants sudo privilege.

Create New User
Create New User

Click "Done" once all the necessary fields are filled.

Click "Root Password" to set the password for the root user. If you want to disable root user login through SSH, then deselect the "Allow root SSH login with password" checkbox. Click "Done" and move to the installation summary window.

Set Root Password
Set Root Password

STEP 5 - Let’s configure all the options under localization.

KEYBOARD - Click 'keyboard' which will take you to the keyboard layout window. Here you can add or remove keyboard layouts according to your need. If you need a new layout click the '+' symbol and it will show the list of available keyboard layouts. If you wish to remove a layout, select the layout and press the '-' symbol.

Add Keyboard Layout
Add Keyboard Layout

Click "Done" once the keyboard layout is selected.

LANGUAGE SUPPORT - Click 'Language Support' and it will take you to the window where you can select any additional language to be installed. You have options to choose multiple languages and click 'Done' after selection.

Select Language Support
Select Language Support

TIME & DATE - Click on 'Time & Date' which will take you to a window where you can configure date and time based on timezone. You can either choose the region and city from the drop-down box or pinpoint the location on the map.

Set Date and Time Settings
Set Date and Time Settings

You can also enable 'Network Time' which will sync the system time with the network time server. Toggle the 'Network Time' which will pool the time from a predefined network time server. If you wish to configure additional network time servers, click the 'Settings' icon next to network time and add the hostname.

Add New NTP Server
Add New NTP Server

Now we have configured all the options under localization.

STEP 6 - In this step, we will configure all options under 'Software'.

CONNECT TO REDHAT - You need to register your machine with redhat and subscribe in order to install any packages or updates. Click 'Connect To Redhat' which will take you to the window where you can use your redhat credentials to register. Once all the details are entered click “Register”.

I prefer to skip registration for now and will show you the steps to register once the installation is completed.

Connect to Red Hat
Connect to Red Hat

INSTALLATION SOURCE - There are different ways to install RHEL OS. You can install it through ISO file, CDN, and over the network.

Select Installation Source
Select Installation Source

The default option is 'Auto Detected Installation Media', which automatically scans for the ISO image from the connected device. If this option is not selected, be sure to choose it and then click on 'Verify'. Afterward, you will receive a message confirming that there are no issues with the installation media.

Media Verification
Media Verification

Click 'Done' to configure the next item under software.

SOFTWARE SELECTION - Click 'Software Selection' and select 'Workstation' as the base environment. RHEL comes with Gnome as the desktop environment. If you wish to install additional software like Internet applications, development tools, administration tools, etc you can select the appropriate options from the right-hand side of the window.

Click 'Done' to move to the next step.

Software Selection
Software Selection

STEP 7 - Now that we have configured all the options under the software section, let's move to the System section.

INSTALLATION DESTINATION - This is an important step in the installation process. You have to partition the disk to install the RHEL operating system and store the system and personal files. Click 'Destination Location' which will open the window to create and configure partitions.

Select 'Custom' and press 'Done'.

Select the Disk to Install RHEL
Select the Disk to Install RHEL

You can see the existing Windows partitions by expanding the 'unknown' section.

Windows Partitions under Unknown Section
Windows Partitions under Unknown Section

There are two ways to create new partitions.

  • Create partitions automatically by clicking the 'Click here to create them automatically' option.
  • Click the '+' symbol to manually add each partition and configure its associated parameters.
RHEL Manual Partitioning
RHEL Manual Partitioning

Let’s see how to create partitions in both ways.

Method 1:

First, let’s create partitions automatically by clicking the highlighted (#1) option in the above image. Before selecting the option, you have to decide the partitioning scheme for the disk. Based upon the selection the partitions will be created.

There are three partitioning schemes. I choose to go with the Standard partition.

Choose Partition Scheme
Choose Partition Scheme

Once you click the first option, partitions will be created as shown in the below image. Depending upon your disk's total size, the size for each partition may vary.

RHEL Automatic Partitioning
RHEL Automatic Partitioning

From the above image, you can see the majority of space is allocated to the root partition followed by the home, swap, and boot partitions. You can change the partition size, file system type, and mount points for each partition from the right-hand side of the window. If you're not happy with this partition method, you can discard all the changes by simply clicking on 'Discard All Changes' option.

Method 2:

As an alternative to the previous method, you have the option to create partitions manually by clicking on the '+' symbol. Doing so will open a small dialog box where you can enter the size of the partitions and specify the desired mount point for each partition.

Add New Mount Point Manually
Add New Mount Point Manually

Similar to the first option, you can change the partition-related settings on the right-hand side which is highlighted in the image below.

Partition Settings
Partition Settings

Once you've created all the partitions, press 'Done'. It will display the summary of changes. Press 'Accept Changes' to write the changes to the disk.

Summary Of Changes
Summary Of Changes

KDUMP - Kdump is used to capture the kernel dump which is needed to determine the cause of the kernel crash.

Kdump
Kdump

By default, kdump is enabled, but it is not needed. Disable the kdump by unchecking the 'Enable kdump' checkbox.

Disable Kdump
Disable Kdump

NETWORK & HOST NAME - Click 'Network & Host Name' to configure network-related settings. You can set the static IP and hostname. Press 'Done' once the configuration is completed.

Configure Network and Hostname
Configure Network and Hostname

SECURITY PROFILE - Security profiles contain different profiles which will implement industry standard policies. This is very helpful when we install RHEL as a server operating system. From the workstation perspective, the security profile is not required and if needed, it can be enabled later.

Toggle off the 'Apply Security Policy' and press 'Done'.

Security Policy
Security Policy

STEP 8 - Click 'Begin Installation' and wait for the installer to do its job.

Begin RHEL Installation
Begin RHEL Installation

Once the installation is completed, reboot the machine.

Reboot RHEL Machine
Reboot RHEL Machine

STEP 9 - After the reboot, the GRUB window will appear, offering you the choice to boot into either RHEL or Windows. By default, GRUB will prioritize booting into the RHEL operating system.

RHEL and Windows Dual Boot Grub Menu
RHEL and Windows Dual Boot Grub Menu

STEP 10 - Login with the user name and its password you created during the installation.

Login to RHEL
Login to RHEL
RHEL 9 Workstation Desktop Window
RHEL 9 Workstation Desktop Window

STEP 11 - As previously mentioned, it is important to register the system with Red Hat. Once you log in to the machine, you will encounter a notification prompting you to take action. Simply click on 'Register System' from this notification to proceed with the registration process. This step will enable you to access Red Hat's services and receive necessary updates for your system.

RHEL Registration Notification
RHEL Registration Notification

Alternatively, you can go to Settings -> About Section -> Subscription to register your RHEL system.

Register RHEL System
Register RHEL System

Enter your Red Hat developer account credentials and press register. You should see a similar message post-registration.

RHEL Registration Successful
RHEL Registration Successful

After completing the registration process, the next step is to subscribe, which will allocate a suitable subscription for your account. Click on the "Subscribe" button to proceed with the subscription process and ensure that your account is appropriately provisioned for access to Red Hat services and updates.

Enable RHEL Subscription
Enable RHEL Subscription

Now login to the Red Hat portal -> Subscription section. You should see active subscriptions and registered systems.

Red Hat Subscription Management Window
Red Hat Subscription Management Window

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is dual booting?

A: Dual booting is the process of installing and running two separate operating systems on a single computer.

Q: Why would I want to dual boot with Windows and RHEL?

By setting up Windows and RHEL in dual boot mode, you can access the benefits of both systems. Windows offers familiar user-friendliness and a vast software library, while RHEL provides robust security, stability, and open-source advantages.

Q: Can I dual boot Windows and RHEL on any computer?

A: In most cases, dual booting Windows and RHEL is feasible on compatible hardware. However, it's essential to check system requirements and ensure sufficient disk space for both installations.

Q: Can I switch between Windows and RHEL after the installation?

A: Yes, you can switch between the two operating systems during the system startup. The GRUB bootloader will present you with the option to choose the desired OS.

Q: Do I need a Red Hat subscription to install RHEL?

A: Yes, to access and install RHEL updates and security fixes, you need a valid Red Hat subscription. However, Red Hat offers a developer subscription that allows you to use RHEL for development purposes free of charge.

Q: Can I install other Linux distributions alongside Windows instead of RHEL?

A: Yes, you can dual boot Windows with various Linux distributions, including Fedora, Ubuntu, or CentOS. The process may vary slightly, but the general principles remain the same. Check our Dual Boot category for other distributions installation in dual boot mode.

Q: Can I remove the dual boot setup if needed?

A: Yes, if you decide to remove the dual boot setup and revert to a single operating system, you can do so. However, it's essential to back up your data and follow the proper steps to avoid any unintended consequences. Follow our guides to Safely Remove Windows From Windows-Linux Dual Boot and Safely Remove Linux From Dual Boot Windows for more details.

Q: Is dual booting risky? Could it cause data loss or system issues?

A: Dual booting is generally safe if done correctly. However, improper partitioning or installation can lead to data loss or booting problems. It's crucial to back up important data and follow the installation guide carefully to minimize risks.

Q: Will dual booting affect system performance?

A: Dual booting itself should not significantly impact system performance. However, having two operating systems may require more disk space, and the performance of each OS depends on available hardware resources.

Conclusion

Congratulations! We've now reached the conclusion of this article, where we've thoroughly covered the step-by-step process of setting up Windows 11 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2 in a dual boot configuration. Additionally, we've guided you through the crucial steps of registering and subscribing to Red Hat to access updates and essential packages.

We hope this guide has been valuable in assisting you with the installation process. If you have any questions, feedback, or would like to share your installation experience, please do so through the comment section below. Your input is greatly appreciated, and we're here to help with any further queries you may have. Happy RHEL and Windows dual booting!

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