4 Free Boot Managers – Dual Boot Windows And Linux

Updated: June 10, 2021 / Home » Freeware and Software Reviews

How to dual-boot Linux and Windows on the same hard disk? Typically a computer will have a single operating system installed on them, for those that want to dual-boot multiple OS such as a combination of Windows and Linux, you will need to make some changes and enable the option to choose which OS to boot from during startup.

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Boot Manager Boot Configuration Data

You can install 2 operating systems provided that you partition your SSD or Hard Disk into 2 drives. When you install a Linux distribution, it typically installs the Grub boot loader. Grub loads instead of the Windows boot loader at boot time if Windows was already installed, allowing you to choose the operating system you want to boot by modifying the Boot Configuration Data.

↓ 01 – Grub2Win | Free

Grub2Win

Grub2Win supports 64 and 32 bit EFI and BIOS on Windows 10, 8, 7 and XP. Safely dual boot Windows and Linux from GPT or MBR disks. Grub2Win boots native GNU Grub version 2 code. Everything is contained in a single 20 MB directory on your Windows C: drive. On EFI systems a few small modules are installed to your EFI partition.

Using the simple Windows GUI and instructions you can install Grub2Win quickly and safely. Select from many OS choices. Supports Antergos, Android, Ubuntu, Debian, Suse, Fedora, Mint, Clover and Windows. Also boots ISO files. You can enter your own custom commands for each menu entry.

  • Supports 64 and 32 bit EFI as well as BIOS firmware.
  • Installs to Windows 10, 8, 7 and XP.
  • Requires just one directory on the Windows C: drive, about 20 MB disk space.
  • Simple Windows GUI easily sets up Grub2Win in seconds.
  • Lets you set your EFI firmware boot order from within Windows.
  • Preview and customize the 9 included graphic background themes.
  • Works with all filesystems including Mac hfs and Btrfs.
  • Can search for and boot a partition by it’s label. Supports advanced scripting.
  • Works with both GPT and MBR disks – up to 128 primary partitions per drive.
  • Supports extremely large (over 40 TB) disks and partitions.
  • Safely multiboot Windows, Antergos, Android, Ubuntu, Debian, Suse, Fedora, Mint, Clover and more.
  • Grub customization is done from Windows – Configuration in Linux is not required.
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↓ 02 – EasyBCD | Free Personal

EasyBCD

Take control of your boot loader, EasyBCD supercharges your Windows PC, allowing you to dual-boot to your heart’s content. Also boot into legacy systems Microsoft doesn’t support: MS-DOS, Windows 9x, Windows ME, and Windows 2000!

EasyBCD is geared for users of all kinds. Whether you just want to add an entry to your old XP partition or want to create a duplicate for testing purposes; if you’re interested in debugging the Windows Kernel or septuple-booting your seven test operating systems, EasyBCD is the key.

  • Boot anything – Windows, Linux, macOS, & BSD! Boot both from and into USB drives, ISO images, virtual disks, and more.
  • Boot anywhere – Create bootable USB sticks with repair utilities that you can take with you anywhere.
  • Protect against disaster – Create entries to boot into recovery utilities or safe mode to prepare for a rainy day.
  • Painless editing – Add, rename, remove, configure, and reorder entries at whim.
  • Solve difficult problems – Use EasyBCD to troubleshoot Windows, back up and repair the bootloader, and more.
  • Powerful scripting with NeoGrub – You’ll have the power to hide partitions, change active flags, and create complex boot scenarios.

↓ 03 – rEFInd Boot Manager | Free

rEFInd Boot Manager

rEFInd is a fork of the Small rEFIt boot manager for computers based on the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) and Unified EFI (UEFI). Like rEFIt, rEFInd is a boot manager, meaning that it presents a menu of options to the user when the computer first starts up, as shown below. rEFInd is not a boot loader, which is a program that loads an OS kernel and hands off control to it.

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↓ 04 – Clover EFI bootloader | Free

Clover EFI bootloader

This is an EFI-based bootloader for BIOS-based computers created as a replacement to the EDK2/Duet bootloader. Clover is an operating system boot loader for computers already equipped with an UEFI firmware and for those equipped with legacy BIOS firmware. An operating system (OS) may support (U)EFI (macOS, Windows 7, 8, or 10, Linux) or not (Windows XP). Legacy boot is used for the last one, that is, the old BIOS system is used to handle boot sectors.

  • Boot macOS, Windows, and Linux in UEFI or legacy mode on Mac or PC with UEFI or BIOS firmware
  • Boot using UEFI firmware directly or CloverEFI UEFI firmware emulation
  • Customizable GUI including themes, icons, fonts, background images, animations, and mouse pointers.
  • Ability to boot previously selected boot entry after default timeout
  • Boot entries menu scrolls if screen resolution is too low for menu
  • Create custom boot entries for personalizing boot entries and add support for other operating systems
  • Create Clover boot entry in NVRAM with tool from GUI

10 Comments

  1. Gravatar

    Great article. But personally I now avoid trying to dual boot Windows and Linux since it has always resulted in major problems over the years trying to boot into Windows (Google Windows / Linux dual boot problems). Instead I just Live Boot Linux from a USB stick now and again….using Windows as my main OS

    • Gravatar

      At first that is the case, but when you get to know how things actually works its just easy to fix those errors.

  2. Gravatar
    Hikari [ Reply ]

    Indeed, dual boot Win+Lix is a thing of the past. Now, anybody seriously considering using both, will have a secondary miniPC which he connects remotely, or a PC capable of running a couple VMs while confortably using host OS.

    What I want an advanced bootloader is to help me troubleshoot any sad issue I might have, and most importantly to be able to boot from ISO stored directly on HD so that I can boot backup manager and a few other stuff without needing to have them on USB and plug it every time I need them.

    With a bootloader I can just keep my isos updated on HD and boot them whenever I want.

  3. Gravatar
    Thomas McNicholas [ Reply ]

    I’m the opposite to RobG in that I dual boot Linux and Windows with Grub. Linux (KDE on Arch) is my primary OS, windows I might use a couple of times during the year. If I could run windows on a live usb stick I probably wouldn’t dual boot at all but dual booting is convenient.

  4. Gravatar
    nictou [ Reply ]

    Dual booting only works for me, when i am using separate HDs for each OS. I had trouble with aggressive Win10 updates messing with the Manjaro setup on the same hardrive. Simply took a spare 256gb Samsung SSD and smashed windows (ReviOS) on it. Just for games i can not get to run on linux or some odd school software the kids have to use, etc. When needed i switch to windows in the bios boot order.

    • Gravatar
      CapnAhab [ Reply ]

      This is how I do it too – grub menu will take me to Ubuntu Mate (default), Arch Linux or Win10. All 3 OS are on their own drives – I can also share data on the various partitions between the 3 OS.

  5. Gravatar
    Thomas C [ Reply ]

    I am currently using 2 1tb ssd’s to boot windows, and linux (mint). I use the escape key at initialize to swap boot device with bios. Works great. My problem as of late is that I still have a linux boot using Mint that comes up when I boot to the 2nd drive (linux mint) when I select that partition/drive. Also, that drive has 2 different Mint bootable partitions, so I can pick one of 3 different setup’s. Sounds complicated, but it works. I don’t need the 2 linux os’s but it is no big deal, except for some lost disk space between the 2 partitions. I figure I am about half nuts anyway…..\

  6. Gravatar
    John Ho [ Reply ]

    For me however, I am more for dual booting, nay even multibooting windows 10 with several linux distros in two SSD. So far, for nearly a year, I encounter no problem even though I subscribe to the ‘Windows insider’s program’ with frequent updates (now even to the pre-windows 11 stage). Moreover, when I boot into any Linux distro, it typically takes less than 1 minute to load. As a matter of fact, I enjoy since more than 15 years ago, installing Windows, and other OS in a multiboot environment (before using a commercial boot manager). Finally, my PC is already a few years old though still capable of using UEFI instead of BIOS.

  7. Gravatar
    Michael [ Reply ]

    Ya no doubt, I had YEARS of not being able to multi-boot, But when I finally figured out Linux and Windows Dual boot, LORD it was easy to fix In Ubuntu!

    Now I Have Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Mint, and Android-X86!

  8. Gravatar
    jelabarre59 [ Reply ]

    Doing some boot-time disk shuffle only works for desktops. If you want to do that on a laptop you’re likely limited to just one HDD. Although dual-booting Linux & MSWin means you can’t use LUKS disk encryption At least not yet, unless someone manages to develop a LUKS driver for MSWin; and you know MS will never be able to make BitLocker work for Linux.

    For the most part I’d just run MSWin as a VM.

    The particular use-case I’m looking at now is how to do a MSWin98/MSWin2000/Linux multi-boot on a ThinkPad T23 as a retro-computer. I used to just do hard-drive swapping, but I’m concerned I’ll eventually damage the drive-bay connector. I figured on having a W98 partition, W2K partition for the retro stuff, and the Linux partition for managing images of the two MSWin setups so I can wipe and restore as needed.

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