How to install elementary OS on your Windows PC

elementary OS Freya is one of the best looking distros in Linux available today. Design speaks high priority in Freya and one could easily see its close resemblance to Mac OSX. Not just design, but the latest version of elementary OS Freya is very light-weight and can run on any age old PCs. It is basically derived from Ubuntu, and so you get all that stability and reliability of years of work. The elementary OS team really did a splendid job in making Linux look so special, personally I can’t believe how pleasant is elementary OS alongside elegant transitions and razor sharp graphical interfaces and icons.

Minimum system requirements

  • Intel i3 or AMD dual-core 64-bit processor
  • 15 GB of disk space
  • 1 GB of RAM

Sorry to disappoint, but that’s all Freya needs.

Download elementary OS

You can grab you free copy of elementary OS directly from developer’s website. Note that when you go to download, at first you may get surprised to see a mandatory donation payment for activating the download link. Don’t worry, it’s completely free. All you need to do is enter 0 in the donation box and download link with be available immediately. I bet many of you are not sure it’s going to your daily driver distro and just want to test it out before you think of donation. If it turns out to be favorite, please make sure to donate to them for their hard work and to keep the project live and healthy.

Get elementary OS

You should see a ISO file downloaded. For instance, mine is a 64-bit version : ‘elementaryos-0.3.2-stable-amd64.20151209.iso’

Create a USB install Drive in Windows

Grab a USB drive with at least 1 GB free space. We shall use a free utility ‘Rufus’ for creating a bootable USB installation drive. So go ahead and download it.

Download Rufus

It is a portable version, hence just download and run the executable. Your USB drive will be formatted during the setup process, so make sure to take a backup of data in it. Click on the drop down list in the ‘Format Options’ and select ‘ISO Image’. Click on the icon next to it, browse through and select the elementary OS ISO file that you download earlier. Other things to see in the Rufus settings are the ‘File system’ which is usually the default FAT system or FAT 32 should also work too, and the ‘Partition scheme and target system type’ which is typically ‘MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI’ for most of PCs and laptops.

Rufus Bootable USB Creator
Rufus Bootable USB Creator

Once you have everything set right, click ‘Start’ and Rufus should create a bootable elementary OS Freya installation USB for you. Next step is to plugin the USB drive to your computer before starting Windows and boot into it. This part is not generic and there are different methods of booting into USB drive depending on the PC make, but if you ask me what’s the most common scenario, it’s the pressing of F12, F6, or Esc key during startup to get a boot menu and then select USB drive to boot into it. Now begins the elementary OS installation.

Installing elementary OS as dual boot OS with Windows

At first step of elementary installation, you will have to choose the language and then click on ‘Install elementary’. ‘Try elementary’ option is only if you want to test drive the OS without installing it. Like any other Linux Live CD, you won’t be able to save anything in that mode.

elementary OS installation
elementary OS installation

In the following process, you have the option to download updates and third-party software which is MP3 support. MP3 is most common these days, so you can check this option and updates too if you have a faster internet. If not now, you can install it after elementary setup is complete.

elementary installation preparation
elementary installation preparation

In the next step, you get several options on how you want elementary to be installed on your computer.

  1. Erase disk and install elementary: This option is for those who want to have only elementary installed on their computer and so entire hard disk will be formatted and all partitions will be deleted. If you are thinking of dual booting Windows and elementary, this option is not for you.
  2. Encrypt the new elementary installation for security: This will need a security key for installation and at the end of process you get a encrypted elementary installation. This is not a typical installation method used by general users.
  3. Use LVM with the new elementary installation: This option will setup logical hard disk volume for easier partitions management. But since the scope of this guide is to install elementary alongside already existing Windows partition, this option will not work out.
  4. Something else: This is what everyone who want to install elementary alongside another operating system like Windows/Mac/Linux will have to click through and continue.
elementary installation options
elementary installation options

The next step is the most important step and should be done with extreme care. It shows you all the current hard disk partitions on your PC. You will see Windows in NTFS type format. For installing elementary, you need to setup three important things in this situation.

Root, Swap, and Boot loader

If you haven’t partitioned the hard disk earlier for installing elementary, you can do so here. Select the partition which you to divide and use for elementary and click ‘New Partition Table’. You can then specify the bigger free partition as Ext4 format where elementary will be installed.

Hard disk Partition Situation
Hard disk Partition Situation

Select ‘Use as’ as ‘Ext4 journaling file system’, and check the box ‘Format the partition’. Specify / as mount point. ‘/’ implies this is root for elementary and this is where all its system files go into.

Ext4 File System
Ext4 File System

Next make a small partition which is double the size of your computer’s RAM. It need not be exact, but try to be close to it. For instance in my case I have 8 GB RAM in my PC, so my Linux Swap size is around 16 GB.

Swap Partition
Swap Partition

You can enter your location to specify the time zone.

Location
Location

You will be asked to create a login and it’s recommended that you rename your computer’s name to what ever you want at this step, else you have to go through a command-line process just to rename it later.

User Login Creation
User Login Creation

After few minutes, you will be prompted to restart the computer to finish installation.

Installation Complete Notification

Welcome to elementary OS Freya! That’s it.

elementary OS desktop
elementary OS desktop

 

 

 

Hi there! I’m Kiran Kumar, founder of FOSSLinux.com. I’m an avid Linux lover, and enjoys hands-on with new promising distros. Currently, I’m using Linux Mint as a daily driver and run several other distros such as Fedora, Solus, Ubuntu, Debian, and some new ones on my test PC and virtual machines. I have a day job as an Engineer, and this website is one of my favorite past time activities especially during Winter ;). When I’m not writing for FOSSLinux, I’m seen biking and hiking on scenic trails. Hope you enjoy using this website as much as I do writing for it. Feedback from readers is something that inspires me to do more, and spread my love for Linux. If you find time, drop me an email or feedback from ‘Contact’ page. Or simply leave a comment below if you found this article useful. Have a good day!

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2 Comments on "How to install elementary OS on your Windows PC"

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Harry
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Hi Kieran. I am trying to set up my Dell XPS 13 i7 touch screen with Elementary OS only.
I have disabled secure boot uefi and installed now 4 times. After reboot the OS is gone and no OS can be found. Where do I go wrong?

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