Previously I wrote about setting up my laptop to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu. As the Ubuntu LTS I had installed was now aging badly1, it really, really, really needed upgrading.

I'd been hesitant to upgrade. The last time I installed this way, it took a week of following several guides, many of them out of date or not working, and several failed installs.

A quick guide

Fortunately, thanks to someone really helpful on the internet, I don't have to write much this time:

  1. Follow this guide.

  2. That's pretty much it.

Installing Windows

Seeing as I have my text editor open, I'll clarify a little more.

To start with, I booted Windows 10 with my computer set to boot in UEFI mode and with Secure Boot enabled. Starting from a clean hard disk, when the Windows installer booted, I was using a clean drive, and instructed the installer to create a new partition using a certain proportion of space on my drive, leaving the rest of the disk as unformatted space.

You'll find you don't get one partition but four: a recovery partition, the system (or EFI partition), a reserved space partition and the primary partition where Windows will actually be installed.

Another hour or so later, and following running Windows Update, hopefully you have a working and updated Windows machine. One big plus of the Windows 10 installer versus what I've experienced previously is that most computer hardware tends to get detected and installed automatically, without you needing to find drivers buried away on a manufacturer's website. Another is that, although Windows 10's cumulative updates can be problematic if there's an issue with one part of them, they do mean that you have only one big update to install, not several hundred, as is seriously the case with Windows 7.

At this point, you can go ahead and encrypt the Windows operating system drive with BitLocker, provided you have a version of Windows that offers it. If you don't have a Trusted Platform Module in your PC, it's still possible to use BitLocker, but you'll need to override this using Group Policy (search for gpedit.msc in the Windows search bar and run it).

You can find the options in Group Policy under (breathe in): Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\BitLocker Drive Encryption\Operating System Drives. The specific option you need to change is "Require additional authentication at startup" and you can then tick "Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM".

You should probably consider enabling "Allow enhanced PINs for startup" which is in the same Group Policy section while in there, seeing as this lets you use characters, not just numbers.2

Right clicking on the drive in Windows Explorer and selecting "Turn on BitLocker" should let you then go through the process of encrypting the drive.

Although I'm discussing Windows and Ubuntu here, note that the guide I've linked to may well work for two Linux installations too.

Installing Ubuntu

The usual advice is to install Linux after Windows, since Windows doesn't necessarily play as nicely with Linux. I'm not sure if that still holds in the days of UEFI booting, but it seemed sensible to do.

Going back to the excellent guide that was posted, it's not difficult to follow. Pay attention to the comments, as there were three steps that were unnecessary in the process, which were pointed out there.

The process has quite a few steps, but even if you don't understand fully what's going on, it should Just Work™. Here's an overview of what's involved once you've loaded Ubuntu from a DVD or USB:

  1. Use your unpartitioned disk space to create two partitions. One will be the unencrypted /boot partition and the other will be a LUKS container that contains an LVM physical volume. This is then subdivided into two logical volumes, one for the root partition, /, and the other for /swap.

  2. Install Ubuntu to the root partition you created with the installer, as normal, although make sure that you choose "Something else" when asked how to install.

  3. Don't immediately reboot after installing. Access your new installation by using a chroot. This gives a convenient way of modifying a configuration file in the new install (crypttab) to add details of your drive which need to be available at boot, and updating its initramfs with that configuration.

After that, booting up into Ubuntu should work and prompt you to unlock the LUKS container. Depending on your UEFI setup and your preference, you may need to go into your PC's boot menu at startup and select Ubuntu directly (or reorder the default boot order so that it boots by default).

Some more tips

The guide's pretty good, and my install was successful first time with no real hiccups, which was a pleasant surprise. There are, however, a few points which aren't mentioned:

  1. When you're using GParted to partition your drive, you may wish to use the "cleared" option instead of "unformatted" to avoid any confusion. Otherwise, if your drive has previous partitions present, you may see GParted inform you that the type of partition is whatever used to be there. It shouldn't make a difference however, as you later should format the partitions anyway.

  2. Make sure you read what the terminal's telling you. I was really confused when the luksOpen command didn't work as I'd run the luksFormat command before. Where I'd gone wrong is that luksFormat asks you to confirm you want to format the drive. Instead of typing uppercase "YES" as it instructs, I'd typed "yes", and the program just exited instead, without warning it hadn't done anything.

  3. When creating the logical volumes where / and /swap will live, you use the lvcreate command. With the -L flag as used in the guide, you directly specify the size it should take. If you want to ensure that the second partition uses the rest of the space, you can use the -l flag as in -l 100%FREE instead of e.g. -L 7.5g.

    You can also check the status of the volumes you've created using pvs and lvs to ensure everything is as you like, before proceeding.

  4. When installing the GRUB bootloader, it belongs in the EFI partition. If you select the disk where you're installling the operating system, the Ubuntu installer should automatically detect the partition and install GRUB there. It's likely that it's /dev/sda if the only hard disk that's plugged in. Alternatively, you can identify the EFI partition directly and choose that, e.g. /dev/sda2.

  5. The guide suggests using mount and swapon to check which volumes are being used in the new installation. Running lsblk in the terminal can do this in a single command. It will show you which block devices are mounted and where: you should see the / and /swap inside your encrypted LUKS container.


How would reinstalling one of the operating systems work? I haven't tried it yet, so can't say for certain. Below is a thought experiment, although please heed the warning that it is only a thought experiment.

My hunch is that an Ubuntu reinstall should be fairly straightforward: delete the two partitions you created (/boot and the LUKS/LVM partition), create new ones and follow the whole process again. It shouldn't impact the Windows installation, as the Windows bootloader should still exist in the EFI partition. And reinstalling Ubuntu should just overwrite the existing Ubuntu bootloaders.

Reinstalling Windows might be trickier. If you retain the existing EFI partition and install Windows to the same operating system partition (i.e. without wiping all four partitions and telling Windows to install to the unpartitioned space), that shouldn't break Ubuntu as I'd guess that Windows just uses the existing EFI partition, and therefore would leave GRUB in place. Otherwise, if you do decide to wipe out all four partitions that Windows created, you'll need to reinstall the GRUB bootloader to the new EFI partition; see Debian's wiki and this guide. It still shouldn't otherwise break your Linux installation, apart from this though.

Again, I've not tested any of this has been tested yet. If I ever try reinstalling one operating system and not both, I'll no doubt edit this post or add a new one describing that process.

  1. A subject for another post. My brief advice if you're intending to use Ubuntu LTS releases is to upgrade every time, and not skip any, especially if you're running it as a desktop. 

  2. Yes, in this case "PIN" does then become a misnomer.