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I have recently been given a disk from my friend to install Linux Mint and have installed it to dual boot with my Windows 8.1. The version he gave me was version 13 (maya). I want to overwrite this version with 17.1 (rebecca) and have made a bootable usb drive with it.

How do I overwrite my version of Linux without messing up Windows 8.1 and ensuring the bootloader will still work?

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You just follow the exact same steps you used to install 13. You simply need to make sure you point it to the right partitions. Boot into your installed Linux system and run lsblk. That will print a list of your partitions and where they are mounted (if they are). For example, on my system, I get:

$ lsblk 
NAME   MAJ:MIN RM   SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
sda      8:0    0 465.8G  0 disk 
├─sda1   8:1    0  29.3G  0 part /
├─sda2   8:2    0 428.4G  0 part /home
└─sda3   8:3    0     8G  0 part [SWAP]

That means that my root (/) is on /dev/sda1, my home on sda2 and sda3 is my SWAP. You will have something similar only you will also see one or two partitions that correspond to your Windows system. Take a note of which is your / partition and then, when prompted by the Mint installer, tell it to format that partition and install the new system over it.

Note that I have set up my /home in a separate partition so that I can reinstall without needing to format my $HOME. If you have not done so, make sure to make a backup of your data before installing so you'll be able to copy it back again.

Basically, the installer will probably just work out of the box. All you need to know is which partition is which so as not to overwrite the wrong one.

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Use Windows to kill the partition of Linux, delete the volume in the administration center, the you can install Linux Mint without any problems.

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