Currently I have Windows 7 installed on my main hard drive (64gb SSD). I recently installed Linux Mint on a secondary hard disk (1TB HDD). My issue is that when I turn the PC on there is no boot menu to allow me to choose which OS I want to boot into.

I know this may be because the two operating systems are on different hard disks but is there any way I can have a choice which OS to run without having to change the hard disk drive boot priority in the BIOS?


Well, it is possible for a bootloader from one HD to run the operating system from another HD (if I'm not mistaken, my sister's computer used to run WinXP bootloader from one HD and load the XP installation from another one).

But you'll probably need Linux bootloader (GRUB) to run Windows by configuring GRUB. That means that you'll still have to make your 1TB HDD the main boot device in BIOS. When you'll boot the computer, BIOS will start GRUB there and GRUB can present you a menu, asking whether you'd like to run Linux or Windows, if you configure it to do that. Here's an example of configuring GRUB to create that menu. Here's a good set of links to GRUB tutorials (try Dedoimedo one, I like it) and documentation. To configure GRUB, you'll have to run Linux from your 1TB HDD.

Actually, if you need to run Linux only once, I think that changing a boot device in BIOS is much less of a trouble than tweaking GRUB. If you need the alternative boot permanently, then it's best to configure GRUB to show menu.

Also, note that there are 2 versions of GRUB now, GRUB1, also called Legacy GRUB (something like GRUB 0.97 is GRUB1) and GRUB2. Their configuration files differ, so check, which GRUB your Linux is using first.

  • Thank you very much for your reply, i will try this out now and let you know how it goes! – Chris Stone Oct 4 '13 at 13:32
  • Hope it works :). In the Dedoimedo tutorial there's an example of dual-boot "Windows 7 and Ubuntu" GRUB2 configuration, I think you could mostly follow it. – Boris Burkov Oct 4 '13 at 13:56
  • There is absolutely no reason to have grub on the second drive. Grub can quite happily reside on the first (windows) drive and boot an OS from any other drive on the system. – terdon Oct 4 '13 at 15:29
  • @terdon Yes, but I guess he's already got GRUB on his second drive and Windows bootloader on first, so it's easier to just configure GRUB from Linux drive to chainload windows bootloader. It's all about what Chris wants to achieve. :) As I understand the question, he just wants no-frills boot menu without having to enter BIOS on every reboot, so I'd prefer to slightly tweak Linux bootloader, rather than reinstalling bootloader on his Windows drive. – Boris Burkov Oct 4 '13 at 16:08
  • @Bob GRUB can be installed on any drive really. By far the easiest is to install it on the first drive, which OS is on which drive is irrelevant. No BIOS tweaks are necessary. Just boot into a live session, set up the right chroot environment and install grub to the 1st drive. – terdon Oct 4 '13 at 16:10

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