Why Dual Boot?

Dual booting is dead.

Or is it?

People have ditched dual booting for good and are moving towards VMs.

Today, VMs function just as fast as an OS running on bare metal. But does that mean dual booting is now useless?

I don’t think so. Dual booting can be an excellent choice to put your old hardware to use.

Experimenting with bleeding edge software, hopping between Linux distros, or compartmentalizing each aspect of your life in a separate OS…with dual booting there is no need to compromise on performance.

I, myself, wouldn’t have entered the Linux world without it. Even with decent hardware, I just couldn’t get my laptop to play nice with a virtual machine. The VM wouldn’t boot, would crash or simply be awfully slow. There was no telling what surprise it held for me each time.

Besides, it’s not really possible to get the native feel of an OS in a VM.

And that is where dual booting shines.

Misconceptions about dual booting

Setting up dual boot is very difficult

Although I admit setting up and maintaining a dual boot setup was quite cumbersome back in the days, now, with UEFI and other standards the situation has improved a lot. Some operating systems even automate the steps for you.

Getting rid of dual boot means wiping out the entire drive

That’s not true. The changes you make to your system to setup a dual boot are easily reversible and non-destructive.

You do not need a clean drive to go back to the previous state of having only one primary OS. Dual boot only adds one extra menu to your boot process and that’s it. Both operating systems run independent of each other and do not care about other’s existence.

If you decide that you do not like it, you can get rid of it at any point of time. See my post on doing so.

Dual booting causes data loss

This turns to be a major reason most people avoid dual boot or avoid learning a new OS at all. I was afraid of the same.

At the time, I was just 12 and the laptop I was using was the primary machine in the house. I knew that if I screwed up, there was no way I was getting that laptop back.

But, if done right, there’s absolutely no chance of data loss. There are only two key factors in the setup process that might lead to a data loss. Wrong partitioning, or inappropriately booting into another OS without completely shutting down the other. (Windows Fastboot, I am looking at you 👀)

Dual booting slows down your PC

The only thing that slows down is your boot time. It is used up by GRUB menu where you decide which OS to boot into. It adds around 5 seconds for each boot, and you can change it if you prefer to.

Dual booting is unsafe

Eh…true but not true. With proper precautions, dual boot does not leave you any more vulnerable than single boot. But, there is a possibility that one might end up exposing certain driver bugs.

So, should you dual boot?

If you have a spare machine at hand or you just like tinkering with stuff, I don’t see why not to dual boot. Learning something is never a waste.

For someone like me, reading through wikis and forums isn’t a boring chore.

And if you are someone looking to switch to Linux anyways, rather than re-learning and re-adjusting your workflow from scratch on Linux, dual booting provides a nice way to test and break things,to get comfortable with Linux ecosystem and/or revive old machines.

These are just some of the points I wish someone had listed so bluntly while I was starting out. Ultimately, the decision is yours! 😉