HP Mini – No Option to install Ubuntu side by side with Windows 7 Starter edition

Written by James McDonald

May 7, 2011

I installed Ubuntu onto my HP Mini 110 using the Windows Ubuntu Installer (Wubi). A Wubi install of Ubuntu is basically virtual disk files sitting on top of the Windows 7 NTFS file system, and a mod to the windows 7 boot manager enables you to boot Ubuntu which uses a loop-back mount arrangement to mount the virtual disk files.

It worked great. I could connect to wireless access points. The hardware was all recognized. Skype worked seamlessly and basically I was ready to place Ubuntu beside Windows 7 on it’s own partition.

So booting from a USB key into Ubuntu I chose the Install to harddrive icon on the desktop and wasn’t greeted with what I was expecting, which was an option to shrink the Windows 7 starter edition partition and install Ubuntu side by side with windows. All I got was an option to wipe the entire drive and install Ubuntu on it’s own.

The cause of the lack of the side by side install option was the hard drive being partitioned with 4 primary partitions. The rules of DOS partitioning means that you can have a maximum of 4 partitions if they are all Primary. To get more than 4 partitions on a disk you need to create an extended partition and then create as many partitions within the extended partition as you need. The HP Mini had already used all the available partitions.

So even if you can use gParted to shrink one of the primary partitions to allow for a Ubuntu Install you wouldn’t be able to create a Ubuntu partition because the HP Mini 110 makes this impossible by creating the 4 partitions it has as primaries.

The way the HP Mini’s Recovery partition, System utils, Windows 7 and Boot partition are configured means that even if you delete and reshuffle the partitions to create Ubuntu side by side with Windows 7 you will probably break the W7 recovery option at least.

So it pretty much means the only option is to wipe the entire disk and install Ubuntu only.

So be it.


  1. Justin Brown

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks so much for posting this. Bye Windows 7.

    Calgary, AB

  2. Clive Wotton

    Perfect answer – thanks – I have run into the same issue tonight. As I need both W7 and Linux, it will be bye bye HP mini.

  3. Steven Pemberton

    Here’s what worked for me: run gparted, delete the partition I wanted to use to install Ubuntu on, and then install. Bingo, I got the side-by-side option.


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