Sh*t happens. There is no more applications to manage my 6th generation iPod Classic 160 GB under Linux/Ubuntu. I have to install Windows as the second operating system along with newly installed Ubuntu Lucid Lynx (it rocks but this is for another post) to run iTunes.

For rather long time I’ve been using gtkpod, amarok, banshee, exaile or rhythmbox to sync my ipod under Linux/Ubuntu and load my music collection there. As we all know The Elder Brother Apple fights with interoperability and makes ipod/iphone users to use iTunes only. Any other applications that can read/write to ipod data format are prohibited by Apple. This also concerns Rockbox and ipod4linux alternative firmwares — once Apple encrypted ipod firmware it became impossible to use them. It definitely sucks. At least due to the fact there are millions of Linux users who are real or potential customers of Apple products. Anyways these facts have been discussed in various forums, blogs like this and similar but this post about how to install Windows as the second operating system along with Ubuntu or any other Linux.

gparted exampleThe first that we need to do is to create new partition for Windows and format it to NTFS. Exact steps to accomplish this depend on your HDD partition table e.g. there is one large ext3/ext4 partition for Ubuntu or there are several partitions for various distributions or mount points. Anyway you should use partition manager to create and/or format NTFS partition. I use gparted. It is graphical and it just works (use ‘sudo apt-get install gparted‘ if you run Ubuntu/Debian).

Second you should backup your MBR record and restore it after Windows installation that silently erases existing bootloader and installs windows one, use “dd if=/dev/sda of=/mbr.bin bs=446 count=1” to save MRB into mbr.bin file and “dd if=/media/sda/mbr.bin of=/dev/sda bs=446 count=1” to restore it from file to HDD.

To sum everything up here is the algorithm:

1. Create NTFS partition using gparted.
2. Backup MBR using dd command e.g. “dd if=/dev/sda of=/mbr.bin bs=446 count=1” (/dev/sda means your HDD).
3. Boot Windows installation CD and install it onto newly created NTFS partition.
4. Boot into Linux live CD  e.g. Ubuntu Live CD.
5. Restore MBR using dd e.g. “dd if=/media/sda/mbr.bin of=/dev/sda bs=446 count=1”.
6. Reboot.
7. Select Ubuntu in grub menu and boot it.
8. Setup grup for Windows booting.

In order to accomplish the last 8th item you should add the following text block to the end of grub config (read this article for detailed information):

title Microsoft Windows XP
root (hd0,1)
chainloader +1

Good luck!

P.S. If something goes wrong or you need more details you can take a look at the following article at Recovering Ubuntu After Installing Windows. It’s written in rather tangled manner but still informative.




  1. May 10, 2010  2:12 pm by Dave Reply

    Howdy there! Long time reader here. Why not install Windows within VirtualBox? VirtualBox provides USB passthrough, so you *should* be able to run iTunes within a Windows VM and gain access to your iPod that way. It should reduce any headaches you might encounter by dual-booting OSes (and if that is the only reason you need Windows!)

  2. May 11, 2010  4:04 am by Jeff Reply

    2. Backup MBR using dd command e.g. “dd if=/dev/sda of=/mbr.bin bs=446 count=1?

    Is this a terminal command?

  3. May 11, 2010  9:16 am by admin Reply

    Hi Dave, that could be nice idea but some time ago I tried to run virtualbox + windows + itunes but faced the following problem: windows runs like a charm, itunes works fine but once I connect ipod itunes starts eating 100% of CPU and windows just crashes it. So I could't sync my ipod. As far as I looked through the web this is known problem with itunes 9 and apple still didn't fixed it.

    Hi, Jeff. Yep, this is command line.

  4. May 15, 2010  3:52 pm by Mark Reply

    Just drop Ubuntu altogether and run Windows. Most of the good software is cross-platform, like Firefox and Inkscape, and the rest can be run in VirtualBox or andLinux, so it integrates seamlessly with your Windows desktop.

    I've been using Ubuntu for years, but if Canonical's too incompetent to make an OS that works, I'm not going to support them or waste my time any further.

  5. May 18, 2010  3:14 pm by Plucx Reply

    This looks like the former system where you install windows and then you partition it and install ubuntu with grub. Still Ubuntu depends on windows

  6. May 29, 2010  3:31 am by Noella Michalik Reply

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  7. August 8, 2010  4:01 pm by dRewsus Reply

    Where do you get that Ubuntu depends on Windows? In no way is that correct.

  8. December 5, 2010  6:34 pm by Franz Reply


    I did the opposite. I have drop Windows for Linux, Reasons? There's no Virus and no "blue windows". Ubuntu is far more stable than windows.

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  13. April 10, 2012  12:25 pm by Tom Reply

    Win XP might give you the old blue screen of death routine after copying it's installation files and you won't be able to continue. As usual you'll get a totally useless error message regarding how you should check your disk with the check disk utility. Don't. What you may want to try is to hold down the F2 key prior to booting from the XP installation disk. Then, change your hard disk mode from ATAPI to IDE. Then, save your changes and continue. Made my day.

  14. May 23, 2012  9:03 pm by leonc Reply

    Worked here, good simple instructions. However when I tried to reinstall from ubuntu disk it couldn't find mbr.bin. I then mounted linux partition on /mnt and found mbr.bin there so whein if directed dd if=/mnt/mbr.bin of=/dev/sda bs=446 count=1 then that worked. Rebooted and grub came up. Thanks.

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