On (Not) Dual Booting

9 November, 2022

You might remember a post I published in this space a while back about my adventures with Zorin OS. A throwaway comment in that post surprised me with the bit of attention that it garnered.

The comment? That I’ve never installed Linux in a dual boot setting. Ever. A few people got in touch asking me why. And, before you ask, those weren’t snarky or accusatory comments. Which leads us into what you’re reading at this moment.

So why have I never done a dual boot installation of Linux in all my years of using it? The answer is simple: I’ve never seen or had the need to do that.

When I started installing Linux on my computers (as opposed to when I bought laptops with Linux preinstalled on them), those computers usually ran Windows. Which I wanted to escape. So, I replaced Redmond’s operating system with a better one. At least, one that was (and continues to be) better for me.

On the rare occasion that I needed to use a Windows application, I ran that application in a virtual machine or used CrossOver to run it. As time passed, so did any occasional need to run anything Windows on my computers.

On top of that, I’ve never had a need to dual boot between Linux distros. That’s mainly because I’m not, and never have been, a distro hopper. I focus on using one Linux distribution and one Linux distribution only. For the most part, I’m loyal to that distro until I find a compelling reason or six to switch. Usually, there’s a gap of years between those switches. So, I don’t need to have, say, elementary OS and Arch Linux installed side-by-side on the same laptop. My inner geek doesn’t need that much of a hug.

Maybe in my non-techie brain there’s also a bit of a block about partitioning hard drives. I’m sure there’s a corner of the lump of gray inside my head that worries about what could go wrong or whether or not dual booting will work. Yeah, I know ...

But in the end, I have no use case for dual booting. If I want to give a Linux distro a look, I’ll run it using a bootable flash drive. Doing that is usually more than enough to get a good feel for that distribution and whether or not I want to use it.

Scott Nesbitt