Dual Booting Windows 10 with Ubuntu Linux on Dell XPS 13/15.

Why is it not just another dual-booting tutorial?

Mritunjay Sharma
7 min readApr 23, 2020

You might have wondered that when there are already so many blogs/Youtube tutorials available for Dual-Booting then why this? You might be quite right in wondering so until of course you have been RAIDed like me last year!

Even the scorching heat of May 2019 did not make me scratch my head as much the problem I faced in Dual Booting my Windows with Ubuntu Linux on the Dell XPS 15 then! While searching for all the reasons, one little thing that I missed was that my system was RAIDed. So here’s a blog for all of you who have been RAIDed!

Getting RAIDed! Lol!


No, do not worry, this RAID has nothing to do with the above raid, but for the mayhem that it brings in dual booting for Windows users. Yes, you heard it right, most of the Dell laptops ship in RAID mode and while you happily follow the instructions of those Youtube videos and are just about to install Ubuntu-BOOM! Where are those SSD/HDD disk partitions?

What is a RAID mode? And what happens if it is on? Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) is a virtual disk technology that combines multiple physical drives into one unit. It can create redundancy, improve performance, or do both.

RAID should not be considered a replacement for backing up the data. If critical data is going onto a RAID array, it should be backed up to another physical drive or logical set of drives. Now if you have got a single SSD set up in RAID mode, then the Ubuntu installer won’t recognize your SSD until you switch your disk setting in the BIOS from RAID to AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface).

The AHCI is a technical standard defined by Intel that specifies the operation of Serial ATA (SATA) host controllers in a non-implementation-specific manner in its motherboard chipsets.

No detection of SSD/HDD partitions with RAID mode on.

This is bound to happen if the SATA Operation setting in the BIOS is set to RAID on.

RAID on in SATA Operation.

You could go on and on doing things like — disabling Secure Boot, Fast Boot, Switching between UEFI, Legacy and what not! And still, end up looking at that bleak blank screen showing no Disk Partitions except your installation media. So, now what? Where to go? What to do? Answering these questions can become extremely difficult and frustrating if you are unaware of things like RAID and AHCI.

While AHCI does not affect the speed of the SATA interface in any way but allows the usage of more advanced features inherent in SATA. On the other hand, RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is a much older technology that predates even the SATA technology. Let’s see how that screen would have looked with AHCI on:

Disk Partitions detected with AHCI mode on.

As you can see the SSD/HDD disk partitions are available now. So, next is a step-by-step guide on how to (safely) switch to AHCI and install Ubuntu alongside Windows 10.

Follow me!

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Warning: The next few steps shall bring some major changes to the system and Windows might crash if things are done otherwise. So be careful and follow as advised.

Switching RAID to AHCI:

  1. Open the Command Prompt as an administrator.
Select Command Prompt as an administrator.

2. Using your administrative powers type the following code :

bcdedit/set safeboot minimal

3. Reboot the system pressing the F2 key to open the BIOS menu.

Dell BIOS Menu.

4. Under System Configuration->SATA Operation, you’ll observe ‘RAID on’

Switch to AHCI mode, ignoring the warnings.

Switch to AHCI.

5. Click Apply and wait for the Windows to boot again. Now you shall notice that Windows opens in Safe Mode. A word of caution for the users who have enabled PIN and Password. In Safe Mode, neither PIN nor Fingerprint shall work, you have to type the password you have set to access your Windows Desktop.

6. Repeat Step 1 and type :

bcdedit/deletevalue safeboot

Reboot (Restart) the Windows again and Voila! You have finally switched from RAID to AHCI. Pat your back for you have done some tough job with such ease!

Photo by Massimo Sartirana on Unsplash

The Real Game begins now!

Let’s begin it!

Now that you have prepared the System, let the celebrations begin!

  1. Download latest LTS Ubuntu on Windows from https://ubuntu.com/download/desktop
Download Ubuntu.

2. Insert a USB with at least 4GB of memory. Also, download Etcher that will help to burn it. Below is the link for downloading:

3. Format the USB with FAT-32 as its file system setting. It is required to create a Live USB.

Format as FAT32 USB.

4. Burn the USB with Ubuntu LTS image you downloaded, and no need to worry about UEFI or Legacy or other specs, Etcher will take care of everything. Just Flash it!

Flash it!

5. Let’s divide and rule now (lol!). I mean let’s create a partition where our Ubuntu will be installed. Just do this ->My Computer->Right Click and Select Manage->Go to Disk management->Select he Disk which you want to partition->Right Click and Select ‘Shrink Volume’->Write the size you want to allocate->Click ‘Shrink’->Unallocated Space created (yippie!)

Understand the chronology.

6. Shut down the Windows, keeping your doors open to let some fresh air come in :-). Insert the Bootable USB and Restart the system pressing F12 key

7. Select the ‘Try Ubuntu without installing option’ and go ahead.

Just hit that button, right?

8. Now select “Install Ubuntu *version* LTS”->Choose your language

Select “Install Ubuntu *version* LTS”
Select the language.

9. Proceed ahead with ‘Normal Installation’.

Select the Normal Installation option.

10. To install Ubuntu, based on your preferences, choose ‘Something else’.

Get your pointer to ‘Something else’.

11. You can see that the ‘free space’ is there now. Select it and click the ‘+’ button.

‘free space’ is now visible there.

12. Let’s allocate around 20 GB (in this case when we have a partition of around 100 GB) to the root. Select the ‘logical’ radio button and click the drop-down menu of ‘Mount point’ and select ‘/’.

Make sure your screen looks something similar like this and hit ‘OK’

13. Repeat step 11 again and then this time give around 4 GB (usually half of RAM size) to ‘swap-area’. It works as a virtual RAM for it.

Proceed after confirming this.

14. Repeating Step 11 again, allocate the rest of the size to be used by you by selecting the‘/home’ option from the Mount point drop-down list.

Click ‘OK’ after confirming this.

15. Next few steps are quite straightforward, just click multiple ‘Continue’ providing your personal and time-zone details and wait for Ubuntu to install.

It’s a smooth journey now.

16. After the installation, shut down the system and take the bootable USB off your lappy. Start it again using the ‘Power Button’ and Voila you have the ‘GRUB’ screen to select which OS you want to use (yay!!!)

You have won the battle. Congratulations!

And after easing your journey to accommodate both Ubuntu and Windows in the same house, I have to leave for my own :-)

Ping me for any queries. See you all soon :-)

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Mritunjay Sharma

SWE Intern’21@HackerRank | GSoC’21 @CNCF:Buildpacks | CNCF Spring Intern’21 for CNCF: Kubernetes| GSoC ’20@RTEMS | Learner | Poet.