First off I am by no means an expert so here goes....

I have 2 hard drive bays on my laptop, I have ordered 2 new hard drives to replace the existing ones with different operating systems pre-installed one on each respectively. One will have Windows & the other Loki as below

HDD 1: Windows 10 (1tb) HDD 2: Loki OS (1tb)

My question is how can I quickly boot into Loki & Windows? Can I switch between the two without going into bios everytime I power up? Is there something like a bootswitcher or boot sequence that when I press a key upon pressing power button, the laptop goes into one OS & when another key is pressed it goes into the other OS?

I know once I have the 2 hdds arrive I can install them & hold down f2/f12 to get into bios to boot from second drive but really need something that will take a lot less effort & less number of keys pressed to get into either of the operating systems.

Any guidance would be much appreciated & I have intentionally chosen to put Linux on a separate hard drive simply because my laptop has a second hard drive bay & there is no need to partition my first.

This will be my first time using windows & linux on the same machine but on different drives.



2 Answers 2


Is there something like a bootswitcher or boot sequence that when I press a key upon pressing power button, the laptop goes into one OS & when another key is pressed it goes into the other OS?

elementary, like most Linux distros, comes with the grub bootloader. You can set up your computer to boot into grub automatically. From there, you'll be able to choose whether to boot into Windows or elementary without going into your BIOS settings.

To set this up, install Windows on your primary drive. Then, start the elementary OS installer and choose "something else..." in the "installation type" dialog. From there, follow these instructions.

Before you get started, be sure to back up your data in case something goes wrong with the installation.

It's worth noting that the easier and more common approach would be to install both OSes onto the same hard drive. That way, you could choose your OS from grub instead of going into the BIOS. You could still use your secondary hard drive to store documents and media. This approach requires much less manual work. If you install Windows and then set up elementary, the installer can automatically set up dual boot for you.

Storing your documents and media on a secondary hard drive also means that you could easily reinstall without losing your files.

  • Hi Ryan, thanks for providing this info, as the 2 hard drives are already built with the operating systems, I think it is best if I fit them in when they arrive, boot as normal into Windows & whenever I need Loki, I can hold down f12 in BIOS.
    – qss
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 8:20
  • The time that will be taken to perform the following instructions doesn't justify the time lost in booting into a different OS. Also I think from having read reviews of those who have performed the following instructions have a very mixed set of opinions where the windows drive becomes inaccessible at times. The longer way round prevents any kind of inaccessibility therefore this would be not the fastest but the safest option.
    – qss
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 8:27
  • Totally reasonable! Another option would be to install both OSes onto the primary hard drive, and use the secondary hard drive for storing documents and media. See the updated answer above. Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 14:15
  • Yes agreed that option would also be favorable. I think there is definitely a "kick-starter" based opportunity here (even though everything I am about to say here goes against the norm) to create a physical component to aid booting & maybe even os switching from a hardware perspective. We know application-side GRUB works as do bootable USB drives, VMWare too, etc but to also have individual auto booting into whatever os on different drives at the touch of a button would be amazing.
    – qss
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 15:03

I believe there is a way:

  1. Make the Loki drive your primary boot device.
  2. Boot into Loki.
  3. Mount the Windows drive (for example open it in Files)
  4. Run in terminal:

sudo os-prober

sudo update-grub

PS Inspired by this question.

  • Hi I have just recieved my hard drive with Loki OS & fitted it into my seconds Hard Drive bay of my laptop. I cannot boot into this or even if I swap this to the primary hard drive bay - it is saying the operating system is not found. This is really odd, Has anyone come across this before? I can see in BIOS that the hard drive is 1tb & I know it has Loki OS installed. I need to understand why I cannot boot into Loki.
    – qss
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 17:04
  • If the system is there indeed, the I'd assume that the grub is not installed or lost. It is possible to reinstall grub on your hard drive using a live-usb (ubuntu or elementary or anything else). You need to create a bootable USB and boot from it. Then inside the live-session mount your partition where elementary in installed, "chroot" into it via terminal and reinstall grub on your hard drive. You may follow this how-to: link. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 18:49
  • I fixed the issue! All I had to do was disconnect my hard drive with windows & leave the hard drive supposedly with Loki installed. I re-installed loki using a live disc & selected complete wipe for new installation. Connected Windows hard drive back in, I managed to boot into both without any issues. No GRUB no partitions 2 separate hard drives 2 separate operating systems. I then discovered a quick boot option on my laptop. Pressing f12 brings up a simple menu (not BIOS) select hard drive or other media & boot! I can now boot into either or quite simply holding down f12 :) just like a mac.
    – qss
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 9:12

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