Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. Are these new laptops?

Yes, they're brand new.

The boxes are unsealed and laptops have been booted to configure them for dual boot. They haven't been used other than for configuring. Covid-safe precautions have also been observed with handling the laptops (gloves used etc.)

2. Isn't dual booting risky - can Windows updates break my dual boot?

Yes they can. Some Windows updates can overwrite the boot sector (and GRUB bootloaders), and this is an unavoidable risk of dual booting Windows and Linux on the same machine. However, this is unusual and, for example, many people run dual boot systems without encountering this.

Windows has also been known to overwrite Linux partitions (also rare). I personally haven't seen this before, but it depends on what changes Microsoft decides to make in the future. For these reasons it's essential to make regular backups of your personal files from the Linux partition (e.g. using a cloud backup service) before you run Windows updates.

It is also possible to disable or delay Windows Updates.

All our laptops are sold preconfigured with Déjà Dup, which is a free Linux folder backup utility, that you can use to backup your Documents folder (or other folders) to the cloud, including to Google Drive.

Overall, while there are risks, for me dual boot gives the best of both worlds, and is still worth it. You can also avoid buying two laptops!

3. What happens if I buy the laptop and then a Windows update stops me booting Linux?

There are freely available tools (e.g. Boot Repair or SuperGrub) to restore access to Linux if you have a problem with an errant Windows update. The laptop comes with a bootable Rescue USB and instructions for using it to restore the bootloader in the event you are unable to access your Linux OS.

In over ten years of using multi-boot environments, I have never seen these tools fail to recover the bootloader to restore Linux access.

4. What happens if I don't like Linux (or Windows) and want to use the computer only for one OS?

The laptop comes with an original Windows licence and Windows restore software. The Linux OS install software is freely available online.

If you decide you don't like Linux, you can use the tools provided (and instructions available online) to overwrite the Linux partition (expand Windows partition to take the full SSD), then use the Rescue USB (or Windows restore tools) to ovewrite the bootloader so you only have the option of booting Windows.

Alternatively, if you decide to make it a Linux only laptop, expand the Linux partition to take the full SSD, and use Grub Customizer (included) to remove the Windows boot options.

5. You don't provide Linux technical support - what should I do if something goes wrong?

If you want to further configure your laptop, and particularly modify partitions etc., a basic level of technical knowledge is required. I'm not in a position ot provide Linux support, but there are plenty of online resources in the Linux community (and these are mainstream distros - Ubuntu, KDE Neon and Manjaro). There are also third party phone technical support services available.

As the laptops have warranties from their manufacturers you are still able to access technical support from Asus/Dell/Lenovo, and Windows support from Microsoft.

6. What experience do you have configuring dual boot systems?

 As a former Developer, I have a good understanding of the underlying technologies, and I have extensive Linux experience including from DevOps work. I have over ten year's experience working with multi-boot environments, including installing, configuring, breaking and recovering them.

7. There are lots of Linux "flavours" and laptops, why have you chosen these combinations to sell?

I have selected the hardware and software based on experience working with different laptop makes and models, and of using Linux operating systems of all kinds. This is to give users the best dual boot experience - although even for these combinations you will see some hardware and software compatibility issues (e.g. peripherals not working exactly as they should). However, these are tolerable issues given the benefits of dual booting outweigh the disadvantages for most people.

8. What if I buy a laptop and change my mind?

I offer a full return guarantee for the first 14 days for all laptops. Please send it back as close to new condition as possible (buyer pays postage), within 14 days of receiving the item. Once I receive it I'll process a full refund.

If you decide you don't like Windows or Linux, you always have the option of re-partitioning the SSD drive so it's a fully Windows or Linux laptop.

9. I'm interested but I don't like buying from online stores, I prefer established platforms like Amazon and eBay?

Dual Boot Shop also sells through eBay (listings here), so all laptops here are also listed on eBay for sale, which has additional buyer protections (although they are the same as what you will get buying through this Shopify site). We're not on Amazon yet but will be in the future.

eBay listings have the same item titles and descriptions as on this site, and include 'Sold by Dual Boot Shop' in the description.