Uninstalling dual-boot Linux
Spoiler – it's trickier than installing it! Back at the start of lockdown, I distracted myself by installing Kubuntu as dual boot alongside Windows 10 on my wife's Dell XPS 9360. Then I went and bought my own little Linux laptop instead. Fast forward half a year and my wife was running out of space on her hard drive and was getting fed up of having to restart the machine when she forgot to select Windows from the Grub start menu. So, the mission a few weeks ago was to upgrade the SSD and get rid of Linux from the machine. Right then!
I purchased a 2 TB P1 NVMe M.2 SSD from Crucial, not the latest and greatest as the 4 year old Dell can't make the most of it but an upgrade in speed and storage capacity nevertheless. I also got an enclosure to turn the old SSD into an external drive. Then I backed up files in a painfully slow fashion to an older external HDD I had lying around, and created a bootable Windows 10 USB
I'm not going to pretend I'm an IT expert but I can follow instructions from “How to” websites! As usual, I browsed a few to find some kind of consensus then started the process. My descriptions below will probably make more tech-savvy folk wince in their inaccuracies but hey:
- Step 1: Delete Linux partition(s) from within Windows using the Disk Management. Fine, easy enough!
Step 2: Fix Windows Boot Loader using the bootable USB. OK then... select Repair – Troubleshoot – Advanced – Command prompt... type in
Step 3: Job done? Not quite! Grub was still there! Confusion and mild panic! I went into a bit of a dark rabbit hole faffing around between websites, trying a few things to get rid of the Grub menu and sort it all out. This led me to forums of Master Boot Record vs GUID Partition Table, UEFI vs. Legacy BIOS mode, fiddling around with BCDBoot commands. It wasn't pretty, my notes are sketchy but I finally managed to have a PC that booted straight into Windows. As a minimum this would make my wife happier!
Step 4: Clone the SSD. Now this one was annoying but to cut a long story short, I used Macrium Reflect Free Edition rather than the Acronis software that came with the Crucial SSD. For the latter, you needed to put your new SSD in your laptop so the software could detect your new Crucial hardware and put the old drive in the external enclosure. This didn't work for me as I couldn't manage to boot from the external drive – it appeared that maybe the ghost of the Grub menu was still there and interfering (grrr!) – but Macrium allowed me to clone to the new SSD in the external drive.
Step 5: Put the new cloned SSD in the laptop, boot up with no problems and format the remaining space on the new drive to a lovely, empty data partition.
And we're done! It wasn't painless and probably not ideal but it worked! I think that if I want Linux on this particular laptop in the future, I'll just use a Virtual Machine!
Entry 47 of my participation in the “100 Days to Offload” challenge – find out more and join in!