Linux & Windows Dual-Booting: Essential GRUB and Time Settings

If you dual-boot Linux and Windows, I consider these two things to be essential to be done. I’ve been doing them for a while and decided it was worth posting on the blog as recommendations to others.

GRUB: Remember Last Used Option

First, I feel it is best to have GRUB remember the last chosen boot option. If you don’t agree, simply don’t do this and your system will always boot into the first option (0), which is going to be populated by whatever Linux OS you used to install GRUB onto the PC.

The biggest reason why I prefer to do this is because most Windows updates typically require reboots. Some actually end up performing multiple reboots as the updates are applied. When I run Windows updates, I almost always find something else to do to bide my time, as they’re rarely ever snappy, and if I have to manually select the Windows boot loader in GRUB during each of those reboots that might happen, things are delayed even further. I can’t say how many times I had to reboot out of Linux and back into Windows to finish updates because of this. So, this resolves that issue.

Typically, the GRUB configuration is at /etc/default/grub, and this must be edited with either root or super-user privileges. By default, the following setting is defined as:


You can edit that line as part of the following changes, but I typically just comment it out by placing an octothorpe symbol (#) in front of it, and then add my changes directly above before saving/exiting the file:


Lastly, after you’ve saved your changes, update the GRUB configuration with:

sudo update-grub


Time Configuration: Use Local Time

I consider this one an essential for everyone. Other sites have done a much better job explaining why this happens than I can do. However, I will summarize and just say that Windows stores the local time into the hardware clock and pulls that time directly to show you on your desktop. Linux, instead, stores UTC time and then applies the offset to it dependent on what your local time-zone is. For me, it’s UTC-5, and so if I don’t do this, Windows ends up telling me the time is 5 hours into the future each time I boot into it after booting into Linux (until I go into Windows and tell it to update the time online). But then Linux shows me the time as 5 hours in the past until it’s been updated. The whole process repeats with each OS boot change.

From what I’ve gathered from searching online, this can be remedied by either making Windows use UTC time or making Linux use Local Time. Because I don’t care to edit Windows registry entries anymore than I have to (and it’s apparently the only way to change this in Windows), I chose to make the change in Linux, instead.

If you enter the following command, you’ll get the time/date settings and information on your Linux system:


If you’re ready to change Linux to using Local Time, you can do that and update the hardware clock all at once with the following command:

timedatectl set-local-rtc 1

Done. From here on out, Linux will store Local Time in the system hardware clock.

I hope this is of some use to others. This info is in numerous places online, but I felt the need to include it on my blog, especially together.

The Linux Hurdle

Okay. After talking with a co-worker yesterday about why he should install Linux on his somewhat-antiquated Vista-ran laptop, I ran into road blocks. He’s pretty reluctant to heed my suggestion and even dip his toes, let alone jump in head-first.

I’ve tried to make points of why I like Linux better than Windows. However, the truth is that I don’t consider Linux a replacement for Windows. It’s like driving vehicles. I drive my smaller compact car almost everyday, because it’s more convenient for typical day travelling and it gets better gas-mileage. So, why do I keep my pick-up truck? It’s a gas guzzler, and depending on the time and place it can be impossible to find a parking spot. Still, if I have to haul something or traverse tougher terrain that requires a vehicle with more clearance or four-wheel drive, my truck is there to save the day. In this case, my compact car is Linux and my truck is Windows. Linux will almost always get the job done, typically faster and with less hassle, while Windows is there to provide any crucial services that Linux just can’t do.

Being that my co-worker’s laptop hard-drive is fairly full, he’s running Vista and he says he has never de-fragged his hard-drive, I’d bet that I can boot up, check my emails, pay a couple of bills, shut down and boot back up to my work space in Linux before he even reaches his desktop for the first time in Vista. And my Linux setup has been installed for nearly two years now. Though, I’d say a fresh install of Linux wouldn’t do it any better. The same can’t be said for Windows.

But like I said, I’m not saying throw Windows out the window. I’m just saying make use of the tools available to you. What’s the point of booting into Windows to do generic tasks that end up taking far longer to complete than they necessarily have to? After all, the less you use Windows, the longer it takes to slow down. Of course, good practices and regular maintenance can help keep Windows running as good as possible. But when you can minimize the amount of work necessary in those respects as well, it makes no sense not to at least dip your toes in. And the sales pitch is spot on: Linux is free, it is generally designed to boot alongside of Windows and it is fairly easy to remove it and revert back to just having Windows if you decide you don’t wish to keep it.

I hope my co-worker comes to the decision of giving Linux a shot. After all, I never used Linux once until two years ago when I decided that testing out a freely available OS seemed like a fun endeavour. It ended up causing me to change up my routine permanently.

Windows 7, LibreOffice 4 Update Issue

On two separate Windows 7 machines, one with Ultimate and one with Home Premium, I ran into the same issue when trying to update LibreOffice 4 to the latest version,

For some reason, there is a folder nested within the LibreOffice 4 directory called program, and this folder is a bitch to do anything with. The reason I found issue with it to begin with is because the installer for LibreOffice 4 kept returning a 1303 permissions error when copying files for the installation. On my first machine, I simply restarted into Ubuntu (the machine is dual-booted) and deleted the LibreOffice 4 directory from the Windows partition using Nautilus. However, on my PC with Home Premium, which isn’t dual-booted, I decided to see if there was a way for me to remedy the issue from within Windows itself. After doing every step I could learn of to either force-delete the file or change permissions, including through CLI with an elevated command prompt, I found that nothing tried within Windows itself would work. In the end, I was still forced to use a linux boot to fix my issue, and I did that using a LiveUSB.

So, if you’re facing the same issue I did, you can take the same step that I did. If you know of a sure-fire solution that can be executed from within Windows, shared knowledge is appreciated.

Before Installing Windows…

For anyone who is considering an upgrade for Windows, heed this warning before you choose to do so via a fresh install: get your drivers ready.

Many people take for granted that Windows works right out of the box. I think it is especially the case considering that Windows actually doesn’t work right out of the box. In most cases, Windows can’t even successfully find software drivers online when trying to install a simple peripheral device, so it surely does a poor job of working with the essential hardware of your PC as-is.

If you don’t know what I mean, then it means you’ve never taken a standard Windows installation and used it to install Windows onto a PC before. It’s safe to say that everyone is familiar with purchasing a computer with Windows pre-installed. In some cases, you may even be familiar with the luxury of having a Factory System Restore CD/DVD, though it’s not common with new PCs today. Either way, the biggest difference between having a Factory System Restore option (either on as physical medium or as an image on the hard-drive) and a standard installation method (Windows, of some version and edition, that you buy separately to use on any PC) is that the Factory System Restore method will include the drivers for your PC’s hardware already included. When you use the Factory System Restore image, your PC will boot up with the resolution looking nice and all network peripherals working as they should. Yet, if you install Windows from something other than a Factory System Restore image that is made specifically for your PC, you’ll find the resolution to be poor (and unchangeable) and no ability to access the internet even through your wired ethernet port.

In one of few ways, this is how Linux distributions really have a one-up on Windows. Because most essential hardware will work before you install the additional drivers, especially the ethernet port (which allows an easier path to obtaining essential drivers). When I installed Windows, I had to find a copy of my PC’s mobo, video and ethernet drivers, place them on a USB drive and then put them onto the PC I had installed Windows on.

In all truthfulness, Windows worked great after installing the drivers, but the real point is that you need to know to do this. I’ve heard of some people installing a Windows upgrade and then reverting back to their previous Windows version because they thought there was an issue with their PC being able to run Windows when they were presented with the lower resolution and unusable ethernet.

So, be prepared. Because if the PC you’re upgrading is the only one you have access too, and you don’t prepare a way to install the drivers onto the PC without internet-access beforehand, you might find yourself in a tough situation – such as with a temporarily useless PC.