Installing Zorin 17 on Second Drive where Windows 11 is on First Drive

I have a laptop which has two separate SSD drives. a 256GB drive which has Windows 11, and an empty 64GB empty SSD drive. I also have a bootable USB with Zorin Core 17 on it.

I am completely new to Linux but would like to keep Window on its existing drive and add Zorin to the currently empty drive.

I have read some forum answers about this, but I'm still worried I may accidentally delete Windows 11.

Can anyone provide step-by-step instructions on how to install Zorin to the separate drive for someone completely new to Linux, or point me in the right direction to already published easy to understand instructions?

Just to be clear, I don't want to install Zorin alongside the existing Windows 11, I do want to install Zorin on one drive where Windows 11 is on a different drive on the same laptop.

Thank you for any help


The easiest way to do this is to remove the SSD that has Windows on it so you can do a clean install of Zorin on the Empty SSD. After you have installed Zorin, replace the SSD with Windows on it. Next, go into the BIOS to select the Zorin drive to boot from. Once in Zorin, update GRUB so that it picks up Windows. Open a terminal and enter:

sudo update-grub

An issue you will come up against is a time error of 1 hour between Windows and Linux. To resolve this issue:

This has turned out to be really easy, even for someone completely new to Linux.

I managed to find step-by-step instructions for dual booting two separate drives, the first with Windows 11 already on it, and the second to be used for a new install of Linux. This worked for me, and the full instructions are at How to Dual Boot Windows 11 and Linux on Separate Hard Drives

Those instructions assume the second drive may already have content on it, so includes details on how to create a separate partition to install Linux on. If your second drive is new, or empty, then you don't need to create any partitions, and the brief instructions are as follows (they assume you have already created a bootable Zorin USB drive).

  1. Make sure your new or empty second drive has been initialized and can be seen in Windows if that has not already been done (instructions are on the above-mentioned website). I didn't need to do this, as Windows could already see my second drive.

  2. Use Windows Disk Management to create a quick format of your second drive to NTFS format, and rename the second drive as 'Linux' or 'Zorin' (instructions are on the above-mentioned website). Make a note of the size of your Windows drive and your Linux drive (it helps if they are different sizes!).

  3. Check what the BIOS hotkey is for your computer. This will vary by maker, but all I had to do for mine is hold down the F2 button whilst the laptop started.

  4. Insert your USB drive containing Zorin, and boot into your BIOS using your BIOS hotkey.

  5. Once in your BIOS edit the 'Boot' settings. It should list your Windows C drive first, followed by your USB drive. The order should be reversed, so the USB drive is listed first and the Windows drive second, and then the settings should be saved and closed (the way of changing the order is different depending upon your BIOS, but there should be easy to follow on-screen instructions).

  6. When you restart your computer it should boot from the USB drive and you should accept the choice of installing Zorin.

  7. Installing Zorin is quite straight forward and you simply follow all the prompts. When you get to the screen asking which drive you want to install on, you need to use the drop-down menu to make sure you select the correct drive. This should be obvious from the name of each drive, and even more obvious if the drives are of a different size.

  8. Once everything has been installed you will have a dual boot system with Windows on the original drive and Linux on your new or second drive. When you restart your computer should list your operating systems with Zorin first and Windows second. After a few seconds you will boot directly into Zorin. To boot into Windows, use those few seconds to scroll-down from the Zorin listing to the Windows listing and click on 'Enter'.


Thanks for your help. In the end I didn't need to remove the SSD, and I didn't need to update GRUB or use a terminal.

I always like to err on the side of caution! :wink: