Howto Set Windows as Default OS when Dual Booting Ubuntu

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When you install Windows and ubuntu as dual boot you’ll notice that Ubuntu is set as the default operating system in the Grub loader if you want to change your default booting OS to windows you need to follow this procedure

You need to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst file

sudo vi /boot/grub/menu.lst

Look for the following option

default 0


default 4

Save and exit the file and reboot your system.

You will need to change that number 0 to match the Windows boot section.In most cases 4 is a default dual-boot configuration and in one my friend's laptop this value is 5 so you need to check this and enter the value.The blocks at the bottom of the file match the items in the menu and the numbering starts at 0

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19 Responses

  1. jaywee says:

    Maybe there is another easier way. Use startup-manager,below the “Boot options”,you can make a choice with “Default operating system”,choose windows xp, and all done!!

  2. keke says:

    This is a easy way!

  3. infitro says:

    i don’t have startup-manager in my ubuntu (v6), how do i get this startup-manager?

  4. Matias says:

    When I try to save the change from dfault 0 to default 4 I get this message:
    “You do not have the permissions necessary to save the file. Please check that you typed the location correctly and try again”
    How can I fix this?

  5. tususpop says:

    i have the same problem “You do not have the permissions necessary to save the file. Please check that you typed the location correctly and try again”, how can i fix it PLASE! :'(

  6. asdasd says:

    sudo apt-get install startup-manager

  7. Abhilash says:

    But it shows “Couldn’t find package startup-manager”
    Please Help

  8. Majkl says:

    Well, I guess you are not in as a root, therefore you cannot re save the menu.lst

    Try it makes sense to me:

    Hope this helps – I am learning by doing too. :o)


  9. Ashley says:

    Anyone who is getting the same
    “You do not have the permissions necessary to save the file. Please check that you typed the location correctly and try again”
    How can I fix this?

    This is because you need to edit the file as root (or as a user who has sudo privileges) to change the file as root open up the terminal and type sudo -i (if you are not a sudo user then you will need to load up in safe mode and log in as root on the root shell option and then type adduser yourusernamehere admin, this will set the username you entered to admin and will give you the right to change system settings e.x.) after logging in as root using the sudo -i command type sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst edit the file and then save and exit. Reboot and see if it works, hope this helps!

  10. Mike says:

    Startup manager works he just misspelled it.

    sudo apt-get install startupmanager

    there is no dash in between the startup and manager

  11. Tony says:

    Or the easier way, just go to your software center (under the “Applications” menu. Go to “System Tools”, then select “startup-manager” from there.

  12. Tony says:

    (Edit: I think startup manager is not yet available for Karmic.)

  13. MrPoyz says:

    I installed startup manager on Karmic, using the Software Manager.

    Using the startup manager it was easy to change the default boot option.


  14. shan says:

    please help!!
    the menu.lst file does open. but it’s a blank page.. what do i do now?? i am new to ubuntu.. please do reply soon!!

  15. Sandip says:

    I have also got blank menu.lst file, what can i do now?

  16. Sai Ram Kodipyaka says:

    menu.lst file will not be present in newer versions of grub.So if u try to open it you will get a blank file.
    proceed as follows. /boot/grub/grub.cfg as root user.
    2.type sudo gedit /boot/grubgrub.cfg in terminal to open it in write mode.
    3.Now you can see something called menuentry which is nothing but different booting options like ubuntu generic,ubuntu memtest,windows etc. which is repeated 5 to 6 times in the format
    ###some text
    menu entry
    //some text related to menu entry
    ###some text
    (Ctrl+f and type menuentry to find it)
    4.Find the para which has menuentry with windows7/xp/vista(depending on your windows version).generally it will be the last entry.
    5.Cut that para i.e., from
    ###some text
    menuentry windows 7
    //some related text
    ###some text
    and paste it just before the para of ubuntu generic menuentry i.e., just above its ###. it.

    Note:Keep a copy of the original file in case u want to restore the default.but by this technique u can change the boot order as u like.

  17. srihari says:

    @Sai Ram Kodipyaka, thanks buddy.. your info was pretty helpful.. I could set my default OS to windows.. It worked!!!! 🙂

  18. Trustmeimadoctor says:

    I’m a newb running Ubuntu 10.4, and of course, menu.lst was blank. Go to ‘Ubuntu software center’ under Applications and search for ‘startup.’ You will see startup manager in the list. Install this and then open it (look under system – Administration). The second option down is default boot.

    Thanks for all you who post answers and make it easier for us go learn!!!

  19. Arun says:

    Use the startup manager.. for default os.. It’s easier method… 🙂

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