Setup Manjaro Windows Dualboot

Hey there,
for a university project I am forced to use Windows in order to use some specific software. Using a Virtual Machine has been a pain in the ass and is not really usable.

So since I got a rather new computer and don't really want to mess with my partioning of my current Manjaro only system I was wondering if I could get an external thunderbolt SSD and plugplay it with my hardware.

Has anyone advice or experiance in this area? I heard that its possible but you might run into issues such as grub doesn't allow manjaro to boot if the external ssd is missing for example.

I'd be interested in your opinions on the successrate of such an approach.
Also if you should come to the conclusion that it probably will work out, I'd be interesed in hardware suggestions (I'm based in germany).

Here my inxi

inxi -Fxzc0
System:    Host: workstation Kernel: 4.19.69-1-MANJARO x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 9.1.0 Desktop: KDE Plasma 5.16.4 
           Distro: Manjaro Linux 
Machine:   Type: Laptop System: Dell product: XPS 13 9380 v: N/A serial: <filter> 
           Mobo: Dell model: 0KTW76 v: A00 serial: <filter> UEFI: Dell v: 1.7.0 date: 08/05/2019 
Battery:   ID-1: BAT0 charge: 44.2 Wh condition: 46.1/52.0 Wh (89%) model: LGC-LGC6.73 DELL H754V8B status: Charging 
CPU:       Topology: Quad Core model: Intel Core i7-8565U bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Kaby Lake rev: B L2 cache: 8192 KiB 
           flags: avx avx2 lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 31880 
           Speed: 4180 MHz min/max: 400/4600 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 4180 2: 4106 3: 4367 4: 4449 5: 4288 6: 4241 7: 4035 
           8: 4379 
Graphics:  Device-1: Intel UHD Graphics 620 vendor: Dell driver: i915 v: kernel bus ID: 00:02.0 
           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.5 driver: intel unloaded: fbdev,modesetting resolution: 3840x2160~60Hz 
           OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel HD Graphics (Whiskey Lake 3x8 GT2) v: 4.5 Mesa 19.1.5 direct render: Yes 
Audio:     Device-1: Intel Cannon Point-LP High Definition Audio vendor: Dell driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 00:1f.3 
           Sound Server: ALSA v: k4.19.69-1-MANJARO 
Network:   Device-1: Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter 
           vendor: Bigfoot Networks Killer 1435 Wireless-AC driver: ath10k_pci v: kernel port: efa0 bus ID: 01:00.0 
           IF: wlan0 state: up mac: <filter> 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 476.94 GiB used: 109.64 GiB (23.0%) 
           ID-1: /dev/nvme0n1 model: SSDPEKKF512G8 NVMe INTEL 512GB size: 476.94 GiB 
Partition: ID-1: / size: 468.16 GiB used: 109.62 GiB (23.4%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/nvme0n1p2 
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 65.0 C mobo: N/A 
           Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:      Processes: 226 Uptime: 48m Memory: 15.34 GiB used: 1.91 GiB (12.4%) Init: systemd Compilers: gcc: 9.1.0 Shell: bash 
           v: 5.0.9 inxi: 3.0.36

If you think its not a viable approach I also would be ok with resizing my manjaro partition and installing windows on my main plate, but I would be in need of assistance there, the last time I tried something like that I kinda unmounted my boot partition prior to boot or smth and well I had to reinstall everything, I'ld like to avoid something like that...

Greetings dabard

Edit1: I'd be happy to list you my current partitions but I don't know the command for this, if you are interested in this please help me out.

sudo fdisk -l

Disk /dev/nvme0n1: 476,96 GiB, 512110190592 bytes, 1000215216 sectors
Disk model: SSDPEKKF512G8 NVMe INTEL 512GB          
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: gpt
Disk identifier: E1A9CACF-453F-42C5-81EF-B40BB6752DAB

Device          Start        End   Sectors   Size Type
/dev/nvme0n1p1   4096     618495    614400   300M EFI System
/dev/nvme0n1p2 618496 1000206899 999588404 476,7G Linux filesystem

Only if Manjaro is on the external ssd. If you are going to put Windows on the external, it will not affect Manjaro from booting when it is missing.

But be sure to read the tutorials on this forum about dual-booting before doing anything. You may not be able to access Manjaro right after installing Windows.

I guess only Windows Enterprise Edition will run from an external disk, but I might be wrong.

I never tried. But if that is true, you could always force to BIOS to think the external is the only drive. Install Windows, then redo the bios normally and let GRUB handle the rest.

Actually, that might be the safest way.

EFI is tricky. Probably better to follow the tutorial.

You can install on a device connected via thunderbolt aka USB3.1.

I don't know if it is a good idea since the grub will be on your external device and if not done right you may be in a situation where you will always need the device connected at boot time.

You can use the firmware's boot selection and by that approach avoid the mentioned pitfall.

It seems your system should handle a VM well.

I have a VM with Win10 and Visual Studio on an i5 and I can run the VM with 4 cores and 8GB RAM on a 128GB virtual disk and it is running well despite being virtual.

You can also dedicate a partition and use the partition as a raw image in VB.

If I'm not mistaken then the article is for people with a running windows system whom want to install manjaro, in my case its the other way around.

I guess since it will be the fastest way and I dont have to buy new hardware I'd be reluctantly be okay with installing it on my build in SSD. I am downloading the windows 10 .iso as I type, so since I don't have a USB port anymore I have to plug a thunderbolt to usb adapter into my computer and make a bootstick out of it. But if I remember correctly windows bootsticks are not too happy with being installed as second choice which is why you normally install windows first and the get rid of its bootloader and replace it with grub. How do I proceed in my case?

I got my manjaro system with 100% partition used.
I got grub already installed.

My system doesnt handle the VM well by any means left clicking takes like 3 sec for a response...
You cant work with this.

You are correct - I did not understand your issue fully and the guide is not targeted your challenge. - Windows don't like being second :frowning:.

And I understand your reluctance to mess with Windows on your hardware. I wouldn't either :slight_smile:.

That can be a pain - did you enable virtual extensions in the firmware? (Vt-x or something)

This is why I wanted to install it on a external SSD in the hope to being able to plug and play it if needed as in my current situation. I could get an SSD from a local hardware store (probably) but I'm not sure. And time is kind of an issue since I have to take part in the lecture and actively use the software for projects. I'm kinda in a situation where I don't know whats my best option, and would be glad if someone who has some experience regarding my issue would show up :sweat_smile:.

So basically my options are

  • Get a external SSD with thunderbolt install windows (how?) and hope that grub will be fine (will it?)
  • Rezize my partition and install windows (after manjro is already isntalled) ... (how?)

Greetings dabard

I tried like 1000 things yesterday and I basically gave up since the software that I have to use for my project is rather high in need of computation power (STK a programm for satelite orbit calculations for example)

You will quickly get annoyed with that solution - I tried just recently - running a VM from a USB3 connected SSD - it was a pain.

The problem - as I remember - is that Windows don't like to be second.


I think your options boils down to

  • backup your homefolder
  • create a Windows stick (guide above)
  • install Windows (128GB partition)
  • install Manjaro (guide above)

This is what I would choose - based on what you tell.

Thats like the worst option ever. I dont even want a damn windows system, I just need this software to run... But I am afraid you are right... god I hate windows even more now since I can't install it second...

Would you assist me? In backing up.

Any chance pacman got a list of installed packages somewhere, so I can do something like

sudo pacman -uninstall/install so you end up with this list

I removed snap for example since it takes for ever to start and by default some programms are installed via snap but could also be installed via "not snap" and I'd basically would like to not reconfigure my whole system.

But I guess thats gonna be a unfullfillable wish hmmm?

Edit1: How do I copy my home folder and keep the ownder:group properties when I put it back?

Make yourself a list of apps you have added after you installed Manjaro.

This could be a relatively short list. Make it a simple text file with one package on a separate line.

Use a remote device some external storage to copy everything from your home folder (except .cache) including hidden files and folders.

When you have reinstalled Manjaro

  • install the package list
    copy your text file to your home folder
    sudo pacman -Syu - <packages.txt
  • copy all files back to your home folder

logoff -> login -> done


You can simply further by resizing your current partition - create a new partition and format with ext4.

Mount it temporarily

Copy your entire $USER folder from home to the new partition

cp /home/$USER /new/partition/mountpoint

When you install Windows choose to manually create the partition scheme and make sure you do not touch your backup partition.

When you install Manjaro - during the partitioning you can choose to mount the partition containing your $USER home as /home and you will - without much effort have all your settings and data readily available.

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This step is unclear to me.

Edit1: Sorry, I should explain this in more detail. What do you mean by "usa a remote device to copy".
I interpreted this as I use some external tool to help me keep my owner:group rights.
So after I gave it some thought I am guessing that you mean I should just use cp -r .
Google told me -p option keeps ower:group for me.
So I will go for cp -rp /home/myusername /externaldrivemountpoint/myusername?

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USB device / Cloud device / LAN device - just raw copy your files.

https://wiki.manjaro.org/index.php?title=Important_hidden_.dot_files_in_your_home_partition

The folder in your home named .cache is not required to backup.

Depending on your file manager use Ctrlh or Ctrl. to show/hide hidden files/folders

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I did not see this edit, thats a nice idea!

I use a slightly different version but you got the idea.

The concept I am using is converted to a howto

Are you sure your VM is set up correctly? Which VM Manager is it?
Your CPU should be powerful enough to handle a Win7/10 VM.

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