Add Linux to Windows laptop?
Can I keep Windows 8.1 on my laptop and just add Linux as well?
Short answer, yes. You'll need to "shrink" your Windows install first and...
Short answer, yes. You'll need to "shrink" your Windows install first and free up some disk space that is currently allocated to Windows, then install Linux and point it to that free disk. When complete, you'll be able to chose which OS you want to use at boot time.
Of course, you can run a Live version from a USB drive without altering your system at all, or install Linux inside of Windows.
For my preferred method, check out this site:
Short answer yes....
Short answer yes.
Defragment your disk under Windows. In case something goes wrong, back up any anything important. Or you could make a Windows recovery disk which could restore the whole windows drive.
This advice works for Debian family distributions including Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and others. Start the install process from a DVD image or the equivalent on a USB stick. When asked to (1) use the whole drive or (2) install alongside an existing Operating system, choose "along side".
When you re-boot, at the top of the GRUB menu you will find a choice of booting the installed Linux or Windows at the bottom of the menu.