Originally posted by macondo
read the APT-HOWTO, and the other manuals, and don't come back for a week, and when you do, ask sensible questions.
This is actually good advice, but it really does come off the wrong way. Even sensible, patient people are put off by this kind of response.
Concerning documentation, as mentioned the Debian homepage has a lot of great documentation:
Look in "Documentation" and you will find plenty of stuff. The documentation is generally available at least in plain text, PDF and HTML, all of which you can put on your computer to read. For example, I've just installed Debian this week for the first time (actually I did it twice because I learned something the day after the first install), and was able to read the installation PDF on my wife's laptop while installing on my desktop. The plain text file is quite useful too, -- I downloaded it in Win2k and put it on a FAT32 partition, then mounted that and read it using "more" because I didn't want to get out the laptop.
As far as reading from the FAT32 partition goes, AAnarchYY said it right. I'll try to help you understand the steps. (I find it great that as a Linux newbie I can still explain some Linux stuff.
Hopefully someone will step in and clear things up if I say something wrong.)
"Recognizing" it is a question of mounting it. This is nothing particular to Debian, it is a general Linux question. Using the program fdisk (which could also be used to partition the hard-drives, so be careful with it) will allow you to see what partitions exist on your hard disk. You should know on what physical harddisk your Windows is installed on. If you have two harddrives, and Windows is on the master, then it will be located on hda.
Let's assume then that Windows is on hda. The name hda is a representation Linux uses to denote the physical IDE device (assuming you have IDE drives); hd stands for hard-drive or hard-disk, and a means the first one. A hard-drive on the slave connection would be hdb. If you were using SCSI hard-disks, they would be sda, sdb, sdc, etc. The partitions on the device are then represented with numbers: the four primary partitions of an IDE device on the master connection are (if they exist) hda1, hda2, hda3 and hda4. Logical partitions are from hda5 and up.
Now to see what is already mounted, you can type in from a shell the command "df". This will show you the devices that are mounted. Probably the FAT32 partition is not already mounted. (I am assuming that your Windows XP is installed on a FAT32 partition instead of NTFS. Tsk, tsk, naughty person. You could also have XP on NTFS and a separate partition explicitly for swapping that both OSes can write to that is FAT32.) Let's say that the df command doesn't show you the partition on which XP is installed -- that is likely the case. Now you'd like to know where it is, so that you can mount it.
That is where fdisk comes in. I will explain a different way than what AAnarchYY suggested. Simply enter in the following:
> fdisk /dev/hda
After hitting enter, fdisk will "look up" the entire hda device. You'll see that fdisk gives prompts you for an instruction, and says you can enter 'm' for help. Hit 'm', and look at the whole list of possible options you have. There is an option 'p' that will tell fdisk to display (write) the partition table. (It writes it on the screen, not on the hard-disk!) It will then give a list of all partitions that exist on the disk, whether they are Windows, Linux, or anything else it could possibly recognize (there's a fair list I think).
From this output you should be able to recognize which partition Windows is on.
Exit fdisk and find or create a place to mount it. In the location /mnt there should already exist a large number of default locations for mounting a large number of possible partitions. Let's assume that Windows is located in /dev/hda1. You could then mount the Windows partition onto /mnt/hda1. The suggestion of AAnarchYY was to make a location called /mnt/win. You could also create a /mnt/winXP or a /mnt/fat32. (I had never heard of the mkfs command before.)
Now it's time to mount the partition; assuming that WinXP is on hda1:
> mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/winXP
> mount -t vfat /dev/hda1 /mnt/winXP
If you have questions about how to use mount, just do a manpage on mount:
> man mount
I can also recommend that you go out and buy (or stay in and order online) a book called the Debian GNU/Linux Bible. Make sure to get the most recent version.
Hope that helps,