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All distributions can be dual-booted with Windows XP, just take the one you are most comfortable with. While no distribution I know of has the XP bootloader as its default choice it should be possible (and not really difficult) to use the XP loader for any distro you want.
So if you are already familiar with a distribution just take that. Otherwise give us more information about your hardware and what you want to do with the system, so that we can recommend a distro.
Location: Somewhere inside 9.9 million sq. km. Canada
Distribution: Slackware 14.1
Preferably one that relies on windows boot loader.
No dist uses windows boot loader.
Pick the distro you want to try. It will replace the MBR if you let it. There are 3 main boot loaders used by linux these days. Lilo, Grub and Grub2. The better question to ask, is which one is the easiest for a nob. My vote would go to grub, just my opinion.
BTW, it is possible to not replace the windoze MBR, there are ways of putting a linux boot loader on a partition, and then editing windoze files, to allow the windoze boot loader to load the linux boot loader. Much more complicated than using grub to boot both systems on the MBR.
You will have to repartition your disk to install linux.
If you just want to try it out, get a live CD and boot it. That way you leave your HD intact. You can also but a distro on a USB stick, and boot from the USB stick. Again , no need to mess with your HD, until you learn enough to proceed.
Hi I was just wondering what the best dist. of linux is for dual booting with windows xp (windows already installed).
in a dual-boot setup, Windows and Linux are completely independent from each other, so there is no "best". You can choose any distro that makes you feel comfortable; any will be okay from that point of view.
Originally Posted by Devinnavarro15
Preferably one that relies on windows boot loader.
That's a delicate point. Technically, the Linux bootloader cannot start Windows, and the Windows bootloader cannot start Linux.
Nevertheless it works.
That's because typically, the Linux bootloader (like GRUB) becomes the primary one, and if you choose to start Windows, it doesn't start Windows directly - instead, it boots the Windows bootloader, which then starts Windows in a second step.
Actually, it's also possible the other way round, with the Windows bootloader being the primary one that boots the Linux bootloader (e.g. GRUB) if desired.
The reason why the first setup is more common is that the Linux bootloader (nowadays GRUB for the most part, haven't heard anything from LILO for quite some time) is more "cooperative". It is designed to support other OS's as well, and it can be set up in different ways.
The setup of GRUB will automatically detect if Windows is already installed and include it in the boot menu. Doing it the other way round is very tricky (and thus rare).
So I guess you'd be better off to adhere to the common practice and use GRUB as the primary bootloader, with the Windows bootloader playing just the second fiddle.
Best looking is subjective, no one can recommend something here to you, since no one knows your taste.
When it comes to the fastest distros it also comes to the distros with steeper learning curve, I would consider Arch, Slackware and Gentoo to be the fastest distros.
Having tried 58 distros over the years, here are my words of (hopefully) wisdom.
1. Try a a couple, running from live media, before you rush in and install.
2. Getting the right user interface (and Linux has lots, unlike Windows with just one) is the way to get something you like the look and feel of. I'd avoid Unity (Ubuntu) and Gnome, which are both a bit delicate, and consider KDE (lavish with facilities and full of eye-candy) or Xfce (does the job and keeps out of the way).
3. With your computer, anything will be fast. Linux is not as demanding as Windows 7 or Vista.
Download the CDs for the KDE and Xfce versions of Mint and see which you prefer. Or, if you want something that doesn't change every 6 months, try Mepis (KDE) or SalineOS (Xfce). If you want something that puts the emphasis on stability in preference to being up-to-date, try the Salix live CDs. All of these are beginner-friendly and reliable.
Last edited by DavidMcCann; 02-29-2012 at 01:21 PM.