okay, my worst fears happened. i deleted linux, and booted my computer, only to find that it wouldn't boot (as expected). Opened up recovery console in XP, ran fixmbr, restarted. now i've got damaged partition tables. Ran recovery console again, ran fixboot, then got the ntldr is missing. I reinstalled ntldr but i keep getting the error.
the weird thing is, i only get it when the xp install cd is in the drive, without it, i go into grub, which is empty and just leaves me with a prompt.
How can i fix this without reinstalling xp? If I install linux on the partition i set up for it, will i have access to my old files to recover them?