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Ok, now that I am done with step one of my "ultimate-linux-rookie-status", i.e., buring SUSE onto cds, I have since backed up my important files in Win XP. Now for step two, but first I need some help please.
When I go through the install with the cds, will the disks do all the work for me, i.e., set-up the partition space I keep hearing about that I need, as well as install a special dual boot program which allows me at start-up to choose which operating system I want to work in (Linux or WinXP)?
I sure hope so because...I have absolutley no idea what I am doing!
I'm not familiar with Suse. Most likely it will provide you with the option to manually partition the hard drive or allow the installer to do it.
Most installers ask a bunch of questions and guide you through.
Some general rules:
1. Defragment your disk(s) before running the installation.
2. Have a reasonable understanding of what hardware your machine uses: processor, ram, hard drive(s), nic, etc.
3. If you get into unfamilar territory, take notes of what's got you confused, then cancel the installation, do some research on the offending topic, then try again with a better understanding. Remember -- there is no reason to cross your fingers, hope for the best and click the "next" botton.
If your PC is currently running Windows only, the chances are very, very good that Windows will occupy 100% of your hard drive. In order to install Linux as a dual boot, you will need free, unallocated space on the hard drive. Note that *unallocated* space is not the same thing as *unused* space. To illustrate the difference, if we assume you have an 80G drive, it probably is partitioned as one single partition, which has all been allocated to Windows. Perhaps you've got 25G of data, with 55G of space remaining (meaning it's unused). What you'll want to do is resize that existing 80G partition, to make it smaller and thus create some free (unallocated) space for Linux -- just like Windows has its own partition, Linux likewise will need its own partitions.
To illustrate, you might decide to leave Windows in a 50G partition, and give the remaining 30G to Linux. You would then resize your partitions, and the next time you fire up Windows, you would see that your C:\ drive's size is now 50G instead of 80G, while the other 30G is free (as in unallocated) One thing you want to avoid is shrinking the Windows partition so small that it cripples your ability to use it - for instance, you wouldn't want to shrink the Windows partition down to say 26G, because that would leave you with only 1G of available space (since you've already got 25G of existing data)
One good tool for resizing partitons is BootIT NG but there are others out there. As hpladd mentioned, it's a good idea to defrag your drive before starting, as that will maximize the possible space available to Linux. After the resize, start the Linux installation, and specify that you want to install it into the unallocated space. My advice would be to decide in advance how you want to divide that hypothetical 30G, but you might go with a 512Mg swap, a 10G / and the rest for /home. Partitioning questions are one of the most common questions here at LQ, and everyone's got their own opinion as to what's best. There's no real right or wrong. Good luck with it either way
I got caught up in the errands of life and didn't get the chance to do th install. I'm hoping to install today (in between football games of course). Thanks again for your tips and I'll be back here after SUSE is loaded and running!
GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) is your friend. GRUB will be called early in the boot process and offer you the option to "hit any key" and then select the OS you wish. If you do not "hit any key" the default OS of the grub.conf file will boot.
In most contemporary distros, GRUB will be install by default during the install of the Linux OS -- no worries.
Oh! and install Windows before you install your linux. Otherwise it is very likely that Windows will bully your Linux of the MBR of your machine.