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Old 08-08-2008, 08:15 AM   #1
philaw
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Question Have XP, new 500GB HD in the post. Can I put Linux on it to try it out?


I'm sure this must have been covered somewhere, but couldn't for the life of me find it.

I've been running XP on my desktop for 18mths, and have a new 500GB hard drive on the way. Could I put Linux on the new drive, so that I could try it out, but still use the drive to back up stuff from my windows drive? I even have an old 40GB 2.5" drive kicking around that I could connect externally for a trial, if that was an option.

I know there are ways to try linux out via a bootable CD, but I can't imagine that being much of a test, and I don't want to uninstall XP or risking it killing itself out of jealousy and spite. I'd be very concerned that XP would screw me over if I put Linx on another drive.

Is this a good idea for me? My level of expertise is about average. I can do the basic stuff, like maintaining the pc, and have begun tweaking the registry while following online instructions. Any sort of independent programming is beyond me. All I want is a system that's fairly simple to use, quick, reliable, secure, and freeware is an attraction. If the trial works out I'd build my next pc around my 19" monitor, the new 500GB drive, and a couple of other salvaged bits, without needing to pay out for windows.

Is that a good plan?

Cheers!
 
Old 08-08-2008, 08:36 AM   #2
ronlau9
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If you mean is it possible to have two OS on one drive than the answer is Yes
Just to be save make a backup of XP
Defrag the windows part first using windows utility
Some distros shrink windows partition by default as example opensuse during installation and make normally a dual boot
 
Old 08-08-2008, 09:37 AM   #3
yancek
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In addition to defragmenting your xp, I would suggest you do a search for dual-booting xp/Linux, there are tons of sites and also a number of posts right here on the LQ forums. You also need to be familiar w/naming conventions for drives between Linux/windows and decide whether you are going to use Grub bootloader or xp's ntldr.
 
Old 08-08-2008, 09:46 AM   #4
NathanFlowers
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Their are many options, You can Duel Boot > that's risky because you replace your boot loader with grub. this is the easiest option.

You can install linux to your spare drive and switch each time you want to change OS. That's rather an inconvenience.

If you can back up your data and OS this the interfered essayist option is to Duel boot, you will need at least 3 partitions on your primary drive. One for windows, 2 for linux < the 2 for linux is one for the root file system and 1 for the swap. Then you install ntfs3g in linux which will allow you to right to ntfs (your 500giga bit drive) that way you don't have to worry about figuring our EXT2/3 in windows, it's doable, but why make windows complicated. Linux will be complicated enough for you at the start.
 
Old 08-08-2008, 10:06 AM   #5
johnsfine
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The first two answers seem to be assuming you intend to add Linux to a bootable Windows drive.

Maybe that is what you intend (first move Windows from the old drive to that new 500GB drive, then add Linux).

But that isn't the way I interpret the original post. I think you mean to add a 500GB drive to a computer as a secondary disk drive, keeping the primary drive bootable for Windows. Then you want to use the new drive both as extra storage for the Windows system and as a bootable Linux system.

It also sounds like you are likely to remove that new drive (to put it in a different computer) returning the original computer to being just Windows with just its old drive. If true, that might influence your choice of how to set up the dual boot.

What you want to do can be done, but there are some complications and choices.

The biggest choice is how the dual boot should work:

You probably don't want the usual recommended setup: That puts the first stage of GRUB into the MBR sector of primary bootable drive (which I assume will be your old drive). That first stage of GRUB connects to later stages of GRUB in your new Linux partition (which can be on the new drive). Then GRUB presents a menu with choices including transferring control back to the Windows loader on the first drive or continuing the bootup of Linux on the second drive. If you later remove the second drive, you would need to use a bootable Windows CD to do a fixmbr on the primary drive to restore it for use without the second drive.

The cleaner method would leave the MBR of the first drive untouched, add a tiny file and edit a file in C:\ so that the Windows loader would present a menu letting you choose to transfer control to GRUB on the second drive. I've seen instructions for setting that up in a few places, but I forget where. I don't think it is a choice offered by the automated install process of any Linux distribution, so it would involve extra work on your part while installing Linux.

Another choice, especially if you won't be using Linux on that computer many times before either deciding you don't like it and dropping it or deciding you want a new computer dedicated to it, you could leave the primary hard drive untouched by the Linux install and rely on external media each time you want to boot Linux. I expect you will use some bootable Linux CD to install Linux on the second hard drive. If, during that install, you decide not to install the first stage of GRUB, you can then boot Linux on the hard drive by first booting GRUB from the CD then telling GRUB (on the CD) to transfer control to the copy of GRUB on the second hard drive.

Other choices may exist depending on your BIOS's choices for booting hard drives other than the primary one. But exactly what you do to set that up depends on details of how that BIOS communicates hard drive numbering to the loader (GRUB) when booting from other than the primary drive.

As for sharing the 500GB drive between Windows (non bootable) extra storage and Linux bootable, that is all pretty easy. The partitioning tool in each OS can be used (in either order) to allocate the part of the hard drive you want for that OS. If the Windows partition were bootable, there would be lots of complications if you chose to set up the Linux partition before the Windows partition. But for a non bootable Windows partition, there are no such issues.

Unless you do some tricky things in the partitioning program, the partition(s) you set up first will end up physically first on the media. A disk's speed is significantly faster for files located near the beginning of the physical media than for files located near the end. I expect the disk speed for all the executable files in your Linux install will matter more to you than the speed for whatever you plan to put in that "extra" storage for Windows. So you probably should create the Linux partitions first.

Last edited by johnsfine; 08-08-2008 at 10:14 AM.
 
Old 08-08-2008, 10:36 AM   #6
cptmike
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Lightbulb Newbie here 2

Hi names Mike,

Am new to Fedora and anything after SUSE 7.1 Pro

After installing 6 Linux and one Solaris 10 I have found this tool:

EasyBCD please check out the web page here: http//neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/fedora for details on how to do it.

I have three hardrives and have Vista on the first two HDs and Fedora9 on the new 500sata hd.

Works like a dream.

if you have any questions email me @ cptmikeg@yahoo.com

Mike
 
Old 08-09-2008, 06:53 AM   #7
philaw
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Thumbs up

One of the reasons people give for switching over to linux is that the peer support on forums is often better than the stuff you pay for with windows and I can see what they mean. Thanks for all the tips.

John was right with this bit: "you want to add a 500GB drive to a computer as a secondary disk drive, keeping the primary drive bootable for Windows. Then you want to use the new drive both as extra storage for the Windows system and as a bootable Linux system."

The main idea behind that thinking is that if I have big problems with linux, I will still be able to use XP, and could just reformat the second drive. I don't want to get into backing-up the whole of my xp drive or risking messing it up, or spending days replacing a system that works okay.

After I get the two systems running, they can compete on their separate drives, and the loser gets wiped and becomes backup space for the winner. A bit like in the matrix where the dead people get pureed and fed to the living.

I didn't make it clear that the talk of building a new pc is for 1-2 years time. By that time it would be worthwhile reinstalling anyway, so it's kind of irrelevant.

It sounds like my best option is to use my spare 40GB hard drive as a bootable, external linux drive via USB.
 
Old 08-09-2008, 07:09 AM   #8
philaw
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I'm trying to put knoppix onto my USB stick. If it goes wrong in an entertaining fashion, I'll be sure to let you know.
 
Old 08-09-2008, 07:19 AM   #9
billymayday
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Another alternative (maybe john covered it) is to install the new drive ( you can partition it into part linux part windows if you want), make the new drive bootable with grub to control the booting process, chainload windows (ie, boot to grub and be able to select windows), and simply change the bios boot settings to boot from the new drive. That way, if you remove the drive, all you need to do it tell the bios to boot from the original drive, and you don't need to risk any changes to your windows disk.
 
Old 08-10-2008, 04:31 PM   #10
philaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billymayday View Post
Another alternative (maybe john covered it) is to install the new drive ( you can partition it into part linux part windows if you want), make the new drive bootable with grub to control the booting process, chainload windows (ie, boot to grub and be able to select windows), and simply change the bios boot settings to boot from the new drive. That way, if you remove the drive, all you need to do it tell the bios to boot from the original drive, and you don't need to risk any changes to your windows disk.

That sounds like what I want to do. I had a practise at this by attemping to set up knoppix on my USB stick, but the tutorials I found weren't clear. This implies to me that I'm not technically proficient enough to be messing with linux, and certainly justifies me not wanting to get rid of XP from the beginning. I'll have another go. If you need to look up every second word (BIOS, GRUB...) on wikipedia, it's maybe a step too far.
 
Old 08-10-2008, 05:13 PM   #11
billymayday
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Installing on a USB stick is harder than on a disk though
 
Old 08-10-2008, 07:41 PM   #12
jones172
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Advise against running the new HD right away

I would recommend against putting Linux on your new 500 GB hard drive right away. Instead, install your new hard drive as an external drive under Windows and test it out. If it works, you can migrate to it and learn Linux at your convenience.

Tom Jones
 
Old 08-10-2008, 08:51 PM   #13
2damncommon
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1. Download the Ubuntu install CD. It is also a live CD.

2. Install your new hard drive with properly configured jumpers.

3. Start your computer with the Ubuntu CD and choose "Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer". With any luck this will bring you to the live CD Ubuntu desktop.

4. Click on System -> Administration -> Partition Editor. Select the new empty hard drive. Create a partition of type linux-swap of the size you choose (some percent of your RAM). Create a partition of type linux of the size you choose (your linux partition). And last, create a partition of type ntfs of the remaining drive.

5. Reboot, removing the Ubuntu CD. Format the ntfs partition from Windows.

6. Install any Linux distribution when you choose.
 
Old 08-11-2008, 08:29 AM   #14
philaw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2damncommon View Post
1. Download the Ubuntu install CD. It is also a live CD.

2. Install your new hard drive with properly configured jumpers.

3. Start your computer with the Ubuntu CD and choose "Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer". With any luck this will bring you to the live CD Ubuntu desktop.

4. Click on System -> Administration -> Partition Editor. Select the new empty hard drive. Create a partition of type linux-swap of the size you choose (some percent of your RAM). Create a partition of type linux of the size you choose (your linux partition). And last, create a partition of type ntfs of the remaining drive.

5. Reboot, removing the Ubuntu CD. Format the ntfs partition from Windows.

6. Install any Linux distribution when you choose.
That's a very clear explanation. Thanks!

I didn't get very far making a Knoppix USB stick, so I'll have a go at this way. It looks more... ...automated.
 
Old 08-12-2008, 07:05 PM   #15
2damncommon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by philaw View Post
That's a very clear explanation. Thanks!
I gave the simplest case of exactly what I assumed you were asking. There are lots of variables I skipped mentioning (How much space on your XP drive? Ubuntu has the WUBI installer that can install an image to an NTFS partition with no additional partitioning. How big should the swap partition be? How big should the Linux partition be? Maybe you should use an extended partition to allow for multiple Linux partitions.)

Since you say you have "average" experience (sorry, suggesting you are willing to add or replace a hard drive is not average) I think you can deal with the unknowns to some degree.

Good Luck.
 
  


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