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I'm interested in having a go at Linux. I think I can figure out most of the installation and everything, but first I have a few questions about the best way to go about partitioning, selecting a distribution, &c.
I'm using a notebook with a 20GB primary hard drive and a second 20GB hard drive that can be used simultaneously via the media device bay. My intention was to install Linux on the second hard drive, but that would unduly complicate things as I would never be able to use my media bay (and thus my optical drives) with Linux.
So would the best thing be to carve up my fixed hard drive and install both operating systems and program files on it and use the second hard drive for data files? -- any recommendations from other notebook users?
I'd also appreciate any advice on choosing a distribution. I'm completely new to Linux (or any UNIX OS) except for some very limited use via a shell account. I will have access to a high speed connection shortly, so both downloading and box installation are viable options.
I do'nt use a Linux laptop, so I can't help you there, but as for a Newbie distro I'd suggest Mandrake or Redhat. Both have a pretty friendly graphical installation process, and they don't require that you immediately dig into the guts of Linux to get things done. Of course, the "guts" are still there underneath the GUI stuff, so when you're ready to dig in, you'll be able to.
installing on a laptop can be a non easy task. i would suggest www.linux-laptops.org as a good resource on whatever laptop you have.
second, i would suggest yes.. installing on your main hard drive, your gonna need to repartition it, and if you don't want to backup and reinstall i guess windows to do that, partition magic would be your best source in creating new partitions on the existing drive so you don't screw or lose any of your data on it for windows. but i do recommend backing up valuable data no matter what, you never know what could happen.
I think partition magic does disk clones, if not would use ghost to clone the original disk before doing any partition. I tried to dual boot win98 and RH6.2 on my laptop last year, partition magic stuffed up windows completely, and I had to reinstall. never got RH working. About to try again, but have bought another drive to put it on.
If, as you said in your first post, you'll be using the second drive for Linux only, you don't need to use a DOS/Windows partitioning utility. When you install Linux, the install program will walk you through the process of creating and formatting your partitions.
You should decide beforehand exactly how you want to partition your drive though, as there are a number of different options. You'll need a minimum of two partitions- one for "/" (the root filesystem), and one for Swap, but you're not limited to that. As an example, one of my drives (a 10Gig) is partitioned roughly like this:
I'm going to install Linux -- at least the OS files -- on my first drive because otherwise I won't be able to use my optical drives with Linux.
Will Linux recognize a partion created in a different OS, or can I only partion a drive for Linux while installing it? I'd prefer to do the partitioning through Windows so that I can mess with the second drive and figure out what I'm doing before I chop up my primary drive.
Can anyone tell me how to partion a drive that is installed but has no partions on it through Windows?
You're confusing two separte issues.
Once Linux is installed, it can understand and interact with the filesystems used by many different operating sytems, including the VFAT (FAT32) and MSDOS filesystems used by Window$, but when you install Linux it must be installed on a linux-native filesystem (ext2fs/reiserfs). The problem is that the DOS/Window$ versions of fdisk and format can't create ext2fs filesystems. Your best bet would be to resize (shrink) your existing Window$ partition with the freeware program "fips", or (not free) Partition Magic, and proceed with the Linux install from there.
There's more to be said, but it's getting late and sleep calls, so I need to sign off. I'll try to follow up tomorrow.
Okay, thanks. I'll try that and see if I can scrunch up my Windows stuff before I try to install Linux.
Can anyone also tell me how to do a normal partition in Windows? -- my second drive is not recognized in Windows at all yet because it has no partitions on it. Can I use fdisk to partition it and give it a drive letter?
Yes, if you're creating DOS/Windows partitions on the second drive, use the DOS fdisk utility to do that. As far as drive lettering goes, remember that primary partitions will take precedence over any logical partitions you might create within an extended partition. Also, once you create the partitions, you will have to format them with the DOS "format" command.
Sorry I can't give you more info right now, but I don't have my Windows box fired up at the moment and I'm on my way out to dinner. I'll be here over the weekend, so repost if you need more specific info.