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I have a large hard disk on which Windows XP is installed. I would like to install Linux as well, but my HD is not partitioned...what steps should I use to make the installation safely?
I was considering making backup of my important files and a few programs so that I wouldn't have to download them again, then formatting the hard disk and partitioning it using the Windows installer, so that only then I would install Linux on the other partition...is that the best path?
 Oh, and by the way...which distribution would you recommend? I am a Java developer so all I would actually need is a desktop system with easy installation features so that I don't waste too much time trying to setup the system [/edit]
Last edited by escordeiro; 07-15-2004 at 01:09 PM.
The best program I have used it Powerquest Partion Magic.
I jsut used it to resize my Hard drive in half. Booted Linux Cd and selected to install on unused space. Then to be safe I did not install GRUB or LiLO I made a boot floppy. That way is anything happens to either windows or linux I could wipe only that part and still boot the other.
It works great. I am using Windows XP Pro and MEPIS 2003.10.2 this way with no problems
Yeah,I would opt for Partition Magic too.It does its job to perfection.Still,i think it would be really wise enough if you can keep a backup of your downloads and documents.You can use LILO or GRUB to select your boot OS.
If you are very heavily into Linux,I would recommend RedHat Fedora distribution.If you are just a casual user or wants to know more about Linuk then the best bet for you would be Mandrake and Suse distributions.
Still better,try to get a Live CD like Knoppix or Suse LiveCD.Boot it up from the CD drive and you can have a feel of linux.U reboot the machine and it reboots into Windows.
Partition Magic is a paid software, right? I'll try to find it anyways, since I've always heard good things about it.
I have previously tried out Mandrake on my old computer and found it really easy to install and use, but it didn't have (or I couldn't bring myself to use) a nice installation software such as apt-get (altough I know many distros don't).
I have also tried Kurumin, which is a Knoppix-based distribution, and it's nice to play with and to show to those who don't know what Linux is, but not for anything serious =]
Another thing to note, make sure to you defrag your windows hard drive (along with backing up your data). This is reccomeneded because when you use the "squeeze" method, it pulls from free space at the end of ther hard drive or partition. Sometimes, if your drive is quite fragmented, it may corrupt some of your filesystem.
This is a slightly bizarre suggestion to a beginner, but you may want to do it "advanced style", to be more exact: Input the partitions manually. Mandrake features the excellent program Diskdrake and it doesn't really get very complicated, especially if you tale a look at the homepage first.
You will need your root partition (signified by a "/" - you'll know what it means when you get there). You may want to create an additional Reiserfs partition for storage. That way, if you get in trouble with your system on the root partition, you can re-install and still find your files on the storage partition. That is my recommendation! Finally, you have to create a swap file - the rule of thumb is, it should be twice the size of your RAM.
If you want to be able to access the Linux partitions from Windows, you can use the program Ext2fs. It is very useful. The new version has read/write ability, which I don't really like - I would prefer read-only, Windows being insecure by definition - but it is very useful for getting documents, mp3s, whatever you might need between the platforms.
As for the kind installer program, the package manager in Mandrake's System Configuration is quite easy to use. It has 4 options: Install, Remove, Update and a setup for choosing the mirrors to download updates from. Besides, using the brilliant urpmi program from the command line is extremely easy. Simply enter
to install Gaim. The program will look through the package list of the install CDs, and if it does not find the program package there, it will look at one of the on-line install mirrors, download and install. There is a homepage for setting up the download mirrors at Easy Urpmi. No beginners know how to use the command line; this page tells you what to type! It is very practical when you have installed the system, got to know it - and want to tune it up a bit by selecting a download mirror that is closer/faster.
Good luck with your Mandrake adventure.
this has been my best experience in both community help and OS installation.
I have backup my files and run defrag for my original Windows partition, and then proceeded to the Mandrake 10 installation boot CD. All steps where easy to understand and very well explained in a very simple and detailed manner, so I had NO problem at all.
And I am now posting from my Mandrake 10 Linux distro, with no surprises and no errors. Thank you all SO much for all the help!!