Install Linux without disrupting existing Windows files
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Install Linux without disrupting existing Windows files
My friend wants to install Linux on her laptop so that she can start learning it along with her windows. The problem is, she's had the windows for a few months, and doesn't want to loose some of the programs and files she has installed. We tried using Window's partitioning tool but Slackware's installation disk didn't like it much, my bet is because of it being resized after installation. So how can I help her install Linux without loosing the files?
Stop until you have made a full backup (better yet 2 backups on separate media) of the existing Windows install that your friend does not want lost/disrupted. One way to do this is with an imaging tool such as Clonezilla: http://clonezilla.org/
A very safe way for your friend to start learning Linux is inside a virtual environment as described here: http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/virtualbox (written for Ubuntu but the concept applies to Slackware or any other disto)
The spirit of learning Linux is not just the commands but also the "best practices" for stability, usability, backups, etc. so that services are not disrupted. You jumped the gun in my opinion by introducing partitioning tools and Slackware installers into the equation before you a) BACKUP! and; b) take Linux for a test drive in VirtualBox or as a Live CD. But that is OK, no damage done, we are friendly & here to help.
I would also suggest using something like VirtualBox. That is how I learned Linux without buying spare computers or messing up my only Windows box. With virtual machines, you can install any number of distributions and do whatever you want with them to learn. As long as you back up your VM images before trying anything crazy, you can roll back anything you break.
The only downside is that the VMs will be a tad slow compared to a normal install unless you have a very fast computer with lots of spare RAM. If you just want to learn Linux and don't plan to do anything intensive, VMs are a great way to do this.
Also you didn't mention whether your friend is interested in learning Linux as a desktop alternative to Windows, or as a server/admin tool (for example trying to acquire job skills). Or "both" is an acceptable answer as well.
If your friend is primarily interested in learning web server then a really fun project is to rent a CentOS VPS, these cost a few $$ per month and you have a Linux server "in the cloud" that you can log in from Putty in Windows.
I think the key question here is what would best meet your girlfriend's goals; go with the easiest choice that does that.
Wubi and VirtualBox can be excellent options, if they will allow her to learn what she wants to learn. I would tend to lean towards VB, since, if she breaks something while she's learning, she can just start over. CentOS runs like a champ in VB.
Although Slackware is my distro of choice, when I wanted to set up my Windows 7 computer as dual-boot (it's too nice a machine to waste on Windows, but I like having a Windows box on hand), I used Mint because I figured the installer would be friendlier in the circumstances.
It was not a "one click and sit back" install, because I had to resize the partition, but it was relatively easy, no data was lost (and any important data was already on an external USB drive), and the end result works like a charm.
I chose Mint because I've only done dual-boot once before (Slackware/Fedora) and that was on a computer with an available partition; when I was installing Slack after Fedora, I used cfdisk to configures and format that available partition, then Slack installed like normal.
Although I'm not a virtualbox specialist, I think that the success of a virtualbox setup might depend on the hardware specifications of the laptop.
We tried using Window's partitioning tool but Slackware's installation disk didn't like it much, my bet is because of it being resized after installation.
'didn't like it much' does not give us much to go on
One issue might be how the disk was partitioned in the first place. Be aware that you can only have a maximum of 4 primary partitions; modern computers with windows per-installed might already have them all in use. If there are already 4 primary partitions, you have to remove one and make it an extended partition; next you can create plenty of logical partitions inside the extended one.
Last edited by Wim Sturkenboom; 11-11-2012 at 11:49 PM.