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I have read from other posts that you can install Linux after Windows. I have Windows XP Pro right now but I just added a second HDD that I was going to put Linux on so it would not interfere with Windows because I want to create a dual boot situation. The question I have though is, before I do the install, should I back up my boot files, like boot.ini, NTLDR, and NTDetect, just for sake of being safe? I am a definate newbie with Linux and may need serious help. I do not know but only a couple of commands in Linux but most newbies don't. I had installed Red Hat previously but since I could not get any help on getting my sound card and modem to work, I formatted and went back to Windows until I could find some help and that has been quite some time ago.
I am planning to install Red Hat 9.0. My hardware setup is pretty good. It is a Pentium III 550, 192MB RAM, DVD-ROM, CD-RW, 2 HDD's, floppy, ATI Radeon 9200, Sound Blaster Live Sound Card, D-Link NIC, US Robotics Modem.
My main question is backing up my boot files. Second, is it going to be hard to get my Windows XP and Red Hat Linux to dual boot on 2 different drives. I don't have any Partition Magic or any other partition software but I was planning to just use the partitioning thing with Linux when I go to install.
Anyway, let me know by any method you would like to use. I am planning to see about getting a book to read to get help with this as well.
First off, if you feel safer copying those boot.ini files and whatnot then by all means do it. I have no idea what they are for and the world of Windows is very confusing to me now. What I'd suggest you do is create a boot disk from Windows just in case something goes wrong and if I remember correctly you can use the Windows install disk to rescue an installation gone wrong.
Secondly, it is not hard to have Windows and Linux living as one happy family on a pc especially if you have two seperate hard drives. You won't need to re-partition your Windows drive at all since Linux will only use the second hard drive. When you install linux it will detect that Windows is on the first hard drive(hda). All you want to do is install linux on the second hard drive(hdb). The only thing linux will have to install on the first hard drive is the boot loader which will be grub if you go with RedHat.
Lastly, if I were in your situation I would go with Fedora Core 2 rather then RedHat 9.0. I just recieved and e-mail a few days ago stating that RedHat 9.0 is at its end of life which means no more updates. You can still get updates on RedHat through the Fedora Legacy project but if you going with a fresh install you mine as well go with Fedora Core 2 since it has the 2.6 kernel. Just my two cents.
as for backing up your system files, i don't see a problem with it. after you install fedora (or whatever distro you decide to go with) it will likely put a bootloader (grub or lilo) on your primary hard disk's mbr. if you use fedora or suse, an entry for windows will be created automatically.
if for any reason after you've entered linux land and wish to go back to windows world (why i can't imagine) it is very simple to do.
you would put the xp cd in the drive and boot. from the xp cd, you'd fdisk the linux partitions into oblivion and then reboot once again (for safety's sake). then you chose to repair an installation via the recovery console. then you run a wicked little command called "fixmbr" which repairs the master boot record to it's pre-grub/lilo state.
btw, between fedora and suse, i'd go with the latter. the day of the lizard is coming ...
My next question to anyone out there is, what is the real difference between Fedora and SuSE?? I know that they are different flavors but do they have real differences that you can tell and what differences are they??
both have their strong points. both of them have the new 2.6 kernel series, both are exceptionally adaptable and reliable, but at the same time, both are incredibly scalable. in other words, they suit both the newbie and the guru, it all depends on who is using it. perhaps the biggest difference between them is that fedora is community driven, where as suse was developed by suse ag, now a novell company.
as far as picking a distro, don't limit yourself to just a few. i've seen in someone's signature here that finding the right distro is like dating, you just keep trying until you find one that fits you best. what inspired me to try suse was that i heard Linus Torvalds uses it. i was sold. i tried it out, and it became my favorite almost overnight.
the best advice i can give is try them both. see what one tickles your fancy, and go with it. best of luck!
My next question is, I want to download the various versions of Linux to try them out but Mandrake evidently is not a free download, and SuSE has only one .iso for CD Image whereas I know like Red Hat has like 3 or 4 discs. I just want to make sure I get the right files so I can install this correctly. I'm not sure about Slackware, I may look into it. From 46&2, I just want to try each one to find the one that works best for me. I have already tried Red Hat 9 and had some minor difficulties and could not get any help on it and so I gave up on that one but with the newer kernel, it may detect and load my hardware better but I still need to learn my commands and such so I know what I am doing. I know this is a lot but I want to start from the basics, make sure I get the right files downloaded, burn the CD's for them, and install and see how it goes.
Right now, my main concern is, I am getting ready to download SuSE and I just want to make sure I get the files necessary to install it. Please let me know.
then burn it. boot off it and then you're going to have to start setup manually. basically, you load a proper network driver and then specify an ftp mirror and it takes off. you do need the ip address of whatever mirror you chose, fair warning. then it starts automatically. it takes a little while to download, but you'll just check on it periodically and it should go smoothly.
edit: by the way, you could probably buy a super discounted 9.0 from an online retailer now that 9.1 is out and about.