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I prefer to keep linux on a second hard drive. I'm not sure of what you are asking though.
How to make partitions? If you have XP already, chances are it is taking the entire disk in one partition. You will need to resize it to make room for linux, or else you can delete it and make new ones, whatever you wish.
Do you own Partition Magic? Because if you do, you could resize Windows with it and install Mandrake using custom partitioning. It's really easy, I'd definitely recomend it. It's not the way I did it, but I just got a new hard drive for my birthday.
mandrake will resize an NTFS windows XP partition as far as I'm aware - you still can't write to it - yet - but that's not so far off.
As for partition magic? well it does some strange shit sometimes.
I have all my partitions, linux and windows on one hard drive (120 gigs western digital), and recently I've been trying my damnedest to chop my /home partition up so I can have a seperate /fat32 partition for my mp3s i.e. so I can get at them under linux or windows, read and write in either OS.
Because I have both my root and user partitions formatted as Reiserfs, partition magic (version 8) doesn't want to touch them. It only seems to like ext2 or 3.
So during my meddlings, I'd managed to copy my entire /home as a ......tar.gz to the / partition, I tried like hell to do the partition mod's with cfdisk, too no avail.
My partition magic has still come up trumps.
How? well I knew that I had all the info I needed to keep backed up in my / partition, so I just deleted the entire /home partition, which makes it "unallocated". Then I thought it should just be a case of telling it to make 2 new partitions of the sizes of my choosing and off I'd go, but no, it made the newly resized linux partition ext2 format ok, but it kept hitting me with errors for the fat32 one. It tells you that it's stopping the part of the process it doesn't like. that was sorted out by just selecting the partition that I wanted as fat32 and telling it to format it as a single process. All I then had to do was to boot back into gentoo and tell it remake the reiserfs format for my /home partition.
It seems to have worked ok - or as far as I can tell as I haven't modified my /etc/fstab yet to reflect the new fat32 partition I'm still checking on the right additional entry to put in the fstab as I want to be able to read and write to it from either root or user.
The moral of the story, try the partition magic, but just get it to do one thing at a time otherwise it seems to get confused occassionally.
sorry if that sounds a bit long winded, but if you can make it work it's gotta be cheaper than spending out on a new drive - which is, of course an option, but one that costs.