Hello to all.
I've spent some time experimenting with Linux before, but it's been a while, so I'm back in the
forum. I'll be heading off to college in the fall, so I purchased an IBM T41 laptop that just arrived in the mail. My plan is to get Slackware 9.1 and Fluxbox up and running and use that as my primary operating system. I apologize in advance for the basic questions and my ignorance, but I want to be sure I get everything right since I'm not just "playing around" with Linux anymore.
Basically, I need to know the first steps I need to take to get this up and running. I want to keep XP on the system (in case something I need to do in college... proprietary programs for example... require windows), but in as small a partition as possible. First, how much does XP professional require just to run? I'll probably give it that plus an extra gig or two of space. Also, what is the process I need to go through to install Slack on this? It's my understanding that the partitions are still vfat until I start up the system (which I haven't done yet), so can hope I get the right button to let me into BIOS the first time and boot right into the install disks (and resize then), or should I let it convert the system to NTFS and then use ntfsresize. Does the slack install program have a partitioning tool that will resize vfat partitions? I just want to plan and understand what I'll be doing during the first bootup to avoid problems later.
I also wanted to know about this "hidden area" on the hard drive that is involved with XP. I called and ordered the recovery disk so I know I can successfully delete that free space, but what is the right way to go about doing this. Do I assign that free space as part of a partition and then format it, or what is the correct way to deal with the "hidden area"?
Finally, I have a few more general partitioning questions. I know that these types of questions have been asked before and I have done research on this, but I just wanted to know if anyone had any advice specific to my case.
First, I've read widely varying instructions for how to choose the size of your swap partition. I have 512 mb of ram, I'll be using Slackware/Fluxbox for general purposes (internet, word processing) rather than as a dedicated video editing machine or something like that. It sounds from the research I've been doing that I really don't need more than 512 mb or so of swap in this situation, but I wanted to know what others thought.
Since it's never possible to shrink a Linux (ext3) partition once things are on it (or, at least that's how I understand it since you can't defrag files to free up space at the end of the partition to allow a resize), would it be a good idea to create a 1 gb or so vfat partition to allow sharing between Linux and Windows (since it appears that's the only way it's possible short of burning a CD, rebooting, reading the CD...)?
I don't see any reason why I need more than a '/swap' and a '/' partition. I haven't seen anything that has really convinced me /usr, /boot, /tmp, etc. are necessary as separate partitions, and this is a 40 gb drive, so I just planned to have a small XP partition, swap, maybe 1 gb for transfers, and the rest as root. Is there anything obvious I'm missing here, or does anyone have any general advice for me about partitioning this? What else should I plan before taking the plunge and turning this thing on.
Thanks in advance,