let me share some thoughts on your plan. Hopefully this will be of help to you.
Drive 1 - 120GB
You know, you dont need to set this up, right?
e. /boot - Next 50MB?
50MB is overkill. If you can spare it, better too much than not enough.
f. Windows XP - NTFS
g. /swap Linux? 1024MB
I seem to recall that on modern hard drives, putting swap at the outermost part of the drive would be the best option. 1024MB is more than I would have used.
Drive 2 250GB
h. Red Hat 9 Ext3
i. Swap - Windows XP? - 1024MB
There ain't no such thing as SWAP for windows, right (I wouldnt know)? Better put swap there instead of the other drive. The computer can access it better this way. It's worth the effort.
j. Back-up space for stuff on Drive 1 (from Windows XP)
-Mirror or copy crucial files on both drives - not really thought out yet
-Windows XP installed
-Easy installation of new distributions of Linux
How do you mean? You want to have a hard drive setup that can easily be adapted to house an additional copy of linux? or would you just wipe redhat off the drive?
1. Will the swap files being on the opposite drive give a performance boost? Worth it? Are the sizes good?
They would. It is worth it. The size seem like a lot, but it doesnt hurt.
2. How much space should I allow for Red Hat 9?
10 Gigs? depends on what you want to install / do with it.
3. Will I be able to install new distributions fairly easily with this?
Depends. You have not put aside any empty disk space only for an installation of another distro. You would probably have to wipe redhat off the drive to install another linux.
Here's what I do, since I experiment with new distros a lot:
Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/hdc1 * 1 1185 9518481 83 Linux
/dev/hdc2 1186 2370 9518512+ 83 Linux
/dev/hdc3 2371 7233 39062047+ 83 Linux
/dev/hdc4 7234 7301 546210 82 Linux swap
As you can see, there are two partitions that are suitable for an installation of linux. The third is there so I have space to store my files on. This space is never deleted, when I install a new distro. Maybe this setup would be something you would want to consider? (in case you are wondering, yes, there is a hda also. It's old and slow and has a messed up installation of slackware on it. I hardly use it anymore.)
4. What is a good partition format to share files between the different operating systems? FAT32? Any good software to let Windows read and write ext3 or something similar?
yes fat32 would be the way to go. I dont know of any software to let windows write to ext3. And if there is, I wouldnt use (read: trust) it. Maybe thats just paranoia.You can always boot into linux and get the files off your windows partition. Also, if you want to get rid of windows some day, dont install this kind of software. It will make you want to use windows for tasks that linux can do and make the transition harder.
5. Any thoughts on how to separate the Red Hat partition up? For example: /home, /usr, /etc, /root, and such, or any resources on it that I could read?
What do you mean? You want to split the red hat partition into several others? I cant think of any resources on this off the top of my head. I usually dont split my partitions at all (aside from swap space). Call me crazy. (It doesnt seem to make sense to me. When you run out of space on only one of these parititions, you need to go through a lot of effort. This way, all that can happen is that the whole thing is full. In this case, you have some serious cleaning to do anyways.) You may want to take a look at this
(Disclaimer: No, I havent read the whole thing.)
I would appreciate any feedback or links to information I could read about this. If anymore info (computer specifications or otherwise) is wanted, just ask. Thanks.
I am sorry that I wasn't able to provide you with links to additional information. Your case seems to specific to be pointed at general resources.
Hopefully this helps you, lots of luck,