Originally posted by aysiu
You need a boot loader to dual-boot. You can use Windows' boot loader or a Linux one (Lilo or Grub), but you have to have one (even to single-boot you need one). It's up to you whether you want to put Linux in charge or Windows in charge.
Windows won't natively recognize Mandriva, so you may have to do a rather complicated procedure to add Mandriva's boot option to the C:\boot.ini
Mandriva's Lilo will likely immediately recognize Windows XP, so if you install Lilo to the MBR, you'll probably be able to dual-boot right away.
As will grub if you install it from the Mandriva disc(s).
If you haven't already set up seperate partitions, Mandriva uses their version of "Qparted" (think thats what it's called) and should allow you to make the partitions in their suggested location(s). I understand that this works very well.
the only part of the XP install that will be affected,would be the MBR (major boot record), because installing lilo or grub, will overwrite the windows bootloader - which again, is a "non-issue".
If you got stuck, you just reboot the mandriva disc and when asked, tell "it" that you want advanced options (press F8 or something like that - it tells you which key) and then type rescue and follow the instructions to re-install the windows bootloader.
Mandriva is IMO, an excellent place to start in the linux world, theres lots of support for it, both here at LQ and at other locations. It's user friendly insofaras, it does lots, if not all, of the set up/config stuff for you - once it's up and running, you can learn the "ways of linux" without too much hassle.
Then when you feel ready, make the move to a distro that has a different learning curve from mandriva (in my case I moved to Gentoo - which is a little more effort to install, but quite easy to manage - you just have to learn to do more stuff manually).