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I am about to put Suse Linux 8.2 on my desktop (a Dell Latitude 2350). It came preloaded with Windows XP and under no circumstances do I want to erase the partition with Windows. I also am not comfortable with having to reinstall Windows. So am I basically screwed in that the Suse distro automatically erases the hard drive when it partitions? Do I have to buy Partition Magic?
Also, I was hoping someone could clarify the difference between NFTS and FAT32. How do I find out what format my hard drive is in now? And am I right in understanding that when I partition my hard drive I want the Windows section to be in NFTS and the Linux section to be in FAT32?
I never tried Suse but I'm almost certain that's not true
Do I have to buy Partition Magic?
You have to partition your hard drive somehow, I don't know if suse comes with a partitioning tool.
difference between NFTS and FAT32
NTFS, not NFTS, is the name of the filesystem used in Windows NT, 2000 and XP.
FAT32 is the filesystem used by win9x, millenium and XP.
FAT32 is a filesystem much simpler (and less powerful) than NTFS).
Linux uses another types of filesystem (ext2, ext3, reiserfs), being ext2 the most common and ext3 a better version of ext2.
To install linux you must partition your hard drive and format the linux partition in ext2.
well i`m not femiliar with suse`s installation so i`m affraid i can`t help you with youre first question.
anyway, the difference between NTFS and FAT32 is in the organisation of files and files information on the hard-drive.
each file on the hard-drive is being maintained on several blocks which are not consistante, so there has to be kept information of where the file blocks are allocated, it is done in a different methods of NTFS and FAT file systems, as well as on LINUX file-system.
to see what file system exists on each partition you can go to "my computer" (on windoows) and by clicking once on each partition, the information can be seen on the left.
Here's a way to tell what fileystems your partitions are currently:
1. In XP, open My Computer. How many hard drive partitions do you see (ones with hard drive icons, not CD, floppy or other removable media icons).
2. Right-click on those hard drive partitions, go to Properties. The window that comes up will tell you what filesystem the partition is.
3. If you have any FAT32 (aka VFAT) partitions, you can use various tools to resize them and make room for Linux.
I wouldn't be surprised if your entire hard drive is 1 NTFS partition. Thats how things come standard quite often when everything is preloaded. You probably dont' want to try resizing an NTFS volume, because thats really dangerous and you already said you don't want to lose any data.
SuSE definitely does NOT erase your whole hard drive. I use SuSE 8.2 and have installed it like 4 times. That might come up as the default method of installation, but you can change that quite easily.
Also, you may hear otherwise on this site, but a reinstall of XP isn't scary. If you are serious about getting Linux on your machine and you only have NTFS partition(s), I'd recommend backing up your critical data to CD/DVD/Zips or other removable media, and repartitioning.
EDIT: One last thing, you can originally set the Linux partition to FAT32 to distinguish it from your NTFS partition, but it doesn't really matter what you set it to. The Linux installation will want to reformat it as ext2 or ext3 or Reiser (the latter of which is what I use on my SuSE system).
The Mandrake install disks have a resize utility for NTFS. You could use it up until just after it writes the partition table to the hard drive, then power off and put in the SuSE install disk and use the free space left by the Mandrake utility.
I'm not linux pro (about 2 months total) but I am with win, It seems you a bit imtimidated by both. In your case Partition Magic would be best. You could just install it, run it and pick the Install other operation system option, It will give you a list of OS's just pick linux and the type of file system you want (ex2, ex3) the only thing you will need to decide is how much hard drive you want to give it, if your computers not old and has a good size hard drive give it half. It will create 3 partition on the linux side and help you install it is very simple just DO EVERYTHING IT TELLS YOU!!!!! very important esp. the boot disk part. After partitioning your computer will not be bootable...don't freak it's normal at that point you install your distro and when all is said and done on boot up you will have the choice of booting XP, or Linux.... just don't be cheap with how much drive you give linux, once your up and running you won't be booting to XP very offen