I want to preface this with the fact that the very first version of linux I ever tried to use was Slackware 3.3, and that was when it was new and 486 machines were still in stores. I consider myself a newbie and this little tale below is to give ppl hope that even the most daunting task can be easy.
Here' s a shortened version of my success story:
I had a Maxtor 80G HD. I ran the maxblast utility CD (that came with the CD) and created two partitions, two 20G and then one 40G. I set the first
two to be FAT32, the other one I left as free unused space.
Then I installed XP as normal. I installed it on the first partition and the XP installer ignored my 40G worth of unused space. (which is what I wanted)
I restarted a few times to make sure XP booted properly. Then I installed Mandriva. I want to make a note that Mandriva automatically took over the MBR and after Mandriva got done installing , I was able to boot XP, Mandriva, and even win98SE that was set up as secondary master. Everything boots perfectly. Mandriva also mounted all the partitions on all my drives so pulling files over from my windows' folders was a breeze. Linux is the greatest OS for a lot of reasons and not so great for others
(X config, cough) until now. This installation was the easiest I've ever had with any distrobution I've tried.
Hope this helps.