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Old 09-06-2007, 10:32 PM   #1
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Installing Linux for dual boot with Windows XP


I'm new to this wonderful world of Linux.

I want to install Linux on my PC and I want to do things properly. I already have a SATA hard disk drive (HDD) with ONE (1) NTFS partition for Windows XP.

My intent is to install a second HDD of 80 GB (or more) to be used both for Linux and for Windows XP data/backup. Among all the relevant distros for beginners (like Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, ...), I still don't know which one I will install at this time but that's not what bothers me right now. What I want to know is the most optimal layout for my partitions and I want to be sure that my PC will be okay for dual boot.

From what I've read on the Internet, I need at least three (3) partitions for Linux:

1) root ("/") - ext3 File System - 10 GB or higher
2) swap - swap File System - 2 x RAM size = 2 x 512 MB = 1 GB
3) home ("/home") - ext3 File System - 2 GB or higher

And of course, I need a NTFS partition for my Windows XP data, but let's get back to Linux...

What bugs me is that some web sites say that at the end of the installation procedure, a boot loader like ''Grub'' or ''Lilo'' will be automatically installed in the first 512 MB of the HDD and that I don't have to worry about dual boot, whereas other web sites say that I have to make a boot partition myself for the MBR and provide enough space for it (50 MB to 200 MB).

I would like some clarification on the MBR or boot partition.

What should I do? Is there a particular order to set up the partitions? Do I have to set up a separate partition for this MBR? If so, then how much space does it need? What partitions are ''bootable'', only the MBR, only the root, or both of them? If I set a MBR partition myself, do I have to install Grub or Lilo myself?

Please help!

Last edited by reggo; 09-06-2007 at 10:36 PM.
Old 09-06-2007, 11:20 PM   #2
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You don't need a separate partition for MBR. All distros come with a bootloader and you'll have the option to install it either to MBR or to the root partition of your Linux installation.

Your Windows partition should be identified and configured for boot automatically.

Most distros also provide the option to make a boot floppy in case things go wrong
Old 09-06-2007, 11:35 PM   #3
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as for type of linux the newest ubuntu (7.4) has options wile installing to make everything easy like automaticly tranfering winxp setting into your new install and easy dual boot options plus its the most recommended for new people

Last edited by tommytomthms5; 09-06-2007 at 11:37 PM.
Old 09-07-2007, 01:58 AM   #4
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The easy way is, and this is easy to remember, "Load Linux Last". With Linux on drive 01 you might need to screw with /boot/grub/menu.lst a little, or there is a way to use Window's boot.ini to point to a Linux partition.
Old 09-07-2007, 07:37 AM   #5
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i hope this helps.
Old 09-07-2007, 02:00 PM   #6
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Yes, it definitely helps. Thank you all!

One more question...

I've read somewhere that Linux now can support NTFS partitions. Is there any benefit to set ''/'' and ''/home'' as NTFS partitions, or is it still better to set them as Ext3 partitions? I have my doubts about the NTFS choice because under Windows, I would then see more virtual disk drives than necessary (under the ''My Computer'' menu).

Any thought?
Old 09-08-2007, 07:26 AM   #7
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yes, linux now has better support for the ntfs file system. but using ntfs for root is a very bad idea. stick with native linux file systems. i use ext3 for all my partitions. i must say i'm very satisfied with its performance. less than .1% fragmentation and my sytem is running for more than a year now.


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