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Old 09-02-2004, 06:16 PM   #1
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Set up WinXP/Debian dual boot on new pc

First off, I would like to apologize, since this question has probably already been asked (I did look for several days and have yet not found a good answer). Anyway, I was wondering if anyone could give me a good guide as to how to set up a system with a dual boot using WindowsXP Pro and Debian 2.6 kernel. They will be installed on a single Seagate 200GB SATA harddrive. All of my drives will be Sony (Floppy, CD burner, Dual-Layer DVD burner). The processor is an Intel P4 HT. I will also have Cable Internet via integrated Ethernet. The MOBO is DFI Lanparty Pro875B. If anyone could point me in the right direction to a guide, or would be willing to write one here I would appreciate it. Thanks in advance.

P.S. If anyone knows that anything above is bad with linux, please let me know, nothing has been bought yet, so its not too late! This is my first post here, so let me know if I did anything wrong, too long, not enough info, ect., so I can make better posts in the future. Thanks

P.P.S In most computer related things I am not a n00b, such as windows *shivers from EVIL* , and hardware, but in the land of Linux, I am quite a n00b. I have VERY minor experience setting up a Debian box from an old computer in which Windows did not work, but the computer barely worked anyway (Linux did work though ). So it that helps you with my question, cool, otherwise, oh well...
Old 09-02-2004, 06:26 PM   #2
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First setup the partitions. This is also probably the trickiest part if you don't have the right tools .Since you're a n00b and won't get any fun or power out of using fdisk and ntfsresize, I suggest you get bootit from Make the floppy and restart your computer with the boot disk.

At the startup screen, press escape or hit cancel (don't remember which) and go to the partition work dialog. Then partition your hard disk to your liking. A few caveats:

1. The windows partition should be the first one (I think Windows 9x refuses to boot when its not on the first partition; WindowsNT/XP might not need to be on the 1st partition (not sure either).

2. Windows doesn't like resized or moved partitions. Symptoms I've experienced: hanging when uninstalling programs, windows not starting up at all.

3. Make sure you clear the boot signatures and delete the keys in Also delete the keys in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\system\mounteddevices (something like that) as listed in the bootit manual before restarting windows or else it might freeze before the login screen.
Old 09-02-2004, 06:56 PM   #3
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Even though i am a noob, i don't mind using fdisk and other command line programs (which I am pretty sure fdisk is, if it isn't just goes to show my noobishness) so what ever way requires less work is better. as for tools, i have a knopppix live cd i burned and it works. How should i partition the hard driveim thinking 50GB NTFS, 50GB FAT32, and the other 100GB Linux (I think, but am not sure if Debian reccomends the sizes of all the smaller linux partitions /root, /usr, ect.) . What should be primary, secondary and hda1, hda2... My biggest questions are the order to set that up, and the order to install the OSs in. and later probably how to configure the boot loader
Old 09-02-2004, 07:42 PM   #4
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Deciding is how to partition is a pain if you're a perfectionalist like me. If you have a small hard drive relative to the ammount of stuff you want to install, then you're pretty much forced to only have one partition for everything (since each folder will then have a quota). However in your case, you have practically infinite space, so it might even be advised that you leave some empty space for future use.

Here's how I would partition

Put the most static (meaning that the size won't be changed a lot) partitions in the front. You'd probably want the windows boot partition as the first one. On my 120gig drive, there are two windows partitions:
the first is a five gig one used for c:\ (almost nothing is installed except windows) and the second one is d:\ (25 gigabytes for programs and media and user files.

I'm not sure if you would want a fat32 file system unless you really need to be able to have write access to data from Linux and Windows. Eventually Linux should have ntfs write support.

Currently, I have only partition for Linux (70 gigs) but I plan on dividing it into smaller partitions for better data safety and maintenence efficiency. Here's how I would allocate (not perfect)

5 gigs for root
2 gigs for /usr (1 gig if you're not a fan of package managers and plan to install to /opt
3-5 gigs for /opt or 0 if you plan to install everything into /usr
20 gigs for /home

I would also make all the partitions except for the windows boot partition logical ones (that reside in the harddisk's extended partition). The only potential problem with this is that you will no longer be able to install boot managers (i.e. grub or lilo) to anyplace other than the MBR (correct me if I'm wrong).
Old 09-02-2004, 08:15 PM   #5
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Thats good advice, I will probably do that, but nobody told me which OS to install first, Windows or Linux. after that i think ive got all the info i need.
Old 09-02-2004, 08:33 PM   #6
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Welcome to LQ! As bobwall already explained, partitioning is a highly subjective topic, and if you ask 20 people what the "best" scheme is, you will likely get 20 different answers.

I'll second bobwall's comments about BootIT NG, and also would recommend that you install Windows first, due to the fact that Windows will overwrite the MBR during its installation process. If you install Windows after Linux, your machine will "forget" Linux is installed, and you'll need to take extra steps to get it back. That's not hard to do, but why deal with it if you can avoid it entirely.

Anyway, given that your disk is so gigantic, you would almost have to deliberately try to make poor allocation decisions to end up with a badly partitioned system. At the risk of telling you what you already know, Linux really only needs 2 partitions: swap, and / (aka the root partition) with all directories being part of the / partition unless you have explicitly allocated a separately for them.

Because the /home directory is where all your personal data lives, I think it's important to put it on its own partition. That way, you gives you a lot of freedom to make future changes if they become necessary, without need to be concerned that you'll overwrite or lose any of your own data. (In fact you could decide to totally switch distros, drop all your existing partitions except for /home, then repartition and install the new distro, while leaving /home intact.)

The amount of space you give to each partition is kind of judgment call, but with the exception of /home, 10G to 15G should be *plenty* of space for any partition. Be sure to give /home the lion's share though, as that is where all your data lives. If you are going to use 100G of the drive for Linux, this is probably how I'd partition it (but note that this is just my opinion, there is no right or wrong answer)

256Mg for swap
10G for /
10G for /usr
10G for /opt
70G for /home

Giving 10G is more than enough for root, /usr, and /opt. You can also create a small 100Mg partition for /boot which can be helpful, but again that's a matter of personal preference.

In any event, good luck with it, and as long as you don't have to put that machine into PROD instantly, you might want to spend a day or two playing around and practice doing several installations. It's a whole lot easier doing those kinds of experiments on an empty machine than it is on one that's loaded up with real data. Anyhow, good luck with it, and post back if you have questions, etc. -- J.W.
Old 09-03-2004, 02:01 PM   #7
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Thanks for the fast response. Got all the info i need to know. Thanks for the help
Old 09-03-2004, 02:18 PM   #8
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As for Debian, try this installer:

It's really good.


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