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Old 11-08-2003, 06:05 PM   #1
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Registered: Oct 2003
Distribution: SuSE 9.1
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Switching distros

I bought a new laptop a few months ago. I partitioned the hard drive to make a dual boot system, with WinXP on one hand and Red Hat 9 on the other. Recently, I have had a problem with the built-in wireless card on my Linux system that has, thus far, been unsolvable. I know that the card worked when I first installed Red Hat, and so I am considering reinstalling Red Hat. Since much of my data is on a partition separate from either the Windows or Linux partitions, I am not too concerned with doing this.

My question comes from the GRUB setup at startup of my system. Were I to remove Red Hat, would this setup be compromised? That is, would I still be able to start up Windows, or would I be stuck at a dead end with a menu that is looking for (but cannot find) a Linux kernel?

Moreover, with the end of the support for general Red Hat Linux coming up, I was thinking of trying a different distro. Highest on my list of priorities at this point is the dual booting setup, but something that will not have the hardware problems that I currently have found myself with would also be nice (suggestions are welcome.) I can set up much of the system, but I have had problems with hardware setup. More automatic detection of my hardware would be very nice.

If I were to switch distros, however, how would that affect my dual boot once again? Would I get stuck at the GRUB menu? Or would the menu be able to recognize a different distro? The worst case scenario for me at this point is wiping the drive and starting over, but if I can do less work with that regard, that would be a much nicer place to be.
Old 11-08-2003, 07:03 PM   #2
Registered: Sep 2002
Location: York, UK
Distribution: Debian Sid
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>My question comes from the GRUB setup at startup of my system. Were I to remove Red Hat, would this setup be compromised?

This depends. If your installation is in the form of separate "/" and "/boot/" partitions then you ought to be fine as long as you preserve your /boot/ partition. However, if all of grub's information is stored on your redhat root partition then removing this partition will kill grub.

Unless there's anything exceptional in your grub configuration file, you'll probably be fine to:
  • Wipe the current RH install
  • Boot from the installation media of your new distro
  • Have the new distro's installer rewrite the master boot record with its own grub configuration (having hopefully autodetected your MS partition).

Once you've nuked your redhat partition, you're only concerned about booting windows or your new distro. In the first case, you always have the "fdisk /mbr" fallback. In the second case, the installer should always take care of it.

As for your choice of distro, it's probably going to be SuSE, Mandrake or Fedora. Mandrake is fabled for its hardware detection. Fedora is the current incarnation of Red Hat Linux: it will be most familar to you. SuSE is known for its strong configuration tools.


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