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  1. #1

    installing linux on a Windows machine

    I'm thinking about installing linux on my system which currently has WindowsXP installed. But I have some questions I hope someone could answer:
    1. I have an empty currently unused harddrive plugged in, can I simply install linux on that drive without messing with my other drive that holds XP?
    2. How will I get a dual boot system?
    3. Which version of linux is recommended and at which adress can I get it?
    4. Is there a good website with linux programs?
    5. Which window manager is the best? I was thinking maybe blackbox?

    You don't have to answer all the questions if you don't want to...

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Queens, NY
    1. You can install linux on the empty hard drive (as long as it meets the bare minimum requirements) without distrupting the other hard drive. This is the case in any operating system.
    2. If you decide to install either Redhat or Mandrake, the dual boot configuration will take place during installation. The instructions are fairly simple.
    3. If you are a novice at this, I'd recommend Redhat or Mandrake. I use Debian but that's something you might want to consider after having some experience with the other two more friendly installation driven linux like Redhat or Mandrake.
    4. Deciding on which distro you install, it will be different. There's always the way to build software by compiling from source, or you can download packages. Redhat use something called Redhat Package Manager (RPM) which provides an easier solution to installing new software on the machine. Debian uses dpkg. Since Mandrake was derived from Redhat, I believe it uses RPM.
    5. Window manager .... I'm running KDE but that's not a window manager, it's really a desktop. When I ran Gnome back in the days, I believe it used Sawfish. Try blackbox. Heck, even I may try it but I always end up using KDE at the end.

    Overall you sound like you are new to linux. I'd recommend Redhat. That's the path that I took and it was a stepping stone for me but Redhat is the most popular linux distro that is out there. There are bound be good reasons for that.
    The best things in life are free.

  3. #3
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Täby, Sweden
    1. Indeed that is the easiest way to install Linux. It's a pity not more people can do it. Just though that I'd be a bit more thorough on this. Linux won't touch your primary drive unless you explicitly ask it to, but you will need to install the boot loader on the primary drive, since that's the only place the BIOS looks on to boot anything. That won't hurt your Windows installation, though, since only the MBR is touched. You can also choose to not let the installation touch your primary disk at all, and use a boot floppy instead of a dual booting boot loader. Also, bpark, not every O/S lets you do that... Windows would definitely overwrite the MBR with its worthless boot loader without considering your feelings for even a second. =)
    2. No more comments. Except use GRUB, not LILO, as your boot loader. And install it on the MBR.
    3. I'd also recommend RH or MDK. Get them either at,, or any of the countless mirrors.
    4. You know, GNU/Linux systems are purely open source, and considering the decentralized nature of open source, there is no "official" such page. There are sites that have tried to more or less specialize on this though. For finding RPMs (the automated installation file format used by RH, MDK and others), is a good place to look if you know what the package's name is. Please note me saying package, not program, for it is generally accepted terminology in the Linux world that packages refer to the "bundled" (in the software meaning, not physically bundled) distribution of a something, while a program more generally refers to the computer scientifical meaning of the word. To refer to a certain program file, we generally use the term binary. is hosting very many very popular open source projects, so you might want to look there as well. But in the end, always remember that Google is your friend.
    5. I strongly recommend sawfish. It is, as far as I know, the most customizable window manager out there.

  4. $spacer_open

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