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I currently have Windows and want to switch to Linux. I have several distros to choose from, but one question about the installation. All of them have in the installation ...
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  1. #1
    Just Joined! WhitePhoenix's Avatar
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    New Install Without Re-Formatting?


    I currently have Windows and want to switch to Linux. I have several distros to choose from, but one question about the installation.

    All of them have in the installation instructions to format the hard drive. Is this really necessary or can you just uninstall Windows and install Linux?

    I see no reason to move/backup my personal files, if there is no reason to.

  2. #2
    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhitePhoenix View Post
    can you just uninstall Windows and install Linux?
    If Linux will be occupying the space on the drive where Windows previously resided, you'll need to format that space. If your data is on a separate partition, you won't need to format that partition as long as it contains a filesystem that can be read by Linux, assuming you do want to access the data.
    oz

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    Well, the distro running from the LiveCD seems to have no problem reading my files (TXT, HTML, PDF, JPG, GIF, MP3, MPG, etc.) that are on the external drives or the Windows system drive. Proprietary formats associated with specific programs (like the PDF files) would need those programs anyway. The Windows programs in the Program Files folders and Windows system files such as those in the User folder would need to be uninstalled/deleted, along with the Windows folder itself. Basically, I was thinking just removing these folders and the other system files in the root directory and then installing Linux into a ‘Linux’ folder and whatever other system files and folders that Linux would require.

    Too bad you couldn’t just ‘upgrade’ from Windows to Linux.

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    installing Linux into a ‘Linux’ folder and whatever other system files and folders that Linux would require.
    Something like that is available with Ubuntu and some of its derivatives. On Ubuntu it is referred to as "wubi" install and installs Ubuntu as a program inside windows. Should also work with Linux Mint (mint4win) and other Ubuntus. I've never used wubi but my understanding is that you would need to keep windows installed to use it for Ubuntu. So, if you delete the windows system files/folders, this method won't work.

    Other than that, installing Linux on an ntfs filesystem is going to be problematic at best and likely will not work. The simplest thing would be to install whichever Linux OS you want on its own partition. There should be no problem reading, accessing or writing to the file types you mention from your Linux installation.

    Posting which Linux distributions you are interested in might allow someone to provide more detail.
    Also, you might try googling "wubi install" for more details on it if you are interested in that method.

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    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhitePhoenix View Post
    Too bad you couldn’t just ‘upgrade’ from Windows to Linux.
    It works pretty much the same way if you are running Linux and then decide to downgrade to Windows. The installer for Windows will want to format the partition that Windows will be residing on, thereby removing Linux.
    oz

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    So Linux will read files off of an NTFS disk, but not install on one. Creating a new partition means re-formatting the disk, at least for the Home Premium. Someone said creating a dual boot after Win7 is installed is easily done without re-formatting, but I think they probably had Pro or better. Win7 HP wouldn’t do it without starting over and partitioning first.

    Meh. I think I’ll just forgo the complications and copy everything to the large external drive then format the main drive and install Linux. Then put everything back, more or less. Candidates are Mint, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mandriva, and OpenSUSE.

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    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhitePhoenix View Post
    Someone said creating a dual boot after Win7 is installed is easily done without re-formatting, but I think they probably had Pro or better. Win7 HP wouldn’t do it without starting over and partitioning first.

    Meh. I think I’ll just forgo the complications and copy everything to the large external drive then format the main drive and install Linux. Then put everything back, more or less. Candidates are Mint, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mandriva, and OpenSUSE.
    Linux installers will generally make some room on drives that are filled with Windows stuff, but then they partition and format the newly created unallocated space so that Linux can be installed on it. Otherwise, the installer shouldn't touch the Windows partition unless you direct it to do so.

    Creating a backup copy of all data and putting it on a different partition or another drive is always a good idea when disk partitioning and formatting will be taking place.
    oz

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    oz
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    Rather than allow installers to do any moving, resizing, partitioning, formatting, etc, my own favorite way of dealing with such things is to use gparted (and runing it from a liveCD such as Parted Magic) to setup the disk exactly the way I want it, then I direct any installers to use those partitions that I've created specifically for that distribution. Doing it that way allows me to see better exactly what is and will be happening on the hard disk.

    As noted above, having a backup in place before manipulating any partitions is always a very good idea.
    oz

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    So Linux will read files off of an NTFS disk, but not install on one
    You can do a wubi install as I suggested in my previous post if you want it in Windows. Windows default will not read a Linux filesystem, will not write to it and will not even recognize it. You need a Linux filesystem to successfully run Linux just as you need a windows filesystem to run windows. Creating a partition does NOT mean formatting the disk but as indicated above by oz, formatting the partition. If you have an ntfs data partition, you can leave it and resize if necessary to make room for a Linux partition.

    Win7 HP wouldn’t do it without starting over and partitioning first.
    Not sure what you mean by that. Are you trying to install windows 7 or do you have it? I have an OEM HP with windows 7 Home Premium and have installed numerous Linux distributions on their own partitions.

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    Um. Partitioning the hard drive cannot be done with my edition of Windows without formatting. Unless Linux is able to create a partition on a Windows disk without Windows getting upset. And there is no Windows partition, the whole disk is one partition with the Windows OS*in a folder. There is a difference between a partition and a folder, correct?

    And the suggestion before last not only sounds more complex than anything else, but requires yet another program.

    How do I set up the disk the way I want it? I want one partition, with my files in their folders, the programs in the Linux counterpart to Window’s Program Files, the Linux boot files in the root folder, the Linux OS in the Linux folder, and if there are any other Linux system folders that are required, them too. There would be no partitions to direct the distribution to use. And so far, no one has written that I can install into a folder.

    There is nothing saved by doing all of that myself when I can simply backup my files and folders, have the installer format and install, then put my files and folders back onto the main disk with the Linux OS.

    Perhaps everyone is thinking I want a dual-boot system. Other people might want to do it that way. I don’t. I’m peculiar that way.

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