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  1. #1

    Trying to Dual Boot a Dell

    I've got a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop on which I have two NTFS WinXP partitions. I want to install Linux, so first I resized/moved my existing partitions. I did this with Partition Magic. Now, if you're familiar with new Dell laptops, they come with a 3 Gig partition at the end of the disk to act as the WinXP restore if all hell ever breaks lose. I'm franly not too worried about losing this partition if it's the thing stopping me from getting a Linux partition on there.
    So my partitions on my 80GB disk currently look like this (after the resize/moving):

    C: NTFS 25GB
    D: NTFS 25GB
    Unallocated 23 GB
    CP/M, Concurrent DOS, CTOS 3GB

    But I can't seem to do anything with this Unallocated space. The only option Partition Magic gives me when I select it is "Undelete". I booted the Linux cd and attempted to create the Linux partition manually, but it wouldn't have it. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the fact that there is some other partition after this Unallocated one, or if I did something wrong when I resized my partitions? I just want to install Linux on this 23 GB of Unallocated space!

    Any input is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Linux Guru budman7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Knee deep in Grand Rapids, Michigan
    You will have to use the partition tool of whichever distro you are trying to install to create and format a partition on the free space before you can install to that partition.

    Which distro are you trying to install?
    If you want to learn more about linux take a linux journey
    Use CODE tags when posting output of commands. Thank you.

  3. #3
    Yeah sorry I forgot to mention that...maybe I did it on purpose cause the distro is not very popular. It's Scientific Linux (SL)'s basically Red Hat I think.
    When I boot SL, I have two options:
    Automatic Partition
    Manual Partition

    I was afraid of what the "Automatic" one would do to my existing partitions, so I went to "Manual" and it won't allow me to create any partitions, anywhere on the disk.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux Guru budman7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Knee deep in Grand Rapids, Michigan
    I am not familiar with Scientific, but I did read that it is based on RHEL.
    If that partitioner won't allow you to create a partition, maybe you could download and burn a livecd such as Mepis, Knoppix or Gentoo.
    All of these will have access to Command line partitioners such as my personal favorite, cfdisk.
    With gui partitioners, when things don't work, ou don't get any output.
    With cfdisk, if you can't create the partition, at least you will be able to see why.

    You also could try dropping to a command line from the installation cd, and see if you have access to cfdisk, or fdisk.
    If you want to learn more about linux take a linux journey
    Use CODE tags when posting output of commands. Thank you.

  6. #5
    Ok, so at this point you're not sure that the 3GB DELL partition at the end of the disk has anything to do with not being able to use the Unallocated space right before it? I think I might just delete it and give it another shot first. But thanks.

  7. #6


    I would install a genuine copy of windows without the dell garbage attached.
    burn everything you want to keep on cdr's and start over.
    create a single windows partition and save a nice amount of space for your linux install.
    This is one reason I would never buy a pc containing proprietary software.

  8. #7
    So I finally managed to install Scientific Linux. I removed the Dell restore partition, and combined my two Windows NTFS partitions into one partition, since apparantly you can only create 4 primary partitions on one disk (For some reason I couldn't make the Linux one an extended partition). Anyway, I installed GRUB, but not on the Master Boot Record, cause I read somewhere that it was a bad idea. But when I start my computer I don't have any option to boot Linux, so it goes straight into Windows by default (As I chose).
    So I figure I need to add a line to the boot.ini file, but I need something like a linux.bin file so it knows where to look to boot Linux. But how do I get this file into Windows? Am I completely out to lunch here?

  9. #8
    Linux User towy71's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    West Wales
    you could use smartbootmanager there are both floppy and cd versions which will enable you to boot from any bootable partition.
    As to howto boot linux from WinXP I paste a concise article by a lady called Marrea that she posted on another linux forum I use grub on the mbr myself though

    Windows NT, 2000 and XP all natively support multiboot capabilities. I think the idea behind this was to enable users to retain DOS, or an older version of Windows such as 95 or 98, then install Windows NT, 2000 or XP, and be able to elect between DOS/old Windows and the later operating system of their choice. It works (so I understand) by placing a special boot loader program called NTLDR in the boot sector of the hard drive’s active/bootable partition. NTLDR reads and acts upon boot disk, partition and operating system information found in a hidden configuration file named boot.ini. After reading boot.ini, NTLDR loads and executes the appropriate boot code for the operating system you have chosen.

    Very conveniently (and I’m sure Microsoft didn’t have this in mind!) you can also boot Linux from the NTLDR. It works with either LILO or GRUB, although I have never tried it with LILO myself.

    In outline, the basic procedure is:
    1. During the Linux install, you make sure you place GRUB/LILO on the Linux partition – say for example /dev/hda5 – not the MBR.
    2. After you have set up the Linux bootloader thus, you then need to grab it and save it into a file with the dd command
    # dd if=/dev/hda5 of=/bootsect.lnx bs=512 count=1
    (You can call the output file anything you like. For instance I used “bootsect.lnx” for Mandriva and “bootsec.fed” for FC4.)
    3. Then you need to copy bootsect.lnx over to the root of your boot partition, which is normally the Windows C drive. I usually do this via a floppy disk.
    4. Next, you go into Windows, open up the boot.ini file and add the following line to the [operating systems] section
    c:\ bootsect.lnx=”Mandriva Linux”
    (Here again, you can put anything you like, it doesn’t necessarily have to be “Mandriva Linux”. It could be “Marrea’s Linux” !! But what you put here will be the name which appears in the list of operating systems shown at boot-up from which you make your selection.)

    My boot.ini file looks like this:

    [boot loader]
    default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOW S
    [operating systems]
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS=”Micro soft Windows XP Home Edition” /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
    multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS=”Safe Mode” /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /safeboot:minimal /sos /bootlog
    c:\bootsect.lnx=”Mandriva Linux”
    c:\bootsec.fed=”Fedora Linux”

    so at boot-up I am presented with a menu from which I can choose Windows XP, Windows Safe Mode, Mandriva or Fedora.

    And I have my drive partitioned as follows:

    /dev/hda1 Windows XP
    /dev/hda2 Extended
    /dev/hda3 Fedora Core 4 root
    /dev/hda5 Mandriva 2005 LE root
    /dev/hda6 Linux swap

    As I said, I use Windows XP and therefore have its boot loader available, so I have tended to use it in my dual (and now triple !) boot systems. One of these days, though, I think purely for my own education I need to experiment with doing it the other way round: using Grub on the MBR and adding Windows/other Linux distros to that.
    free/libre/open software for the people by the people
    Linux user #185360

  10. #9
    So here's what I did:
    I needed a way to get into the Linux partition and copy the Linux boot file to Windows to put into the boot.ini file.
    Smart BootManager didn't exactly work.
    Instead, I booted with the Scientific Linux CD in safe mode and tried to mount the window's C: drive there to copy the file to. But the kernel didn't support it. I was able to put it into the DELL Utility Fat32 partition, but then I realized I couldn't copy files from there into Windows. BAH!
    Then I rebooted with a Linux System Resuce CD that I burned before this process began. This supported the NTFS disk type when I tried to mount windows, but then I didn't have permission to copy anything in there (Something to do with not being able to become root user).
    So then I used a USB drive, mounted it, copied the linux boot file in there, booted windows, edited the boot.ini file as per the instructions above, and finally! I can boot into Linux or Windows, but since GRUB is on the Linux partition, when I go into Linux, GRUB asks again if I want to go into Linux or Windows, but I don't care as long as dual-boot finally works.
    Thanks for all the help.

  11. #10
    Crap! Just when I thought I was in the clear...after my first reboot, I boot into Linux and after all the initialization is complete my laptop freezes! Blank screen and frozen keyboard. I can only shut it off.
    The one thing I notice is that smartd failed, but I noticed this during the first boot into Linux too and there was no problem then.

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