Creating a boot drive; seeking advice on partitioning
Here's the grand plan. I'm going to have 2 hdds in my desktop. A 160 gig drive will be the boot, and a 640 gig drive will be the storage drive. Ubuntu will be my primary OS, but I want to play around with different distros, and I want to set up the partitions ahead of time for 3 to 5 of them (plus one swap, of course).
One, how much minimum space should I allocate per distro? I want each to have its home folder within the boot disk, but all my files will be on the other drive. So I just want to give it enough space for the OS, installed apps, and some breathing room. I found some recommendations out there but I don't think they took into account that I don't need storage space.
Secondly, this is my gaming box, so it's going to get Win XP. (Win is going to get about half the boot drive and no space on the storage drive.) I know that I have to install Windows first, but does that mean that I have to partition everything after the Win install, too? Or if it sees 80 gigs of NTFS, will it peacefully settle into it and leave the rest of the drive alone? (I've never installed Windows myself so I'm not sure what I'm in for.)
Lastly, the intended boot drive is a 5 year old Maxtor drive that's been in active use as part of a RAID since its birth. Where HD lifespan is concerned, I've heard it said that if a drive doesn't die early, it will last for many years. But still... is it risky to use a drive that old?
Thanks in advance. :)