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  1. #1

    I want to try Linux on my Windows XP machine

    I want to try Linux on my Windows XP machine.

    I have two hard drives: Primary is 120GB and secondary is 40GB. Neither are partitioned yet.

    I have Partition Magic and am ready to use it.

    I downloaded LBA Linux (or SOT Linux, same thing I think) for a few reasons. It has a GUI to help you set it up and install, it makes it easy to select a default OS. I don't want my girlfriend to have to "fiddle" with it to make Windows load or bug her with this "linux stuff".

    I want to install Linux on the primary drive - same drive as Windows.

    I'm pretty clueless after about this point, since I've never messed with any of this before, but I really need to learn.

    Should I use Partition Magic's fancy "Install a new OS" function that helps you create partitions SPECIFICALLY for Linux? I tried doing this, but I got errors when the machine tried to reboot and create the partitions. Nothing critical - the machine still boots, but I don't want to screw anything else up. Please give me suggestions.

    1) Make the Linux partition BEFORE or AFTER the Windows partition?
    2) Any other things to look out for, like screwing up the MBR?
    3) Should I even be using the fancy functions in partition magic?

    I'd love to get this thing installed tonight.

  2. #2
    Linux Newbie
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    if you allready have free space on your hd, then just put the linux cd in, and install on the free space.

    if however you need to resize the windows partition to make room for linux then you should use partition magic. as it is the only reliable program that can resize ntfs. i don't know what partition magic does in it's special prepare os function. just resize the windows partition if that is what's needed. once you have a free space set up just put the linux cd in.

    windows usually will complain if it is not on the first primary partition. so put windows on the first partition. xp might not complain, since my knowledge is coming from my usage of 98. i know, such a waste to put windows on the fastest section of the hd.

    you also might want to consider getting a more popular distro of linux since people will be more familiar to its quirks, and should be able to help you quicker. however, i know nothing of lba-linux, it could be a really nice distro.

  3. #3
    Linux Engineer big_k105's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Fargo, ND
    you could give a live distro a chance like say knoppix and slax both good live cd distros that all you have to do is burn to a cd and put in the cdrom and boot from the cd and you have a full running linux distro running off the cd and not touching your HD
    BIG K aka Kyle
    Programming Forums
    Please don\'t PM me for help-- ask in the forums instead!

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux User
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    USA, Michigan, Detroit
    If I may ask why not use the second drive for the the Linux distro? That is [IMHO] the easiest way to do it. If you have data on that drive can it be moved to the rpimary drive so that you can let Linux take over the second drive. I would also recomend a more mainstream distro as it will be easier to get help from someone who is already using it.
    Long live the revolution!
    Have a nice day.
    If you want real change vote Libertarian!

  6. #5

    Thanks for the replies

    I may try a more mainstream distro if that's what I need.

    I definitely need something that fits this:
    Has a GUI to help install and be sure it will allow Windows XP to be the default OS.
    Has the most user friednly features - Gnome, KDE, etc...
    Intel friendly... friendly with my other hardware

    I don't want to run a CD-based distro. I do want to install it to my hard drive. Yes, I know the CD only versions are great for noobs, but I'm willing to dive in feet first.

    I may shop around some more today for a better distro and download it here at work where I've got all the bandwidth. I can do my own homework on that subject - I'll search this forum and the Net, so I'm not begging for advice on that here.

    I want to install Linux on the 120GB HDD for a couple reasons. My 40GB HDD runs at 5200 RPM. My 120GB HDD runs at 7200 RPM. (I'm also running a P4 2Ghz with 512MB RDRAM if that info is helpful...)

    The error I'm getting when Partition Magic tried to reboot and actually create the partitions is something like this: "Cannot [un]lock drive, Press any key to reboot"... something to that effect.

    According to the reply above, I can just resize the Windows part. by about 40GB, create a new partition for Linux (hopefully) and then pop the Linux CD in?

    If it's that simple, I'll try that.

    How difficult is it to replace a distro that I don't like? I may play with what I've got for a little bit and then switch to something a little more mainstream. Who knows. I do appreciate all the suggestions.

    So, just resize the Windows partition down and install Linux?

    If anyone has ever used Partition Magic with XP, please give me something specific to go by. Again, thanks for the help.

  7. #6
    Linux Guru kkubasik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Lat: 39:03:51N Lon: 77:14:37W
    for partion magic, thats all it is, thats why its so magical. once you have a good partition (at least 5 gigs i would recommend on a large drive like that, something more akin to 30-40) reguardless, for newbies i would recommend mandrake, easy to use/install, and faster and leaner than the other 2 mainstream distros. Its easy to replace a distro you dont like, if you decide that you want a new one, just install it over the old on on the linux partition.
    Avoid the Gates of Hell. Use Linux
    A Penny for your Thoughts

    Formerly Known as qub333

  8. #7


    It seems that lba-linux will create the partitions for you as part of the installation.

    lba-linux also includes a "bootloader" where can select the default OS... still reading some documentation here.

    Sounds like it might be a good idea to me to try this distribution first... let it create the partitions, set up everything for me, and then try a different distro later if I want to switch. If that's a bad bad idea, let me know.

    Looks like Linux may be an enjoyable experience if I can get past the hurdles of getting started.

    I'm a web design and tech support type person - not a real programmer or a hardware person. I think most Windows users are a bit too leery of giving up windows entirely to just jump into Linux. When you tell a Windows user that he doesn't have to give up Windows just like that to try Linux, then most Win users will be more willing to try... but all this business about partitioning a drive while being carefult not to destroy the drive... that's going to scare your typical Windows user off. Hopefully a distro like this is good enough for noobs (like me) to get them started and win them over.

    I'm looking forward to not cussing at windows as much. I get to cuss at a whole new OS!

  9. #8
    Linux Guru kkubasik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Lat: 39:03:51N Lon: 77:14:37W
    most mainstream and newbi friendly distros will handle partitioning automaticaly, but unless you want to lose your entire windows drive, you still need to use partition magic to clear some space. Every distro has a bootloader, what it will do it prompt you with a screen that has 2 options, using the arrow keys you will pick either windows or linux, its very simple, your gf unless computer illertiat to the point of...of...... yeah, should be fine w/ it,(also the default can be set to boot after a certain amount of time has passed.
    Avoid the Gates of Hell. Use Linux
    A Penny for your Thoughts

    Formerly Known as qub333

  10. #9

    Just to round up this thread

    Thanks for all the help. I think you guys pointed me in the right direction. I pinned down my problem and fixed it.

    My 120 GB HDD is only about a week old. I used Maxtor's set up utility to copy everything (Windows, etc...) from the old HDD to the new HDD. On the original drive, there is a partition called "DELLUTILITY" (my computer is a Dell - don't buy them. trust me). Apparently, this partition did NOT copy to the new HDD. This is what was preventing me from creating partitions correctly - partition magic would do NOTHING for me. So, I copied my weeks worth of e-mail, work, etc... back to the OLD HDD, switched cables, jumpers, etc...

    Now my the slow 40GB is the Master drive, running Windows. I wiped out the new, faster drive completely and installed Linux. Next step will be to go back and make a partition or two. (I need to have a good size partition on the faster drive for Windows, so the computer doesn't go to a slow crawl when I run something in Windows, like it does now.)

    Yes, I know I'll end up loving Linux, but I have to stick with Windows primarily. The majority of the software I depend on is Windows only - Flash MX, Fireworks, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, etc...

    On the other hand, I already had Linux crash on me... either a bad distro or I messed it up... but that's another thread entirely.

  11. #10
    Thanks for all the comments in this thread. The author's question is exactly what I want to do: try Linux on my Windows machine without damaging my Windows disk or setup. I"m even less familiar with Linux than the author, however. Plus I HAVE tried Knoppix from a CD on an older machine but it was so slow I gave up. So I'm still waiting for a Linux distro that is absolutely foolproof and can install itself reliably and easily on a Windows machine without damaging the Windows setup AND without the user having to know the details of loaders, kernels, packages, etc.

    So thanks again for these comments and any further suggestions or other information sources would be great.

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