Dual Booting, Linux, Vista in need a begginers guide -> YOU!

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firestormer

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Ok basicly im looking into getting Linux and if i do i want to be able to run it along side Vista on my laptop.

Now as far as tinkering with OS's is concerned i usualy stay inside XP so basicly here i am a begginer i have never before used linux.

So the first question is: Which version of Linux should i get?

Second: How and where do i install it?

Third: How do i set it up so i can chose the OS at boot?

Finally: What risk is there to my data, hardware and software.


For my laptop specs and details click on the PC icon next to my user name above.
Thanks guys
 
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This is a tough one because Vista is notoriously difficult to resize as the bugger keeps a copy of the partition table inside and refuses to boot if the new partition table differs from the kept record.

So you should sort out the Vista installation first, possibly re-install Vista in a partition previously created for it first.

I would probably do the following

(1) Since it is a laptop then there could be a primaary partition wasted for vendor utility, one primary claimed by Vista and another primary used for its system backup and so my Linux must be on logical partitions. One say 10Gb for the Linux and one 1Gb for the swap.

(2) I would leave the vendor partition untouched and use a Linux Live CD to partition something like 30Gb for Vista and may be 10 for the system backup. Make these two "primary" partitions both NTFS type with ID number 7. I would then create my first logical partition of 1Gb for swap (type 82) and then another logical partition of say 10Gb (Type 83) for Linux. I would leave the rest of the empty space for future use. To give a better understanding of how Linux calls its partition I would select terminal mode to run the program cfdisk so that I know hda1 hda2 and hda3 are primaries and the two Linux are named hda5 and hda6 with hda4 named as the extended partition. Apparently a hard disk is a device in Linux and Sata is called sda so if I want to partition a Pata disk the command should be
Code:
cfdisk /dev/hda
(3) I will install Vista first and make sure its installer use the two primary partitions as instended. I then check Vista operating satisfactorily before proceeding with Linux.

(4) I shall install Linux on the two logical partitions, select its boot loader to occupy the MBR and expect Vista to be one of the booting choice automatically.

(5) I have the Vista installation CD with which I can restore Vista's boot loader any time should I give up Linux in a future date. Linux boot loader is easier as it can be restored by any Live CD.

I would select the current version Slax or Knoppix for my first Linux and possibly the former as it can give me the root privilage (or admin right in Vista) in the GUI.

I know there is no risk to my data because standard Linux can't write on NTFS partitions (unless installing special program) and therefore can't possibly damage my Vista. Vista on the other hand doesn't support Linux and would not mount its partitions and so I can't even see Linux while In Vista (unless I install special program again).

I am going to find out if it is true that all my MP3, photos, office documents etc can be used straight away in Linux and find out what have I missed all these years.
 

firestormer

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BLARRR!

It sounds complicated. Now im usualy quite a genius with computers ect as long as it dosnt involve leaving the OS.

I need to point out again this is the first time ive tried anything along these lines. Partiitioning, dule booting, ect is all forign to me.
 
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When you dual boot two systems you are crossing two platforms. Whether you like it or not you have to learn the convention of a foreign system and be aware a "c" drive is called a different name in Linux (or BSD or Solaris). If you don't then you can give permission to another system to destroy Vista.

If you have any interest at all in preserving your personal data and the integrity of any system then you need to know how each system is stored so that you can boot them accordingly. This is the basics of partitioning a hard disk.

You can use Start/My Computer/manage/storage/disk Management in Vista to partition the hard disk but you can't create one for Linux as Vista does not support non-MS partitions.

In a Vista ( or a XP) installation it is common that the MS system will grab the entire hard disk for its own use and so you will have no hard disk space left to install a second system.

My previous post is to show how you can claim back the disk space and it is the toughest with Vista.

If you find it tough going consider sticking with one system only.
 

firestormer

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I might try using Virtual PC although that would still mean using a MS OS.

Would it be possible to install a verison of linux to a removeable storage media (not CD)like a flash drive and run it of that?

I dont know, what would you suggest?
 
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There are distros specially rigged to go into flash drives. They are generally smaller but pretty decent operating systems with full functionalities, like playing MP3, Office documents, graphics and Internet.

Puppy and Damn Small Linux are very popular.

Installing a virtual machine manager can allow you access into other systems quickly without worrying about dual booting because you only boot one host and the other operating systems are mounted as guests to the host. It is not an ideal way to learn another system because there are barriers between guests which communicate mainly with the host.

Vista is too new and my guess is that there may be teething trouble installing a Virtual Machine Manager layer in it. My free copy of Vista has a lot of hardware problems which will take time to sort out. If it can't get the sound and printer to work and rejects drivers written for XP then using it as a host to add virtual machines is just a waste of time.

I think at this moment of time users should insulate themselves against the problems of Vista by having an insurance policy with access to other operating systems. Putting all the eggs in one basket with Vista (with virtual machine manager hosting other systems) would seem a bad move to me.
 
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