Windows XP, Linux and disk partitions

Windows XP, running in VMWare is cool, but not as productive as I thought it would be. On my 3Ghz Pentium 4 HT machine, XP was running like my 850Mhz AMD laptop.

I decided to rearrange my disk partitions and reinstall XP in a dual boot arrangement, keeping the ability to run XP in Ubuntu. A great and easy Linux tool to use is gparted, which can be installed in Ubuntu. One catch though, you can’t manipulate the partition that you boot from.

A way around this is to boot the Ubuntu CD and at a terminal prompt enter

sudo apt-get install gparted
sudo gparted

Another option, is to create a System Rescue CD using an ISO image downloaded from SysRescCD.org. Lifehacker.com has a great writeup on using a System Restore CD, here.

I booted my System Rescue CD, used gparted to make room for a Windows partition by reducing the size of the ext3 Linux partition, then ran Setup from the Windows CD. After that, things didn’t go as planned.

Windows gets a little confused during the install if there are other partitions already on the disk. Even if they are NOT FAT or NTFS partitions, setup created an F: drive (as opposed to a C:) and installed there.

The BIOS of my computer had options to hide partitions, which I debated using but finally decided to just wipe out everything, install Windows, then install Linux.

I installed Windows XP, Firefox, some other Free/Open Applications and Microsoft Office and I am still using less than 6 gig.

So now I have a dual boot machine. Windows XP has the first 30Gig and Linux has the rest (over 40Gig). I also created a Windows XP virtual machine in Linux, but don’t need it often. Using Linux, I am able to read my e-mail in FireFox and use the Linux Terminal Server client to remote control other servers on the network. On my Novell Server, I installed the CIFS package, which allows me to access it as though its a Windows server. Since Ubuntu has SAMBA built in and enabled by default, signing into the server is as easy as selecting “Connect to Server” in the Gnome equivalent to Explorer.

So I can now get through most of the day without Windows and the most important thing I learned was this: In a dual boot setup, install Windows FIRST, leaving room for Linux. That is going to be my new rule for all new machines I use!

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