How do I install Linux on a dell notebook/laptop that is currently running Windows XP?

I’ve been running windows xp alone on my notebook for the last two years. I know almost nothing about linux but I want to give it a shot. I downloaded the unbuntu live cd and used gparted to create two partitions on the hard drive. (there are two other tiny partitions on the hard drive that linux lists but windows doesn’t).

Currently the two smaller (hidden) partitions are formatted FAT and FAT32, the two larger partitions are both formatted NTFS.

What do I need to do to install ubuntu, or any other gnu/linux distro onto one of the partitions, without effecting windows on the other partition? Will I also need to install an additional boot manager?
thanks I d I realized that my problem was just that I should have left one partition unformatted until I installed ubuntu. I deleted the empty partition and used “guided install (largest available free space)” to install ubuntu, worked well, simple and automatic…now if I can just get my network card to work.

2 Responses to How do I install Linux on a dell notebook/laptop that is currently running Windows XP?

  1. You seem to be savy enough to install Ubuntu if you are using gparted to set up partitions!

    The two hidden partitions probably are hidden partitions that Dell has for their utilities – there is one on my Dell, not two.

    IF you created two empty partitions with Gparted, you should have 6 partitions (from my reading of what you wrote): C:, D:, two hidden partitions, and two unformatted partitions created under Gparted.

    Use gparted to see how linux identifies the partitions you created – hdx, hdy, or sdx, sdy (x & y being numbers). gparted should show them either as formatted or unformatted, depending on what you did.) I would create 3 partitions available, not 2 – sorry.

    Assuming space is not an issue, I would set up a “swap” partition – 2 times your RAM, a root partition “/” of around 5 gigs, and a “/home” partition of around 5 gigs as well. (/home makes updates and things easier – your settings and data are stored there.) You do need a minimum of 2 partitions (swap and / – swap is max 2 times your RAM, bigger is a waste – and you could easily use less for swap).

    When you have the partitions set up (you can do this within Ubuntu as well, but you seem to have gparted under control, so I think it is safer this way). Write down the partitions and how you are going to use them:

    swap for example is /dev/sdx
    / for example is /dev/sdy and ext3 format
    /home for example is /dev/sdz and ext3 format

    When everything is ready, fire up the Ubuntu liveCD, get to the desktop, click on the install to harddisk icon, and walk through the process. When you get to the partitioning part (3rd or 4th step, I forget) choose manual partitioning, and set it up using the partition information you wrote down.

    It should go relatively smoothly – barring unforeseen problems.

    Make sure you have your XP and other software installation CDs and serial numbers in hand BEFORE you start. Make sure you backup your data BEFORE you start. And read each screen carefully before you click on next.

    The installation process is going to prompt you to install grub – on the MBR. It should correctly identify and set up the bootloader to include both the Ubuntu (as default) and XP.

    When the install is done, reboot, start up XP first to check that it is ok, then reboot and start Linuxing.

    If you run into problems, use gparted to make sure you didn’t accidently overwrite your windoze partitions, and running fixmbr from your windoze install CD will restore the windoze bootloader.

    One last point, Ubuntu can read and write to NTFS partitions.


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