How to install Linux as a second OS?

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How to install Linux as a second OS?

Post by RPG » Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:34 pm

OK, heres my situation:
I have a Dell Dimension 2350 (1.5 years old) with a Pentium IV 1.8ghz. Hard drives: C:\ 38GB total space, 15.7 GB free, G:\ 152GB total space, 135GB free. Drive G is an external drive, which is not always switched on. Basically, I do web design and make short videos, which means all my programs are only compatible with Windows. In my other life, I'm an avid BZFlagger and use AIM as well as e-mail alot. Right now I have Windows XP running (which i don't personally like because of the security holes and not-the-best compatibility with BZFlag).

This is what I want to do:
Install Linux beside Windows.

These are my questions:
1. What distrubution of Linux should I get (for BZFlagging, BZFlag server hosting, e-mail, internet, and IM)
2. How would I install that distrubution so I can choose which OS i want to run at boot?

EDITS:
Distrubutions I am considering...
1. Mandrake based
2. Slackware
(feel free to tell me more or to express dissaproval for one of them)
Last edited by RPG on Tue Nov 30, 2004 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Memnarch » Tue Nov 30, 2004 11:41 pm

The Operating system.... I would recommend Mandrake 10 or Gentoo. I have Mandrake and all the above requests fit perfectly. I myself have exactly that: Two OSs: Win and Lin, but sorry, I can't help you there. It was my dad that did it, and he spent almost a day doing it, it is no easy task. Just saying this so that you don't get your hopes up.
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Post by toaster » Tue Nov 30, 2004 11:44 pm

Most of the Linux distro source sites have excellent documentation on setting up dual-boot systems. Hardest question is determining which version of Linux you want to install. :)
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Post by JeffM » Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:48 am

All the Linux distros will install a boot manager that will let you pick between windows and Linux. The important thing is to make sure windows is installed first. The Linux boot loaders will know about windows and make menu for it. The Windows boot loader only knows about Windows. so it will not work if it's done last ( it will blow out your Linux boot loader).

The other thing is, you need to have room on the drive for Linux partitions. Now this does NOT mean the same thing as free space on the drive that you see in windows. Normal windows drives are all one partition, and the free space you see is just empty space INSIDE that windows partition. For a Linux part ion you need space on the drive that is not part of the windows formatted part ion. This is where Linux will be installed. This is drive space that windows will NOT SEE. it will be in a format that windows can not use normally.

It is possible to make the Linux partitions visible in windows as separate drives, and the windows partition visible in Linux ( for data access, you can't install the OS on a windows drive , and it may depend on the format).

As for distributions, The suggestion I give will be lambasted by every one else. But that is because they only know linux and are somewhat stuck up about their distros, many of them haven't moved from windows XP to linux. You will find that everyone loves the distro they use and all others suck. It's like fanaticism. For the first time Linux user, Fedora Core 3 is a simple change. It has a nice installer and a clean interface and comes with most of what you need. You will eventually out grow it and move to "better" distros with more customizability, but it's a very good starting point if you want to get Linux installed and useable with minimal frustration. Saying that others are better doesn't mean the OS doesn't work, it is just targeted to a simpler setup and maintenance level user, not so much the power user. I started with redhat ( later became Fedora ), then moved to Debian, then gentoo ( and gentoo still kicks my ass ). Each step taught me more about Linux then the last. I still use fedora on one Linux machine, it runs great, builds bzflag and just freaking works. I wouldn't use it as a mission critical web server, or rebuild it's kernel or anything fancy, but it's fine as a desktop.

on the hard drive front it may benefit you to get a drive just for Linux and slap it in the system. That usually makes dual boot easier and means you aren't messing with partitions.

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Post by RPG » Wed Dec 01, 2004 3:00 am

Wow.. I read that whole thing. For the partitions, do you have to make them yourself or do the distros do it for you?

[took out part of the post, i figured it out, i think im settling for fedora]

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Post by DTRemenak » Wed Dec 01, 2004 4:33 am

Most distros' setup programs will ask you what you want the partition setup to be, with several reasonable options (like split free space, maximum space for linux, remove windows entirely). If they don't give you a reasonable option, you can always do it yourself; it's quite easy with modern tools (which are usually also provided when you're running the setup - look for "custom partitioning" or something).
Fedora is a good choice in general for getting started, although I usually recommend SuSE, which I find to be much more flexible (and YaST, SuSE's setup tool, rocks). Personally, I like slackware, but I'd not recommend it to people with no previous unix/linux experience.

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Post by JeffM » Wed Dec 01, 2004 4:40 pm

The one thing the distos' partition tool won't do is resize an existing windows partition. They will let you add or remove them, but they can't change the size of a windows one that is allready there. You would have to have free un partitioned space on the drive before you were able to use the linux partition tools, or be willing to wipe out the drive.

I've never used suse so it may be cool. The fedora installer is very nice and pointy and clicky and very very purdy, I have found that makes it easyer for a lof of people.

I have recently used the debian sarge installer. It's very nice, just not so purdy.

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Post by DTRemenak » Wed Dec 01, 2004 6:43 pm

Some distros can resize ntfs partitions during setup, including SuSE and Mandrake (but not fedora or slack; don't know firsthand about any others). See also http://mlf.linux.rulez.org/mlf/ezaz/ntfsresize.html - you can always boot off of a more specialized cd like SystemRescueCD and resize your windows partition before you install.

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Post by RPG » Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:02 am

well... im pretty much set up with a contact to help me and Fedora in mind. I'm stuck when trying to find a program that will resize my lone NTFS partition, and after that, ill see what happens.

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Post by toaster » Thu Dec 02, 2004 3:16 am

DTRemenak wrote:Some distros can resize ntfs partitions during setup, including SuSE and Mandrake (but not fedora or slack; don't know firsthand about any others). See also http://mlf.linux.rulez.org/mlf/ezaz/ntfsresize.html - you can always boot off of a more specialized cd like SystemRescueCD and resize your windows partition before you install.
RedHat versions through 9.0 will also resize existing Windows NTFS partitions from the user setup interface. I believe Slackware can handle it, too, but I've never seen it as part of the setup. SLS used to have the capability, too. DTRemenak provided a very good pointer.

There are also utilities to resize existing MS FAT partitions if you don't have an NTFS partition.
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Guide to installing a dual-boot system...

Post by daydreamer » Sun Dec 05, 2004 1:38 am

Red-Hat versions up to 9.0 are really legacy now. Fedora Core 2 or 3 are the versions you should look at installing. I have a dual-boot system (Windows XP Home vs. Fedora Core 2).

The important stages are:

(1) Downloading and burning the CD-ROM's with the OS installation disks (Suse/Red Hat/Gentoo/Mandrake, whatever...). Having a Knoppix CD is a good start... that allows you to run
the Linux environment without touching the hard disk drive, as the entire OS is booted off the CD-ROM.

(2) Once you have decided your OS of choice, you'll need to repartition your disk drive. Windows XP makes this a bit awkward because it reserves swap space at the end of the disk drive partition. So you'll have to disable the Windows swap space temporarily (You can restore it later once Linux has been installed).

(3) Run the Linux installed CD-ROM's. The first thing that will appear is a disk partitioner. You'll need to create partitions for swap space, users and the kernel (It's best to have different partitions for each aspect of the OS (kernel, applications, users, swap space, devices) as it makes backups and repartitioning much easier. The partitioner is smart enough to allow you to reduce the size of the Windows partition without losing any data. This is probably the most scary part of the installation process.

However, once complete you will have a complete installed Linux system. It will also install the GRUB boot manager, which allows you to select which partition to boot from. Then it will test the system for whatever devices are present (cd-rom readers/writers, DVD players, keyboard, mouse, audio player etc...)

(4) Add optional applications - You'll want 'xine' or 'mplayer' to play movies, the plugins for realplayer, quicktime and definitely the OpenGL drivers (from NVidia or ATi). Installing the Nvidia drivers requires starting up the system without the X-window system, running a installation script and editing XFconf86 with your video card settings. This is straightforward, and walks you through everything. You'll have to run this script every time a new driver comes out, or if you update your kernel.

(5) Testing your system with a suitable application. I find that 'bzflag' is a good way of testing the network performance, graphics load, and audio capabiliies of my system (Sony laptop, 1400x1050 @ 60 frames/sec with Geforce FX Go 5600).

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Post by Memnarch » Sun Dec 05, 2004 2:00 am

Wow, well done! *aplauds* :D You sounded just like my dad just then, I don't know if he used Knoppix when he installed Linux for the first time while having windows, although he probably did. (He loves Knoppix) That was very well said, and I am touched.
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Re: Guide to installing a dual-boot system...

Post by toaster » Sun Dec 05, 2004 6:34 am

daydreamer wrote:Red-Hat versions up to 9.0 are really legacy now. Fedora Core 2 or 3 are the versions you should look at installing.
Yeah, they are kind of legacy. I was just pointing out that the capability to resize partitions/file systems has been around a long time. I haven't tried Fedora or the newer post-9 RedHat releases.

BTW, good synopsis with the rest of your post.
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Post by Longhair » Sun Aug 28, 2005 1:36 pm

I realize that this is a rather old thread, but in regards to the NTFS resizing issue, I first defragmented my hard drive, and then analyzed it to make sure that everything was moved to the front of the partition. If some things won't move, I _think_ that if you start xp in safe mode, these programs won't be running, and they can be defragged. BE SURE TO DEFRAG THE DRIVE

Then, I rebooted with a Knoppix live CD in the CD-ROM drive. Knoppix, btw is a linux distribution that runs an entire Linux OS from a compact disc. It doesn't need to access your hard drive at all. If you dig around in the K menu, I think under system tools or something to that effect, there is a nice little program called QTParted. It is a graphical partition tool. You simply select the NTFS partition, and grab the neat little slider, and slide it to the size partition you want the NTFS partition to be. I've used it 2x. Once to shrink a NTFS partition, and once to make the same partion bigger. Works like a charm.

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