Using Linux?

I have a question about using Linux:

How dangerous is it to have a computer dual-boot Linux and WinXP?

I’m thinking of trying to convince my mom to let me do this, and am wondering if there’s any major (or even minor) things that could happen, and ruin the computer. I know there’s virii out there, and stuff like that, but I mean just have Linux itself reformat the drive (just for an example).

Its almost completely nontoxic. There isn’t even industrial chemical residue from trying to mix Linux and Windows XP. =)

The greatest dangers appear during the install of Linux. Many people without experience (or with experience but were careless) wiped out their Windows partitions.

Got any resources on doing this by any chance? (Just even in general of doing dual-booting)

If you have a decent about of knowledge of disk partitions, you should be fine. Depending on which distro of Linux you are installing, you might have to use fdisk, which can be hard if you haven’t used it before. If you are using one of the bigger ones, such as Redhat/Fedora, Mandrake, etc, you should be fine. Feel free to PM me/IM me if you need help. I’ve at least attempted to get many of the larger distros working. :slight_smile:

In response to your last post, try I’ll look for a the address here and see if it is still up…
Here you go:
Probably focused on Redhat mostly, but it should give you the idea… :slight_smile:

I don’t know what distro you are installing, but know that most can’t resize NTFS partitions (what XP is on). If you download the first ISO for Mandrake, you can resize them. I’ve never had a problem with it. :slight_smile:

Better than the last URL:

That’s not what Bill would have you believe!

That’s great! I don’t know how they “figured” that out… Weird. :slight_smile:

Don’t believe a word of it. :slight_smile:

I’m not. Even if that were true, I wouldn’t care. I don’t like Windows at all. It is good for some things, but I just prefer *nux O/S’s anytime over Windows.

The most important question is, how many times have you installed linux before? Unless you’ve installed it a few times before, I wouldn’t recommend you do it to your mom’s computer.

Also, you should make a full backup, while it’s normally quite safe, you don’t want your mom killing you if something goes wrong.

Finally, there are some issues with the 2.6 kernel that can cause corruption of the XP partition table. Definetly make sure that whatever distro you chose has fixed (or uses a 2.4 kernel).


I’ve never installed Linux before ( :\ ). I’ve only used LiveCD versions of it (ala Knoppix).

I would always make a backup disc of my computer anyways. That way my mom doesn’t blow up worse than an a-bomb.

I’ll check to see what kernel the distro. I choose uses.

Thanks a lot also for your input :slight_smile:

I currently dual-boot Windows ME and 2000prof. I’ve never installed linux, but i know that windows 2000 (and probably XP) will recognize a previous OS and give you an option of which system you want to boot to when you start up. The only catch is, you have to install 2000 after the other OS, so you’d have to backup your system and reinstall eveything. Not a big deal, but then again I don’t know if this will work with Linux or Windows XP. Good luck.

Thank you. So, basically what you are saying is that when you installed Windows ME over Win2k Pro (or vice-versa), you had to reinstall the origional operating system?

There are many key differences in multi-booting between various versions of windows and booting between windows and linux. Most windows systems can utilize the same file system (fat32), and as such, not much must be changed on the hard drive to get them to work with each other. Linux, however, is a whole differant animal. For most distributions you will have to repartition your hard drive (to ext2/ext3, reiser-fs, etc) or install to a different hard drive, both of which could potentially be hazardous to windows if not done carefully. The master boot record of the primary drive would have to be changed to allow the new system to boot, which isn’t too difficult- especially in modern distributions. However, should something go awry, it could prevent windows from booting. Make sure you read all documentation before you install, and read all prompts and warnings that should come up during the install.

The one thing I’ve found about most linux communities, is they are usually very open and helpful should you run into trouble. Linux is a great system to run, and very satisfying once you get into it. Good luck with the installation!

There is a big difference in the assumptions that windows 9x (including ME), Windows NT (including 2000, XP, and 2003), and linux make when installing.

When Windows 9x installs, it assumes it is the only operating system. It must be put in the first primary partition on the hard drive, and overwrites the MBR with its bootloader. If you have another OS in the first primary partition, it will be overwritten. Even if your OS is in a different location, the MBR will be overwritten and you won’t be able to boot into it.

When Windows NT installs, it looks for other Microsoft operating systems, but ignores others, like linux. It can be installed in other partitions. If it sees another windows operating system, it will include options for it in its bootloader. You can even modify the bootloader to load the linux bootloader.

Most linux distributions can be installed anywhere on the disk, and will include options to any other OSes in the bootloader (in fact, they are much more likely to miss other linux installations then windows installations). I’ve always used the linux bootloader (both lilo and grub) to load windows 2000, but there are people who swear by using the windows bootloader to load linux.

Does anyone here use a liveCD (namely Knoppix)?

I had one problem when i was trying to run Redhat 7.3…i got it installed, but my video drivers weren’t compatable and so I had someone uninstall it, but it was apparently labeled as the primary boot partition, so my Windows partition was almost lost.
My friend runs Fedora and WinXP Pro on his laptop and it works fine, though. He hasn’t had any trouble at all with either of them.
Just make sure you know what you’re doing when you get into Linux (especially if you’re working on your main machine).

I’ve used Knoppix a little, and a few more specialized CD / floppy distros.

I’ve also used Caldera (2.3), a few versions of Mandrake (6-8), Redhat (7.3 - 9), Suse (8.1) Gentoo, LFS, and Debian. Probably a few others that I’ve left out.

What would one recommend for a beginner?

Mandrake is decent for a beginner, I’ve seen its slight more user friendly than others, but thats my view. If you need help installing feel free to IM me, I used to use dual boot a while ago, but uninstalled it because of disk space.

I used Knoppix 3.2, I think.

For beginners, I like to make a couple of suggestions

Suse - just like German Engineered cars, Suse takes care of the small details very well. If I was recommending a distro for a business, this is it.

Fedora - Used to be Redhat, very nice, however they take the high rode when it comes to patent issues (which is good, except when you are trying to make the absolutely easiest use distro). They don’t include MP3 or NTFS support, and a few other things. They can be easily added, though, by adding in third party packages.

Mandrake - Very up to date and includes everything Fedora/Redhat leaves out. However, in 3 or 4 version’s I’ve tried, I’ve never gotten it to be as stable as linux should be (more on the level of windows).

If you were trying to learn linux very well, I’d suggest installing one of those and playing with them for a while, then installing Debian or Gentoo. I can help you with Debian, and Ian W. can help you with Gentoo. However, since you just want to get it running for you mom, I’d use one of the above three.

I agree with the stabilty of Mandrake thing, but I’d say go with that at first.

Also, it has very nice NTFS support. So, if nothing else, get the first CD and use it to resize the XP partition(s). :slight_smile:

And getoo is hard to install… good luck if you go for that. :slight_smile: