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Thread: Windows XP and Linux Dual Boot

  1. #1

    Question Windows XP and Linux Dual Boot

    I have a machine with Windows XP as its primary OS, and the HD is formated to NTFS. Is there a way to safely partition my drive and format the other half in FAT32 without damaging any data that is currently on there?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Yes, it's safe to format different partitions in different ways. However, I'm wondering, why is it you'd like to have a FAT32 partition? You could go with an ext2 or ext3 partition for the linux, instead.

  3. #3
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    First, be VERY careful! Know what is on the disk before start to play with it!

    Example: some laptops come with software to play DVDs without booting into windows. This is stored on a separate partition. You can still resize the other partitions, but make sure you don't play with that one unless you want to loose the ability to run the DVD player outside of Windows ( the laptop I am writing this on is an example ... came from the factory with that software ... and what do you know, it was actually dual boot from the factory because the software that runs the DVD is Linux! )

    Anyway, you should defragment the drive before you try to repartition it. Don't rely on the M$ defragmenter. I can recommend PerfectDisk 8 for this. Nice piece of software, irrespective of their hype. You can download an evaluation copy which I used, but I believe this one is a keeper, worth the purchase price.

    I used Qparted to partition this last one: an easy way to get it is on a live CD, such as SystemRescueCd .

    Just make sure you read up on how to use these tools, and know why you want to do what it is you want to. Make backups of anything important before hand! There are no guarantees when doing something like this.

    As for putting Linux on a Fat32 ... it can be done, but not advisable! If you really want to share information you could repartition the drive, and if there is enough room ( like I had ) make a Fat32 partition to share between the two. Just be advised, most new Linux distros can read NTFS without any problems, but writing to it is still iffy.

    If you are really adventurous you could enable writing to NTFS from a few of the Linux distros, or there are patches for XP to allow read/write to ext2 or ReiserFS ( you can usually set how you want the Linux partitions formated during the install: different distros use different defaults. Example: Fedora defaults to ext3, Suse to ReiserFS.)

    I personally have stuck with the sharing of a Fat32 partition as I am not THAT adventurous.

    Hope this answered you questions.
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

  4. #4
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    It is possible, as mentioned above... however, backup your data just in case. I have a disaster story or two about partition resizing. I would *strongly* recommend installing to a separate hard drive if it is possible. I also use a fat32 partition to share data between m$ & *nix.

    If you just want to play with linux to learn and don't plan on running it full time... check out running it in vmware instead. There are a few drawbacks of running in vmware, but then again, there are drawbacks of dualbooting.
    Quitmzilla is a firefox extension that gives you stats on how long you have quit smoking, how much money you\'ve saved, how much you haven\'t smoked and recent milestones. Very helpful for people who quit smoking and used to smoke at their computers... Helps out with the urges.

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