The Adventures of Systems Boy!

Confessions of a Mac SysAdmin...

Windows and Linux Dual Boot Part 4: Dell Laptop Fun

So I spent much of this past weekend installing both Windows and Linux on my Dell, who I shall hereby refer to by his rightful, and possibly permanent name, satan. Many mistakes, and much learning in the process. Hooray for learning.

My goal was to have one partition with the original Dell Windows system install, a second partition with Linux, and a third shared data partition. Initially, I screwed up during the partitioning. Setting up my partition scheme (10 GB, 10 GB, 15 GB), I did an NTFS format on the first 10 GB partition, and then a "quick format" on the second partition. Well, I didn't know this, but doing a "quick format" causes the Dell restore disc from which I was booted, to begin the system installation process directly after the "quick format," and onto the quickly formatted partition. So I ended up with Windows on my "D" drive. Oops!

Thinking this might be okay, I tried installing Linux, then, on the first partition, but it wouldn't work. It'd complain during the Fedora partitioning process. I don't really understand why. Perhaps someone here can enlighten me.

So, it was back to the drawing board.

Booted off the Windows CD again, repartitioned -- this time I did 5 GB for Windows, and 5 GB for Linux, leaving about 25 GB for shared data. This seems to have worked, and I now have a functional Windows/Linux dual boot-machine. I realized during the Linux install, though, that I'd really like a bigger partition for my Linux install. After cutting out a lot of cruft (and even some non-cruft I would've liked to have had) with the custom install, I was able to get it down to a size that will fit on the 3 GB of space I have left over after the 2 GB swap partition has been designated. But that only leaves me with 737 MB of free space, which really isn't enough to do much of anything, and it might be nice to, someday, you know, install some software.

So it will be back to the drawing board. Again. Soon.

But before I reinstall everything, I have some NFS tests I need to do -- which is why I started all of this when I did in the first place -- because of a problem I'm having with NFS home accounts and my Tiger workstations. When I do finally reinstall the whole kit and kaboodle, that will have made three times I've created my dual-boot system on satan. And hey, isn't the third time supposed to be a charm?

So what have we learned today kids?
1) Doing a "quick format" immediately installs the Windows OS on the "quick formatted" partition.
2) When setting up partitions, don't forget to account for Linux's swap space.
3) I didn't mention this earlier in the article, but I also learned that all the Dell drivers specific to my machine are included on a second CD, and each of those drivers must be installed individually, from long, idiotic Windows installers ("wizards" -- please!), so it's best to get this whole partitioning scheme thing nailed down before really getting Windows back up to snuff.

That said, can anyone out there recommend a good Windows-Linux-Data partition scheme? I'm thinking, at this point, 6 GB (WIndows XP), 10 GB (Linux FC3) and the remainder (approximately 20 GB) for shared data between Linux and Windows. Any suggestions? Recommendation? Admonitions?

This is no-man's land for me, so any thoughts are sincerely and deeply appreciated.

On a final note, I really like Linux, especially as compared to Windows. Linux is instantly navigable to me. It makes sense. I can find things. I can do things. Nothing (so far) is buried and the UI is clean and unobtrusive. And not one single damn popup. It just goes to show, there are right ways to do things, and there are wrong ways. In my opinion, where Linux (and, of course, Mac) generally get things right, Windows most often fails miserably. Anyway, thanks be to Linux for renewing my interest in my $1400 former doorstop, my good pal satan.

Alright, gonna go Google the phrase "my good pal satan" now. More info as the situation develops.

Tried updating Linux with the up2date software. Yup. Ran out of disk space. Looks like I'll be doing this all again. S'Okay. Practice makes perfect.

Our resident Windows/Linux guru informs me that both OSs need a fair amount of space, and recommends splitting the hard drive into two 17 GB partitions, one for Windows and one for Linux, and foregoing the shared data drive. So that's probably what I'll do. 'Cause she's a smartie.

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