How to dual boot in Linux on Windows XP: Part 2

Partition logo.jpgIn Part One I looked at some very good reasons to install Linux on your system. In this second part, I’m going to look at some of the practicalities involved in getting started, which mainly involves the creation of a partition on your hard drive.

The first and most important thing you’ll need is space on your hard drive. We’re not talking much space but I would recommend around 10GB with which to make a partition on your drive to be safe. You could easily get away with 2GB or even 5GB but 10GB gives you the freedom to download all that tasty free software to your heart’s content. If you’re not familiar with creating partitions however, then here’s a few tips.

A partition is basically exactly what it says – it divides your hard disk into different slices so that you can install two or more operating systems on it instead of having to be uniquely devoted to Windows. Windows has it’s own partition tool in System Tools but I don’t recommend it. There are several third party programs that will do the job for you quicker, more user friendly and with less fuss. However, before you do any of this BACKUP your data. Creating a partition can occasionally lead to instability or read errors afterwards and there’s no way to recover damaged data. Another important tip is to defrag your hard drive before creating the partition – you’ll find that this enables the partition software to create the partition quickly and less prone to errors.

As regards partition software, I’d recommend Norton Partition Magic although it’s not free and doesn’t come cheap. However, a good free alternative is Partition Logic which doesn’t have all the flashy graphics or tools that come with Norton but does the job well. Alternatively, Cute Partition also offers a free service with more advanced options.

OK, so sit back and have a cup of tea whilst the partition process takes place. In the next section, we’ll look at installing Linux.

Click here to read Part 3 of this guide

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