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.

Windows and Linux Dual Boot Part 3: Yum

I'm discovering the magic of yum in Linux. Such an apt mane, yum. Yes, I did break my system with yum. But I've also just fixed it. And it was a breeze. I can't say the system is as good as new, but using yum, I was able to reinstall KDE, and I have a GUI back. In fact, I now have my choice of desktop environments. It's weird, though: My KDE looks very differnt than the one that was installed from the CD. I'm guessing the one on disc is some custom setup.

Anyway, I'm off to play. Still might reinstall at some point, but i'll wait and see what other coolness I can find.

Windows and Linux Dual Boot Part 2: I Broke It

So I got my Windows/Linux dual boot up and running, finally, and I've already managed to break it. I guess this is to be expected as I really have no clue what I'm doing. And maybe it's even good, as I can certainly learn a lot from breaking and fixing a system. In any case, here's what's happened:
• Booted into my nice clean FC3 install, with all the latest updates installed via up2date.
• up2date alerted me that there were some new updates.
• Looked at said updates. One was for the kernel.
• Decided to apply said updates.
• Ooops! The new kernel causes kernel panics at boot.
• No problem, just boot into the old kernel. I love that!
• Then decided to uninstall the new, broken kernel using yum.
• Ooops again. The uninstall appeared to work, but from what I can tell it took with it everything it saw as dependent on the new kernel, including all my window managers (like KDE and Gnome -- essentially, all that GUI jazz), and god knows what else.
• Now I'm stuck in what seems to me like X (but I don't really know) and have nothing but a Terminal and a clock. Drat!
• I'm seriously considering reinstalling FC3 at this point. I know if I did I'd do things differntly thatn I did the first time, so it might not be such a bad idea. But it takes forever, so first I'd like to see if I can learn how to recover from this.

So that's where I'm at with Linux.


Windows and Linux Dual Boot Part 1: Install

Just wanted to log my first experiences building both Windows and Linux on a single machine. (Actually, I used two machines, but each had both operating systems. One was too slow, so I've moved to a slightly less-slow machine.)

• First try was building on an old, incredibly slow Dell box.
• Successfully installed Windows XP Professional on the first partition.
• Got Windows authenticating and doing roaming profiles from a Mac Server.
• Installed Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 on the second partition.
• Realized I didn't have enough RAM to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, and couldn't get the NIC working. (Related problems?)
• Moved up to a generic GCS box with more RAM.
• Reinstalled Windows XP Pro. Good.
• Decided to go with Fedora Core 3 this time.
• Downloaded and checksummed FC3, and burnt to CD.
• Checked FC3 media. All good.
• Partitioned and Installed FC3 on the new box. Installed as much software as I thought I'd need/want/be able to get away with. This was trial and error as I've never done this before.
• Booted into FC3 and went to up2date. up2date complained about not having enough free space on the drive.
• Turned out OpenOffice, with all languages, installed straight from the FC3 CD, was hogging all my disk space. It was about 1GB. (Again, I'm new here.)
• Removed OpenOffice (I'm told I can install it from the download, sans languages, and it will be more like 100 MB.)
• Retried up2date. First try got an error message that I'd been disconnected. Second try worked! All up to date now.

I'm tired now, and am taking a break from non-Mac systems for a bit. I'll post more when I get back into it, either in this post, or in another. I haven't decided yet.

Logged in to my Linux partition today, and up2date told to me there were new updates. (Just like on the Mac!) Ran the updater. Couple little things and a kernel update. Installed the updates, rebooted. Bam! Kernel panic! (Just like on the Mac.) Weird thing was, I rebooted and, at the boot prompt I had my choice of kernels to boot. Choosing the old kernel lets me boot the system. Choosing the new kernel gives me kernel panics every time.

So now what?