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Linux.com: Dual Boot Linux

Jul 17, 2000, 12:35 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Scott Nip)

"Linux has been a "buzzword" in the computing world for quite a while now. Most people who are fairly computer savvy and follow the computer industry at all have at the very least heard of Linux. Many people, however, are limited to only having one computer at their disposal. This makes trying out a new operating system, such as Linux, a challenging task. Linux, however, goes to great lengths to minimize the challenge of running more than one operating system on your computer. Most Linux distributions ship with a number of utilities to assist you in installing Linux as a second operating system on your computer, without having to reload your original operating system."

"First, let's cover some basic concepts. The hard drive is essentially a mass of free space divided into sections, known as partitions. To users of DOS and Windows, these partitions are seen as C: and D:. To users of Linux, they are known as /dev/hda1 and /dev/hda2. The purpose of a partition is to mark drive boundaries, allowing several different operating systems to share a single hard drive (potentially using different formats for organizing files, known as "filesystems," on each partition). Your computer probably came to you with a few partitions formatted with the FAT or FAT32 filesystems which contained Windows. The trick now is to move those partitions out of the way to make room for Linux, while not damaging any data contained in those partitions. That's where a tool called FIPS comes in."

"FIPS is a utility that is included with many Linux distributions, and helps in installing Linux as a second operating system. FIPS is a program capable of "resizing" an existing Windows partition to allow you to free up unused space. "Resizing" your existing Windows partition can then provide you the necessary disk space to install Linux, without having to purchase and install a second hard drive for your computer. (It should be noted, however, that using a second drive is the ideal way to dual boot, if you have another one lying around somewhere). Before using FIPS, you must defragment your Windows partition to move all of the data to the "front" of the disk. You can then safely free up any unused space. (WARNING: Using FIPS can cause a loss of data, so backing up your system is STRONGLY recommended.) FIPS can be obtained from http://metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/system/install, and comes with a README file providing a good example of using it. Now that you have sufficient "free" disk space, you are able to proceed with installing Linux on the same hard drive that holds your Windows installation. Once again, this utility can cause a loss of data, and thus could require that you completely reload your system, so proceed with caution."

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