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Old 11. Dec 2013, 04:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Advice needed on planning for dual booting Windows and Linux

Hi everyone,

I hope I'm posting in the correct forum.

First, some background info.
I have a 10-yrs PC (P4 2.80GHz, 1.5GB RAM) running Win XP Home (SP3).
I'm almost certain that the HDD is going to die on me. I have the PC case open and I can hear a very soft ticking noise, like a mechanical clock, coming from the back of the case, i.e. the opposite side of the HDD; the noise is rather periodic - it makes about 4-5 ticks, then stops for about a minute or so and then starts all over again. The interesting part is that the sound is evident only when the HDD is (allegedly) idle, i.e. when I'm not performing any actions.
Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's dying on me. I have another HDD on that machine which I'm now going to make my primary HDD.

I was planning on also installing a Linux distro due to the end of support for Win XP come April 2014 (for Internet access and to familiarise myself with Linux), but since I'm a total noob I don't want to rush things. But since I'm setting up the "new" HDD now, I'd like to plan ahead a bit.

So, my questions are:
(1) Should I preserve some space (a partition) for my future Linux installation?
(2) How much space should I preserve?
(3) Should I format it now or leave it as unallocated?
(4) Since I'm keeping my Windows Programs and Data on separate partitions (D:\ & E:\), where should I place the Linux partition in this order?
(5) Anything else I should keep in mind?

Thanks for any help and advice, it'll be much appreciated.
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Old 14. Dec 2013, 02:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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hey 26Dolphins, sad to hear about the failing hard drive. I have had hard drives failed on me before, and to hear the ticking sound from the hard drive is a scary one. Have you backed up all important data of yours from that hard drive? I hope you have. If not, please do so as soon as possible, because with each passing time with a failing hard drive, it gets more and more difficult to take out the data.

Also, I have noticed that sometimes, the hard drive can make a clicking noise, because of other factors too. I have seen the reasons as a bad cable, or, not enough power to the hard drive, because of too many components. So, make sure that's not the case. You should also check the health of the hard drive, with software like HDD Health, or run a hard drive error test using Seagate Sea Tools, or WD tool, as applicable.

Moving on to the next issue of installing Linux with Windows. Now, I personally haven't done any dual booting of Linux with Windows, but I think I can answer your queries based on my knowledge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 26Dolphins View Post
(1) Should I preserve some space (a partition) for my future Linux installation?
Yes, you should do that. Otherwise, you will have to resize existing partition, and that's too much trouble, and risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 26Dolphins View Post
(2) How much space should I preserve?
I think since you just want to test out Linux, and play with it, you don't intend to store much data on the partition. So, I think 10-15 GB would be enough. Other experienced users can correct me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 26Dolphins View Post
(3) Should I format it now or leave it as unallocated?
I think it would be better to leave it unallocated. It's because Linux uses different filesystem from Windows, and so formatting will be done accordingly.

However, this may need confirmation from other experienced Linux users. I recently did an installation of SuperX Linux on a spare hard drive, which had Windows XP installed on one partition, and had an unallocated partition. But, by default, in the automatic mode of partitioning, SuperX did not indicate that Windows was there on one partition. It showed that full hard drive will be used on installation of SuperX. To change that however, you could use the manual partitioning method.. however, that might be difficult a bit of Linux newbie.

From what I have read, Linux does check for Windows OS on any partition, and offers to dual boot, etc... but I did not encounter this with SuperX installation. Experienced Linux users should throw more light on this.

Still, I think it's better to leave it unallocated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 26Dolphins View Post
(4) Since I'm keeping my Windows Programs and Data on separate partitions (D:\ & E:\), where should I place the Linux partition in this order?
If you leave it unallocated, then this shouldn't be a problem, as the partition will be created at the time of installation of Linux, and managed accordingly.

-------------------------------------------------

I have always been wary of dual booting Windows and Linux, and I don't want to get into the trouble of unbootable drives in the case of problem with any one of the OS. Taking data out, and then reinstalling, or repairing the grub, or whatever, seems like too much for me. That's why I generally prefer to install Windows and Linux separately of two hard drives, which is what I have been doing now.

I have a spare hard drive, on which Linux is installed. While installing Linux, I had disconnected the Windows hard drive. I control the boot order of the hard drives from the BIOS, so I can choose which OS to boot, without actually setting up a dual boot. I prefer this method more, and it makes easier to just format the hard drive completely and install another OS... specially useful if you are testing out Linux distros.

So, when you have installed Windows on your new primary hard drive, maybe you can install Linux on the secondary failing hard drive, and play around with it, until it dies. Just a suggestion.
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Old 17. Dec 2013, 04:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I dual boot with Puppy Linux.
Puppy is a concept that uses binaries from other distributions so there are several different versions of it. It has some unique features that aren't found in other distributions. Also, as well as applications designed specifically for Puppy, it can usually install applications from its parent's repositories.
The most significant feature is that it is designed to run as a live Linux which can save back to the media it is run from (This includes CD). Therefore there are two ways of installing it:
1) in the same way other Linux are installed, on its own partitions.
2) using a "frugal" install which mirrors the live CD but on disk,flash,memory cards etc. This is the easiest and most secure way of installing it (in my and many people's view). The BIG advantage of this method is that it can be installed on more or less ANY partition including ones with Windows on them.

I use several versions of Puppy and indeed keep one on the same partition as my data as a recovery tool. The only Linux partitions I have are swap space that takes up the small space at the end of a disk that most partitions won't use, and one disk that I keep for testing other Linux distributions that don't play well with existing Windows multiboot disks.
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