Back to basics. How do I safely install Linux on a WinXP64 PC? (Solved)

Hello again all you experts,

I know that, after my previous queries, I should be much further advanced than I am, but I’m not, which is why I started my subject “Back to basics.”.

I do now have a couple of good, working Linux Mint 13 DVD-R installation disks, the Mate and the Cinnamon versions. As I said before I have 3 hard drives, a 160GB SATAII, partitioned “C” and “D”, with my XP64 installed on “C”; an 80GB IDE, partitioned “E” and “F” for my work and personal data; and a 40GB IDE, “G”, on which I intended to install Linux.

I had some success with installing Linux on “G” with the the others disconnected, but this meant I had to go into the BIOS to select my boot disk, and I couldn’t access one from the other.

I thought I would try installing Linux with all drives connected. It sort of worked until I found that I/Linux/we had wiped my “C” drive. Wiped it to the extent that my XP installation disk didn’t recognize it as a “windows compatible” partition (even after ‘create partition’) and couldn’t format it. I had to resort to installing XP64 on the previously Linux disk, installing Acronis thereon, re-creating and formatting my “C” and “D” drives, then re-installing XP64 thereon.

Luckily I had taken the precaution, earlier that day, of doing a full backup of my “C” drive, together with it’s System State, before starting this exercise, so the re-build wasn’t as painful as it could have been!

As a result of the above I have some basic questions: -

What is the best way to instal Linux on a PC that currently has Win XP64 on it?

Should I: -

(a) Have all hard drives connected, wipe my 40GB and let Linux format it on installation? I can’t pre-format it ‘ext4’ because my version of Acronis, although it has ‘Linux swap’ as one of its options, does not have ‘Ext4’ only ‘Ext3’. Most important, how do I protect my XP installation if I go this road? I don’t want to go through the re-installation loop again.

or

(b) Reduce the size of my “C” partition and create a partition in the unallocated space on which to install Linux. Again, how do I protect XP?

or

(c) Install Linux on my 40GB drive with the others disconnected, as per my first time effort? If I do it this way, how do I set up Linux so I can access my Windows drives and run my essential Windows programs thereon?

I did try WINE on my first installation of Linux but I couldn’t get any sense out of it, and I didn’t have much joy with VirtualBox either.

Perhaps I should mention, in case any of you are thinking “…he needs to get some decent sized hard drives…”, that I don’t think space is a problem as none of my partitions (“C” thru “F”) is more that 30% full, without compression, as a result of the fact that I don’t do i-tunes or i-player or any other space consuming activity, and my working programs are very economical with disk space.

If I sound a bit thick, it’s probably because I am, and apologize for that fact.

Tony N

Have you still got Linux installed on the “G:” drive (40GB IDE HDD) ?

and is there any way your BIOS wwill allow you to make it the primary boot device ?

Hi Tony

I know you have had some problems in the past but I am happy to see you sticking with it!

Right, down to business. I personnally would go for option a;

(a) Have all hard drives connected, wipe my 40GB and let Linux format it on installation? I can't pre-format it 'ext4' because my version of Acronis, although it has 'Linux swap' as one of its options, does not have 'Ext4' only 'Ext3'. Most important, how do I protect my XP installation if I go this road? I don't want to go through the re-installation loop again.

As long as the 40GB hard drive is physically different and not a partition you should be OK. When you run through the installation process on Mint it will ask you to choose a drive. Make sure you know which drive it is, they usual show the manufacture code for the drives so it is worth making a note of all of them. It will be located on the drive itself but can vary depending on manufacture.

Mint will only install to the drive you want. If you go for this method though don’t chose Dual-Boot System.

Option c is also a viable choice;

(c) Install Linux on my 40GB drive with the others disconnected, as per my first time effort? If I do it this way, how do I set up Linux so I can access my Windows drives and run my essential Windows programs thereon?

It will only have one drive available for installation so it should be pretty straight forward.

Once it’s all installed, either option a or c, make sure all the drives are connected and boot up. I don’t use Mint but it should pick up all the connected drives and show icons on the desktop. They probably won’t be mounted on boot and you’ll have to do it manually each time.

You can get around this by editing the fstab.

I am just leaving work so if you want a guide to editing fstab let me know and I’ll write it up when I get home.

I hope all of this helps, we can expand on any points if required.

I think we need a bit of clarification here … when you say:-

(c) Install Linux on my 40GB drive with the others disconnected, as per my first time effort? If I do it this way, how do I set up Linux so I can access my Windows drives and run my essential Windows programs thereon?

Do you mean

a) how do I get Linux (once booted) to see the contents of my Windows drives/partitions ?
or
b) How do I get the GRUB bootloader to offer Windows as a boot option at startup ?


Because I’m liking option “c” … remove other drives … install Mint … reconnect other drives … make the drive with Mint the primary boot device … update-grub

If you still have Mint installed on the 40GB drive … this will also be the easiest option :slight_smile: