Win XP/Red Hat Linux Dual Boot Questions

I’ve recently become acquainted with Linux through the Knoppix distribution, which boots from a CD-ROM. It’s a great, fast way to get acquainted with Linux, but eventually I’d like a more permanent installation, because I can’t save or install anything. Basically, I can only run the programs they included on the CD (which are great), and I can’t save any files.

So, I have one 80 GB Western Digital hard drive, that I’d like to repartition so I can have a dual boot system. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble finding a definitive guide on how to do this.

Here’s what I think I need to do:
[li] Wipe my hard drive clean (WD drives come with a utility that will write zeros to the drive).[/li][li] Create a partition (I’m thinking 60 gigs) and install Win XP Home on it. I want to use NTFS for this partition, but I read FAT is better if you want Linux to be able to talk to it. I’m not particularly concerned with being able to do that.[/li][li] Install Linux (Red Hat 7.2 most likely) on the remaining unformatted partition. I assume I will set up the dual boot during this installation.[/li][/ol]

Am I on the right track? Am I missing something crucial? Advice or info from some with more experience with this will be greatly appreciated!

Oh yeah, here are my vitals:
[li]AMD Athlon XP 2600+[/li][li]1 GB of RAM (PC2700, I believe)[/li][li]80 GB Western Digital hard drive (currently has 1 NTFS partition with Win XP Home installed)[/li][li]Floppy Drive[/li][li]Pioneer DVD-ROM[/li][/ul]

Create 3 partitions (at least). One for XP, one for Linux, one for data. Also, use RedHat 9 or Fedora. Fedora should be based on the 2.6 kernel, while 7.2 is based on the 2.2 kernel IIRC.

  1. Wiping the disk this way is overkill (unless you’ve got something on there you don’t want anyone to find even after you reformat). Repartitioning alone is enough to effectively get rid of whatever you had on the drive.

  2. You are correct to set up one partition (either NTFS or FAT32) and leave the rest unpartitioned. The linux installation will create at least one linux partition and one linux swap partition. Linux uses a swap partition, where windows uses a swap file on your primary partition. All of this will be taken care of for you by the installation.

  3. You are correct here too. Linux will set up the dual boot for you. I usually install slackware instead of Red Hat, but most linux distributions will set up LILO (the Linux Loader) for you. Slackware has an annoying habit of setting up the names on the screen as DOS and LINUX, but that’s easily reconfigurable to make it say WINDOWS and LINUX if Red Hat happens to do the same thing.

If I boot from my Win XP Home CD, will it give me the option to repartition or do I need some other program?

I was going to download Red Hat or Fedora from They have images for Red Hat 9 and Fedora Core 1 Yarrow. Apparently Red Hat 9 is the last free version of Red Hat and they’ll soon stop supporting it. I was already considering going with Fedora. Is the Core 1 Yarrow good or is there a better version?

I don’t believe XP can repartition without doing a whole new install. You can use something like Partition Magic to repartition your XP drive without losing anything. I believe linux comes with some sort of tool similar to repartition a drive without trashing it, but I’ve never used it and I’m not sure how well it works.

I did exactly what you are doing a few months ago, XP and Redhat 9 dualboot. Pretty much what Engineer said.

If you do a search in GQ for linux threads started by me, you’ll find several very informative threads (I think Engineer is in every one, he’s very helpful) that get pretty detailed.

What’s funny is I did the dual boot twice. Once with 98 and once with XP. I couldn’t find the XP thread, but the 98 thread covers some questions. You can actually follow the steps in it, there is no difference between XP and 98 in regards to installing Linux.

Thanks for all of the advice. It definitely helped. I went with Fedora Core 1. First I reinstalled Win XP, and changed it’s partition to 50 GB in the process. Then I installed Linux on the remaining partition. I let the installer set up the partitions for Linux with one small change. I shrunk the main partition (mounted on “/”) by 4 GB and created a 4 GB FAT32 partition. That’s the only partition Linux and Windows can both talk to. So anything I want to swap between the two will go there. It all went off without a hitch.

But now, after spending a day with Linux, I feel like a fish out of water. I got on the internet okay, and I can run programs and I’m somewhat familiar with getting around in a shell. But I’m completely stumped on certain things. Too many to list all at once here. So, I’ll just start with the simplest one: How do I adjust the overall volume (like the speaker next to the clock in Windows)? As I said, I have Fedora and I’m using the KDE interface. Am I missing something terribly obvious?

Once again, thanks in advance for the help!

Will one of you computer programming guys please e-mail me? I have something I’d like to discuss off-board. Just put the letters SDMB in the subject line so I don’t throw your message to the spam bin. My address is


DrPorkchop, changing the volume while using KDE sounded like a simple thing to help you with but damn.

There ain’t no easy way to do it from the menu. Basically, you have to start up a mixer and change it through that. Kmix is one program.

Or, you could cheat. I don’t run Red Hat or Fedora, but in Mandrake it is much simpler to use GNOME’s tool. I’m not saying run GNOME, just saying it’s tool is simpler. On my box, it is /usr/bin/gnome-volume-control.

If you run GNOME, there is a nice, simple applet you can put on your panel at the bottom of the screen that lets you adjust the volume with one click. If you don’t want to run GNOME, you can run the gnome-volume-control command. When I run it, volume control are the two left-most sliders.

Welcome to Linux. Don’t get discouraged. You’re going to love it.

However, let me make a suggestion.

  1. partitions you should make on your drive:
  • during windows install
    c: (primary partition) 38,768 MB NTFS
  • after windows has been installed
    d: (first logical extension partition) 16,384 MB NTFS
    e: (second logical extension partition) 8,192 MB FAT32
  1. install linux and create partitions during install:
    root(/): the rest of the disk… 16,901 MB in your case
    (/tmp): 2x the size of your physical ram. In this case 2,048 MB
  1. install gtk+, ncurses, nmake, etc toolkits if not already there.
  2. install the latest version of gnome, gcc, bash, vim.
  3. enjoy…

Tell me about it! I felt like a complete idiot! I’ll see if I have kmix installed.

I really hope it is because that’s another one of my issues. Installing things a bit more involved and I’m afraid I’ll mess up and trash something (or the whole thing). I tried to install the Flash plug-in for Mozilla and it doesn’t seem to work. The weird thing is that I followed the directions to the letter and the two files that were supposed to be in the plugins directory were there. But websites with Flash content still didn’t work and the “about plugins” page in Mozilla didn’t list it as being installed.

Another question. . . There was a small icon with a blinking exclamation point next to the clock. I clicked it and it took me to the Red Hat Network up2date application where I was informed that there were 80 updates for me. I tried downlaoding them all, but it was going extrememly slow and eventually stopped. I think it was a poor connection with the server. So I started it over and decided just to get the kernel update. Now, when GRUB loads on startup, I have 3 options; one for Windows, one for Linux with the old kernel, and one for Linux with the new kernel. They both work, and I ran uname after booting up each, and the kernel number corresponded with the option I chose in the boot loader. Common sense tells me I should just boot up the new kernel. Am I right? Is it normal/okay for that to happed to the boot loader after updating the kernel?

Once again, I can’t thank you all enough.

I don’t use Fedora myself, but…

For sound levels, maybe just use alsamixer from an xterm? Either that, or try the gnome one as leenmi said.

The problem with Flash is a known problem with Fedora apparently. See for details and a fix.

Kernel thing is normal. If the new kernel had some problem, then you wouldn’t be able to get into Linux at all, so they leave the old one in place so you can go back if something went wrong. You should always use the new one if everything’s working OK.

The flash plugin is always fun. I don’t use Mozilla or Firebird or Firefox all that often, but when I have installed Netscape or one of the Mozilla browsers, I’ve had to install them in /usr/local to get the flash plugin working.
Some distributions have the flash plugin already installed, and they don’t put Mozilla in /usr/local, so I’m not sure how they are doing it.

For updates, don’t bite off too big a chunk at a time and they should install. With a bit of searching, you may also be able to find other network sources for packages. The main redhat update site may get overwhelmed, so using a mirror may help.

Like the others have said, go with the new kernel if there are no issues. One thing to watch for, though, is backward compatibility. I’ve had some issues getting packages that were compiled with older versions of gcc to work with kernels compiled with newer versions. I’ve gotten them to work by force loading the kernel module (in the script, I changed insmod to insmod -f) but backward compatibility is not guaranteed in Linux.

Downloading and compiling the source code would work, but then there may be issues with rpm and it’s view of installed packages.

Also, you don’t have to install all updates. If you are worried about messing up your system, make an informed decision about which to install. Security and bug updates are good ideas, but do they effect programs you actually use or run? It all depends on your level of paranoia.

Back to the Mozilla thing. If you want to, you can install another copy of Mozilla (or a more recent version), or Firebird (which is a browser without the other components like e-mail, news reader, etc…) or Opera (love, love, love Opera) into /usr/local. Then the flash plugin installer will work better.

To do this, you would just link /usr/bin/mozilla (or whichever browser) to the copy you want to use.

And, if you haven’t found it already, has a tone of packages. If it’s not included in my distribution, I usually find add-on packages that make me happy there.

Some up2date mirrors are listed on this page. Using them might give you faster downloads.

If these aren’t fast enough, google for “yum updates-released”

These are network sources for updates you can define for the up2date tool.

Kmix did the trick! :smiley: Thank you, leenmi!!

So the kernel thing is okay? Was I wrong to update it? I realized today that it was on a list of updates flagged to be skipped, but I updated it anyway. Why would something like the kernel be flagged to be skipped? I thought I would want to keep that up to date more than anything.

I also read in Moving To Linux that up2date is a pay service. You can use it for free, but paying customers take precedence. That’s probably why I was getting those crappy tranfer rates. The author recommends getting updates during non-business hours.

I’m going to look into the Flash plugin problem some more.

Some people like to be as up to date as possible for their packages. Mostly, it’s bragging rights. It allows them to sniff at those poor slobs that are still running Mozilla 1.3 and kernel 2.4.whatever.

Kernels are updated to incorporate significant changes and new features. You didn’t do any harm updating. In the future, though, you might look at the release notes and see what new features have been added and what bugs have been fixed (for which you haven’t already installed a patch) and ask yourself whether the benefit of the upgrade is worth the risk. Many times it is.

Debian (and the debian based distros), the BSD flavors, gentoo and a few others have wonderful package management tools that let you keep as current as possible and still be stable, or keep even more current if you’re willing to take a risk.

Redhat and the redhat based distros are playing catchup with the software management tools.

Don’t get too wrapped up on keeping current. Take a peek at whats available periodically and ask yourself “Do I need that one?”. If not, you aren’t hurting yourself by not installing it.

Every couple of Mandrake releases I just install the new version. In between, I upgrade some software (like my browser) to take advantage of new features…

Also, once you are comfortable with Fedora and linux, play with a couple of other distributions. There’s nothing like finding the one that fits you best.

It’s all about choice.

I think I was a bit too anxious yesterday, and I wanted to do everything at once. I’m taking it slower now, but I’m determined to get the hang of it. I would like to try other distros, but, as you said, not until I’m comfortable with Fedora.

Of course my post wouldn’t be complete without a question! It seems I can’t eject a CD-ROM (not an audio CD) without unmounting the drive. No biggie, but I have to be logged in as root to do it. Is there a way to eject the CD in my normal account?

As always, much thanks!

Are you sure you don’t want to use GNOME? I’m a Blackbox fan, myself, but I keep finding the answer faster in GNOME than KDE.

In GNOME, you can right click on the bottom panel and add a multimedia applet for volume control and another for CD Player. CD Player puts the cd buttons on the panel, including eject.

In KDE, I didn’t see a similar applet. But by right clicking on the bottom panel and adding an application from menu > multimedia > sound you can choose kscd. This will pull up the CD application, which includes an eject button.

Now, to eject the cd without becoming root: in /etc/fstab you should see a line similar to this:

/dev/scsi/host0/bus0/target0/lun0/cd /mnt/cdrecorder auto ro,noauto,user,exec

This line mounts my cdrom. It may look different than yours, since I’m using a cd burner, but the important thing is the options (last column). The user option says that even though the cdrom device is owned by root, users may mount or unmount it.

Whatever line mounts your cdrom, add the user option to it. You will then be able to unmount without first assuming root.

Now, using the gnome applet or kscd, I can eject the cdrom while it is mounted and then re-insert the cd to have it remount. From the command line, I can not execute “eject cdrom” without first unmounting.

I haven’t had the time or the inclination to figure this out. I know in Solaris, vold handles this kind of thing, but I’m not sure of the Linux equivalent.

Doesn’t matter. Either the applet or kscd will do what you need to do.

That did it!

I would like to try Gnome too. I can have both installed right? How would I go about installing it now? There is an Add/Remove Applications option under System Settings. But when I’ve tried using it to add components (Gnome, in fact) I get an error and it shuts down.