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Install Red Hat 7.3 with windows already installed?

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I want to know how to make a dual boot system.
I am currently running Windows 2000 Professional Edition and have
two drives, drive C (C and drive D (D .
I have RedHat 7.3 Installation CDs. I want to install RedHat on drive D
and have a dual boot system.
Any help is appreciated.
author and jackaroo
Posts: 12199
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Hi Sharath
Quick comment: RedHat 7.3 is fairly old - is it possible for you to get a later copy? For just experimenting it might be fine, but you may find some external software that you may not be able to install because of your older version of RedHat.
Regardless. First step - make sure you have good current backups. You should be able to install Linux without loosing any of your Windows configuration or data, but all it takes is one mistake (hit enter at the wrong time etc., ) and you could loose data. And of course, if you have a backup then you wont make a mistake, but if you havent made a backup then the chances of something going wrong increase .
I recommend using Windows 2000 to remove the D drive. That way Windows 2000 will be aware that the drive is no longer available. If you remove the D drive during the Linux installation, Windows 2000 should accept it, but it may give you warnings.
Then just boot off the RedHat CD. For the most part, the instructions should be very obvious.
The one thing I don't remember is whether RedHat 7.x will leave your Windows 2000 partition alone if you do a standard install - I think it does, but I honestly don't remember. I know back in RedHat 6, if you went with a "standard" desktop install then it would wipe out the entire hard drive. Hopefully someone will be able to clear this up. If no-one clears this up for you, you might want to go with a custom installation. That way, you can pick the packages that you think you will want (accept the defaults, and add anything you think might be useful).
When you get to the screen asking if you want RedHat to automatically allocate hard drive space, you probably want to stop and do that manually. You should then be shown a screen displaying the currently configured partitions (should only be your Windows 2000 partition), with the option to add more partitions. You will want to add:
  • a swap partition (virtual memory). Rule of thumb is to make this the same size as your available RAM.
  • a partition to install the Operating System.

  • You might want to add an extra partition to hold your user's data (their home directories). That way, if you ever decide to completely re-install your Linux system, you can leave the partition containing user data alone, and just reformat the main installation partition. If you do that, then I would only allocate 1Gb or less to home directories (this is my personal preference - others may advocate more space). My view is that if you only allocate a small amount like that, then users are forced to think about what they are doing and where they should be doing it. Plus, being a small partition means you can back it up easily. (If you have a 700Mb partition it will fit on one RW CD, making backups easy).
    So ... when you get to the screen where you can allocate partitions, you should see that there is a place where you can type in the mount point. There is another section where you can specify what type of partition this is. There is another section where you can specify what size the partition is.
    The main Linux installation will be on the partition with mount point "<code>/</code>". It will be of type ext3 or ext2 (I think RH 7.3 will default to ext3), and you should set the size to be most of your remaining hard drive space less the amount of space required for your swap space and home directories.
    Your swap space will not have a mount point allocated on this screen. It will be of type "swap".
    Your home directories (if you decide to create a partition for them) will be on the partition with mount point "<code>/home</code>". It will be of type ext3 or ext2.
    That is pretty much all there is to it. You will get prompted to change CDs when required, and you will be prompted to create a boot diskette at the end of the installation. Other than that, it should be straightforward.
    Now the nice thing about JavaRanch is that there are plenty of experts here, and they may have different opinions. So wait a little bit longer and see if someone picks up something I missed, or corrects anything I said, or has other suggestions
    Regards, Andrew
    Andrew Monkhouse
    author and jackaroo
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    One thing I forgot is that the hard drive partition naming is different from Windows. So in Windows you have drives C: and D: There is nothing to tell you from that which physical hard drive they are on.
    In Linux, the hard drive names Implicitly state which physical drive they are on. So the first partition on the first hard drive will be /dev/hda1 (or possibly just listed as hda1 in the disk partition management tool). The letter "a" designates this as the first drive, and the number "1" designates it as the first partition. So /dev/hdb3 would be the third partition on the second hard drive.
    This will be important to you in two areas: one is when you are configuring your partitions. You may be confused because you are used to seeing drive C: and D:. Now you will find that your partition table will look something like:

    Clear as mud? You dont have to created the extended partition - as soon as you create the swap partition the disk partition tool will create teh extended partition for you.
    The other time that this is important, is when you are asked where you want to install the boot loader. The boot loader is the application that starts the operating system. I would suggest installing it on the first hard drive itself - not in any partition. So you will install it in <code>/dev/hda</code> Note that there are no numbers, so it is not a partition - it is the overall drive.
    Also - when configuring the boot loader, it should automatically add entries for both your linux system and for the Windows system. So you can boot both. If you get to the boot loader configuration and you dont see an option for Windows, then you probably want to add one. You just want it to boot from the OS found in /dev/hda1.
    Round about now you are probably thinking "why is this so hard when installing Windows is so easy". But the truth is that this is only complicated because of two things:
  • Linux is extremely powerful, and you get more options to go with that power
  • this would be far less complex if you were installing Linux without worrying about keeping Windows 2000 - then the installation is about as simple as installing Windows.

  • Regards, Andrew
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