Linux migration. Part II. Dual-Boot System

As I have wrote I decide to try Linux. I ordered and received Kubuntu CDs.
Now I need to create a Dual-Boot system on my computer to test applications I need with Linux and to be able to roll back on my current system if Linux fails me.

Backup important files

It is vital to do backup before your experiments!
When you manipulate with your hard drive the system can be damaged for many reasons. You can easy re-install the system itself and all your applications (make sure you have the system and applications installation CDs on your table). But nobody could restore your data without backup.

Which the files you need to save?
1) Save your documents and images from
\Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\ folders. Inspect your hard drive to find other files were spread in different folders.
2) Save your favourite links from \Documents and Settings\username\Favorites\
3) Save your email messages.
If you use MS Outlook, save your Outlook Personal folders into a .PST file.
If you use Outlook Express, take a look at the Properties of your mail folders. You’ll see the folder the Outlook Express keeps the files ( C:\Documents and Settings\michel\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{5FEEAC57-FF66-48AB-B53D-DF02393B9C72}\Microsoft\Outlook Express\Inbox.dbx in my case ).

Defragment files

You need to have at least 4 - 5Gb of free space on your hard drive to install Linux for testing. Also this free space should be consolidated at the end of the disk. This is why you need to defragment the disk files.

Open the Disk Defragmenter application with system menu
Start » All Programs » Accessories » System Tools » Disk Defragmenter

and press the Defragment button to start the process.

Unfortunately the Defragmenter doesn’t consolidate free space, but defragments files only. So you’ll need to hit the Defragment button several times to clear the space at the end of the disk. I used the Defragment button dozen times to get this figure. Make sure you don’t have a file to the right of the free space.
You can use any 3rd party defragment application to do the same easily.

Resize windows partition

After free space is consolidated we need to resize the partition. This will allow to create new partitions for Linux. We have a partition manager on the Kubuntu LiveCD. So, insert the CD and reboot your PC. (Did you really backup your files? Don’t be lazy and do it now.)

Open the QTParted application with system menu Start » System » QTParted

Click the Resize icon, drag the right border of the partition to decrease it.
Then submit the new size and click the Save changes icon.

Now you have free unallotted area on your disk for Linux. And you’re ready to install it. Close the QTParted application and start the installation.

Install Linux

After you rebooted from the Kubuntu LiveCD, you can see the Install icon on the desktop. Click the icon and answer the installation procedure questions.

At the step 4 installer asks you to prepare disk space. If you’re not sure or not familiar with Linux partitions yet, choose the “Guided - use the largest continuous free space” option. And installer prepares it for you automatically.

I used the “Manual” option.

In contrast to Windows™ Linux uses a separate disk partition (swap) for virtual memory instead of a paging file. It’s recommended to make a swap partition with double physical memory size.
The rest free space can be allocated for the system. The ext3 is a usual Linux file-system.

After the partitions created we can go further with the Next button.

Follow the next instructions, enter your desired username and password.
Finally click the “Install” button and wait twenty minutes while the installer copies files. All you need when the installation completed is to remove the CD and reboot your computer.

Dual-Boot menu

The Linux installer setup a boot menu on your computer to allow you select the system you’d like to use at the computer start.

Now your computer is ready to work with both Windows™ and Linux.
And you’re able to start testing the Linux for your suit.


by Michel Komarov, © Copyright 2008.


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