Windows/Linux Dual Boot

Don't want to give up Windows while you learn Linux? Here's how to use both on the same machine.
Using FIPS

Before using FIPS, you must read the FIPS.DOC text file which accompanies the program. The use of the program is not entirely obvious, and you may need the background information the documentation provides. Also, while running FIPS you should carefully read all the messages it displays. They will provide valuable information on the steps you will need to take next. Most importantly, FIPS comes with no warranty. Although it has been used safely many times, there is always the chance it could damage the data on your hard drive. If you value your data, back it up before you begin.

For safety, create a DOS or Windows boot disk to work from. To do this, click Start -> Settings -> Control Panel. Double click “Add/Remove Programs” and select the tab called Startup Disk. Press the button and follow the instructions.

Next, copy the working files for FIPS to the floppy. The files FIPS.EXE, RESTORRB.EXE and ERRORS.TXT are mandatory. You may also want to copy the documentation files included with FIPS. When your data is backed up, restart your computer and boot from the new floppy.

When you arrive at the A:> prompt, type FIPS and press enter. A warning will appear about using FIPS in multitasking environments like Windows. Since we booted from a floppy, we are safe, so press enter. FIPS will analyze your existing partitions. It may pause for a long time at “Checking FAT” and “Searching for Free Space”; this is perfectly normal, so just wait. The bigger your hard drive, the longer it will take. When FIPS is done with its analysis, it will display the results. You may get a warning of something being wrong with your FAT. If you read the message carefully, you will find that this is normal with large hard drives and will not prevent FIPS from working properly.

FIPS will then demonstrate how it plans to split the existing partition and you will have the opportunity to make changes. Do not just press enter. By default, FIPS will take all of the available free space for the new partition it creates, leaving your Windows partition with no free space at all. Windows will not run if it has no free drive space, so you must adjust the partitions. Use the up and down arrow keys to make large changes (ten cylinders at a time) and the left and right arrow keys for small adjustments (one cylinder at a time). The size of the existing partition is shown on the left and the size of your new empty partition is on the right. In the middle is the cylinder number where the split will take place. I left about 1500MB for my own Windows partition. Adjust yours according to your needs, but I would recommend using at least 1024MB for Windows.

When you are satisfied, press enter. FIPS displays information on the new partitions and asks permission to write it to disk. Your hard drive has not been altered at this point. You may choose to write this configuration to disk or re-edit the partition table. On my machine, when I chose to re-edit I received an error message that said FIPS couldn't find some files it needed. If this happens to you, just press ctrl-alt-delete to reboot from the floppy and start over. This did not cause me any trouble.

When you choose to write the new partitions, FIPS will offer to make a backup of your existing boot sector—you should definitely do this. The backup file it creates is only 1KB in size and will be invaluable if anything goes wrong.

After FIPS completes its work, it will display another message stating that you should run scandisk on your old partition. I found that Windows will sometimes miscalculate the used and free space on your drive after using FIPS, and Scandisk will correct this problem. If you choose to restore your original partition scheme using the RESTORRB utility, you should run Scandisk after this as well.

After FIPS was done, I received another error. This one said “Memory Allocation Error, Unable to Load COMMAND.COM”. If you see this, just press ctrl-alt-delete to reboot and all is well. This should not affect your hard drive.

Finally, you may want to run the Windows FDISK program from your floppy. This is not necessary, since Linux has its own fdisk program for manipulating partitions. You will find that your hard drive now contains two “Primary Partitions” (or “Primary DOS Partitions”). The second one was created by FIPS out of the free space on your drive. For Linux installation, delete this second partition, freeing up the space for allocating Linux partitions. (Be careful not to delete the first one, where Windows lives.)

Linux Install Tips for Large Drives

Once you've made room for Linux on your drive with FIPS, you should be able to install Linux by following the steps in the installation guide that accompanied your Linux distribution. Here are a few tips that should help you with the areas where dual booting might make a difference.