Installing Fedora 10 to Dual Boot with Windows XP
In this post I am going to walk you, briefly, through the steps I followed to install Fedora 10 on my Thinkpad T43 which already has Windows XP professional running. I have installed Linux before for someone else, but never on a computer that had another OS on it, so I was quite nervous because this is my primary laptop on which I do most of my school and work stuff.
The goal of installing Fedora is to start myself towards incorporating open source and free tools in my everyday work and life, and supporting the open source movement.
I don’t have screenshots of my install process to share but you can find some excellent screenshots on the links at the bottom of this post.
Pre Install Information
I will start by sharing my basic Laptop info: It’s a Thinkpad T43P
Intel(R) Pentium(R) M
1.00GB of RAM
80GB hard drive
Currently running Windows XP Pro, SP2
Step 1: BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP
Of course, as always, I started by backing everything up to an external hard drive and testing the backups on my desktop computer to make sure there were no corrupted files.After backing up all my files, I took out the trash (using CC cleaner), and then defragged the drive – that took time.
Step 2: Partitioning the Hard Drive (if needed)
The next thing was to create a partition for Fedora to sit in, separate from my Windows install. There are several ways to do this. I used Acronis Disk Director to partition my primary drive because I happen to have it installed. You can use Gparted live CD, but I hadn’t thought ahead and didn’t have one. You can also resize and let the Fedora install disk do all that for you, but what can I say, I’m a control freak. I was also paranoid because I didn’t want any chance of messing with my WinXP install, so I decided to create my own partition first. I allowed 15GB. From everything I’ve read you only need 10GB really, but I’m not sure what I might want to do, and I have the space to spare.
Step 3: The Installation
So now with my disk defragmented and partitioned, I inserted the Fedora 10 disk and rebooted. (If you boot back into Windows, it means your computer is not configured to boot to the CD drive first. You can change that, this page has some excellent instructions.) I went through the process, selected my new F drive, resized it to leave about 200MB free, and then selected “New” to create a swap drive. I selected that the F drive, which was now labelled /dev/sda3, should be formatted as ext3 and should be “/” (which means root). If you don’t do this the installation will throw an error because it needs a root to install Linux in. I selected that the new 200MB partition should be formatted as a swap drive. And then I let the Fedora disk do it’s thing. I selected to install Web Server so I would have Apache from the get go, but no other additional stuff. I figured I’d add all the rest later as part of learning this new animal.
After screens, things scrolling down and blinks and such… success! I selected to have WinXP boot first (it’s referred to as “Other” which I find really funny). I set my root password (choose something secure!!) and then let it finish and reboot. I had to remember to watch the booting session so I could tell it to boot to Fedora, it only gives you 5 seconds to boot by default, but you can change this if you want.
Step 4: Create User Account, Login, and Enjoy
Once it rebooted into Fedora, I then created an account which I will use to logon. Fedora will not let you login as root, for security purposes, but the account you create at this time can switch to root from the Terminal when needed, but you have to remember your root password for that.
Voila! My laptop now has WinXP and Fedora 10 running companionably together. You do have to restart to switch from one to the other, which is fine for me. As soon as I logged into Fedora my wireless connection was detected immediately and I was online just like that! Pretty sweet.
Installed by default was the Open Office Suite, photo and audio tools, games, and more. Really excellent.
So at the moment I’m rocking on with my dual set up system. I have access to both Windows and Fedora and that makes me supremely happy.
So what next?
I need to set up the Fedora side of the my world in such a way that I can work almost, if not completely exclusively using Fedora. My grand plan is to migrate myself into Open Source. I want to see if I can live and work independently of Windows and expensive proprietary softwares. Considering that my work and school world revolve around my laptop, this is going to be a big task, but it’s worth a try. I am not married to Fedora and could probably have installed another Distro, but I picked Fedora 10 because I bought the current issue of Linux Format and it was on the DVD… pragmatics and all that.
So the main thing I use my laptop for is school and some of the work I do. I’m okay for typing papers and working with spreadsheets and such with the Open Office Suite. For the other aspects of my schoolwork and for my work I have to make sure I can find all the programs I need in Linux, or their equivalents, especially conversion and scientific tools. The other thing I use my laptop for is web design and coding. I know I can code in all my languages of choice on Linux, except ofcourse, the .NET programs. For web development, I ofcourse need a code editor as well as PHP, MySQL and phpmyadmin. I use Notepad++ and Aptana as my main editors on Windows. I just need to figure out how to get a similar setup on the Fedora side.
Finally, I need to make sure all my peripherals will work – my scanner, printer, external drives, etc. It’s going to be fun! Hang around and follow me as I attempt to make my world as open source as I can.
If you know of any useful Linux software feel free to share it here in the comments section. Also any Linux tips and tools. I will be sharing what I find as I go.
Some Final Thoughts- Why Fedora?
Well, why not Fedora? Really, it was purely a choice of using what was right in front of me. I just recently bought the current issue of Linux Format, and it had Fedora 10 on the DVD, so hey, why not? I don’t have to download anything or burn disks. I may switch to another distro in the future as I learn Linux more and more and as my needs change and grow (or maybe not), but for now, Fedora works just great!
Some Useful Installing Linux links:
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Installing-Fedora-10-99413.shtml – with screenshots!
http://docs.fedoraproject.org/install-guide/f10/en_US/ – The Official Install Guide
http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/~matloff/linux.html – here you can download a pdf with installation instructions
A search in Google is bound to bring up many more, but I found these useful, particularly the first two.