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Linuxhelp _ Technical Support _ Accidentally erased XP instead of installing alongside it.

Posted by: jericho217 Mar 29 2008, 12:54 PM

So while trying to install Linux (Ubuntu) alongside my current XP installation, while playing around with the partitions, I must have accidentally deleted everything on my 250G hard drive (it sucks but it's not terrible since I backed up everything), and it's divided into 3 partitions now; the first one labeled Linux, the second one is unnamed and contains about 5000 MB (don't know how or why that happened) and the third one is a small one labeled "Linux Swap" or something along those lines (don't know how or why this happened either). I guess I really didn't know what I was doing, so this is just the way things turned out. After I figured out what I did, I sat here and sighed for a while, and afterwards, played with Linux to get everything the way I wanted it.

Now, this is what I need help with. Although I do like Linux and I want to keep it on my system, I also want to re-install XP (I have the discs and everything so that should be no problem) because I need it for certain programs that aren't going to work on Linux. I'm afraid, however, that when I attempt to do this, when dealing with the partitions, I'll erase Linux or screw something else up.

So the question is, basically, what's the deal with my current partitions? What did I do wrong when installing Linux that I should avoid in the future? And how should I re-install XP and avoid messing anything up with Linux? Basically, if anyone can take the time to explain partitions to me, that would be great.

I realize this is sort of an easy question, but it's just not something I have ever dealt with before so I want to make sure I have it under control.

Posted by: michaelk Mar 29 2008, 03:01 PM

Swap is virtual memory and uses a partition instead of a file like windows pagefile.sys. Swap can be a file but is slower then having a dedicated partition.

Partitions are a way to divide a disk into sections for lack of a better way. When PCs first had the capability to use hard drives the max number of partitions you could create was four. As hard drives became larger and people wanted to install several operation systems this became a big limitation. To overcome this limitation one partition could be identified as an extended partition and then partitions could be created within this extended partition and are known as logical partitions. The original four are known as primary partitions. An extended partition is nothing more then a container for logical partitions. Lots of more information can be found on the web about primary and logical partitions.

According to the Ubuntu documentation you were given several options to create partitions. Without knowing what exactly you selected I can not say where you went wrong but in the end your XP was overwritten. Like most installers Ubuntu will automatically create several partitions unless you do it manually. I do not know what Ubuntu automatically creates but typically it is / (root), and swap. Not sure what the 5GB unknown partition is all about.

As a beginner it would be easier to start over from scratch by installing XP but do not use all of the disk. Leave some unallocated (unpartitioned) free space that Ubuntu will use when it is installed.
Install Ubuntu using free space. When installing Ubuntu second a bootloader (grub) will be installed that can boot either windows or linux. Trying to resize your existing linux partitions to create some free space for windows might be difficult for you as well as trying to figure out how to reinstall grub (linux bootloader) since windows will overwrite it when reinstalled.

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