How to dual-boot Windows XP and Ubuntu

Q I currently have Windows XP on my computer but am looking to change over to Linux. Can I load Ubuntu without disrupting my XP? The reason being I have broadband and my ISP doesn't support Linux. If I do load Ubuntu will the partitions it puts disrupt my XP? I have an 80GB drive with at least 40GB available for Ubuntu.

A What you are asking for is called dual booting - almost all Linux installers support this. This used to be regarded as a somewhat hazardous process (although I have never had a problem in many, many installations) but the current Linux installers are much better and safer. The Ubuntu installer will offer to resize your Windows partition to create space on your hard disk for Ubuntu. All you need to do is tell it how much space to give to each OS. Fragmentation of the Windows partition affects how well the installer can resize it, so you should defragment the disk from Windows before installing Ubuntu. Simply right-click on the drive in My Computer and select Properties, go to the Tools tab and hit Defragment Now. The installer will also add a new bootloader with a menu that offers you the choice of Linux or Windows each time you boot.

I should warn you that resizing a filesystem is potentially dangerous; for example, a power failure during the process could trash your data. The chances of a problem are minimal, but the consequences could be serious. If you value your data, back it up first. As far as your broadband connection is concerned, actually it will most likely work on Linux, depending on the type of broadband (cable or ADSL) and the hardware you use to connect. Lack of Linux support from most ISPs is just that: they don't provide support. This does not mean that you cannot use their service with Linux. Provided you have a modem with an Ethernet connection, either for ADSL or cable, you should have no problem getting online with Linux. In most cases you'll find that it is simply a case of configuring your Ethernet connection to set up its address automatically, which is generally the default anyway.

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