Thursday, August 7, 2008

Single- or Dual-Boot Setup with Ubuntu

It is possible to have both Windows and Linux installed on the same machine and for them to happily coexist. This is known as a dual-boot setup. It has also become incredibly easy to set up such a system. I started out with a dual-boot setup; however, I eventually found that I used the Linux side of things exclusively. Having so much disk space being taken up by a Windows system I didn’t use seemed a waste of prime real estate, so eventually I just dumped the whole thing and went for a straight Linux-only setup. My feeling is that unless there is some application that you really need that is not available on the Linux side (probably some game), then go for the Linux-only setup and just forget about Windows. Linux has most of what you will need anyway, and because the applications in the office suite can read and write Microsoft Office files, you’ll still be able to collaborate with Windows users, if that is of concern to you.

You may be thinking that if you do as I suggest and dump your Windows system when you install Linux, you might have to reinstall Windows if you don’t like Linux or if you can’t get it installed properly. That would be a considerable waste of time and energy, to be sure. However, believe it or not, there are advantages to my suggestion even if your no-go scenario turns out to be the case.

You may have noticed that your Windows system, as you’ve used it over time, has gotten sort of gunked up—it is no longer the quick little kitten it used to be. Menus don’t pop open as quickly as they used to, things take longer to start up than they did before, and you find yourself asking, “What the Sam Habberdack is that?!” all the time as mysterious things happen with increasing frequency.

This is just the nature of the beast, and a very good way of getting things back to normal is to reinstall the whole thing. So even if you do decide to come back to Windows later, you’ll be doing yourself a favor, because it should run better than before. It’s a little more work up front, but in the long run, you’ll be a happier camper.

If, on the other hand, you opt for a dual-boot setup, from which you can run both Windows and Linux, you will have the best of both worlds. Starting up in either system is easy. When you start up your machine, you will be greeted by the GRand Unified Bootloader (GRUB) screen, from which you can choose to continue booting up Linux or choose Windows in its stead. After that, bootup proceeds as normal for the system you selected. This setup works fine, so you needn’t worry.

So as you see, either way you decide to go, you can’t really go wrong. Just be sure to back up your important files before starting the installation; proceed with common sense, patience, and a positive attitude; and you’ll be fine. In short: Don’t worry.

If you are going to be creating a dual-boot setup, it is a good idea to first defragment your present Windows disk before moving on to installing Ubuntu. This will make the repartitioning phase of the installation process must faster and safer.

You can do this while still running Windows by double-clicking My Computer, right clicking the icon for your hard disk, and selecting Properties. You can then defragment your hard disk (in Windows XP) by clicking the Tools tab in the Properties window and clicking the Defragment Now button. In Windows NT, you can do this by going to the Start menu and selecting Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management, Disk Defragmenter, while in Windows 98 and some other versions, you can do the same by selecting Programs, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter.

Source of Information : Ubuntu for Non-Geeks (2nd Ed)

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