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Install Windows XP and Redhat 7.1 Dual Boot on Dell Dimension 4300

1. Partition.

The Dell Dimension 4300 comes with a whole C:. Even if you just want to use Windows system, it is a bad idea to put everything in one logical disk. You can use some partition tools to partition hard disk while keeping all the installed software, such as PowerQuest's PartitionMagic or Paragon's Partition Commander.

I like to install everything from scratch. I prefer to use fdisk tools coming with Redhat than FDISK with DOS boot disk.

  1. Enter the BIOS setup by click F2, and change the boot sequence, such as first boot from Floppy Disk, second boot from CD-ROM and third boot from Hard Disk.
  2. Put Redhat 7,1 CD1 into CD-ROM and restart PC.
  3. Follow the Redhat 7.1 Installation step-to-step until it comes the step to partition the disk, you should choose fdisk to partition the hard disk. Click the hard disk to partition.
  4. Hints: 'm' for help, 'p' to display current disk table, 'd' to delete partition, 'n' to add partition, 't' to toggle partition id, 'q' to quit without saving, 'w' to save the partition table and quit.
  5. Plan how you want to use your hard disk. You can create 2 partitions as HPFS/NTFS for Windows XP. Create partitions for /boot, Linux swap and Linux /, /home, /usr, etc. based on your own plan. Here is the example of what the final partition table looks like: (/dev/hda4 is extended partition that /dev/hda5 above sits)
    Device Boot Blocks Id System
    /dev/hda1 * 20G 7 HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/hda2 30G 7 HPFS/NTFS
    /dev/hda3 31M 83 Linux
    /dev/hda4 25G 5 Extended
    /dev/hda5 2G 82 Linux Swap
    /dev/hda6 10G 83 Linux
    ... ... ... ...
  6. Restart your PC

2. Windows XP Professional Installation

  1. Put the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM into CD-ROM driver and restart.
  2. Windows XP Professional will install automatically, following the on-screen step until it completes. For the example above, select /dev/hda1, it shows as C:\ in Windows. Format it as NTFS.
  3. Now you should be able to boot into Windows XP Professional
  4. Format /dev/hda2, shows as D:\ in Windows to NTFS.
  5. Make "Windows Update" and install software, drivers for Windows XP if needed.

3. Redhat Linux 7.1 Installation

  1. Now put Redhat 7.1 CD1 into CD-ROM driver again and restart Windows XP. It will boot into Linux installation
  2. Follow the installation on-screen steps until reach the partition step, use fdisk to show partition table and quit without saving.
  3. Specify Linux directory locations, as example shows above, /dev/hda3 as "/boot", /dev/hda6 as "/", etc.
  4. Follow the steps until Linux installation ask you something about LILO. you MUST choose "create boot disk", if install LILO, you MUST choose "Install LILO on the first sector of boot partition", DON'T choose "Install LILO on the MBR"
  5. Redhat 7.1 should install without any problem and you should have the step to create a bootable floppy disk. After installation, Redhat 7.1 will restart the PC, and your PC now should be able to boot into Linux with the floppy disk.

4. Prepare Dual Boot with NTLDR

  1. In Linux, run "dd if=/dev/hda3 of=/bootsect.lnx bs=512 count=1" providing the boot device is /dev/hda3 as example shows
  2. In Linux, run "mcopy /bootsect.lnx a:" . If you don't have mcopy, download the tools, it is in mtools (
  3. OK, now reboot to Windows XP Professional
  4. Copy A:\BOOTSECT.LNX to C:\
  5. Edit C:\boot.ini, you may need to modify the file property to change it.
  6. Add "C:\BOOTSECT.LNX="Redhat 7.1" to C:\boot.ini and save. < /FONT>
  7. Reboot, now you should have the menu to choose which OS you want to boot into.

5. Fine Tune

  1. Adjust the boot wait time for Redhat 7.1 Linux by editing /etc/lilo.conf. You can change "timeout" value, disable "message..."
  2. Adjust the boot wait time for NTLDR by editing c:\boot.ini
  3. Remember to redo the step 4 after you change boot configurations in Linux.

6. Other Issues about Dual Boot

  1. The descriptions above also works well with Windows NT, Windows 2000 Professional.
  2. Redhat 7.2 comes with GRUB, which is very nice boot loader. I have used it to install a dual boot system with Windows 98, Redhat 6.2 and Redhat 7.2
  3. The descriptions above WON'T work with Redhat 7.2. It will hang during boot. What you can try is install GRUB at MBR. Everyone is saying don't install Linux boot at MBR as it will overwrite the NTLDR. Is it true? NO!
  4. Some discussion shows installation of Mandrake 8.1/Windows XP is much easier then Redhat/Windows XP. I haven't test it yet.
  5. Redhat 7.2 GRUB also Won't work with Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. There is no nice way to make it work although there is a HOWTO ( It doesn't work for me. Let's wait public release version of GRUB.

7. Updates on Redhat 8 and later version

  1. Partition your hard disk for Windows and Redhat Linux OS.
  2. Install Windows OS as usual.
  3. Install Redhat. Use GRUB as boot loader an install GRUB in MBR.
  4. Reboot and enjoy!


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