That will hopefully change soon, as I plan to turn my primary home box into a dual-boot that can switch between Windows XP and Ubuntu 6.06. This switch is largely motivated by my desire to try using Linux full-time, though it also has a practical basis as well: I just got a new hard drive that will replace my current primary drive, so I'll have to reinstall my entire operating system anyway (and thus might as well build it as a dual-boot).
I've been reading up on creating dual-boot machines, and have found some useful resources:
- Psychocat's Ubuntu Linux resources - the partition planning page has a detailed discussion of planning partitions for a dual-boot system.
- Hermanzone's illustrated dual-boot guide - the site primarily focuses on the (now outdated) text installer, but it still has great information
- Ubuntu Wiki - especially SwitchingFromWindows and WindowsDualBootHowTo
- WorthWhileWiki's HowToComfortablySwitchFromWindowsToUbuntu guide
However, there are two ways to get Windows and Linux to access the same files:
- Create a partition for both Windows and Linux (NTFS and ext3, respectively), and then create a third partition using FAT32, an older file system that both Linux and Windows (and Macs) have native support for (i.e., both can read and write to partitions formatted with FAT32 without problem). This extra partition can then be used to store data that both operating systems can access without issue.
- Install third-party drivers for Windows that allow Windows to access ext2/3 partitions (e.g., http://www.fs-driver.org or http://ext2fsd.sourceforge.net/). Thus, by installing these drivers I could simply store files in a Linux formatted partition, and access them from both operating systems. However, the drivers don't appear to be extremely widely used, and while reports about them are generally positive (most forum posts report no problems), it appears that they may not be perfect quite yet (as has been reported in these three threads, which report crashes or problems by individual users).
So, hopefully I'll be writing this blog from a brand-new Ubuntu install sometime soon.
As a side note, since I'm going to have to reinstall Windows, I need a Windows XP CD. Windows came installed on my Dell by default, but this wiki post indicates that Dell sometimes doesn't send out full Windows XP CDs with their new computers (they store a copy of Windows XP in a partition on the drive and ship software that simply retrieves it). So, as suggested by the wiki, I contacted Dell's support and requested that they send out a CD. They did; by next day air. Impressive.