Dual-Booting Fedora Core 5 (FC5) and Windows XP

I recently dual-booted an Acer desktop machine with Fedora Core 5 and Windows XP. I wanted to detail the process I took here. Note that if you decide to try such a procedure, it is advisabel to back up all your data and create recovery disks for any existing Operating Systems that you have!!! The harddrive on the machine I dual-booted was ~150 GB. The machine came pre-configured with 3 partitions:

  • PQSERVICE (FAT, ~4 GB)
    • From what I’ve read on the internet, PQSERVICE is an Acer recovery partition.
  • ACER (NTFS, ~73 GB)
    • ACER contained XP, pre-installed from Acer.
  • ACERDATA (FAT, ~73 GB)

My goals were as follows:

  • Dual-boot the machine with Fedora Core 5 and Windows XP.
  • Use a single harddisk, i.e., the one that came with the machine.
  • Retain the existing PQSERVICE recovery partition.
  • Retain the existing ACER partition as my XP partition.
  • Convert the ACER partition to NTFS and resize it to 20 GB.
  • Create the FC5 root partition as a 20 GB partition.
  • Create a data partition using the remaining disk space, with the following requirements:
    • The data partition should be mountable, readable, and writeable by both FC5 and XP.
    • While booted in FC5, the data partition should retain all the permissions and features of a normal ext2/3 partition.

Below are the steps I took in order to accomplish my goals.

  1. Delete the ACERDATA partition.
    • This can be done from XP, using the disk management tool.
    • To get to the disk management tool, right click on My Computer and select Manage.
  2. Convert the ACER partition to NTFS. (Fortunately for me, the ACER partition was already in NTFS with a cluster size of 4KB. However, details are given below anyhow.)
    • Before attempting to convert a FAT partition to NTFS, backup the partition!
    • Instructions for converting FAT to NTFS can be found here. Those instructions explain that there is a built-in XP tool for converting a partition to NTFS. However, it warns that if the partition is not aligned on a 4KB boundary, then the conversion may make the NTFS cluster size smaller than desired. As a solution, the site suggests using the trial version of a tool called BOOTIT NG to align the partition to a 4KB boundary, before converting it to NTFS.
    • In order to check the cluster size, you could run “chkdsk c:” from a dos prompt. (Note: c: should be changed to the drive letter of the ACER partition.) The cluster size is the number of bytes in each allocation unit.
  3. Resize the ACER partition, i.e., the NTFS partition.
    • An NTFS partition can be resized with the qtparted tool from Knoppix. Instructions can be found here.
  4. At this point we have two partitions (PQSERVICE and ACER) and a lot of free disk space. The next step is to create partitions for the FC5 installation.
    • We are looking to create 4 partitions, i.e., one for each of the following: /boot, /, swap, and /home. Note that /home will be our data partition that we can share between FC5 and XP. (/boot is the boot partition. / holds the FC5 distribution. swap holds memory swap space.)
    • It is traditional and probably safer to keep /boot in its own primary partition, if possible. So, we will do that.
    • Modern harddisks can support either 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions and 1 extendible partition that comprises several logical partitions. Both Windows and Linux can use primary and logical partitions. In addition, Linux supports LVM. An LVM group sits on one partition (either primary or logical) and further divides the partition into logical volumes. Unfortunately, Windows can not read LVM, (at least not to my knowledge). The fact that XP cannot read LVM is important for two reasons.
      • If you were to directly start installing FC5, it would create, in addition to your 2 existing partitions, a primary partition for /boot, and an extendable one that uses an LVM group to hold the remaining partitions.
      • If you want to use your data partition in XP, it can not reside in an LVM group
    • If you do the math at this point, we have used 3 primary partitions, 1 for the Acer recovery partition, 1 for the XP partition, and 1 for the boot partition. In addition we need to make sure the data partition does not fall into an LVM group.
    • Our solution is to use 2 normal logical partitions in addition to the 3 primary partitions. 1 logical partition will hold /home and the other will hold an LVM group that contains logical volumes for swap and /.
    • You may be asking why even mess with LVM? LVM allows you to logically extend a volume later. In other words, if you want to extend the size of / later when you add a harddisk, LVM will allow you to do this with little hassle.
    • So, what are we actually doing at this step? We are using XP to create a 102 MB primary partition for /boot, a 22 GB logical partition for the LVM, and a partition using the remaining space for /home. You do not need to format these partitions in XP or give them drive letters. You just need to section them off using the XP disk management tool. You can get to it by right clicking on My Computer and selecting Manage.
    • When you are done with this step your disk should look something like the following:
  5. __________________________________________________________________
    | PQSERVICE |    ACER    |             |           |             |
    | (primary) | (primary,  | (primary,   | (logical, | (logical,   |
    |           |  C:, holds |  reserved   |  reserved |  reserved   |
    |           |  XP)       |  for /boot) |  for LVM) |  for /home) |
    __________________________________________________________________
  6. Now we install FC5. Just pop in the CDs and follow the directions. Below are a couple of notes.
    • When you get to the partition layout, create a custom layout.
      1. Format the 102 MB primary partition as ext3 and mount it at /boot.
      2. Format the 22 GB logical partition as an LVM volume group. Then create the LVM group. Inside the group, make a 2 GB volume for swap. Also make a 20 GB ext3 partition mounted at /.
      3. Format the ~105 GB partition as either ext2 or ext3 and mount it at /home.
    • Install the boot loader in the MBR. There are other instructions on the web that suggest not sticking the boot loader in the MBR. Some of those sites suggest that some Windows anti-virus software will view it as a virus. I use McAffee and have never had that problem. If you do have that problem, you might want to change the settings on your anti-virus software or find a new guide.
    • For a more detailed walk through for the Fedora installation, go here.
  7. After you install FC5, you can reboot into FC5 and it will take you through a first time initialization procedure.
  8. The next time you boot into XP, install ext2fsd. You can use it to mount /home in XP. If your /home is ext3, you will still be able to read and write to it in XP. The caveat is that journaling won’t be used while in XP. Also, note that none of the permissions or file ownership work while in XP. So, if you write anything, you’ll probably want to fix the ownership and permissions when you return to FC5.

I hope this guide helps!

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~ by Ryan Lefever on March 28, 2006.

2 Responses to “Dual-Booting Fedora Core 5 (FC5) and Windows XP”

  1. Thanks for the useful guide, I just bought an Acer L100 and may give this a shot soon.

    Cheers!

  2. Yes, thank you! I would have had a much harder time figuring out my config requirements had it not been for this primer.

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