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6. Partitioning

Now we are ready to actually partition the hard disk. First make a DOS boot disk (type format a: /s at the DOS prompt or in DOS). Put the following three files in the disk, fips.exe, restorrb.exe and errors.txt. Defragment your hard disk – this puts all the data at the beginning leaving enough space for Fips to create a new partition from. If you use Norton SpeedDisk select the unfragment free space option. Norton usually puts data at the end of the disk and this will prevent Fips from creating a new partition. Run Scandisk and reboot using the bootdisk you just created.

Type fips at the prompt and Fips will show you your partition table with a warning about partition table inconsistency. If your disk has more than 1024 cylinders its usually safe to ignore this warning. Next Fips will ask you is you want to proceed – the program is extremely meticulous – answer yes obviously and when prompted to save a backup of your partition table and boot sector answer yes – this step is absolutely vital as it allows you to restore your hard disk to its unpartioned single partition state should anything go wrong. It also comes in handy if you want to uninstall Linux or resize your Linux partition. It doesn't matter what happens to the new partition in the meantime, if you have the back up you can restore your hard disk to its original unpartioned state. This reversible operation will work in all circumstances but one; if you format your original (Windows) partition which was split to make space for Linux in the meantime, the original FAT is overwritten with a new and smaller one and the restore operation will not work.

After making the backup you will be presented with a screen with 3 numbers, the first represents your original partition – notice it is at its smallest size, Fips has allocated all free space in the hard disk to the new partition, this is the default behavior. The second column shows the cylinder info which will be the guide for those who plan to use Lilo. The third shows the size of the new partition you are going to create – it is at its largest size. Use the arrow keys to resize the partition, you would just have to reduce the size of the new partition since it is at its maximum to a size you want. For Lilo users the new partition has to be below the 1024 cylinder mark, 1000 is a reasonable beginning for the new partition. After you are satisfied with the size of your new partition press enter, Fips will ask you to confirm and write the new partition table.

Reboot your system. Remember to change the BIOS settings to boot from the hard disk or you will end up rebooting with the floppy. Double click My Computer and you will see the result of all the hard work, there will be a new drive labelled D alongside the original C. Don't touch D, run scandisk on your original partition (C) – hopefully there will be no errors – and at this point you are ready to install Linux.

Some of the Linux documentation mistakenly ask you to delete the newly created partition using Windows Fdisk. Do not commit that blunder because if you do the Linux partitions will show up in My Computer when you reboot after installing Linux and since Windows obviously cannot read these drives and the ext2 filesystem, using Explorer and acessing your hard disk in Windows will become a time consuming and destabilizing affair. So don't do it.