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3. Choices

3.1. Architecture

The following is a summary of the architecture choices that you should consider. Your choice will probably depend most on your compuer expertise level, value of existing data, and expected division of usage between Windows and linux.

Table 1. Architecture

Separate for linux and Windows Shared by linux and Windows Support Pros Cons
  address space Not Supported. Windows must be the only operating system in its partition.    
address space partition Not covered by this HOWTO. VMWare under Windows No need to disturb the current configuration. Linux can be loaded on the emulated system. linux is slow.
address space partition Not covered by this HOWTO. VMWare under linux No need to disturb the current configuration. (unverified) Windows can be loaded on the emulated system. Windows is slow
address space partition Not covered by this HOWTO. DosLinux No need to disturb the current configuration.  
address space partition Not covered by this HOWTO. Armed distribution (unverified) No need to disturb the current configuration.  
partition disk Windows requires that Windows reside in the first primary partition Works with standard mail-order home computers from the major dealers. Requires more installation effort.
disk host   Minimizes risk to existing system and data. Requires less installation effort. Normally requires a second computer and extra disks.
host network Not covered by this HOWTO. Classes, books, and online help is readily available. Minimizes installation effort. Requires at least two computers equipped with network interface cards. Data is not directly available to the other operating system.

3.2. Filesystems

Your choice of filesystem is usually constrained by the hard disk manufacturer, your choice of Windows version, and your choice of linux distribution.

Table 2. Filesystems

Type Code Support Description
DOS6 0x06 Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, linux IBM DOS default filesystem. Names limited to eight characters + 3 character type
NTFS 0x07 Windows NT, linux read-only Windows NT default filesystem. Names have arbitrary length. Names cannot include special characters
FAT32 LBA 0x0c Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, linux Windows95/98 default filesystem. Names have arbitrary length. Names cannot inlcude special characters
swap 0x82 linux linex default memory cache filesystem
ext2 0x83 linux linux default filesystem. Names have arbitrary length. Names can contain arbitrary characters. Tends to suffer little external fragmentation. Scales well over several magnitudes of size. Runs quickly on semirandom access systems.

3.3. Linux Distribution

Your choice of distribution will depend mostly on friends' recommendations, your level of computer expertise, and easy availability of packages. Most distributions will happily reside on the same disk, so there is no reason not to try several distributions until you find the one that is best for you.

Table 3. Distributions

Distro Publisher Source Pros Cons
RedHat Red Hat, Inc. http://www.redhat.com/ Easy to install. Home-user-friendly. Commercial support available. Large number of bundled packages. Tolerates unbundled packages. Does not tolerate multiple versions on same partition.
Slackware Walnut Creek CDROM http://www.slackware.org/ Largest number of bundled packages. Professional-user-friendly. Easiest software development. New packages most often appear here first. Tolerates unbundled packages. Tolerates multiple versions on same partition. Moderate computer expertise required.
SuSE SuSE Gmbh http://www.suse.com/ Easy to install. Business-user-friendly. Aimed at business users. Commercial support available. Tolerates unbundled packages. Tolerates multiple versions on same partition.  

3.4. Backup Tools

Table 4. Backup Tools

Tool Requirements Description
Norton Ghost Windows 95/98/NT network drive Easy to use. Makes and restores images of disks or partitions. No selection or deselection of files/directories. No index generated.
tob linux tape drive Easy to use. Easy to configure. Selects or deselects files/directories to backup or restore. Generates index of backups searchable to find archived files.
yast (untested) backup tool Graphical interface for system administration tools. Included with SuSE linux

3.5. Compaction Tools

Table 5. Compaction Tools

Tool Requirements Description
fips Windows95 (Included in tomsrtbt-1.6.335) Splits a FAT16 or FAT32 partition into two partitions without destroying data so that the new partition can be loaded with a different operating system.
fips Windows98, Windows98 (requires at least version 2.0), Run under Windows98 Splits a FAT16 or FAT32 partition into two partitions without destroying data so that the new partition can be loaded with a different operating system.

3.6. Repartitioning Tools

Table 6. Repartitioning Tools

Tool Requirements Description
fdisk Included in tomsrtbt-1.6.335 Supports editting of a partition table. Two-tiered menu system. The first level includes read and normal operations. The second level lets you fix inconsistencies.
fdisk Included with Windows 95 and Windows 98 Does not permit creattion of partitios associated with filesystems not supported by Windows, nor selecting a bootable partition other than the first primary partition.
yast (untested) backup tool Graphical interface for system administration tools. Included with SuSE linux

3.7. Formating Tools

Table 7. Formating Tools

Tool Requirements Description
e2fsck Included in tomsrtbt-1.6.335 Checks an ext2 filesystem for errors
format Included with Windows 95 and Windows 98 Creates a vfat filesystem on a chosen partition
mke2fs Included in tomsrtbt-1.6.335 Creates an ext2 filesystem on a chosen partition.
mkswap Included in tomsrtbt-1.6.335 Creates a swap filesystem on a chosen partition.

3.8. Boot Managers

Table 8. Boot Managers

Tool Requirements Description
lilo linux Configures which operating system is booted. lilo itself if very robust and configurable. Some care is required, since lilo is usually used to overwrite the master boot record, lest one carelessly loose the ability to boot Windows automatically.
loadlin (uc) Windws 95 or 98 Started from Windows in dos mode. (Can be placed as shortcut in Windows) Replaces linux with Windows in memory. Since loadlin does not overwrite the master boot record, a failed installation should not be able to risk Windows.