How-to Dual Boot Windows XP and Fedora or Red Hat Linux

Admin - 2007-07-26 15:21:04 in Operating Systems, Open Source
Category: Operating Systems, Open Source
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: February 26, 2004



I was sitting here today thinking about all the times I've been asked to help someone setup a dual boot system with Windows XP and surprisingly, Red Hat or Fedora Linux. I say surprisingly, because in my opinion Red Hat and Fedora has always been the easiest Linux distros to install on a dual boot setup. Apparently it's not, as there are still quite a few people who ask me for help.

I'm far from a Linux expert, but I have managed to learn enough about it to be dangerous, and maybe even helpful on occasion. So I thought I'd put together a little "how-to" on installing Red Hat/Fedora on a system that already has Windows XP on it.

My suggestion to anyone wanting to dual boot Windows and Linux is to use two separate hard drives; one drive for Linux, and one drive for Windows. This just makes things easier, though it's really not any harder on system with one drive and multiple partitions.

Like I said, this guide is going with the assumption that you already have Windows installed, and that it resides on a separate hard drive than what you will be using for Linux.


Pre-Install Notes
**Note #1: It is highly recommended that you read through this entire guide at least once prior to using it as a reference while installing Fedora.

**Note #2: You can click on any image in this document to get a larger image (600x450 in most cases).

**Note #3: Red Hat has their own guide on how to configure a dual boot system, it can be found here. Red Hat's guide is more technical and less graphical than this guide is intended to be.

**Note #4: It is highly recomended that you back up any and all data before attempting to install Red Hat or Fedora Core 1.

**Note #5: This guide uses Fedora Core 1 for examples and screenshots. There is little differance in the install of Fedora Core 1 and Red Hat Linux 9.0.


Obtaining Fedora/RedHat
The first thing we want to do is download the Red Hat or Fedora Linux Operating System, you can follow this guide using Red Hat 9 or the Fedora Core 1. You can download Red Hat 9 directly from Red Hat, or get it off of one of the mirrors, and likewise you can download Fedora Core 1 from the Fedora Project or via one of the many mirrors.

Getting Fedora Core 1
The CDs for Fedora should be located in /pub/fedora/linux/core/1/i386/iso/ on any of the FTPs you visit. You'll probably see several different files once in that directory, looks for these three files:

yarrow-i386-disc1.iso (md5sum: 76ef22495d186580e47efd8d7a65fe6b)
yarrow-i386-disc2.iso (md5sum: fd23fe32fafe7557f5d1fa1d31100580)
yarrow-i386-disc3.iso (md5sum: 6a26b34069639d0c31465d4079a8e1b2)

Yarrow is just the "code name" for Fedora Core 1, much the same way Microsoft has used "code names" for the Operating systems (i.e. Janus, Chicago, Memphis, Cairo, Odyssey, Whistler, Longhorn, etc.).

Getting Red Hat 9
The CDs for Red Hat 9 should be located in /pub/redhat/linux/9/en/iso/i386/ on any of the FTPs you visit. You'll probably see several different files once in that directory, looks for these three files:

shrike-i386-disc1.iso (md5sum: 34048ce4cd069b624f6e021ba63ecde5)
shrike-i386-disc2.iso (md5sum: 6b8ba42f56b397d536826c78c9679c0a)
shrike-i386-disc3.iso (md5sum: af38ac4316ba20df2dec5f990913396d)

Just as Yarrow was the "code name" for Fedora Core 1, Shrike is the code name for Red Hat 9. Each version will have a different code name, you'll get use to it in time. ;)

The other files found in the FTP directories are the SRPMS or source code. If you are just starting out, you won't need to mess with those for a while. ;) Once you have finished downloading the CDs, you'll obviously need to burn them to disk. The files are in an iso CD image, so you can burn them using Nero, EZ CD Creator, or whatever CD burning program you like.

Installing Fedora
Once the files are burnt to disk, it's time to put CD 1 back in the drive and reboot the computer.

Assuming you have a bootable CD-ROM, and have the drive enabled as a bootable drive, you should see a screen asking how to install Fedora.


At the boot: line, you can pass parameters here depending on your system and hardware. A list of available boot options can be found here.


I don't have to pass anything to installed Fedora on my system, so I'll just hit <enter> to install in graphical mode. Enter any of the parameters into the boot: line and then hit <enter>.


You'll then see some text fly by as Fedora probes (think plug-and-play here, not aliens) your system hardware. Hopefully some of the information looks familiar. Like your CD/DVD drives, Hard Disk, etc.

After that you should you should see a screen that appears that allows you to check the CD's for errors, or skip and proceed with the install. This is a nifty little feature that I wish Microsoft would incorporate with Windows installer. I can't count how many times, I've tried to install Windows only to find that the CD was unreadable during the last 5 min of the install. � That's enough of that, I'll try and stay away from the reasons I like Linux more than Windows during the rest of this article.

Either check your CD, or skip on to the install, and we'll see the Anaconda installer starts up, which is Red Hat's system installer.

If all went well, a nice graphical installer screen should have come up welcoming you to the Fedora Core. Click Next.

You're first choice is to select the language used during the install process. Chose English (or whatever other language you want) and click next.

Next we get to select the appropriate keyboard type for the system. If you don't know what keyboard type you have, select U.S. English and click next.

Installing Fedora

The next item to select is the mouse. If the system was able to probe your mouse, the correct option should be listed. If you connect to a KVM switch, the probe will probably be unsuccessful and you'll want to manually select what type of mouse you have. In my case, I have an unsupported mouse and have it connected to a KVM, so I'll select Wheel Mouse (PS/2) from the generic list. Select your mouse, and click next.

The third thing we get to configure is the monitor. Just like the mouse and keyboard if the system was able to probe your monitor successfully, it'll be selected. Otherwise you'll need to select your monitor from the long list of models. In my case, I'm using a Generic CRT display 1600x1200. Chose your monitor value and click next.

Now that the keyboard, mouse, and monitor have been configured, we are asked what type of install we want to do. The options are:
  - Personal Desktop
  - Workstation
  - Server
  - Custom

For those of you installing Fedora for the first time, I would suggest you just go with the Personal Desktop option. As you get more failure with Fedora/Linux you can go back and experiment with the other options. The custom option is exactly what you would expect. It allows you to select each and every component that gets installed. So, we are just going to select Personal Desktop and click next.

In order to install Fedora the Hard Disk is going to have to be formated with a Linux partition. We have the option of allowing the Fedora installer to partition or to do it manually. We'll let Fedora do it, so just click next. Don't worry, we're not going to erase Windows. 

The next screen ask us what drives we are going to use for our installation. You should also see a box that list several drives that you can (un)select.

I'm sure some of you are probably asking what the heck hda and hdb are. These are your hard drives. hda is the primary master, and hdb is the primary slave. If we had more hard drives, they would be hdc, hde, and so on.

As I mentioned at the start of this guide, we are configuring a dual boot system with Windows installed on one hard disk (hda), and Fedora Linux to be installed on the 2nd disk (hdb). Since Windows was installed on the first disk (hda), we obviously don't want to over write it when we install Fedora (hard to dual boot with only one OS :p), we will uncheck hda. This tells Fedora to only use hdb for the install.

If the hard disk you are installing Fedora is unpartitioned/formated, don't worry about any of the top options. If you have the disk formated with NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, or anything else, select Remove all partitions on this system. Don't worry, it doesn't really mean ALL partitions, it's only talking about those on the hard disk we selected.

Also, we want to check the box below that says Review and Modify the partitions, so select that and click next.

Since we selected the review and modify box on the last screen, we get a nice little display of the hard drives layout. Even though we told Fedora not to use hda in the install, information about that drive, and all other drives is still displayed.

Installing Fedora


A good way to make sure that hda isn't being used for the install is the comment found in the Type column of the install. If it says ntfs, fat, or dos things are good.


In case you are wondering what hda1, hda2, hda5, and so on are, the numbers represent the partitions on the hard disk.


hda1 is the 1st partition on the primary master hard disk. Windows would call this C:. Well, actually windows would call it multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1), but you would know it as C:.


The Linux partitions created will be / (root), /boot, and the swap partition. The swap partition is similar to the swap (or page) file used by windows, and will be about 2x the amount of RAM you have.

If everything looks good here, click next. Now we are asked if we want to install a boot loader. Fedora uses the GRUB boot loader, so that's what we'll go with. We want the boot loader installed on hda, so that when the mast boot record is read during system boot we are asked to boot to Linux or Windows.

Below that, we can select which OS will boot by default. You also have the ability to edit the labels that show up for each OS. I usually change the DOS label to WinXP.


You also have the ability to use a boot loader password. Select this or not, it's up to you. Once you are done here, click next.


Now we get to configure our network settings. Fedora will configure your network card to DHCP automatically.

 The box at the top should no longer say DHCP, and the boxes at the bottom of the screen should now be editable.

We'll manually enter our host name. You can enter just your computer name here, or your computer name.dmainname. I'm not on a domain, so I'll just enter my system name, "d3main".

Installing Fedora

Since I'm not using DHCP, I'll be entering my Gateway and DNS information. You have the ability here to enter up to three DNS servers, but one would be good enough (two is ideal).

Once the network information has been entered, click next.

At this point, we are just about done, but first we need to configure Fedora's firewall. I don't use it, but if you want to select enable firewall. If this system is going to be used for a server, you'll want to select what ports are allowed. HTTP, FTP, SMTP, Telnet, or custom ports (if you plan on running a BF1942 or CS server, enter your ports or port ranges here).

Also, if the computer has 2 network cards, say one for the Internet and one for the internal network, you may want to allow all traffic through a device. In other words, not have the firewall rules apply to it. If you want to exempt a network card from the firewall rules, select it here.. or to forget about the firewall, just select no firewall. Once you are happy here, click next.

If you did go the no firewall route (no pun intended), you'll get a warning message to make sure that is what you wanted to do.

Next we get to select what the default language is for the system, and any additional languages to be installed. You have to have at least one language, and can select any number of other languages. When you are done selecting your languages, click next.

Next we select our time zone, I'm in EST, so I selected America/New_York as it was the closest thing. You can also select here if the system (BIOS) clock uses UTC. For those asking, UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time, and is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) updated with a leap seconds. Select your time zone, and click next. 

The next to last thing for us to do is to give root a password. Root is basically the equivalent to Administrator on a Windows system. Enter and verify the password and click next.

Now, the last thing for us to do (aside from lettings Fedora install and swapping out disk) is to select the packages we want to install. We selected the Personal Desktop install back in the beginning, and because of that Fedora has selected what to install, but we still have the option here of customizing the installed packages if we wanted to. As I said before, if this is your first time, just go with the default packages, as you get more experienced with Fedora and Linux, you'll be able to go back and play around more.

Just select install the default packages, and click next.

We're told Fedora is going to install, and what disk are needed, and you are given one final chance to back out of the install. Either click reboot to abort the Fedora install without any affect on the system, or click continue to install Fedora.

Installing Fedora

Fedora will now partition the hard disk that you selected for the install, and format the drive using the ext3 file system.

After the format is complete, the install image will be copied to the hard drive, and Fedora will prepare to install.

As Fedora has started the installed, you'll see a progress bar and information on what exactly is being installed across the bottom of the screen. And at the top, you'll be given information about the Fedora IRC channels, developers mailing list, and some other information.

When and if prompted, insert any other required disk. And then the Fedora install will continue.

After the install is finished, Fedora will do some post install configuration and then we'll be asked to reboot the system.

The system will reboot, and then we should see the GRUB boot loader. Select Fedora Core to boot to Fedora, or DOS (or whatever you labeled it) to boot to Windows.

You'll see some text fly by as the system is probed again, and then Fedora will switch over to a graphical loader.

Post Configuration
On the first boot, you'll come across the Fedora post install configuration/setup. Just a few little things here to take care of.

First, we have to accept the License Agreement.

Next we'll select the system time and date, or tell Fedora to use Network Time Protocol.

Then we'll add a user, this will be who you will want to log in as when not doing admin functions. Logging in as root all the time is not recommended!

Next you'll get to play a test sound to make sure the sound card was set up correctly. If you use digital output, you'll probably not hear anything, and will need to install updated drivers, or do some configuration to the sound settings later.

Post Configuration

If any additional CDs were needed, you have the option of installing software from it here.


That's it, post configuration is done. Click next to exit this section.

And you should now see a login box. Enter your user name, and hit enter, enter your password, and hit enter, and you'll be logged in (assuming the user name and password are correct).

Fedora will start up, well, actually the Gnome desktop will start up, and you'll see some icons in the progress bar as various components of the Operating system is started.

Congratulations, you should now be looking at the Gnome desktop.

Play around, and ask for help. You've just entered a whole new world. :)