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I want to install ubuntu on my pc and i have windows xp already installed on it. While formatting the os will it erase on the data on other partitioned drives also or will erase on that partitioned drive which i will choose before installing. i have partition drive C, D and E respectively and windows xp os is installed in C drive. please suggest what to do i have not taken backup of files stores in d and E partitioned drive.

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Format a partition means to delete what's in that partition. – Uri Herrera May 21 '12 at 4:05
Are you planning to keep XP? – Mitch May 21 '12 at 4:06

Firstly, backup anything you want to keep. When partitioning, it is very easy to lose all data on the harddrive if you don't know what you are doing

Then given C:\, D:\ and E:\ in windowsXP are distinct partitions, you'll most likely have to sacrifice (at least) one of those three partitions to install Ubuntu. You'll need feasibly at least 8GB hard disk space for Ubuntu.

When you boot Ubuntu from CD/DVD or USB device, go through the wizard (one of the only wizards you'll get in Linux) and when it comes to choosing how Ubuntu will be installed on your hard drive, pick the last option (whether it be "do something else", "manual partition", "for advanced users", etc.). The exact wording will vary from one version of Ubuntu to another, but in my experience it's always been the last option. You should be familiar with your C:\ D:\ and E:\ partitions (they'll all be NTFS or FAT and you should be able to recognize them based on how much disk space each partition takes...if not you can always mount them and look through them in the file manager).

You'll want to make a SWAP partition, which should be double your RAM (if you have 1GB RAM, make a 2GB SWAP partition). Next make an ext4 partition (at least can adjust the size of Linux filesystem partitions but it does take a long time) and make its mounting point / (that's right, a simple forward slash). That way Ubuntu will be installed on "drive /". You can create mounting points for your NTFS/FAT partitions (don't reformat them, simply "use partition" as NTFS (or FAT) and write in your mounting point...such as /media/drive_d or /media/windows. Follow the wizard to its end and then you will have an operational Linux computer (with a dual boot if you kept your XP partition, the bootloader will automatically detect it).

Alternatively, if all you want to do is partition your hard drive, it is possible to grab a live CD just to run gParted, mind you gParted runs quite nicely in an Ubuntu live session as well.

Here's an old screenshot of that important step that takes place during the Ubuntu install wizard: old screenshot of partitionning the hard drive during an Ubuntu install

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When you install another OS to replace your existing XP, while formatting you will only erase all files in drive C. The files you have on D and E will not be touched, don't worry.

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No. Erase will take the whole disk and all it's partitions. I'm not sure what happens if you got more than one disk though. – MadMike Oct 15 '13 at 9:48

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