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is it necessary to format windows XP OS to do partitioning for Ubuntu, and how do I do it properly to then install Ubuntu 10.10 from disk, and would it work from 10.10 to get 12.04 updates?

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What do you mean by "format"? No, you don't have to remove Windows XP. Yes, if you don't have unpartitioned space for Ubuntu, you'll have to resize other partitions. –  nickguletskii Nov 10 '12 at 15:35

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No it's not necessary. The current Ubuntu installer offers you automatically to shrink the windows partition on your hard drive and install Ubuntu to the remaining space. Just select "Install Ubuntu along with Windows" when you come to the Question about partitioning.

If you feel like it make a backup of your windows data before tinkering with partitioning. But generally tho process is save nowadays.

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