Pardon question redundancy. I read similar, but unanswered questions involving what I'd like to do.
I have an ancient Dell desktop running XP to which I've added a second hard drive. Both drives are only 40GB each, so there is little room to crowd two OS on one drive. I had been using the second drive for backup/storage, but I'd like to put Ubuntu on it and have dual boot available. I have Pangolin ISO on CD. My BIOS boot sequence options show CD-ROM, but not my DVD drive (added later - not factory) and PP is the latest distro that fits on a CD.
My proposal: Reformat and wipe the second drive. Set blank drive to boot first in BIOS. Ubuntu should show no OS and I can safely let it install GRUB and OS on the second drive automatically without worry of ruining XP or partitioning incorrectly. Let Ubuntu drive remain first to boot and GRUB will give boot option.
Any glaring holes in this plot? I am a noob and worried about screwing up partitioning. I was hoping this would be the simplest method, but my ignorance may be showing here. I don't care about default boot order.
Specific questions: Will I be able to share data between the two OS with this method? Not critical, but I'd like to be able to at least copy stored data back and forth between them. After running the LIVE session of Ubuntu to rescue data from a Vista corruption crash on my laptop, I've seen my Win HDD mounted in Ubuntu, but will XP see my Ubuntu drive and let me access it?
I've only recently started playing with Linux distros, but I am amazed by what can be done. I've run Damn Small Linux and then Absolute Linux on a castoff office workstation that previously ran Win98 and it is like reviving the dead. Most impressive.
EDIT_____________________________________________ Okay. When I go to install, I have only two options from Ubuntu. Replace XP and install 12.04, or "Something Different". Since I want to keep XP on sda, I must format the partitions on sdb myself. This is where I'm like a kid on a high dive who's hesitant to jump. I've read a lot of different things, but most involve partitioning for both OS on the same drive. I want to leave sda alone (except for GRUB install) and partition sdb for Ubuntu. I have 40GB HD and 750MB of RAM. I know that I need a swap area, a root partition, and then a space for Ubuntu files. I'd like to be able to share files between OS if possible. Do I need to make some changes to the sda partition to do that?
This is what I think I need to do to sdb. Please let me know if you see anything that I should change.
Primary - 1000 MB - Beginning - Swap
Primary - 10,000 MB - Beginning - ext4 - /
Primary - 28,700 MB - Beginning - ext4 - /home
The last part is the remainder of free space after the first two. Drive reads 39,700 MB actual size. From what I read, swap should roughly equal RAM and something I read led me to believe that 10GB would be a good size for root.
Sorry for the spoon-feeding request, but any advice is greatly appreciated.