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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.

share|improve this question
See… – user68186 Nov 20 '13 at 17:01

Using two hard drives is one of the easiest ways of dual booting. They will probably show as sda and sdb.

There is no need to wipe the second hard drive because Linux will format it as part of the installation. You just need to point Ubuntu at the partition you want it to install into.

You should let Grub2 to install on the MBR of DISK ONE, the Windows one. THe MBR is a tiny bit of the hard dist and you should have no problem.

share|improve this answer
I've gone into the initial stages of installation and they do show up as sda and sdb. I hoped that wiping the second drive would give a clean slate and Ubuntu could create root, main, and swap partitions on its own where they should be. Am I expecting too much? Will I need to make the different partitions myself? I read an answer to someone else question where they warned against over-writing the Windows MBR with Grub2. Maybe that was a different situation. – user215027 Nov 12 '13 at 15:11
The installation disk should automatically make the partitions for you on sdb. There is no harm in overwriting Windows XP MBR. If you later decide against Linux (!?) you just use Windows to "fixmbr". – arochester Nov 12 '13 at 16:28
So if I instal Grub on MBR of my XP disc, do I need to make sda the first to boot from BIOS? Thanks for your help. I plan to use Linux almost exclusively. I only keep the XP alive to run some software that I paid good money for that won't run on Linux. – user215027 Nov 12 '13 at 17:58
You can change the boot order. There is an answer at… ...but I am not sure if the ppa is still live. – arochester Nov 12 '13 at 18:57
I'll look that over. I'm a bit confused about proper location of Grub and boot sequence in order to be offered the OS choice upon start up. – user215027 Nov 12 '13 at 19:32

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