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So as wrote in the Q, here my problem: I want to install Ubuntu (11.10) on my notebook. On the hard drive I have a 14Gb partition for recovery (with the factory image). I need to preserve it at any cost because this notebook comes without any cd/dvd for recovery. Could you tell me a safe way to install my beloved uby?

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During the installation process on the Live CD you will be presented with a menu to choose how you want to install (Alongside Windows, erase the drive and Install Ubuntu, or Something Else). Choose Something Else and you will be presented with a list of partitions. Delete the Windows partitions, but leave the 14GB recovery partition. From there, select New Partition, Choose an EXT4 file system, check the format option, and mount it to /. Afterwards, simply install. It should leave your recovery partition in tact and install Ubuntu in another partition.

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probably this is not the answer you are looking for but in my experience i can give you an advice: erase and start from 0.

In a nutshell the recovery partition is composed by:

  • your operative system
  • drivers
  • junk ( spyware, useless software, more useless trials )

From this list the only things that can gain your attention are the OS, that you can easily install from other source, the only thing that matters is the fact that your license is connected to that specific OEM edition of that OS, i.e. "Windows XP professional OEM", and also your license is rapresented by your sticker and not by your recovery partition or cd, or dvd, or whatever else; the drivers are usually outdated and is always better to download them from the internet at the moment you decide to make a new installation.

I had different laptops and netbooks and i can give you this advice without expecting any points against. Also consider that is really easy to boot from USB any modern OS, and you only need a 4Gb usb dongle to do that for everyone of them ( only the Microsoft's OS requires 4Gb, a GNU/linux distro usually requires 1Gb )

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