[nSLUG] Linux on a laptop

Jack Warkentin jwark at eastlink.ca
Fri Dec 30 19:22:50 AST 2005

Hi Everybody

On December 27, 2005 07:44 pm, Preston Smith wrote:
> I  just recently bought a laptop - Compaq V2414NR - Mobile AMD
> Turion 64 ML-28CPU, 512 MB system memory, 80 GB Drive, etc loaded
> with XP Home. 
> My question is this.  As with most laptops the OS has been modified
> to incorporate Compaq's proprietary bits and pieces and to
> incorporate the normal power management routines.  Can I take 20 GB
> of the drive and create a Linux partition and install Grub or a
> similar program without screwing up the Compaq's system restore
> partition (D:) and other power management routines?

This *should* be possible. The biggest issue for me would be whether 
or not Compaq supplies the necessary software to restore the system 
to its original state if you clobber something. I bought an Acer 
laptop from Zellers last August with the intention of doing something 
similar to what you want to do. The documentation said they supplied 
CD's with everything necessary to completely put the system back to 
original purchase state. When I clobbered the Win XP system I found 
this *not* to be the case. Fortunately I had a Win XP install CD and 
was able to use it install a base system. Only *then* were the 
supplied CD's able to put it back to original state.

Partitioning will of course be the biggest hurdle. You will need 
something that can shrink and possibly move existing partitions to 
free up space for GNU/Linux. I used parted and it seemed to work 
well. The problem I had was in partition numbering. I did not realize 
that partitions could be numbered in a different order from their 
occurrence on the drive. It is possible, for example, for partition 1 
to occupy cyls 1 to 100, partition 2 to occupy 201 to 300 and 
partition 3 to occupy 101 to 200. When I deleted and recreated 
partions so that the partition numbers were in order of cylinder 
occurrence (I fixed it so that partition 2 occupied 101 to 200 and 3 
occupied 201 to 300 in the previous example) Win XP became unusable.

Two other problems could arise. First, the file system used by your 
Win XP installation. If it is VFAT then there are several different 
programs that can resize partitions. If it is HPFS (I think I have 
that right) you may have a problem finding a suitable program.

Second, depending on your BIOS, you *may* need a GNU/Linux partition 
that is within the first 1024 cylinders. I like to set up an extended 
partition as the first partition and then put in several small "boot" 
partitions so that all of these will be within the "first 1024" 
constraint. (Then I can put several versions of GNU/Linux on the same 
hard drive.) But that will probably not be possible with your system.

Hope this helps.



Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at eastlink.ca
39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6


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