Unlike Windows Vista, Windows XP does not have a built in tool to resize a partition. Because of this you have to make use of another means. One of my favorite tools for this task is the GParted Live CD. What the GParted Live CD does is boot into a very simple Linux desktop that contains the GParted tool to allow yo to resize your XP partition.
Before I get started I want to issue a warning. I have never had a problem using GParted Live CD, but that doesn't mean the system is immune to problems. Problems can happen. To that end make sure you back up your XP data and even create a restore CD. This way, just in case GParted Live wreaks havoc on your data, you can restore it easily.
With that warning out of the way, let's take a look at how GParted Live works. The screen shots you are about to see are from a VMWare installation on a Linux installation. I created a Fat32 partition in order to show you how simple GParted Live is to use.
The first thing you need to do is to defragment your XP drive. This will make sure your data is where it needs to be as well as keeping your data from the end of your drive. Once your drive is fully defragmented you are ready for step two. Of course, before step two you will need to download and burn the iso image onto CD to use.
Put the GParted Live CD into your cd drive and reboot your machine. Getting GParted Live is simple to start. You will be asked a few questions about your keyboard, your language, and your graphics. As for the graphics, the default entry should work fine.
Once you are booted into GParted Live you will find yourself in what might be a familiar desktop. GParted Live is based on Fluxbox and is even more minimal than the standard Fluxbox.
Select the partition you want to resize and click the "Resize/Move" button. When you click that a new window will appear asking how much you want the partition to be resized.
You want to make sure that you are resized the space FOLLOWING the XP partition. Once you have entered the amount you want to resize the space FOLLOWING the parition hit enter and then click the Resize/Move button.
The next step is to click the Apply button. Once you click this button the resizing will take place. Depending upon the size you have chosen to free up, this process might take some time.
Once the resizing has taken place you will notice the partition names will change.
That's it. click the Exit button (the red square at the top left) to shutdown GParted Live. Take the GParted Live CD out of the CD drive and let your machine reboot. Make sure XP will boot properly before you continue. Once you are sure XP will boot properly, reboot with your Linux distribution CD in the drive and install Linux.
You can follow my Illustrated Guide to Installing Ubuntu Linux for a simple Linux install how to. Another article to read, that will get you up to speed on dual booting, is my How To Dual Boot Windows Vista and Linux.
Dual booting XP and Linux doesn't have to be difficult. Using GParted Live CD will make this task far simpler than you thought it could be. But do remember, BACK UP THAT DATA!
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.