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Linux on a Dell Inspiron 7000/7500 Laptop

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Frequently Asked Questions

Setting Up Linux To Coexist With Windows98/NT

Base Installation

PCMCIA Configuration


X Windows


Accessing the Linux filesystem from Windows98/NT

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Setting Up Linux To Coexist With Windows 95/98 and NT

The I7K arrives with one big FAT32 partition for Windows98. The easiest way to install linux and have it coexist with Windows98 is to use Partition Magic to resize the windows partition without destroying its contents [Partition Magic 4.0 can even resize linux partitions!]. The easiest way to use Partition Magic is to not install it. Instead, run setup program on the CD and create an emergency rescue disk. After you do that, you can boot the rescue disk and run pqgmagic to resize your partitions. I would advise using it to resize your FAT32 partition only. Don't create a Linux partition using Partition Magic; that will be done during the Linux install process.

Also, I have been asked by a Dell tech support specialist to add the following comment: "Those that do decide to use Partition Magic are prone to get the error message Error, good map corrupted on boot up, and it causes problems with the suspend to disk file. Dell's technical support resolution is to un-install Partition Magic and use the OS as designed by Dell." My comments: (1) this has never happened to me. (2) if you resize using pqmagic from the rescue disk, Partition Magic is never installed. Nevertheless, Dell's point is that if you try do install anything but Windows98, you can't depend on them for support. I personally think this is a very lousy policy (the tech support person I spoke to hinted that it had to do with their deal with Microsoft), but we'll skip the politics here.

I have also been told that the freely available FIPS program also allows you to resize partitions without data loss. The original FIPS web page seems to have disappeared, but I have retained a copy of the binary on my web page so that people can continue using it (at their own risk).

After you repartition and start the linux installation procedure, create at least 1 linux swap partition (type 82) and 1 linux native partition (type 83). Note that the entire linux boot partition must reside under the 1024 cylinder limit. That means that if you have a large hard disk, it may be necessary to create at least two linux partitions -- a /boot partition which lies under the 1024 cylinder limit, and a / partition for everything else.

Windows 95/98:
When you are done with the install, append the following lines to the end of your /etc/lilo.conf file to be able to dual boot Linux and Win98:


Then run /sbin/lilo. It will show something like

Added Linux *
Added Win

The * indicates that Linux will be booted automatically if you do not tell it otherwise. To make Windows the default, you can add another line to the end of the file:


The next time you boot, press the left-shift key when your computer beeps and you see LILO appear on screen. At that point, you can choose which OS to boot by typing either 'linux' or 'win'.

Windows NT:
The Windows 95/98 procedure above will also work with NT, but LILO gets wiped out every time you reinstall NT or run the NT repair disk to fix any boot problems. John Newbigin's web page,, has what appears to be a better solution (I have never tried it myself).

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