Some notes on preparing and installing a dual-boot Mint/XP set up:

To prepare, I first looked for tutorials on the web.  There are many.  Sadly, most of the tutorials — including those that say they assume no prior knowledge — actually assume you have prior knowledge.  So they gloss over stuff that I was curious about.

The second observation is that, if you are not careful nor persistent, the tutorials could likely scare off newbies unnecessarily.  An install of Linux Mint does *not* require setting up multiple new disk partitions. But from many of the tutorials you would certainly get that impression.  (I may want to do this in the future, but not right now.)

Next I decided to actually watch an install, so I sat down in my living room, brought up YouTube on my Roku (I’m grandfathered in), searched on Linux Mint Dual Boot Install, and started watching on the big screen.  There are hundreds of videos out there, and many of them are really, really bad.  Finally I stumbled onto a really good one with good graphics, good sound, the right pace, and just the right focus for me.

or search YouTube for “Linux Coexisting With Windows”.

“Uploaded by LinuxSpatry on Oct 7, 2011 — Today I am going to teach Windows users how to install Linux over an existing Windows installation. You can then choose which operating system you want to run when you turn on your computer.”

For those who are not concerned with individual partitions for swap, home, and other elements, the Mint install could not be easier.  I just needed an authoritative tutorial to tell me that!  Here are the steps:

  1. Download Mint ISO image (I downloaded Mint version 12, 32 bit)
  2. Burn the ISO image onto a DVD-R (it’s too big for a CD-R)
  3. Power up your computer with the DVD in the drive, and boot from it (on my PC, pressing F8 during the boot up lets me select which device to boot from)
  4. Once Mint is running, check that your network connection is working (mine worked fine immediately)
  5. On the Mint home screen, click Install
  6. Eventually the Install wizard asks the key choice: 1) Install side-by-side with Windows, 2) Overwrite Windows, 3) Do something complicated
  7. Select the first choice for a dual boot system
  8. Next the Install Wizard will propose a new partition to put Mint into.
  9. Go with the default or resize it.  I set my Mint partition to 50 GB (should be plenty).
  10. The rest is automatic
  11. You will need to re-boot
  12. When you reboot there is a menu to select Mint or Windows.  Choose Windows.
  13. Windows will go into CHKDSK process to ensure all is well.  This takes maybe 5 minutes.
  14. Done!

Mistakes:  Only one, I think.  When I ran the Install wizard the first time I made the mistake of leaving my two external USB hard drives connected.  Mint wanted to install to one of them.  Since I was using the simple installation, there is no way to change Mint’s mind.  So I canceled the install, powered down, unplugged my USB drives, and started over.  Mint is now installed on one of my two internal hard drives.

Once I get Thunderbird running under Mint, and pointing to all my current email files under Windows Thunderbird, I will have little reason to go back to Windows.