19 September 2008

Dual Booting XP/Ubuntu and Keeping Them Synced

I've wanted to post this for a while. I know it sounds bad, but a lot of folks have been asking me how did I set up my dual boot system with WinXP and Ubuntu. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone. First having this guide out there and to also have people start reading my blog.

I'll start by assuming you have a clean hard drive and are starting from scratch. I'll post later on how to install a dual boot with WinXP already installed.

First boot up with your WinXP disk. Using the WinXP partition manager create two partitions. The first partition as NTFS, name it WinXP OS, and have it about 10 Gigs. Install your WinXP OS here. After installation, do not download any updates. Immediately after install run your defrag 3 times after you set your Virtual Memory to 0. I don't know why it's the number 3, but a smarter man than I recommended this.

Reboot your PC with your Ubuntu Live disk. There, use the Partition Manager to cut up the rest of your Hard Drive into 3 more partitions. The Second Partition as Ext3, primary, and about 10-20 Gigs. The third will be your swap. (RAM x 2 = Swap Partition size for me) and the fourth and hopefully largest will be NTFS. I label this one Programs.

After doing this Install Ubuntu using the Ext3 partition in the manual install mode.
Make sure you right click Ext3 and make sure you label it (./) not root or anything else.

Now, what's great about Ubuntu is it reads and writes to NTFS. With this in mind you can always keep your Thunderbird Mail folders in sync with both your WinXP and your Ubuntu.

Now, go back to your WinXP via Grub and set your min and max virtual memory. Again I use RAM x 2 = Virtual Memory. (This helps a lot with fragmentation) Then download ALL your updates. It's a lot, so if you have a slow connection and trust your pc to not lock up, go play a round of golf.

After you get back from your 18, go ahead and take a shower, clean your clubs, inventory your balls, or whatever it is you want to do. Now, I am pretty sure you have a ton programs you want to install. This is where your second NTFS partition comes into play. I named mine, Programs. Make sure you always do a manual install of every piece of software you install, and also make sure it is installed on this second NTFS partition.

Now, to keep your email synced. Install the latest version of Thunderbird. Go ahead and set up your accounts as normal. DO NOT AUTO DOWNLOAD ANY MAIL! Just set up your accounts. Now. This is the important part, make sure you have all hidden folders able to be viewed. If you don't want to do this in WinXP, go ahead and boot into Ubuntu and do this. Use your file manager to copy your email folder from your WinXP OS partition and place it into your Programs partition. The path will be something like this:

Documents and Settings > (Your WinXP Profile Name) > Application Data > Thunderbird > Profiles > (bunch of letters).default > Mail

Copy (do not Cut) the Mail folder and place it anywhere you want in your Programs Partition, but remember where you placed it.

Now, go into your WinXP Thunderbird and go to account settings and the Server Settings to each email account you have on there and change the path to
“Program/Mail/(and that particular mail account's name.)”

It's best to use Browse in order to do this.

Go to Ubuntu, download Thunderbird, set up your email accounts, and have Thunderbird look into the exact same folders as you set up in WinXP.

You can also do the same thing as all the above for your Newsgroups as well.

Now, this is a huge warning. If you have an anti-virus program in WinXP like AVG, it will only scan emails that are coming in whilst in WinXP. All emails downloaded in Ubuntu will not be scanned. Thus, if you're not sure about an email whilst in Ubuntu, delete that email from your system immediately before returning to WinXP.

The quick and dirty way of syncing your Lightning (Calender) is to use the Google Provider extension. Also, using the Foxmarks in Firefox to help you sync your bookmarks in either WinXP or Ubuntu.

Now, you can download your emails until your heart's delight. If you download and read them in Ubuntu, they'll registered as downloaded and read in WinXP, or vise versa. Have fun.

Now, for my office suite (Open Office.org). To sync my data with this program I first never save documents in my Linux partition for one. Another cool thing I love is the Google Docs extension for Open Office.org. Using this I can load and save my documents to Google Docs and not worry about if my local drive or storage becomes corrupted at any time.

Bottom line is if you have any data that you wish to access, do not save it on your Linux partition. If you keep it on an NTFS or FAT file system you'll be able to access it in any OS you have currently booted.

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