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3.2 Installing Microsoft Windows

I have used a Microsoft Windows operating system as the "first" OS on my computer. I have MS Windows 98 (SE) installed on my computer. The reader can choose any one of the Microsoft OSes mentioned below in the listed form. Suppose, you would too like to use Microsoft Windows 98 (SE) as your first OS. Then read the information given in Section B: Installing MS Windows 98 (SE) and after reading and doing likewise as mentioned in that section, proceed forward with installing FreeBSD 4.7-RELEASE or OpenBSD 3.2-RELEASE.

Thus, we have the following sections:

One can use the Windows fdisk and Format tools for partitioning a new unformatted hard disk. I have assumed that the reader has a new unformatted hard disk which he/she wishes to partition and then format for installing a Microsoft Windows OS. The material mentioned right below applies to Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98 (SE) and Microsoft Windows Millennium (ME). If you plan to install Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Windows XP, then skip this section and go to the part referring to the sections D, E and F.


Section A: Installing MS Windows 95

Section B: Installing MS Windows 98 (SE)

Section C: Installing MS Windows Millennium (ME)

The material mentioned below applies to Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows 98 (SE) and Microsoft Windows Millennium (ME). Thus, if you are installing any one of these, make sure you read through all the content mentioned herein which describes the Fdisk and Format tools and explains how to use them to partition or repartition a hard disk. The material describes the following topics:

Before you install your operating system, you must first create a primary partition on the hard disk (disk 1) on your computer, and then format a filesystem on that partition. The Fdisk tool is an MS-DOS-based tool that you can use to prepare (partition) a hard disk. You can use the Fdisk tool to create, change, delete, or display current partitions on the hard disk, and then each allocated space on the hard disk (primary partition, extended partition, or logical drive) is assigned a drive letter. Disk 1 may contain one extended partition, and a second hard disk may contain a primary or extended partition. An extended partition may contain one or more logical MS-DOS drives.

After you have used the Fdisk tool to partition the hard disk, you can use the Format tool to format those partitions with a filesystem. The filesystem File Allocation Table (FAT) allows the hard disk to accept, store and retrieve data. Windows 95, Windows 98 (SE), Windows Millennium (ME) and Windows 2000 support the FAT16 and FAT32 filesystems. When you run the Fdisk tool on a hard disk that is larger than 512 megabytes (MB), you are prompted to choose one of the following file systems: FAT16 or FAT32. The FAT16 filesystem has a maximum of 2 gigabytes (GB) for each allocated space or drive letter. For example, if you use the FAT16 filesystem and have a 6-GB hard disk, you can have three drive letters (C, D, and E), each with 2 GB of allocated space. As for the FAT32 filesystem, it supports drives that are up to 2 terabytes in size and stores files on smaller sections of the hard disk than the FAT16 filesystem does. This results in more free space on the hard disk. Please note that the FAT32 filesystem does *not* support drives that are smaller than 512 MB. When you run the "fdisk" and "format" commands, the Master Boot Record (MBR) and file allocation tables are created. The MBR and file allocation tables store the necessary disk geometry that allows hard disk to accept, store, and retrieve data.

Please note that I have assumed that you own a computer system which can run without glitches and that you have access to a bootable Microsoft Windows CD-ROM. If you do run into problems booting from the CD-ROM or using Start-up disks, please consult your hardware manufacturer to obtain the CD-ROM device driver(s). For partitioning a master hard disk, you have to run the fdisk command. First insert the Startup disk in the floppy disk drive, restart your computer, and then use one of the following methods, depending on your operating system.

For a Windows 95/98/ME Startup disk: At a command prompt, type fdisk, and then press ENTER. If your hard disk is larger than 512 MB, you receive the following message: Your computer has a disk larger than 512 MB. This version of Windows includes improved support for large disks, resulting in more efficient use of disk space on large drives, and allowing disks over 2 GB to be formatted as a single drive.

If you enable large disk support and create any new drives on this disk, you will NOT be able to access the new drive(s) using other operating systems, including some versions of Windows 95 and Windows NT, as well as earlier versions of Windows and MS-DOS. In addition, disk utilities that were not designated explicitly for the FAT32 file system will not be able to work with this disk. If you need to access this disk with other operating systems or older disk utilities, do not enable large drive support.

Do you wish to enable large disk support?

If you want to use the FAT32 file system, press Y and then press ENTER. If you want to use the FAT16 file system, press N, and then press ENTER. After you press ENTER, the following Fdisk Options menu is displayed:

  1. Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive
  2. Set active partition
  3. Delete partition or Logical DOS Drive
  4. Display partition information
  5. Change current fixed disk drive

Please note that option 5 is available only if you have two physical hard disks in the computer.

Press 1 to select the Create DOS partition or Logical DOS Drive menu option, and then press ENTER. Press 1 to select the Create Primary DOS Partition menu option, and then press ENTER. After you press ENTER, you receive the following message:

Do you wish to use the maximum available size for primary DOS partition?

After you receive this message, use one of the following methods, depending on the file system that you selected.

For a FAT32 File System: If you press Y for the FAT32 file system (in step 2) and you want all of the space on the hard disk to be assigned to drive C, press Y, and then press ENTER. Press ESC, and then press ESC to quit the Fdisk tool and return to a command prompt.

For a FAT16 File System: If you press N for the FAT16 file system (in step 2), you can accept the default 2 GB size for the partition size, or you can customize the size of the partition.

If you want to customize the size of the partitions (drive letters) on the hard disk, press N, and then press ENTER. A dialog box is displayed in which you can type the size that you want for the primary partition in MB or percent of disk space. Note that for computers that are running either Windows 98 (SE) or Windows ME, Microsoft recommends that you make the primary partition at least 500 MB in size. Type the size of the partition that you want to create, and then press ENTER. Press ESC to return to the Options menu. To assign drive letters to the additional space on the hard disk, press 1, and then press ENTER. Press 2 to select the Create Extended DOS Partition menu option, and then press ENTER. You receive a dialog box that displays the maximum space that is available for the extended partition. You can adjust the size of the partition or use the default size. Note that the default maximum space is recommended, but you can divide the space between multiple drive letters. Type the amount of space that you want, press ENTER, and then press ESC. The Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition menu is displayed. This is the menu that you can use to assign the remaining hard disk space to the additional drive letters. Type the amount of space that you want to assign to the next drive letter in the Enter logical drive size in Mbytes or percent of disk space (%) box, and then press ENTER. After this, you have to activate the partition from which you plan to boot. This, usually is the drive C. So, press 2 to select the Set active partition menu option, and then enter the number of the partition you want to make active.

After you create the partitions, you must format the partitions for accessing and using them. If you are using a Windows 95 Startup disk, a command prompt is displayed and you can skip to step 2. If you are using a Windows 98 Second Edition or a Windows ME Startup disk, select the Start computer without CD-ROM support menu option when the Windows 98 Startup menu is displayed. When a command prompt is displayed, type "format c:", and then press ENTER. This command formats drive C (or your "active" drive). For all other partitions, type format drive: (where drive is the letter of the partition that you want to format).

Readers must note that I speak about "partitioning a hard disk" using Microsoft fdisk utility in general here in this section in order to provide the absolute newbies with general information on how to partition and format a new hard disk drive.


Section D: Installing MS Windows NT (4.0)

Section E: Installing MS Windows 2000 (Professional)

Section F: Installing MS Windows XP (Home/Professional)

For installing any one of these 3 above-mentioned OSes, first use fdisk tool to partition your hard-disk drive. Then comes to choosing the filesystem type.

During a new installation of Windows NT, 2000 or XP, you may have to choose which file system your computer should use. On my other PC, I personally use Microsoft Windows XP Professional which supports:

FAT32: An enhanced version of the file allocation table (FAT) system that is standard on all Windows operating systems starting with later (32-bit) versions of Windows 95. The FAT32 system can be used on large hard disks, from 512 megabytes (MB) to 32 gigabytes (GB).

NTFS: The NT file system (NTFS) is used with the Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP operating systems. NTFS provides enhanced reliability, stability, and security, and supports large hard disks of up to 2 terabytes (TB).

But very "important" information: The conversion to NTFS is one-way only; if you convert your FAT or FAT32 file system to NTFS you cant convert your hard disk back to FAT later.

If you are not sure which file system to use, I would suggest using FAT32. If you want to change your file system, here are a few recommendations:

  1. Use FAT32 if your hard disk is smaller than 32 GB.
  2. Use FAT32 if you want to install more than one operating system on your computer.
  3. Use NTFS if your hard drive is larger than 32 GB and you are running only one operating system on your computer.
  4. Use NTFS if you want enhanced file security.
  5. Use NTFS if you need better disk compression.

You can choose any filesystem type that you wish. After choosing the filesystem, proceed with the Windows NT/2000/XP installation normally. After installation, feel free to configure your new system. I personally chose the "FAT32" filesystem for formatting the partition in which I installed Microsoft Windows XP Professional (Final Release). It formed the first OS on my computer.


Summary of the actual steps:

Okay, enough said about the different Microsoft operating systems. Now let us look more closely how exactly we would partition the hard disk. As mentioned above, we use Microsoft fdisk, then create a Primary DOS Partition of about 2000MB or so. On my PC, I have a primary partition of 999MB which contains Microsoft Windows 98 (SE). I have used such a small space cause I hardly do any work on Windows thereby reserving space for FreeBSD and Linux! Readers can choose a bit more space if they feel like doing so. After creating this partition, do not forget to format it using the Format tool. On my system, I have a FAT32 Primary partition.

After creating this Primary Partition (suppose say, of 999MB), we do not (I repeat: do not) need to create any more partitions using Microsoft fdisk utility. For example, I have a 20.0 GB Maxtor HDD. I create a primary partition of about 1000MB using fdisk. The obvious question from the reader is: What about the rest 19GB? What happens to it? Well the answer is simple. I leave it untouched because I would be dividing this available space into 2 halves for installing FreeBSD or OpenBSD and Linux while using the FreeBSD Partition editor or OpenBSD partition editor while installing FreeBSD 4.7-RELEASE or OpenBSD 3.2-RELEASE. So, no need to worry absolutely and just take the ride with me. I promise, by the time you are done reading this guide, not a single MB on your hard disk will be wasted.

Thus, before we finally move on to the next section where we install and configure FreeBSD 4.7-RELEASE or OpenBSD 3.2-RELEASE, I would like to round-off this chapter with a "Partition check". I have the following partition table on my computer after this step (as observed from Microsoft fdisk):

Display Partition Information
Partition Status Type Volume_Label Mbytes System Usage
C:1 A PRI DOS WIN 1000 FAT32 5%

Once this done, reboot your computer and using a bootable Microsoft Windows CD-ROM (depending on your operating system of choice), install the OS as usual. Do the usual system configuration and log into Windows to check whether everything works fine. That is all for this section, now take a break, have a coffee and proceed to the next chapter, Chapter 3: Installing FreeBSD 4.7-RELEASE.


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