Partition Magic 8.0 will do it. I'm sure that Mandrake has a partitioner, also, though I don't know anything about it. PM8 worked great for me, and comes with BootMagic, also. Linux is certainly worth it, and I am a total newbie to it.
edit: Do not know if fdisk will do it as Linux, I think, uses an "ext2" system, as well as a "linux swap" partition; also don't know if 500MB is sufficient. One of the Linux experts will see this I'm sure.
Chewy, Just curious, why Mandrake 8.1? Mandrake 9 is out and it is a very slick OS. Doubt if you would be able to squeeze it onto the 500 gig. or if you did, you certainly wouldn't have any room left for much software. I'm not really certain about the 500 meg size, but I'm sure Grogan, BobGuy, or MrMan will see this and let you know if that is possible.
When I installed Mandrake 8.2 and then later ver. 9, I gave it about 6 gigs. The thing I would do is resize your partitions with Partition Magic in order to leave unallocated (unpartitioned) space on the end of your 40 gig. drive if you have the free space available. The Mandrake install will find that unallocated space and give you the option to install to it. It will even auto allocate the amounts for the Linux partitions if you use the 'auto allocate' option. As you have your data on FAT 32 partitions, you would be able to move it to or view it from your Linux OS.
>Horatio, you got some links for Linux s/w i can look at? >Like i said, i'm a total newbie. Thanks.
Chewy, You mentioned you were on dial up at the moment so why don't you just buy the 3 Mandrake CDs? Look at the link below. Around $10.00 for all three. All the software you could want is there on those three disks.
The recommended installation of Mandrake takes around 2GB, I believe. You can use the Expert install to customize the packages, but I wouldn't recommend that for a begineer. Mandrake comes with DiskDrake, which allows you to resize the partitions during installation. If you choose to use this, make sure you backup all your data first.
"Will linux automatically format it during the installation process?"
>>>I was told NOT to install Linux on a non-partitioned HDD. I dont know why that is important with Mandrake but in any case, after i heard that I figured I would not install it on my current HDD.<<<
Are you sure you don't mean you were told not to install Linux onto a partitioned hard drive? Linux wants to make its own partitions; it wants unallocated or unpartitioned space. You don't install it onto Windows partitions.
If your forty gig. is getting full then yes you would want another hard drive for Mandrake, but like MrMan said, absolute minimum would be 2 gigs. Four to Six would be better, because once you see all the software that is available for Mandrake you're gonna want a lot of it.
If you absolutely can't get anymore space, 500MB will do, but you will need to go through the Expert install. Make sure you have a hard-copy of the documentation handy or a second computer so that you can have access to the docs online. Anyway, you'll need to go through all the packages and get rid of the ones you don't need. This will probably take awhile, but it shouldn't be too hard since there's descriptions available for every package. If you don't still don't understand what a package is after reading the desription, don't mess with it.
"c) I was told NOT to install Linux on a non-partitioned HDD."
Mandrake will handle all the partitioning and formatting stuff for you.
500 Mb is nowhere near enough. Sure, if you choose Expert mode and are very careful in what packages you install, you might pull it off but you won't be happy with that. You wouldn't even know what packages you're going to want.
Even 2 gigabytes as mentioned, is not enough to install very much software. I would say, you want at the very least 4 Gb to have a useful Mandrake installation.
If you want to squeeze a distribution onto a small space, Mandrake is not the distribution for it.
While you are waiting for high speed access and a new HDD, you might like to try Knoppix. A version of Linux that runs from a cd. ie no installation to your HDD. You can save settings between sessions on a floppy.
Running Knoppix would give you a taste of Linux and give you a chance to check out your hardware to see if it is suitable for running Linux.
It is still a large download though. 600 plus MB. If you were interested I could snail mail a copy,