There are a number of ways you can dual boot Windows and Linux. Both Operating Systems can be on the same hard disk, or they can be on separate disks. You can use one of the Linux boot loaders (Lilo or GRUB) or you can use the Windows boot loader to control the boot process. These different procedures are described in detail below.
Important: There is a bug in the way Linux 2.6.x kernel versions (for example, Fedora Core 2, Mandrake 10.0, SuSe Pro 9.1) write the MBR that may leave your Windows partition inaccessible . The problem stems from the different ways in which Linux and Windows writes the disk geometry to the partition table and is manifested when the Linux installation partitioning tools update the partition table after creating the Linux partitions during the installation process.
The original bug was reported for Fedora here. SuSe also has a page describing the problem here. About the best description of the bug I have seen to date, how to prevent it and how to recover from it are detailed here. The main issues and details on how to prevent the bug are summarized below.
You can establish the correct disk geometry by booting from the Fedora rescue CD and issuing the fdisk -l /dev/hda command as root:
# fdisk -l /dev/hda
Disk /dev/hda: 82.3 GB, 82348277760 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 10011 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Then, boot the Linux installation CD and start the installation passing the C,H,S disk geometry to the installer with the following command (obviously you need to substitute your own values for C,H,S here) and proceed to set up your dual boot system according to your preferred method:
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