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I have Windows 7 working on my laptop. I have 20GB space unpartitioned. I want to install a flavor of Linux like Fedora or Ubuntu in that space, but I have heard that keeping a dual OS configuration sometimes results in losing data stored on the hard disk. I've also heard that it may sometimes cause unrecoverable problem because when Linux is loaded on hard disk it will take over the boot loader from Windows.

Is this correct?

Moreover, I have 6 partitions in Windows, but if I use a Live CD for Ubuntu or Fedora to boot, then it is not showing some partitions -- sometimes it shows only 4 or 5 partitions. What might be the problem, and how to resolve it without formatting the whole hard disk and repartitioning it?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

as I know, linux replaces Windows bootloader with his own (mostly Grub), but this does not cause problems (this is probably because Windows bootloader does not support Linux). If you install Linux after Windows, then you will only have Linux boot menu with choice to boot Linux or Windows and starting Win would work as before.

Before installing linux I would recommend to create additional partitions for it. I think it needs 3 ones:

system one home - does not have to be separate one, but I prefer to have system files on other partition then home folder swap - about 2xRAM amount size - it is used for temporary data

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Correction: The Windows bootloader(Both BCD and the older Boot.ini) supports Linux. –  surfasb Aug 12 '11 at 9:02
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