It's been about a month since I did this, but I wanted to share how easy it was to install Ubuntu onto my computer. I got my Dell Dimension 4600 (80 GB Hard Drive, 512 RAM, Pentium 4) in August 2004, and although it is still running strong, I want to extend its life as long as I can. So I ended up buying a second 80 GB hard drive to add storage space and I plan to add memory as soon as it makes sense to. I had been planning to install Ubuntu on my computer for a while but I didn't want to do it on my current hard drive. It just seemed too risky. Buying a second hard drive made a lot of sense for this purpose, so while home from work with strep throat, I decided to do it. (I was also trying to do a video editing project with Windows Movie Maker with no success, and I wanted to give Cinelerra - a Linux based video editing program - a try. This was a whole other ball of wax that I will NOT get into right now!).
I worked for a couple of nights trying to offload and backup programs from my Windows XP drive - just in case something awful happened. After doing this, and doing a lot of reading on the subject, I decided to go for it. I went to Ubuntu's download page, and downloaded the .iso image, which I then burned to a CD. Then, after sitting there, throat hurting, contemplating, I decided I would boot from the CD and see what happened. I entered the installation program and it was really quite simple. I selected that I wanted a dual boot with Windows XP and that I wanted Ubuntu to go only on the new hard drive. After about 20 minutes, everything was installed, and I booted up.
The first thing I saw after the Dell splash screen was GRUB with Ubuntu and Windows XP Professional as options. I booted into Ubuntu and it was beautiful. Then to make sure all had gone well I booted into Windows successfully. Sick or not, I felt wonderful! Everything worked with Ubuntu - the mouse, the printer, the network, the sound. True success!!
For those interested (if you're not and you've read this far . . . um, wow - you must have a lot of time on your hands :-) ) I'll post some good reference resources for this: