When I got into all this Linux business, I was very intimidated by the thought of installing Debian onto what amounted to a throw-away PC that nobody needed. The only way I was ever going to install Linux on my main PC before about six months ago was to purchase a second hard-drive so I could leave my current configuration (aside from the Master Boot Record - which we'll get to shortly) alone. Even recently, when a library co-worker mentioned a desire to dual-boot on a laptop with a single hard drive, the very idea of partitioning a drive was scary and unknown to me. Now I've done it twice, and it was quite easy (maybe too easy).
I recently began a new job, and when the IT guy gave me my work laptop, he mentioned that I was welcome to resize the Windows partition and install Linux (WOW - I didn't even have to ask! In my last job the systems guy quailed at the idea of putting Linux on a web server!). I smiled and gulped and decided to get to it. By the end of the evening, I had installed Ubuntu on my work laptop and all was well.
Next, my wife just got a Windows-based computer, and we off-loaded her data from my desktop and deleted her Windows XP profile, which then allowed me to consider shrinking the Windows partition and use the space for Ubuntu (I later ended up using it for Kubuntu). This was a little more involved than it was the first time since I used a Live CD program called GParted (Gnome Partition Editor) to resize the Windows partition. Then with the freed space, I installed Kubuntu.
Since both of these experiences were successful, I'll make up a simple guide for my next post.