To install Linux on a computer that has never had it installed previously, you must convert the file system of the hard drive to something that Linux can use natively, such as EXT3. Nearly all Linux distributions include disk portioning in the install process, but in some cases, it may not be able to do everything a user may need, such as resizing certain file systems. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this problem. The GParted Live CD is a feature-rich disk-portioning utility that runs on top of a custom version of Linux. The software runs directly from the CD, so there is no need to install it and then remove it at a later point.
1. Download the latest stable version of the GParted Live CD from the GParted homepage (see Resources below). It will be packaged in the ISO format, which is a bit-for-bit copy of a CD.
2. Burn the ISO image to a blank CD-R. Many CD-burning software packages can handle ISO images, but there are also a variety of free programs available on the Internet, if you do not have an appropriate program.
3. Insert the CD-ROM into the target computer’s drive, then reboot. Many computers will boot right from the CD, but if the CD does not boot, you must change the boot order in the BIOS or Setup menu of the computer. Refer to the owner’s manual of the computer for instructions on entering the BIOS.
4. Press “Enter” when the text-based bootloader menu displays. This will boot the CD with the default settings, which is sufficient for most computers.
5. Select “Don’t Touch Keymap” at the next screen, and press “Enter.”
6. Press “Enter” to select English as your language, or type the number of the correct language into the prompt, and press “Enter.”
7. Choose the default video settings at the next prompt by pressing “Enter.” In a few seconds, a graphical desktop will appear, and the GParted portioning program will already be running.
8. Inspect the list of the current partitions on your machine. If you had previously used Windows, for instance, there will generally be a single partition on the first hard drive, which is formatted to NTFS, FAT32 or FAT16.
9. Resize or delete the partition for the current operating system. If you are no longer going to use that operating system, you may delete the partition. If you plan on using both the old operating system and Linux, the partition should be resized.
10. Create a new EXT3 partition in the newly free space. This will be the Linux native partition, and it should use nearly all of the free space, except for the amount devoted to the swap partition, discussed below. If asked to set a mount point, select “/” or root.
11. Create the swap partition in the remaining space, and format it to the Linux-SWAP file system. In most cases, the swap partition should be equal to or slightly larger than the amount of physical memory in your machine. The previously created EXT3 partition will use the rest of the free space, but it is advisable to plan the partition sizes beforehand to create the EXT3 partition first.
12. Commit the changes to the disk by clicking the “Apply” button. After the changes are completed, you may exit the GParted Live CD by double-clicking the “Exit” icon.
13. Start installing the version of Linux you would like to try. When the disk partitioner is run during the installation process, point it to the partitions you just created.