Formatting HDD for a clean slate

By jbzeigler
Oct 31, 2008
  1. I recently obtained an older PC from work. It runs ok. It has Windows XP Professional, 256mb RAM. However, password protected. I am interested in dumping XP Pro and installing Linux. How can I go about doing this in XP?

    I basically want to reformat the HDD and start with absolutely nothing and install Linux.
  2. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    You need to remove the partition
    I can't remember if the Linux boot CD allows this option (but it should)
    Anyway, any Windows bootup CD has the option to remove the Partition

    Or use the free Gparted CD to do it
  3. jbzeigler

    jbzeigler TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48


    I just realized that I have another desktop computer available that I could actually hook up the first hdd as a secondary and format it using Windows XP. I'm assuming that that would be the easiest.

    What would someone normally do though if they are having issues with Windows XP and want to format the drive and have no Windows CD? I currently don't have any Windows CDs other than an extremely old Windows 98 CD. Would that even still work?
  4. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,277

    There are some freeware partition managers that can easily do what you want. I used to have a couple free ones but I just checked and for some reason I can't find them. I keep a licensed copy of Acronis Partition Manager now, so I never use the freeware ones I had before. Anyhow, just look one up on the Internet and it can easily do what you need.

    -- Andy
  5. jbzeigler

    jbzeigler TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48

    Do technician typically use 3rd party software to perform their essential formatting?
  6. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Yes :) (and no, please read below)

    I have provided link to the best of these (free) programs above for Partition info (Gparted)

    Computer technicians carry an assortment of software with them, most free. The reason for "free" is because no copyright law is broken using it on another computer. I personally use Partition Magic.

    Actually "formatting" does not require any special tool (unless the drive cannot be formatted normally)
    Note: Partitioning and Formatting are two different processes

    Once you install Linux on the non-partitioned harddrive, it will then create a partition and format the drive (allowing files to be added) during the setup process
  7. jbzeigler

    jbzeigler TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 48

    My question though... I received a "new" PC with Windows XP Pro already installed. I don't have any discs at all for Windows. Their is an admin PW installed on the "new" PC. I'd like to dump Windows and install Ubuntu Linux. I have the CD but I'm not getting an options when I insert the CD and restart. All I can do is explore their "virtual linux land" with Windows XP still installed. I want XP gone completely, but how can I reformat it to nothing without any disks at all?
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,524

    Gparted <-- Mentioned 3 times (pretty sure it will allow format too)

    If this does not do it; try the Ultimate Boot CD

    Please let us know how the process finally all goes
  9. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    Did you properly burn the Ubuntu disk? If so, then your bios needs to be set to look to boot off the CD first before the HD.

    Once that boots up, you can start the installation process. Ubuntu, I think, by default will want to set up a dual boot with XP. You don't want to do this, one of early screens you can click on manually partition, then go through and delete the XP partition(s). Since you did this manually you'll want to go ahead and set up the linux ones here too, typically "/", "swap", and "/home". You might want to read up a bit on what sizes you should use.

    Or you could just delete the partitions with Gparted as said above, and then boot off the Ubuntu disk, and run through the install just by accepting all the defaults and it will get the partitions right for you.

    I think your biggest issue is you aren't actually booting off the disk, fix that part and the rest will work itself out.
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