Linux and Windows XP run best on their own file systems. While the former runs better on hard drives formatted in the ext3 file system, Windows prefers the NTFS format.

Formatting a Linux Hard Drive to XP

It would require two methods; you can either follow the procedure involving the Windows XP installation CD, or the one that involves the Ubuntu installation CD.

Step 1: First of all, reboot the computer from the CD, and then wait while the installation program cycles through its start up sequence. At the first menu, press the Enter button, after which press the F8 key to accept the license agreement.

Step 2: If an existing copy of Windows has been detected by the program, press the ‘Esc’ button.

Step 3: Select a partition for deletion with the cursor; then press the ‘D’ key, followed by the ‘L’ key to delete it. The Linux partitions would be displayed by the program as ‘Unknown’. Keep repeating the step until all the unwanted portions have been deleted.

Step 4: Then place your cursor on the field marked as ‘Unpartitioned Space’, click on it and then press the Enter button in order to create a Windows XP partition.

Step 5: Select the option of NTFS formatting only in case Windows XP would use the partition. On the other hand, you can go for FAT32 formatting if both Linux and Windows would read from and write to the partition.

Step 6: Continue to install Windows; otherwise press the F3 key to quit the installation process.

Instructions using the Ubuntu installation CD

Step 1: To start with, boot the computer from the Ubuntu Linux CD, and then follow it up by launching the option of Ubuntu Live from the CD. It can be done by selecting the option ‘Try Ubuntu without any change to my computer’.

Step 2: Under the ‘System’ tab, look for the Partition Editor program, open it, and then open ‘Administration’ on the top deskbar.

Step 3: You now need to select the non Windows or Linux partition that you no longer wish to use, and then delete it. Repeat the same step for all other unnecessary partitions.

Step 4: To create a partition for Windows XP, click on ‘New’; and choose the NTFS format in case the partition would be used only by Windows. Go for the FAT32 format if Linux or Mac OS X would share the partition with Windows XP.

Step 5: To finalize your changes and to begin the reformatting process, click on ‘Apply’.

Step 6: The last step involves installing Windows XP on the FAT32 or NTFS partition created by you.

There are some additional tips to be followed while formatting a Linux Hard drive to XP. You should create separate partitions for each OS if you intend to install more than one operating system on the same drive. You should also back up all important data before formatting as it would delete the contents of your partition or hard drive.