My experiences with Linux so far have not been good and it is not the OS. It is the installation of Linux which is the difficulty for a Linux Newbie like myself.
There are several options and associated pitfalls with 1
1.Dual Boot Linux and XP Pro (best option for laptop users)
2.Separate Hard disk for linux Install
3Replace XP Pro with Linux clean install
4Buy copy of Windows 7
1. I tried dual boot the first time i tried it locked me out of windows completely.Linux has its own boot file(grub) which overwrites window boot file( MBR) when you install Linux.Things went wrong and no access to either.I had to restore image of win xp and back to square one.
As i have little knowledge of Linux it is difficult to find a resolution.the second time I tried again I through caution to the wind I installed Linux Mint the second time.The same problem again locked out of both OS’s,viewed the Linux forums knowledge base and tried to resolve the problem from various commands at the terminal within live CD of Linux(boot CD) which can assist you in fixing error with the grub (boot file)The Grub appears to be the root of the problem
No joy gave up after numerous suggested advice,the again if i was more informed/confident on Linux i may have solved the problem.Tried to restore Win xp no joy with image following numerous fixes. I used Hirens to get me into win xp where I used system restore to another previous restore point and hallelujah it fixed the problem and i could boot into windows.
2.The separate Hard disk seems to be a runner if you disconnect the primary hard disk just in case.Install Linux on second hard drive and reconnect primary hard drive.Boot up and enter BIOS setup (F2 or F8 depending on manufacturer) and select OS. Warning this is only hypothetical at the moment.
3. Replace with Linux it would be useful to have access to windows on another laptop.As they say don’t put all your apples in one basket.
4Upgrade to Win 7 or Win 8 if your PC can handle it.
5Virtual PC Oracle Virtual Box or Microsoft Virtual PC both free.Download make an ISO of your chosen Linux distro see previous Tech info Page.You need a minimum of 4 MB of ram, 2 MB will work but is slow.There are issues with the graphics card because it is shared graphics for games,graphic demanding software.
Option 2 is not an option for laptops
Warning:Whatever you decide to do make an image of your drive or backup your data try CNET downloads for free imaging/cloning software.An image of your drive is your best option.Purchase a separate external drive to backup or you use a cloud option which you would have to pay for if it is over a certain storage size ie http:\\www.dropbox.com