It's still a common occurrence these days to get a new PC or laptop with Microsoft Vista preinstalled. You really want to use Fedora, but still need to occasionally use Vista. Dual booting is one proven approach to running both Vista and Fedora on the same machine.
Since version 9, Fedora has the capability to safely resize NTFS partitions, the type commonly used by newer versions of Windows.
This posting briefly describes an alternate approach to using Fedora's built-in NTFS partition resizer. This method uses Vista's own partition resizing utility which ships with Microsoft Vista. Microsoft describes this resizing process as "shrinking". One advantage of this approach is that you can prepare your hard drive in advance of installing Fedora.
This alternate approach consists of two steps:
1. In Windows Vista, "shrink" the Windows system partition.
2. Install Fedora utilizing the reclaimed free space.
Step 1. Shrink the Windows System Partition
In order to "shrink" the Windows NTFS partition, follow the instructions in this excellent pictorial guide, "How to Shrink and Extend NTFS Volumes in Windows Vista", at http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial133.html.
Caution: I strongly suggest that you create a backup of all important data before resizing the Windows partition. You may also need to defragment the Windows partition before starting the shrinking process. It's also worth noting that most PC vendors provide a utility which only gives you one chance to create CDs or DVDs for restoring the Windows OS.
Step 2. Install Fedora
Next, get the latest version of Fedora at fedoraproject.org/get-fedora. Install Fedora using the medium of your choice: live CD, DVD, USB stick, etc.
It's been my experience that installing via a Fedora DVD is the quickest method. Be sure to update Fedora during installation, or immediately afterwards, to get the latest security and bug fixes, and to run the most up-to-date applications.
Fedora automatically recognizes the free space on the hard drive, creates a Linux partition and installs the GRUB boot utility. Note: Vista appears on the boot menu as "Other", unless you change the name while installing Fedora.
Finally, in the unlikely event that Vista fails to boot up after installing Fedora, the GRUB config file under Linux may need to be edited by hand to point to the Windows system partition. This file is named grub.conf, and is located in the folder /boot/grub. You need to edit this config file as root. Be sure not to delete this file or change the settings for Fedora. Note: Be aware that the numbers in the hd parameter are zero-relative, meaning that the first drive or partition is 0, second is 1, etc. Therefore, hd(0,0) refers to physical drive #1, partition #1.
Of course, if you don't need Vista, the simplest approach is to reformat the entire hard drive, thereby avoiding issues with missing drivers, incompatible applications, etc. But I digress.