A good bet would be to create the partition under windows before moving on to linux with any of the available partitioning software.
Create it with the necessary space at the end of your HD. It's irrelevant if its primary or logical. Then from Start->Administrative Tools->Computer Management->Disk Management right click on the new partition and delete it. Yes... that's right, delete it :)
Boot from Ubuntu or Kubuntu CD and when asked about partitions, choose the Guided Free Space Option. Voilá! Ubuntu will grab that deleted partition divide it in two and install itself without one whisper of complaining.
This pretty much works for any other distro that offers similar options during install. I find that having free unpartitioned space at the end of the drive is probably the most failsafe way of installing Linux.
I (okay, someone I know) had success with booting into a gparted liveCD to resize an NTFS partition that took up the entire hard drive. Of course, this is probably a bit risky, but it lets you put Linux on a hard drive that is completely taken up by Windows otherwise.
(Note that the Debian installer doesn't support resizing NTFS, which is why I did what I did . . . .)
Ubuntu :) IMO, its better than SUSE. SUSE 10.0 gave me a lot of problems with my graphics card and sound card. Ubuntu 8.04 works like a charm.
Check out Wubi. It allows you to install a linux distro in windows and boot just like you would linux.
Installed with Wubi, but when I boot into Unbuntu at startup, it throws me to a shell (BusyBox v1.1.3 built-in shell).
Don't I get the Desktop via Wubi?
Before I moved to OS X I was an Arch user specifically and yes, I find it quite nice. I learnt a lot about linux over the ~2 years I used it, and the package management is excellent. The main gripe I have is that the package repositories are a bit small when juxtaposed with some distros, but you can reference the community packages and use the Archlinux User Repository to install stuff that isn't in the main tree.
The second (fixable) package complaint with arch is that my Perl installation broke pretty hardcore after updating to Perl 5.10-3, and I can't say if this has been fixed yet. But after a google, it was a simple fix of adding to my PATH and running 'perl -MCPAN -e recompile'. Not sure if it's been fixed since, but my system had a lot of old legacy crap that might have interfered (due to dynamic extensions - shared libraries - linked against older versions of perl.)
The Arch repos are growing very fast, I'm installing less by source everyday :)
Am I to understand that Arch is somewhat like Gentoo but without source installs? I might try it.
Correct, it's supposed to be one of the highly optimized pre-packaged x86 distro (specifically just i686). I haven't used x64, perhaps won't for a while. I switched after I got fed up with Gentoo, which I had switched to because I was fed up with SuSE -- from Fedora Core etc ;)
I'd recommend it to anyone, as long as you have a bit of Linux experience under your belt as the installer doesn't hold your hand. Not to mention it's bandwidth saving release cycle/style. And pacman is fantastic! I see no reason to use GUI front-end to pacman (specifically libalpm).
But I've had similar legacy issues as Mad_guy, specifically with Java. Easy fix or work arounds though, as the bug reporting system works fantastically.
Interesting. Of course, the question is where to put it. I suppose I could splice another few gigs off my lvm volume. It's not like I use them.
How familiar are you with Linux/UNIX?
If you know your way around Linux, it doesn't really matter much what distro you use. They are all Linux afterall. Just pick any one from the top ten most popular.
like dwks pointed out, ntfsresize is really nice. If you don't want to go that far, though (or if you are not experienced enough to do it), grab a copy of Norton PartitionMagic (sorry I don't know any free alternative that partitions and support ntfs resizing under Windows).
As for the original question, I used to use Fedora when I first started, and then Gentoo, and switched to Debian when I no longer felt like spending so much time tweaking my OS, and finally to Ubuntu when I felt like spending even less time. Each switch took me ~2 hours of getting used to the new distro. Not a big deal.
Gentoo allows you to tweak and compile everything, and Ubuntu works out of the box. I only recommend Gentoo if your goal is to learn about Linux. For actually using it, I recommend Ubuntu.
Not very experienced but if i boot linux it will be debian with fluxbox, and i like it alot! no icons on desctop, lots of consoles....love it!
> sorry I don't know any free alternative that partitions and support ntfs resizing under Windows
A GParted boot disk? :)
It doesn't run under Windows last time I checked :).