Red Hat Linux boots Windows off PCs

Seems the two just can't run side by side

Seems the two just can't run side by side

Red Hat's newest hobbyist and developer version of Linux, Fedora Core 2, caused trouble for some who found they couldn't start Windows after installing the Linux upgrade side by side with it.

The bug had cropped up in testing, but after Red Hat released Fedora Core 2 in May, many more users reported their systems no longer would boot Windows.

No data on the Windows side was destroyed and some manual hard drive reconfiguration fixed the problem.

Red Hat programmer Cristian Gafton said in an email interview: "We do not think this is a severe problem" because information isn't destroyed, the problem is repairable and "a very small fraction of systems are affected."

However, he added: "We recognise that it is an annoying issue for the users that are affected by it and we are working on publishing a fix that will address it."

Fedora Core is designed to satisfy the appetites of those who want the latest software while maturing Linux improvements more quickly for use in the corporate product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The company makes no pretenses of Fedora's stability; the website includes the disclaimer, "The Fedora Project is not a supported product of Red Hat."

Until 2002, Red Hat offered an identical version of Linux as a free, unsupported download or as a paid product with support. Now only Fedora Core 2 is available for free, while Enterprise Linux, which changes more slowly, costs between $349 and $18,000 per one-year support subscription.

The problem with Fedora Core 2 apparently had to do with changes made to a computer's description of the physical layout of its hard disk, data called the partition table, Gafton said.

In some cases, Fedora Core 2 would use a different convention to record the information and Windows XP wouldn't recognise the disk. In other cases, the problem stemmed differences in how Windows, Linux and a computer's BIOS - basic input-output software used in the early stages of starting a computer - handle the partition table information, Gafton said.

Stephen Shankland writes for CNET News.com