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Migrating from Redhat 9 grub questions

Greetings All,

I have a dual boot redhat 9 \ XP.  I really like how it works, but I
can't say I am a fan of RH.   I recently became the proud owner of a
Packard Bell machine with a Cyrix MII 300 ---circa 1998, installed
Sarge and was astonished by how much more comfortable it made me feel.
(The ease with which I removed gnome and her allies was what won me over.)

To make a long story short, I want to migrate the dual boot on my
modern machine from redhat 9 to debian, and I hope the community would
offer some advice.

The original dual boot was set up essentially painlessly, but
sufficiently long ago that I do not remember all the details.  I have
two ~110GB hard drives, the primary has XP, (and some NTFS space)  and
the second where redhat 9 lives, has a 102GB FAT32 partition (which I
like to think of as a door), and 3 other partitions.  Here, I deliver
the results of df:

Filesystem           1K-blocks          Used          Available     
Use%           Mounted on
/dev/hdb8              7969432           3570296       3994300     
48%               /
/dev/hdb6              101089            26625           69245        
 28%              /boot
none                     515460            0                  515460  
       0%              /dev/shm
/dev/hdb5              106760232       76833904     29926328       72%

In retrospect, my /boot is huge, and my swap is a little small, (I
have 1GB memory and plan to crunch a considerable sum of numbers.)

 So here's where the questions start:

My primary concern is grub---it works now, but I fear that if I run
the sarge 'installer'  that will  change, and the result will be my
precious computer becoming art.  (In the form without function sense.)

Do I need to know where grub lives, or will the new /boot partition
take care of that?

Here's what I would do if left unchecked:

Boot with the Sarge disk in the drive, and click next for a while,
until I come to a question about the network name:

When the designation that is given by the network arrives, is it
necessary to accept that  name?
I am given something like
Name-of-City-h380-189ccs-38gak0-blah-blah-blah,  can I change that
without the network service failing?  or is that name important?

When I get to the partition disks stage I would  choose to manually partition.  

I am not opposed to totally formatting the whole drive.  
Would this be better for any reason?

First I would delete all the existing partitions or suggestions and
make a 95GB FAT32 at the beginning that I would designate as "do not

Then I would make a new 10MB logical, ext3 /boot partition,
a ~5GB swap partition, 
and the remaining ~9GB I will designate ext3 and to be the /. 

Is 9GB enough for / ?  
I know I plan to use Octave, and maybe, if I'm lucky I will get a copy
of SAS for linux one day.  (under windows SAS weighs in at 1800MB).

Since I used the installation disk on a dedicated machine I just
clicked on next several times and grub was installed on the primary

I assume in this scenario grub will be placed on the /boot partition,
but I really don't know.

Will it know about XP?  Or will I have to explain this to it?

I have never really understood grub, the MBR, or the connection
between the two.  I had upgraded kernels 3 times with RH9, and each is
still bootable from grub, which I find totally useless.  I would be so
happy to see it gone, but replaced.  I fear this may not go smoothly.

Am I missing anything?

I also wonder if there are a few concise commands that will give
return the vital hardware specifications that I may need to properly
configure my installation?  Something analogous to df, but for
everything else.

Sometimes the biggest hassle with linux is not knowing the command
that will solve all of your problems.

Any additional thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

Thank You in Advance,


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