I need to replace a failing hard drive and wish to install Win XP, Ubuntu, Fedora 16, Opensuie and Debian on the new replacement drive - WD PATA 320gb into a Dell 4600i.
I have never installed an OS nor have I partitioned a disc and made sure the booting was set up correctly and neither do I know how to create a shared partition that all these operating systems including XP can use.
What I do know: XP “should be” installed first. Grub will somehow eventually control the booting process of all the operating systems. Four partitions are allowed on a disc, one must be primary, XP “should be” first and must be primary and there are also extended partitions and logical within extended and Linux doesn’t care if it is in an extended or primary partition.
I need a basic outline of how to do this and I have a couple of questions now and may become more than a little confused.

- Can all the partitioning and OS installations be with the old failing hard drive is made slave and the new hard drive is made master?
- Should XP be installed before partitioning the disc and then Gparted used to shrink the XP primary partition or should I partition the disc first?
- Do programs used by all or some of the operating systems have to be installed in every OS partition or can programs go in the separate shared partition?
- How complicated is it to connect these operating systems to the files and folders and possibly programs in a separate shared partition?
- What file system is best for the shared partition to give all operating systems including XP full functionality?
- Will the XP install from the XP disc pretty much take care of its own small boot partition or should I create a small FAT partition before XP install or should I just create a NTFS partition of about 30GB for the XP install?
- In what order should the Linux OS’s be installed?
- Anything necessary to make sure Linux can be upgraded in this multiboot partitioning?
- If I remove the old drive after this entire process will it affect the volume lettering: A:, B:, C:, D: etc?
- Will this cause me to lose Windows updates with the XP?