Q: How do I "remove" my Win95 partition, in the sense of making it available for use by Linux? I know I could simply reformat the whole drive, but would prefer to properly reformat the appropriate partition and just link over to it.

Part of the problem is that, while I'm very familiar with DOS partition-type things, I'm not yet comfortable with messing around in lower-level Linux stuff. So, what I really need is a pretty detailed step-by-step description of how to do this. I've been through DejaNews, but find nothing that describes clearly how to do this.

fstab says:

/dev/sda3 / ext2 defaults 1 1
/dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom iso9660 noauto,ro 0 0
/dev/fd0 /mnt/floppy msdos noauto 0 0
tiac:(pid272) /net ignore 0 0 0
/dev/sda1 none ignore 0 0 0
/dev/sda4 none ignore 0 0 0
none /proc proc defaults
none swap sw

And fdisk -l says:

Disk /dev/sda: 141 heads, 62
sectors, 1017 cylinders Units = cylinders of 8742 * 512 bytes

Device Boot Begin Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 1 1 235 1027154 6 DOS 16-bit >=32M
/dev/sda2 236 236 265 131130 82 Linux swap
/dev/sda3 266 266 500 1027185 83 Linux native
/dev/sda4 501 501 1017 2259807 83 Linux native

So, am I correct in thinking that sda1 is the boot partition, and I can't simply reformat that directly? And that I need to reformat the whole drive, to regain that space for Linux?

Or, since I see in fstab that / is mounted at sda3, is sda1 really "free/empty" space?

If that second one is correct, then is this sequence correct:

fdisk, use "t"oggle, set partition 1 to type 83

mke2fs -c /dev/sda1

Even if that's correct, it's at this point that my knowledge really falls apart. I'm pretty sure I need to create new directories in sda1 via mount, then copy directories such as /home over there, then ln from the "previous" /home to the new one.

A: You have two options. Mount the partition as msdos/vfat and erase all the Win95 files. Destory the Win95 partition, recreate it, and make an ext2 filesystem.

If you need the space only for addditional storage, as opposed to using it for additional programs: At home, I have a 800 MB VFAT partion I store documents, compressed programs, and such on. I don`t recommend this for anything but storage.

To do this, change your fstab as follows:

/dev/sda1 none ignore 0 0
should read
/dev/sda1 /dos vfat defaults 0 0
(partion) (mount point) (filesystem type)

You can alter the mount point, as long as you have an empty directory to mount it on. (You will need to create /dos if it doesn`t exist, in the above example.) If you get a error saying wrong filesystem type, or something like that, your kernel may not have vfat support. You can mount it as msdos, but then you lose long file names.

To create a true Linux-style filesystem, I recomend removing the partion in question. Go into fdisk, delete the DOS partion, and create a new patition of the Linux-native type. (This should be default.)

In your case, the steps should be as follows:

p (check the partitions, basic sanity check)
d enter 1 enter (delete sda1)
p (sanity check)

The next part is based on this partitioning
/dev/sda1 1 1 235 1027154 6 DOS 16-bit >=32M
n, p, 1, first cylinder
1, last 235 (create new partition)
p (Last sanity check)
w (DO NOT use w if you have altered anything, but your dos partition)

you can now type
"mke2fs -c /dev/sda1"
alter the fstab as follows:
/dev/sda1 none ignore 0 0 0
should be
/dev/sda1 /home ext2 defaults 1 1

You may want to alter the mount point, and create a directory to be mounted.

You can mount the partition and copy over the file with "cp -ax".

Example: Move /home:

mount /dev/sda1 /mnt
cd /home
cp -ax * /mnt