A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge and install Mandrakelinux (10.0 “Community”) on my Windows XP box, for some dual-booting fun. Mandrake installed remarkably easily, and I found I could easily access my Windows documents from Linux.
And then I rebooted into Windows... oh, no, wait - I couldn't. Neither of the bootloaders that came with Mandrake could run Windows. I figured the only option was to reinstall Windows... which, of course, requires formatting the partition onto which one installs (I remembered this only after trying)... which entails losing everything.
Windows refused to install. I don't relish the idea of seeing Error loading operating system. ever again.
The eventual resolution was to remove all the partitions on the hard drive (none of which now contained anything useful) and reinstall Windows. I had my documents backed up, but my music and settings are all gone - for ever and ever and ever amen.
So if you fancy trying Linux, but are still rather fond of Windows, either stick to Knoppix, or buy yourself a cheap second box. You have been warned.