I am starting to notice a confusion in the forum of most Win98 users, I do not consider myself a Linux Guru so sugestions are welcomed, many are confused "Can I have linux with SomeOperatingSystem installed at the same time" 90% of the time the answer is yes, the exception is usally with NT4 when it messes with the bootloader. but everything else, Win9x, Win2k, etc they will do fine, first of before modifying any partition infomation.
Defragment your harddrives
I normally recomend Norton SpeedDisk, but Microsoft's defragger should be fine as long as it doesnt leave some clusters of programs at the bottom edge of the disk.
Backup your harddrive and important information
Typically I never had a problem with partitioning, but I have ran into a few newer people , who have no clue what they are doing, and might end up deleting their windows partition by acident
Grab a partitioning utility
heres where it gets a little tricky for a few, you could use Fdisk supplied by Microsoft(for purpose of deleting empty partitions, I dont recomend it to create your partitions, especially non-dos ones)
Fortunatly a lot of the linux distributions out there contain a /dosutils folder, that contains some files, one such tool is FIPS,
Utility Option 1 - FIPS & FDISK
after you are done defraging, you can use FIPS, to split your partion at whatever part you want, like cutting the drive in half, I dont know how safe this is compared to other tools, but it's set as one of the standard tools, once you have ran Fips, and told it how much to cut off, reboot, then go into FDISK, (first make sure that C: is your original partition, becuase if you have two drives, C: may be your original, D: may be the new empty, and E: may be your second drive, not C: D: Empty, so make sure you know which is which to avoid deleting the wrong one)
When in Fdisk you can press '4' to view the partition table (or '5' if you need to change which harddrive you made the split on then press '4' to view) you'll see the partition table, first half should be your original, and the second smaller(or larger depending on how much you cut off your partition) one should be the empty new one, delete this one (at main menu, press '3' , then the # of the type of partition typically a primary and follow the steps)
after this , reboot, there should be unallocated space get to the instalation start after I've explained options
Option 2 - Using Partition Magic 4 or 5
If you are like me , you use Partition Magic, a very simple software, that lets you create, check, resize, resize cluster, move and etc to your partitions, in partition magic, just chose the partition you want to resize, and resize it down to the size you want, leaving the unallocated space, you can create a linux partition and what not, but I'd rather let the instalation program do that for me.
now onto the installing
depending on your distributions, the instalation processs may vary, so I'm going to speak from Redhat 6.2 and Mandrake 7.1 experince, you go along with the instlation as normal (if its off a CD, you can boot right off the CD if you want in either case, you can always run the /autoboot.bat un the /dosutils directory , on mandrake 7.1 if it's installing off a harddrive, you need to goto the mandrake directory it created on the root of the drive, and run harddisk.bat) once you are in the instalation follow the steps until it reaches the part about creating partitions, use the Linux FDISK option when you get here, once in, you can use 'p' to display the partition table list (I think you type 'h' to get help on some of the commands, if you need to change the fixed Disk) you should see your original windows partition, then unallocated space/
now type 'n' to create a new partition, it'll ask which primary partition to use, chose '2' (if you only have a single partition on the disk so far) type in the lowest number to start, ad the end of the last partition, then typw how big you want it +###M replacing the ### with the ammount of rams you have, then type 't' and chose parition #2, and type 82, this will have created your Swap partition, now repeat the step above from 'n' except dont use 't', and this time, instead of +###M , just type in the highest number (no '+' or 'M') in the () this will fill the rest of the unallocated space with a Linux native partition, now type 'w' to write the table infomation, and continue on your instalation as usual.
there that should be about it for the partitioning, of the drive, when you get to the part about the bootloader, you may have the option of letting it install a bootloader to your harddrive, or just let you use a bootdisk, the choice is upto you, have fun.