a few more questions, is there a specific order i should install the different o/s and since you have more experience in the Linux field which linux distro is best. And will i be able to use gparted if i install xp then mac osx then linux.
That is a good question, and from doing research a few times, the best answer is that the order of installs should be this:
1st = Windows (since it typically overrides all boot managers with its own, and doesn't recognize other OS installs)
2nd = OSX (iAtkos and iDeneb both appear to install their own boot loaders, but nicely recognize existing Windows installs)
3rd = Linux (GRUB is typical boot loader, and can recognize existing Windows installs, but need a bit of help with OSX)
My own negative experience was that I was unable to install OSX as the 3rd install. I had to de-install my Linux first. Weird! I would say that it is 'typical' of Windows (Microsoft) to *assume* that no one will be running another OS
As far as partitioning goes, you have two easy choices:
1) Burn a bootable CD (or USB stick) with *just* Gparted and use it to first shrink Windows (again, not too sure about Win7 but it works great with WinXP). Then create a new partition for OSX (fat32 is what I have seen recommended, even though you will reformat/erase when doing an install)
2) Burn a bootable 'live' Linux distribution (e.g. Mint 7), and simply run the GParted partitioner while doing so, to do the same things as above. Doing it this way saves the (small) effort of creating a boot disk *just* for Gparted)
During all this partition shrinking/creating, you could also create an empty Linux-ready partition, but I would recommend doing that only *after* OSX is installed -- just in case it would get upset. During the actual Linux install, it will ask you to pick (or create) a partition anyways -- and you have to make sure that you chose the *right* options so that you don't erase your Win and OSX partitions -- of course!
I have never run Vista or Win7, but I wonder if they have a *built-in* partition and partition 'shrink' utility? If so, that might save you the effort of doing the Gparted thing. Again, for WinXP, you *must* reboot back into WinXP after doing the NTFS partition shrinking so that Windows can 'repair' the surgery that was done.
There are lots of links on the web that talk about this stuff, but these are my own personal experiences.
I guess I should encourage you to share your success stories with this thread if you get it working OK. When I first started doing the 'partition' stuff, I was *very* nervous about wrecking my WinXP installs -- now I consider that to be the 'easy' part The advise remains, though, to always make a BACKUP -- even though I have taken the risk not to do so (since then I would have the hassle of finding a free backup utility -- which is also available). Plus, Windows has not been important to me for many years now