I used knoppix live distribution to boot the machine since the whole previous OS was corrupted by the disk anyway.
Next, I started the guessing game on how much of the disk I didn't want. Ok, its not that graceful, but i didn't want to spend like 2 hours scanning to look for bad sectors. Although one of the things I would do is to try to find them later.
I spilt the disk to 2 x 20 Gb partitions and left some out of that for swap of the 2nd partition.
(p)rimary partition <1>
(p)rimary partition <2>
(w)rite partition and exit
*optional as this gets blown away in disk druid anyway. Just leave some room for swap. Traditionally, its 2 x RAM available.
(p)rimary partition <3>
After exiting the fdisk tool. You have created partitions, but not formated them. I wanted a journalised file system so i formated the created partitions to reiserfs. Its quite a good FS which I have been relatively impressed with since my Mandrake machine came with reiser as the default filesystem.
# mkreiserfs /dev/hda1
# mkreiserfs /dev/hda2
Reboot to Fedora install and select manually use disk druid for install. Convert the last partition to swap and attempt to install to first partition
When prompted to format say no. they will still force you to format the swap, so thats cool.
As predicted the first attempt at installation to /dev/hda1 failed.
No worries. Run the install again and select /dev/hda2 as / mount aka root mount aka mount as / just in case I haven't confused you enough.
Wait. In fact my installation is still running. Hopefully it goes sucessfully. This should breathe some life into old notebooks which will be a waste trying to pick up a new harddisk for it.