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need to reformat hard drive... how?

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Hello all. I'm trying to perform a clean install of xp on my dell d610 laptop with a 250gb hard drive.
I tried to install xp on it after it refused to boot. the xp setup asked which partition i would like to use, so i chose the one that was there before (the only one.) it then said that you shouldn't run parallel operating systems and that you should delete all the old data.
So I did. (by hitting "d")
It then asks you to select a partition. The only partition on there was the empty (raw) partition that i essentially just created, however xp says that there's something wrong with it.
This is apparently common, so people use other means of partitioning/formatting the hard drive. I've seen a lot of talk of fdisk, but i'm not sure if that's exactly what i need, or where to find it.
Any help would be appreciated...
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