You may have heard of the term Linux Operating System – a so-called free alternative to Microsoft Windows or the Macintosh operating system. If you're interested in learning more about it and trying it out for yourself, continue reading!
First of all, Linux is a totally independent entity from Microsoft. The term "Linux" itself is actually unclear and in fact, is not an alternative alternative to Microsoft Windows. You can not go to the store and purchase the Linux Operating System; instead, you purchase what is known as a software distribution (or distro for short) of Linux. Linux, then, is the core upon which various distros are built. So, although you can not buy "Linux" at the store, you can buy, for instance, the distros Linspire or SUSE Linux, which are the equivalent alternatives to the Windows or Macintosh operating systems.
There are a ton of different Linux distros. One of the most newbie-friendly (at least to those who are used to Microsoft Windows) distros, which is also a hundred-percent free, is called Ubuntu. You may wonder how in the world something equivalent to Microsoft Windows could possibly be free. Well, in the case of Ubuntu, the answer is, there are some generous software developers out there! You can read more about their philosophy on their site. Another free distro is Redhat, which is more suited to server (ie commercial businesses) use. Redhat actually makes money by charging only for their support.
However, not all Linux distros are free. An example of a commercial (ie not free) newbie-friendly distro is Mandriva. If you're just wanting to try out Linux, then most likely you'll want to go with the free route.
Ubuntu is a good choice for beginners wanting to try out Linux. Do not be intimidated by the installation process; Ubuntu is actually highly targeted towards those who are used to the Microsoft Windows Operating System. As such, the installation process is a breeze, compared to some other Linux distros. Some HP and Dell computers come with the option of having Ubuntu pre-installed, so you can try buying those if you are sure you do not want to use Windows.