About 4 years ago, I was fed up with Microsoft, and had known about Linux, heard that it was not that easy install and use, but I figured I'd give it a go anyway. It's not hard at all, that might have been 10 or 12 years ago. In any case, once I found Ubuntu, one of the most popular and easiest to use Distros (versions) I had found MY Linux. And it was not hard to install or use. AND It's even more easy to get going today then it was 4 years ago.
It's easy enough to go to the Ubuntu website, and DL the latest copy in an ISO image format and burn that to disk. But you do not feel geeky enough to burn your own ISO image? Or if you do not have a wildly fast Internet connection. You can always go to shipit.ubuntu.com and request a CD. OR purchase a magazine at a Borders or other book store that has a rack of computer magazines, but usually you'll find some Linux magazine that includes a CD that has a distribution on it. It may or may not be Ubuntu. If you're not shy of getting into things there's many other distributions to choose from. They're referred to as Distros tho among the Linux Community. Do not get hung up on this, there is plenty of time to find out what these things are, I want to keep this simple for the new person who would like to check things out. And for that reason, I will focus on Ubuntu, the most widely used and popular desktop Linux to date. Fedora, the free Version of Red Hat Linux comes in second.
If you go to DistroWatch.com you'll see many Distros listed, and the most popular downloads, where you can also purchase a disk to be sent by mail, and most of all Reviews of different Distributions.
Wow! You've made it this far, but some things need to be explained, so you have some idea of what is what.
Now, you've got your Ubuntu disk in your hands? What's cool is that it's a "Live CD". Meaning that you can reboot your computer off of the CD-ROM and it will start a Live Session of Linux on your machine, without changing a thing to your hard drive. You can also install it to a Thumb Drive and run it off of that too, that's much faster than the CD Rom. You can run the standard Desktop version of Ubuntu with as little as 256k, but it's geared more towards machines with 1 gig or more of RAM. IF your machine ran XP, or a newer version of Windows, Ubuntu will run just fine with those specs. There is also the slight chance that the hardware of your computer is not supported well by the Linux Kernel and those issues will take additional addressing. Ubuntu's online community and their forums, are usually fairly good about giving one a hand at solving an issue.
OK, it's time to re-boot, and let your computer boot off of the DVD / CD-ROM. You'll see Linux loading up, and Viola! you've got it running on your computer off of the live CD.
You can click on the install icon on the desktop, and you'll be taken through the process of installing it on your hard drive, a USB stick and boot off of that, or use the WUBI installer and run Linux inside of Windows, as a program. This is much slower as your computer has to run two Operating systems at the same time, via an emulator. I tried it, and it was just to sluggish for me. Running it off of the Live CD is OK, but you will not be able to save any of your settings. So, I'd suggest installing it to a 5-10 gig hard drive partition. Or a USB stick. Included in the install process is Gparted, and open source disk partitioner, that works very well. So you do not have to bother with trying to make room on your hard drive prior to booting up Ubuntu.
So in review, the best way to install Linux you need to:
- Get a Live CD
- Boot your Computer into Linux, and check it out, surf the web, etc ..
- Install Linux from the Live CD to Your Hard drive, USB Stick, or use WUBI.
Please take note, that the Ubuntu installer will make Ubuntu the default Operating system when you re-boot, you can easily change this from within Ubuntu, but I'd hate for you to be surprised, and not know how or where to get it to boot back into Window's if that's what you'd like to do.
Also. Do not do this, if you've got sensitive data that you do not want to lose. Always backup, and remember any time you're changing around with your computer's partitions, there could be an error and you can suffer data loss.