Getting Started

There are many ways to get going with Linux, probably the easiest is via a Live USB Key. In principle, once you have such a USB Key, just insert it into one of your computer’s USB ports (hopefully a USB v3 port), and reboot your computer. Assuming your computer is set to boot from USB (which can be set from the BIOS) then your chosen Linux distribution should boot up directly from the USB Key without touching your pre-existing Operating System. This will give you chance to take it for a spin (on your computer) without any sort of commitment. When finished just pull the USB key, reboot, and you should be back to normal. The only caveat here is that USB Keys drives are slower than your computer’s hard drive, so be aware it will take a while to load and that this is a function of your USB port and not of the Linux distribution.

Typically USB3 ports tend to be blue inside and run at ~ 75% the speed of a traditional hard drive. USB2 ports however will be painfully slow, in which case you may have more luck booting from a DVD drive. (newer computers often have V2 and V3 ports)

Ubuntu Desktop Linux

  • Instructions for downloading and burning the DVD can be found here for Windows users
  • Or found here for Mac users

There are many other options in terms of Linux distributions, but in terms of documentation and support, Ubuntu is probably one of the easiest to use. Beginners may find it useful to start with a more mainstream distribution until they become familiar with Linux, due to greater support being available.

Debian Desktop Linux

This is probably the other mainstream option, although you will immediately notice that the instructions are less comprehensive, however under the hood the software is controlled by the community rather than commercial organisations. (so it’s arguably ‘more free’ and in many ways ‘better’)

Pay someone else to do it

Whereas Linux distributions mentioned are free and you can download them and install to a DVD or USB Key, it requires a degree of time and expertise. If you just want to try it out and have someone else download and burn the disks for you, paying someone to download and burn the disk for you is always an option.

You can order a USB Key in the UK from the Mad Penguin Shop for a relatively modest fee. This key will come pre-loaded with a number of different Linux distributions for you to try. This USB key can be updated (by you) so you can continue to get and try newer Linux distributions as they are released.mad