I’ve been installing Linux on a lot of PCs lately, and in celebration of the new Ubuntu release I think it’s time to write a little guide for people switching to Linux. I’ll assume a little computer knowledge, and since it just came out we’ll be using Ubuntu 7.10.
A few things that you should know before switching:
- Distros refer to different flavors of the Linux operating system. Ubuntu is a dristro. Applications will work across different distros, and the only difference is the default set of packages.
- Support is usually available for purchase, but you are more than welcome to use the online forums as a source of help.
Switching made easy:
- Before you even think about installing Linux, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with open source programs. Download these:
- Firefox (A powerful web browser)
- Thunderbird (Email client)
- Vuze (Bittorrent client)
- OpenOffice (A complete office productivity suite)
- Gimp (Graphic editing program)
- Pidgin (multi-protocol IM client)
You can download these from their respective sites or run them off of an Ubuntu CD (just pop it in while running Windows). Use these programs for you everyday tasks until you’re comfortable. Being comfortable with open source programs will make the transition to Linux much easier.
- Once you feel that you’re fluent in the above applications it’s time to whip out the CD burner if you haven’t already.
- Choose a distro (Ubuntu is a great distro for beginners, or anyone really)
- Download the CD image and burn it.
- Put the CD in your computer and restart. Hit the corresponding key for “boot menu” and select CD.
- You’ll soon be greeted by a loading screen and then the Ubuntu logo. This is what known as a “live CD.” This will allow you to test things out before you install.
- Have fun! Play around with menus, applications, and get to know Linux. Keep in mind, things are probably running a little slow because you’re running everything from CD. Things will speed up if you decide to install.
- Like what you see? Want some more? Well, at this point we have two options. We can install Ubuntu, and use only that (skip to step 5), or we can do something called dual booting (see step 4). Dual booting will allow both Windows and Ubuntu to be installed on the same computer. When you boot up your computer you’ll see a menu and be able to choose which one you want to boot.
- If installing on the same partition as Windows (most Windows computers are set up with one partition), restart your computer and boot into Windows. Run Disk Defragmenter: Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. Defragment your drive twice (this will help prevent data loss). Then reboot with the Ubuntu disk.
- Click the “install” icon on the desktop. Follow the prompts. If you plan on dual booting, select “resize partition.” If not, select “use entire drive.” The rest is pretty easy. Sit back and let Ubuntu install, reboot your PC, and enjoy.
Hardware is generally working out of the box. Plug something in and it works. Linux is easy, powerful, and free. If there are questions, post them here.