How to Install Linux

Learning how to install Linux isn’t hard, it can be done easily from a live CD or even a thumb drive. In this article we will take a look at what the Linux operating system is and why users may choose to use Linux over Windows or Mac OS as well as some of the limitations or problems one may encounter after making the switch. Having a partition on your device that will allow you to switch back and forth between your regular operating system (OS) and the Linux OS can eliminate most of these issues.

What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system, like Windows or Mac OS, that is very similar to UNIX. So what, exactly, is an operating system? An operating system is a computer program. It is the first piece of software to start up when you turn on your computer and is essentially what manages all the resources on the computer. Every program you open or application you attempt to use will go through the operating system. The operating system decides how many resource to allocate to each program. The operating system generally provides some basic applications like a task scheduler, memory manager, network manager, security manager, and more.

Most of this is done behind the scenes; you don’t have to control it and don’t even know it is all happening. There is a much more visual side to an operating system as well. The operating system provides the basic “look” for the default user interface. For Windows this includes the start menu, task bar, etc. When you use a Macintosh you will see a completely different layout, based on the different operating system. The design and ease-of-use play a big part in choosing the right operating system for your needs; more important is the operating systems ability to effectively manage processing power, memory, multiple devices, and storage. If you like the application and user interface and are confident in the OS’s ability to effectively manage these other areas, go for it.

Pros and Cons of Linux

We won’t go into a lot of detail here about the pros and cons of Linux but will take a brief look at some of the biggies. For more information about the pros and cons check out some Linux forums. The biggest pros of Linux include the fact that it is open source. This means anyone can use it for free, you don’t pay anyone a big fee just to use it. This also means there is a whole community of developers that are consistently working on updates, enhancements, and useful apps. Overall Linux is thought to be very stable and provides a large selection of applications.

Cons of Linux include the fact that it is different than what most are used to and thus has a learning curve. Other cons people have mentioned is that is have very little gaming support and may be incompatible with some newer hardware and devices. If you run into problems or there is something you don’t understand, there isn’t a tech team you can call. However, there is a ton of information on the web to help with any number of problems.

How to Install Linux

Installing Linux is really quite simple. The easiest method is probably to install Linux from a live CD, so that is what we will cover here. The first step will be to download and burn the CD. Visit the distributor’s webpage, like Ubuntu, and select the version you need, e.g. 32 bit or 64 bit version. Download the program and burn it to a CD. When the burn is complete you will need to reboot and your computer and then boot from the CD. The first option you should see is to either Try Linux or Install Linux. If you are ready to go ahead with the install then click the install. The installation process will be slightly different for everyone depending on the machine you are installing it on but the general setup should take you through the necessary steps without much problem. There are a few things to pay attention to, when asked where you want to install Linux, you will want to partition your drive, Ubuntu will usually do this for you automatically and you can go right through the defaults unless you have special needs that you need to take into consideration. If you are doing a manual partition and have a small amount of RAM (one or two GB) a general rule of thumb is to have your swap partition be twice as large as the amount of RAM you have. The second partition or “swap space” simply helps the computer manage memory more effectively.

As part of the installation Linux will install GRUB, a bootloader, to replace your normal bootloader. This will give you the option to choose between Windows and Linux at startup, allowing you to choose which operating system you want to run each time you boot up the computer. This makes it easy to switch between the two. If you are playing a game or running an application that isn’t supported by Linux you can easily boot up with Windows. That is all there is to it. Now you can just explore the apps to get familiar with what is there and how everything works.

If you still have questions about how to install Linux, there are numerous tutorials online. You can even find YouTube videos that demonstrate how to install Linux in five minutes. We hope this tutorial will give you an idea of  how easy it is to install Linux and will give you some direction on what to do to get started.