now i tried searching google but did not get exactly clear options because there are so many versions, but what do you guys reckon is the best way to get started with linux? i have no experience with it, and wanted to try it out on my laptop to gain some.
please note i know 100% nothing about linux, other then that my friends and most of the internet say its awesome
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download a version that doesn't require installing. knoppix is one that will run off of the cd so you can try it out without it changing your winXP at all.--
"a lot of people are better dead" - prisoner KSC2-303
What aedipuss is referring to is called a "Live CD". You will need to make sure your bios is set to boot from the CD/DVD drive before the hard drive. Since it will load most of the OS in memory, and will need to decompress off the CD on the fly, it will run a little slower than if it were installed to the hard drive, but it will let you do almost anything. You will not be able to install more software from the repositories running from the CD (not entirely true, but a much longer story).
You are correct that there are many distros to choose from, and everyone has their favorite, but many agree that Ubuntu and its offshoots (like Mint), PCLinuxOS, Mandriva, or Mepis are all very user friendly for first-time users. I don't know about Mandriva, but all the rest have Live CD versions to download.
When you download the ISO, be sure to burn it as an image and not as a file, otherwise it will not boot. Imageburn is a great tool (free) to do this. When you are finished, go through the normal shutdown, and then remove the CD. When you reboot your computer, it will be back to Windows like nothing ever happened.
If you find you like it, there are other ways to run it, like installing to a second hard drive or second partition on an existing drive, or, installing in a virtual machine using VMWare, Virtualbox, or VirtualPC (all free).
Have fun, remember that linux is not Windows (many things will be done differently), and come back here if you have any questions.
There are several versions of linux that run off of a live cd. aedipuss mentioned knoppix. My personal favorite is Ubuntu. In my opinion it is probably the easiest to get started into linux with. Mint is a media centric version of Ubuntu with most things needed for video and audio already installed so that is an option as well.
My suggestion is to download several cd's and try them out. Check out www.distrowatch.com for info on the latest linux distributions. One thing to keep in mind is that you will be limited in what you can do with a live cd. To get the full feel for linux you really need to install it. The nice thing is that most live cd's make installing linux really easy and can even handle setting up dual boot windows/linux machines relatively painlessly.
Go into this with an open mind and you won't be sorry. I absolutely love linux. If you get stuck somewhere just come back here for help. We have a pretty active linux community here with lots of members willing to help.
Originally Posted by tekkiemanDonadagohvi (Cherokee for "Until we meet again")