Linux is an open source operating system designed to replace Windows and Mac OS X. You can download and install for free on any computer. Since it’s open source, there are many different versions available, also called distributions, developed by different groups. Follow the instructions in this guide to learn how to install any version of Linux, along with specific instructions regarding the most common distributions
Download the Linux distribution of your choice. Linux distributions are typically available to download for free in ISO format. You will find the ISO image distribution choice at the official website for that specific distribution. This format has to be burned onto a CD so that it can be used to install Linux. The CD is a Live CD.
- A Live CD will allow you to start the computer from the CD, and often contains a test version of the operating system that can be run directly from the CD.
- Install a program that allows you to burn to CDs, or you can use the program to burn that comes with the operating system if you are using Windows 7, 8, or Mac OS X.
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Start your computer from the Live CD. Most computers are set up to boot from the hard drive; this means you need to change a few settings to start your computer from the CD you just created. Begin by restarting your computer.
- After you restart your computer, press the key to enter in BIOS setup. The key will be indicated on the home screen, featuring the logo of the manufacturer. Some of the commonly used keys are F12, F2 or Del.
- If you are a user of Windows 8, hold down the Shift key and click Restart. This will load the advanced startup options, from which you can choose to boot from CD.
- Enter the Boot menu and change settings on your computer to make it boot from the CD. After changing the settings, save and exit the BIOS setup. The computer will start up again.
- Press any key when the message “Boot from CD” (“boot from CD”)
Try the distribution of Linux before installing it. Most Live CD can boot the operating system directly from the CD. You won’t be able to create files, but you can try the interface and decide if it’s right for you.
Start the installation process. If you try the distro, you can start the installation from the link on your desktop. If you decide not to try the distro, you can start the installation directly from the menu that appears when you start your computer.
- Most likely the program will ask you to configure some basic options, such as language, keyboard type, and time zone.
Create a user name and password. You’ll need to create login information to install Linux. You should write the password to boot Linux, and to perform tasks that must be performed by the administrator.
Set the partition. Linux must be installed on a partition other than any other operating system on your computer. A partition is a part of your hard drive that is specifically formatted to accommodate a certain operating system.
- Some operating systems like Ubuntu automatically set the characteristics recommended for its partition. You can, however, manually edit these settings. But most Linux installations require 4-5 GB, so be sure to reserve enough space for both the operating system and for any programs you want to install, and for files that you want to create.
- If the installation process does not automatically set the characteristics of the partition, make sure that the partition that is formatted as Ext4. If you are installing Linux is the only operating system present on that computer, you might have to manually set the size of the partition.
Start your computer with Linux. After installation, the computer will restart. You will see a new start screen, called “GNU GRUB.” This is the boot loader that runs Linux installations. Choose your new Linux distro from the list.
- If you have more than one distro of Linux, all those installed will appear in this list.
Check your device manager. Most devices should work automatically with Linux, although you may need to download some additional drivers because everything is working correctly.
- Some devices require drivers to function correctly with Linux. Normally this happens for video cards. Normally there will be an open source driver that works, but to take full advantage of the features of your video card, you will need to download the proprietary driver from the manufacturer’s website.
- If you have Ubuntu installed, you can download proprietary drivers through the system settings menu. Select the “Additional Drivers” (“additional drivers”), and then the graphics card driver from the list. Other distros have specific procedures to download additional drivers.
- In this list, you’ll also find other drivers, such as the Wi-Fi card.