I’ve been curious about Linux for a while, and last October I finally got around to installing Linux.
Linux comes in different distributions, or distros, which are similar to flavors of ice cream. A somewhat accurate analogy would be saying that different distros are like the different packages of Windows: home, home premium, professional, etc. Except, the distros are made by independent groups that all use certain pieces of software, mainly the Linux kernel.
I picked Ubuntu because of its reputation as being the easiest to set up and having a great support community. I didn’t want to be alone if I had a problem, especially since neither my dad nor anyone at school had much experience with Linux. It turned out to be a pretty good choice.
My dad was fixing some problem on a computer which wouldn’t boot, so downloaded and burned a copy of Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope.) Most Linux distros come with a LiveCD option, through which you can boot to the operating system directly from a CD. He was using that to troubleshoot something or another.
I just took it upstairs and put it into my laptop’s CD drive. The installation process was reasonably straightforward. I remember being surprised at the dozens of language choices that it let me pick from. The hardest part of the installation was figuring out the partition tool, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Operating systems need their own blocks of data, called partitions, in the hard drive. Ubuntu made it simple. I just had to move a slider to tell it how much free space I was willing to give over to Ubuntu. Beforehand, I had deleted a lot of crap, and uninstalled a lot of programs to make more room of the Ubuntu partition. In the end I decided to give Ubuntu all but one GB of free space. The GRUB boot loader that is installed in the installation process gives you a pick between Ubuntu and any other operating system, so you can use Windows any time you want to.
Since, I think I’ve logged onto the Windows partition like two times. I had to go downstairs to use one of the Windows systems on some occasions, but for the most part, Ubuntu fulfilled my day-to-day computing needs.
Since I wasn’t using the Windows partition much, I recently deleted the Windows partition and then expanded the Ubuntu partition to fill the whole hard drive.
It’s actually quite easy to install Linux. There are other ways to try it out without having to install it fully, including using a LiveCD and virtualization, but this method has served me well.