Linux is an operating system developed by Linus Torvalds under the free and open-source development and distribution. Linux is often seen as the champion of the open-source cause, being, perhaps, the most well-known example of open-source collaboration second only to Mozilla Firefox.
Linux comes with various distributions, better known as “distros”. In layman’s terms, distros are different versions of operating systems based on the Linux kernel. Linux distros have taken on a variety of forms: from desktop computing to mobile phones and everything in between and beyond. Yes, that means motorised rickshaws can run Linux as well.
For beginners, the distro of choice is Ubuntu. It’s the easiest to set up and perfect for learning the ropes if you’re new to the world of Linux. Is it the best distro? Well that is up to you and your needs. But if it comes to learning how the entire eco-system of Linux works, Ubuntu is the best starting point.
Other distros for desktop environments worth checking out are Kubuntu, Mint, Fedora and Debian.
Laptop and older system users would do well to try out Crunchbang, Bodhi Linux and Puppy Linux since they are minimalist OSs designed to use low system resources. If you’re not too keen on changing from Mac or Windows, Pear Linux and ZorinOS can make the change to Linux easier with user interfaces that resemble Mac and Windows respectively.
It might be a tad overwhelming to install Linux on a system for someone who hasn’t dabbled into their computer’s ins and outs once in a while, but the installation process is pretty straightforward.
1. Download Ubuntu from the following link: http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop
I recommend downloading Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for a more stable, hassle-free version of the OS.
2. You can install Ubuntu by booting from a DVD after burning the .iso image onto a disc, but booting from USB is easier. You need to download and install Pendrive Linux’s USB Installer for that. (http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/)
3. After you’re done with successfully burning the ISO image to the USB, restart your computer. It should boot automatically from the USB, but if it doesn’t press F12 on the boot menu and rearrange the boot order by moving your USB to the top.
Note: You should backup ALL your data to a large number of USBs or an external hard drive before you install, or reinstall, any operating system.
Linux’s open-source nature is a coin toss. On one hand it means, many commercial software like Microsoft Office or Photoshop won’t work. But on the flipside, there are more than enough able open-source alternatives.