Trying Linux Yourself

If you are a Linux user already, this might be a silly suggestion. However, many people have expressed interest to me in such a project but have no background in Linux. Why should that stop them, or anyone for that matter?

If you have never tried Linux, try it yourself and get familiar with using it. For a more detailed explanation of what Linux is, go to “What is Linux?” at opensource.com: https://opensource.com/resources/what-is-linux

Luckily, most versions of Linux can be obtained free of charge and they tend to run well on older computer hardware. You do not need to get a brand new computer to use it.

You will need a computer to experiment with. While it does not have to be a recent machine, I recommend using a 64 bit processor with a minimum of two cores. Intel Core 2 Duos would be an example of this. Since this type of processor first came out ten years ago, they are available very cheaply. (In step five, I will outline some of the places we have been successful in getting used computers.)

Next, go get the version of Linux you wish to try. The place I recommend people start is with Ubuntu, the most popular distribution (or distro) of Linux in the world. On your regular computer, go to https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop and download Ubuntu file.

Then, assuming you regularly use a Windows computer, either burn an Ubuntu install DVD or format a USB flash drive to install Ubuntu. You might want to find a friend to help you with this step. Maybe someone at your local public library or makerspace can assist, too.

To burn an Ubuntu install DVD on Windows, click here: https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/burn-a-dvd-on-windows

To create a bootable USB flash drive on Windows, click here: https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-windows

Instructions are available for Mac users on Ubuntu’s website, too.

Once you have your DVD or flash drive formatted for installation, put it in the computer on which you will be installing Linux. You may need to change the boot order. This will allow the computer to boot from the disc or flash drive, rather than the computer’s hard drive, as it normally would. This is done by using one of the “F” keys at the top of your keyboard when you first turn on your computer. Which “F” key you use will differ, depending on the manufacturer of the computer. If you are unsure, do an online search on “changing boot order” on the make and model of your computer.

Once you have successfully booted from the disc or flash drive, follow the onscreen instructions to install. Included with this guide are supplementary installation sheets with more detailed instructions.

Once you have Ubuntu (or some other Linux distro) installed on your computer, have some fun with it. Experiment. Use the Firefox browser (it comes with Ubuntu) to go online to look for ideas of what to do with the computer. Go into the Software Center to find other programs to install and try. You will find that the myth of there being no programs for Linux will quickly evaporate, as there are tens of thousands of Linux programs available in just about every category you can imagine.

Go online to learn more about using Linux. A few websites to look at for ideas would include:

    1. http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/
    2. https://itsfoss.com/
    3. https://opensource.com/
    4. http://www.webupd8.org/

The aim at this point is not to become a “Linux expert”. It is to simply familiarize yourself with the software, explore, experiment, and have fun. And remember, if you really mess something up with your Linux computer, you still have the install disc or flash drive. You can always start over.

© 2017 Stuart Keroff. All rights reserved.