How to Install Linux

The initial thought of installing Linux on your computer may seem overwhelming, but it is really quite simple. In many cases installing Linux is easier than installingWindows! A large number of distros such as Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, PCLinuxOS, Peppermint OS, and Puppy Linux allow users to run their operating systems completely from a live CD/DVD, or even from a USB drive [1]. This lets you try them out on your computer to see if you like them, as well as to determine if they work well with your particular computer hardware. While running a Linux distro completely from a live CD/DVD/USB drive, no changes will be made to your existing Windows operating system or to any of the files on your hard drive unless you choose to install. The installation may be done side-by-side with Windows by dual partitioning the hard drive, or you may simply erase everything on your hard drive and replace Windows with a Linux distro. Before you install a Linux distro side-by-side with Windows in a separate partition, or install Linux in the place of Windows, it is strongly recommended that you try it out thoroughly with a live CD/DVD/USB drive. An alternate way to try out Linux is through software such as VirtualBox, which allows you to create “virtual machines” on your existing operating system. If you have a netbook, you can click here to learn how to install Ubuntu on netbooks [2].
Below are instructions for installing Linux to a Windows laptop or desktop with an x86 compatible processor such as Intel or AMD. For those who want to install Linux on pre-Intel Macs, such as the PowerPC, there is information at the very bottom of this page.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND DISCLAIMER: Before you install Linux to any computer, as a precaution, back up any important files on the computer (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.) to a USB flash drive, CD, DVD, or other external storage. Neither http://www.RenewablePCs.com, nor Charles E. Craig, Jr. assume or accept any responsibility or liability for any damages which may occur as a result of installing an operating system to any computer, which includes but is not limited to loss of data or important files.

Installing Linux by Adding a Dedicated Partition Alongside Windows, or Completely Re-Partitioning a Hard Drive to Replace Windows:


Below is a basic step-by-step guide for installing a Linux distro to your computer using a live CD/DVD/USB drive, which involves re-partitioning your hard drive:

  • Go to the website for your Linux distro of choice and download an ISO image file to your computer.
  • Burn the downloaded ISO image to a blank CD-R/DVD-R disk to create a live CD/DVD, or create a bootable USB drive. Click here to see an excellent guide from Ubuntu on how to do burn a live CD/DVD [3]. Click here to see a guide for creating a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu [4]. If you are not able to download the ISO image and burn it to a live CD/DVD or create a bootable USB drive, you can purchase a CD/DVD or preloaded USB drive from the Canonical Shop.
  • If you plan to install Linux side-by-side with Windows by creating a dedicated partition, it is recommended that you completely defragment your hard drive before proceeding with the next step. If you plan to wipe your hard drive clean by re-formatting it and installing Linux in the place of Windows, you can skip this step.
  • Insert the live CD/DVD or bootable USB drive into the computer which you want to run/install Linux.
  • FOR OLDER COMPUTERS WITH BIOS: Restart your computer and it should run from the live CD/DVD or bootable USB drive as long as the CD/DVD drive or USB drive appears before the computer’s hard drive in the boot sequence in the computer’s BIOS. If the CD/DVD/USB drive is not first in the boot sequence, you will need to enter the BIOS settings and make the necessary changes. Click here to learn more about entering the BIOS settings and changing the boot sequence [5]. Be certain to use caution if you make any changes to your computer’s BIOS. FOR NEWER COMPUTERS WITH UEFI: If you have a newer computer with Windows 8 / UEFI, then you can click here to learn how to install Ubuntu.
  • Follow the instructions from the live CD/DVD and enjoy!
  • OPTIONAL: If you decide to completely replace Windows with Linux on your computer, there are a number of ways that you can re-format and re-partition your hard drive. With many Linux distros, such as Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and Linux Mint, you can have your hard drive re-formatted and re-partitioned automatically by choosing guided partitioning while installing. With this option, the Linux system files/folders and the “/home” folder are placed within the same partition, which is fine. However, once you become adept at manually working with partitions, it is preferable to install your root Linux system files/folders in a separate partition from your /home folder as shown in the picture below. One reason for this is if you need to re-install your Linux system, you can avoid re-copying all of your personal documents, pictures, videos, etc. in the /home folder which can remain intact in a system re-install. If you choose this configuration, you should dedicate a minimum of 10 GB to your Linux system “/” (root) partition. In the picture below, the / (root) partition is sda1 and the /home partition is sda2. The sda3 partition is reserved for the linuxswap, which is an overflow for RAM if needed; having a swap partition is more necessary on older hardware with limited RAM.
An example of a Linux System with a separate /home partition:
KDE Partition screenshot

InfraRecorder, shown below, can be freely downloaded in Windows and used to create a live CD/DVD:
InfraRecorder screenshot

Below are links to websites with more detailed information about how to install Ubuntu / Kubuntu / Xubuntu, Linux Mint, OpenSUSE, or Puppy Linux on your computer:

Ubuntu:
http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download – The instructions found there can also apply to Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu [6]

Linux Mint:
http://www.linuxmint.com/documentation.php [7]

OpenSUSE:
http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Download_help [8]

Puppy Linux:
http://www.puppylinux.com/install.htm [9]


Installing Linux on a pre-Intel Mac PowerPC – Definitely for More Advanced Users:


Macs manufactured since 2006 use Intel chips and can run the same versions of Linux as typical Windows PCs. However, pre-Intel macs such as the PowerPC have processors with a different architecture, which requires different versions of Linux. Not all distros have these PowerPC-compatible versions, but fortunately some do have them. When installing from a live CD, just remember that in order to get a Mac to boot from the CD/DVD drive, you must hold down the “C” key while starting the computer. Below is a list of valuable resources for installing Linux on a PowerPC:

http://penguinppc.org – An excellent resource for Linux on a PowerPC [10]
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PowerPCDownloads – Ubuntu PowerPC Downloads [11]
http://www.debian.org/ports/powerpc – Debian’s PowerPC Version [12]
http://www.mintppc.org – Mint for PowerPCs [13]
http://www.yellowdoglinux.com/ – Yellow Dog Linux [15]

References:

1.    ^ PenDriveLinux. http://www.pendrivelinux.com/.
2.    ^ “Download Ubuntu.” http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download.
3.    ^ “Ubuntu Documentation: BurningIsoHowto.” https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BurningIsoHowto.
4.    ^ “Try Ubuntu Before You Install It.” http://www.ubuntu.com/download/help/try-ubuntu-before-you-install.
5.    ^ “How to Change the Boot Sequence in the BIOS.” http://helpdeskgeek.com/how-to/change-boot-order-xp-vista/.
6.    ^ “Download Ubuntu.” http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download.
7.    ^ “Official Documentation.” http://www.linuxmint.com/documentation.php.
8.    ^ “SBD Download Help.” http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Download_help.
9.    ^ “Puppy Linux Install.” http://www.puppylinux.com/install.htm.
10.    ^ PenguinPPC. http://penguinppc.org/.
11.    ^ PowerPCDownloads – Ubuntu Wiki. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PowerPCDownloads.
12.    ^ “Debian for PowerPC.” http://www.debian.org/ports/powerpc/.
13.    ^ Linux MintPPC. http://www.mintppc.org/.
14.    ^ Fedora 16 PPC. https://mirrors.fedoraproject.org/publiclist/Fedora/16/ppc/.
15.    ^ Yellow Dog Linux. http://www.yellowdoglinux.com/.


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