====== LINUX ======
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|Linux is an "Operating System" similiar to Microsoft's Windows or Apple's OSx for the Mac. You get Linux by one of three ways...you download it, you buy it already on a disk, or you get it already installed on a new computer.
Linux embodies the ultimate source of freedom the world of technology has to offer and with great freedom comes great responsibility. It is the result of alot of people putting in alot of hard work. The best part about it is that most of it is FREE.
I support open Source and I do consider Linux to be the safer better way to go.
When it comes to computers, you DO get a choice.
Official Linux Website:
There are many different distributions and flavors for Linux but the one I prefer is Ubuntu. If you have never tried Linux before then this is the one I recommend but you should feel free to give other distributions a thought aswell. What works for one person might not work so well for someone else. It's all about what you want. Because this is my pick, it will be my primary focus here. I've used Red Hat and I've tried Suse for a short time. Red Hat is a popular pick but Ubuntu is just simply awesome.
Torrent (32bit Version 10.04.1 desktop i386 iso)
Official Ubuntu site
Other Linux Distro's:
NOTE: When you download Linux you get a .iso file. This file is used to make (or burn to) a new disk (cd burning software of some kind must already be installed). It is this disk that you use to install or run Linux.
You should be able to use Linux (depending on distro/version) on a computer with as little as a Pentium III processor, 32megs RAM, 4x CD rom, and a 1gig harddrive. Any less than that would limit you to a non-gui text based (command line) only version of Linux.
Getting Help and Answering Questions:
Linux can be used by one of three ways. It can be fully installed on the harddrive making it THE os for your computer, it can be "dual booted" so you will have a choice when you turn your computer on to use it or Windows, or you can use it directly off of a cd/dvd/thumb drive (kinda like dual booting but without actually installing it). It is even possible to set things up so that you can boot it up from Linux files on a networked drive. If you decide to make it the only operating system on your machine, it will will format the harddrive (removing everything). This is a process known as a 'clean install' and is also what can happen if you reinstall Windows (when doing this, you NEED the actuall installation disk for this process...you can't use just any disk, this is the Linux disk that you download or the disk you pay $100-$300 for from Microsoft). During a Linux install, it will setup all the apropriate partitions for you (unless you specify otherwise...just like when installing Windows). One of the critical differences that makes Linux installs so cool is that during it's install, it will automaticly detect all the hardware and acquire all apropriate drivers on it's own. It sometimes misses things, but that becomes a minor detail in most cases. Hardware drivers can be easily acquired through downloading. This is one of the reasons I recommend installing Linux on a machine that's already hard-wired into the web with known good hardware.
Linux will run perfectly fine on older slower hardware. You do NOT have to have the most expensive or newest equiptment. This makes it a great choice for someone that has an older machine that still uses Win98se or WinME. While people tend to recycle, throw out, sell, or give away these older machines...you can breathe new life into one simply by removing Windows from it and puting Linux on it.
Linux is similar to Windows but it does have a different look and feel. It does not use .exe (executable) programs like Windows does. You can install into Linux a program called Wine to act as an intermediary that will allow you to use MOST Windows based software through Linux. Wine is not compatible with everything in the Windows world but it is getting better. Linux does have "windows" that open and clickable drop down menus just like the Windows operating system so the basic idea is still the same for the way you move through things in Linux (unless you use a non-gui text based distro).