Ok, so if you're reading this, you're probably sick of windows. Or maybe you want to try linux to see if it's better than windows. Or you want to show off to your friends by saying "hahaha, i'm running linux, i'm more 1337 than you". If you fall in one of the first two categories, read on. If you're just trying to be 1337, then buzz off, nothing to find here for you. First off, let me tell you that linux is not as easy as windows. Installing software is a bit more difficult, and the overal navigation can be a bit troublesome at first. What makes linux superior is the fact that unlike windows, linux offers it's users full control over their systems, something that is especially interesting to people who are into computer security *like myself* and people looking to have more control over overal program functionality. It might be a bit harder to learn how to work with, but trust me, once you realise the benefits of linux, you'll gladly invest your time in it. So, let's start with the basics. First, some history lessons, which are meant for those truely interested in computers. This is not essential data, if you just want to get started with linux, then read on beyond the links. the first real OS, UNIX (Linux's "daddy", or "mommy", if you will) Linux DOS QDOS Microsoft DOS, or MS-DOS Microsoft Windows FreeBSD OpenBSD NetBSD ================================================================= Linx is an operating system (or OS for short), similar to windows. Or, i should say this the other way around, because windows is based on unix and linux. Linux comes in various releases from different conmpanies, called "flavors" or "distributions" (or distro's for short), that each have their own set of included software, and setup *kernel and architecture, software base*. (I'm not going to delve into those last two technical terms, you can find more info here if you want : Kernel Architecture, and i think that software base is pretty self explanatory) Now, i'll start with the easiest thing for people that want to try out Linux before going in headfirst and actually installing it: The "LIVE" distributions. A "LIVE" distribution is a version of Linux (or unix), that runs off a CD, DVD, Floppy, or even a USB stick*. It does not install to your hardddrive, but rather runs off the media it's on*, and your system's RAM, and so you can safely use it without losing anything you have on your system, and if you turn it off and remove the live linux medium, your windows will start as if nothing ever happened. Some examples of Live distributions are : Damn Small Linux(DSL for short) Knoppix SLAX Ubuntu Linux Mint OpenSuSE There are hundreds of other distro's to be found on DistroWatch And here's one extra for Pen. testers and security geeks : Knoppix Security Tool Distribution Not for newbies or those who don't have the proper IT security Know-how. Now, these can all be downloaded via direct download, FTP or Bittorrent, and all you'd need was media to put it on, and ImgBurn if you are going to burn it to a cd or dvd. From there on, all you need to do is pop it in your cd or dvd drive, restart your system, and you should be good to go from there. *if not, go into your computer's BIOS at startup, and make sure that your computer is set to boot from cd/dvd drive first, then USB or floppy drive, and then the HDD* ====================================================================== Now, onwards for the more daring folks : Installing linux. There are two options in doing this : Either installing linux over your windows, which means that if you regret that choice, you'd have to re-install everything windows related, or Installing Linux on a seperate harddrive or partition, preserving your windows and additional software, sometimes known as Dual Booting. ***[bold]if you are going to overwrite your windows, i STRONGLY advise you to backup ANY and all IMPORTANT DATA you have to either a secondary (external) Harddrive or something similar, because if you install linux over windows, EVERYTHING on your harddrive will be overwritten[/bold]*** First, some more distributions : Linux Mint Ubuntu based, made with ease of use in mind. Ubuntu Often referred to as the windows of Linux, nice beginner's ditro. OpenSuSE fairly easy to use Mandrake/Mandriva Linux Famed for it's great 64 bit distro's, comparable to SuSE in ease of use. Fedora Core Based on RedHat linux, slightly more daunting. Debian Not for the faint of heart Again, more distributions can be found at DistroWatch. Installing linux over windows is basically as easy as popping in a cd or dvd, and having it overwrite everything on the windows partition(s), so i won't offer any help in this initial post, if you need detailed help, you can post a question here, and i'll try to help out. ******[bold]just to make sure this is clear, AGAIN :if you are going to overwrite your windows, i STRONGLY advise you to backup ANY and all IMPORTANT DATA you have to either a secondary (external) Harddrive or something similar, because if you install linux over windows, EVERYTHING on your harddrive will be overwritten[/bold]*** Since there are many tutorials on how to set up dual booting, i'll post some links here, rather than explain it myself, because most of the tutorials available are way better than anything i can come up with. DevHood tutorial vsubhash tutorial Generic Google search for the lazy folks and the dummies Once you have your linux installed, i suggest you read some of the accompanying tutorials to get the hang of how to work with and navigate your distro of choice. This concludes the brief starter for linux, hope it's helpfull to some. If you have any questions or problems, post them here [bold]with as much detailed information as posssible[/bold] Questions like "i can't get my linux to work, any idea what might be wrong?" will be ignored, because i can't tell from here what kind of computer you have, what distro you're running, and what kind of errors you're getting.