If you are checking this post you probably are interested in Linux and want to give it a try.
I have to say that install the most famous Linux distributions is quite easy; I’m talking about Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, Open Suse, Fedora, etc.
Others can be more difficult, mostly because there is no installer, so the entire installation process needs to be done manually from the command line.
Some of the most famous Command-Line only Linux distribution are Arch Linux or Gentoo for example.
I suppose that who is reading this “how to” is a Windows user; I have to say that there is nothing extremely complicated here to do and everything can be done the “Windows way”: by pointing and clicking the mouse here and there, with no command-line.
I suggest you to try Linux Mint first because is the easiest and most user friendly distro out there IMO.
OK!!! the “how to” can begin!!!
I will try to explore the various possibilities as much as i can, let’s start on how to choose a Linux Distros and how to get it.
Find a Linux Distro that you like
Aside for asking your friends/parents who use Linux or searching the internet for billions of websites/forums full of reviews and discussions, I like to direct you to DistroWatch.com, where you can see what’s the most used distro, read some infos, get links and also check some alternatives to the distro that you like, and see a different look or feeling that you may like more.
By selecting the distro page, you will find a lot of links, reviews, related official/unofficial forums and so on, also you will find the most important link: the official website where you can download the ISO image (the file needed to use/install a distro).
Download the ISO file that you prefer
The main website is pretty intuitive, you will find your way to what you need to download pretty easily. It is very likely that you have a 64bit processor (almost every post-2005 pc), if that is the case you would like to download the 64bit image instead of the 32bit. You can obtain it through torrent or through some mirrors around the globe, just use the one who’s closer to your location.
At this point you probably are asking yourself what are those Cinnamon, Mate, Xfce, Kde, etc. Those are Desktop Environments (DE), basically a group of programs that gives you the opportunity to have a Graphical User Interface (GUI), you know..Desktop, menu panel, etc.
You may not be familiar with DE because Windows comes with 1 DE and that’s it, you can’t touch it too much, just think about the super-hated Windows 8 GUI or Mac OSX’s.
Those are love-it or hate-it experiences, but with Linux you can choose between >10 different DE. If you don’t like one, well just try another one, or use 2-3 different DE on the same PC; it’s completely up to you.
As always Internet and Youtube/Vimeo/Dailymotion and the likes are there to solve any of your doubts, just search a DE and check how it looks and feels.
Also: you may ask yourself what are the differences between “Ubuntu 14.04 LTS”, “Ubuntu 15.10” or “Ubuntu 16.04 LTS” (let’s take Ubuntu for example). The numbers stand for the release date (14.04 = April 2014 and so on), LTS stands for Long Term Support, meaning that the distribution is supported by the developers for way longer than the standard releases. Always go for a LTS if you’re a beginner or just unsure!
Burn a USB/CD or Virtual Machine?
There are different ways to lauch Linux, also keep in mind that you are not forced to install it. Most Linux distros come with a live image, where is possible to try the OS (Operation System) and then run the installer. Actually you can also use it every time without installing it, just remember that you will lose every files or settings time you turn off your machine.
This is a great way to try the different DE, and pick up the one that you prefer. In Linux the different DE versions are called “editions” or “flavours“; Ubuntu, for example, comes with Unity DE, other available flavours include: Xubuntu (with Xfce), Lubuntu (LXDE), Kubuntu (Kde), Ubuntu Gnome (Gnome), Ubuntu Mate (Mate) and so on.
There are basically 2 Ways to try/install Linux:
- Burn the ISO file to a medium (USB key, CD, DVD, SD-Card, Hard-Disk, and so on),
- Running through a Virtual Machine.
Just think about your Windows installer DVD, that DVD cointains the ISO image of that Windows version.
I’m going to use the second method; by using it you will be able to use 2 OS at the same time, one as Host and the other as Guest. For example if you are running Windows and want to try Linux Mint with a Virtual Machine Software, that the Host is Windows and the Guest will be Linux Mint. This is easiest way because you don’t need to burn USB-keys, DVDs and no reboot at all for your Host OS.
Burn the ISO File
I suggest you to use a USB drive and not CDs or DVDs, at least use CD-RW or DVD-RW as you can later rewrite on them if you make a mistake or whatever.
2gb usb will be enough I guess, after downloaded the Linux ISO you need a software to put the ISO on the medium and to make it bootable, that way you can load your PC through it. The most used software are:
With Unetbootin you can actually select there a Linux ISO, it will download it and then burn to medium (it’s possible to burn the ISO directly in your hard-disk, if you have no usb or dvds around, i will make a post later).
Once you have done that you’re ready to launch Linux in your PC, just restart your PC!
Right now you have to tell your PC to boot into the desired medium (USB in my case), you need to set up the BIOS to your needs (sounds difficult but it’s not). Here are some pictures of my PC’s BIOS:
- If “press Fxx to enter Boot Menu” appears at the beginning (normally F8, F11, F12)
In my case is F11: so I just press it a few times immediately after the PC is on, a notification that the I’m entering the Boot Menu appears, I select the USB disk from the available options. No dangerous things are going to happen if you select the wrong one, just redo the process.
- Set up the Boot priorities from the Bios Menu.
If you have no Boot Menu short cuts then just enter the Bios Menu (normally with the DEL button).
As said before press the button with no fear as soon as the PC is turned on, you are looking at my Bios Menu, your can be a bit different (if you have a laptop for example), anyway you need to find an entry to set the Boot priorities, once you find it, set the 1st Boot Device to match the one you just burned (choose the CD/DVD player if you’re using that medium).
You need to save your changes (normally is F10 then Y for yes) and you are ready to lauch Linux!!
You can skip this step if you don’t want to use a Virtual Machine Software.
I use Virtual Box and I suggest you to use this one too: it’s the most famous VM software, it’s free, it’s beginners-friendly and works on Windows, Mac and Linux.
I’m using Arch Linux (Antergos – Mate), don’t get scared if the screenshots are a non familiar environment to you, Virtual Box works the same, just install and launch it.
Remember: a OS may run slow in a Virtual Machine, don’t judge the performance there!
The steps are quite intuitive, anyway I did a lot of screenshots to guide you through:
- press “New”;
- Select Name (up to you) Type (Linux in this case) and Version (Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu), if you put “Linux Mint” they auto-select correctly;
- set the amount of your Host’s Ram (default value is ok);
- create Virtual Hard Disk (default);
- VDI is ok (default);
- Dynamically Allocated is better (default);
- Name the Virtual Hard Disk and select its size (defaults are ok);
- (optional) select “Settings”;
- (optional) select “System”;
- (optional) select “Processor”;
- (optional) give more CPU power to the Guest OS, in my case from 1 core to 4;
- launch the Virtual Machine by pressing “Start”;
- press the folder icon to select the optical file (the Linux ISO file you downloaded);
- select it and click open;
- launch Linux and enjoy it!!!
- can’t boot again in Linux Mint; this happens because Linux Mint auto-unmount the selected ISO image when turned off. You solve this by reselecting the ISO image or by forcing a power off (anyway it’s better to install the OS);
- there is no 64bit option. 3 main cases: does your CPU support 64bit architecure? if no, you can use just 32bit ISOs as Guest; do you have 64bit OS as Host? if no, you are forced to use 32bit software, unless you install a 64bit OS; did you checked your Bios settings? some Virtualization setting may be disabled, enable them and retry (look for VT-X, SVM, Virtualization and the likes)
Now you’re ready to install Linux! but also here there will be 2 main options:
- replacing Windows/Mac with Linux;
- install Linux alongside Windows/Mac (it’s called Dual Boot).
Actually the installation process is the same, there is just 1 additional step if you want the dual boot option. I presume that you want to keep your Windows partition, if not you can skip some parts if Windows is not needed any more (get rid of that crap!!!)
I downloaded a 30-day test ISO of Windows 10 from the Micro$oft’s website, to simulate a dual boot installation in my virtual machine (worst website ever, the download file is impossible to find…).
Ok, right now i can simulate a Windows only Pc trying to install Linux!
Let’s start! (i will run my machine Full-screen to imitate your situation):
double click the “Install Linux Mint” icon on your desktop to launch the installer:
RIGHT NOW YOU WILL SELECT TO KEEP OR REMOVE YOUR MAIN OS:
ps: I took the 2 image above from the internet, I had no widows 7-8-10 option, so I manually create the right partitions, Virtual Machine may act differently you know! I will create another post on how to do that soon (link will be here).
Review your choices and continue by inserting your personal information:
Annnnnnddddd, that’s it!! restart your system, it’s time to get some updates (optional but recommended), and then to play with it!!!
Actually you first need to install the update manager, then the actual updates. This process is totally optional, if you don’t care about updates you can even remove the update manager, why not?!? here you decide!
NOW YOU HAVE THE CONTROL OF YOUR PC, NO CORPORATION IS GOING TO IMPOSE YOU ANYTHING!!! ENJOY!!!
Remember also that you can try some other Distro if you don’t like Linux Mint Cinnamon, or the same distro with a different DE (Linux Mint Mate, or Linux Mint Kde for example), with Virtual Box you can run more than one at the same time, give them a try!
Please leave a comment if this post helped you or if you need help! See you on the next one!