Getting Started with Ubuntu Linux

Linux35 Getting Started with Ubuntu Linux
Brett Johansen asked:

Ever wondered what using an operating system other than Windows would be like?  Well, there are options!  Most people don’t realize they can install a completely different operating system on their computer.  They trudge along in misery using Windows XP, while they could be using a newer, faster operating system that does everything Windows does and more.

So what is this other option and how much does it cost?

Linux.  And it’s free.

Free?  Well, you say, if it’s free it probably isn’t that great.  You’d be surprised just how polished and fast it runs, even on old hardware.
So where can I get Linux?  You can download it from a number of places.  Here is a link to the Ubuntu Linux OS downloads page.  Ubuntu is one of the better Linux “flavors”.  Yes, there are a bunch of different Linux “distros” to choose from.  Some are made for specialized applications, like audio production, or for use on older hardware.  Others, like Ubuntu, are for end users looking for a nice desktop OS.

Once downloaded, you’ll need to install it onto your computer.  This is where things get tricky and most people will hit snags here.  First thing to remember is don’t do any harm to your current Windows setup.  The best bet is to install Linux onto a separate hard disk, or onto a flash drive for testing purposes.  If you aren’t too technically savvy, then your best bet is to hook into a local Linux user group, a group of Linux fanatics in your area, who’d probably love to assist you.  Do a search for a linux user group in your area here.

Once installed, where do I go for support?  Again, this is where Linux shines.  Rather than calling Microsoft support and getting some person sitting in a call center in another country reading off of a script, you can tap into the community of Linux users for help.  They are usually a very friendly bunch, willing to help you make the jump to Linux.  In the past, Linux had a reputation for users who were a little rude towards new users, but lately things are changing and the Ubuntu user forums are especially friendly to new users.  

The most important thing is don’t give up when you hit a snag.  Once you “get it”, Linux is a wonderful, powerful alternative to Windows.

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