21 Jan 07
There are almost as many different ways to install Linux as there are different distributions, so I can't provide specific directions here. However, I will give you a basic outline of what you will need to do, and the installation instructions for your distribution can fill in the details.
First, you need to decided what you are going to use as an installation medium. Some distributions offer an FTP or NFS install, which is usually the fastest. Almost all distributions offer a bootable CD install, which is usually the easiest way to get Linux installed, and I suggest you try a CD install if you new to Linux. There are a few different ways to get a Linux CD.
The most common way is to download the .iso images from your distribution's web site, then burn that image onto a CD. When you download the image, make sure to get the correct version for the type of computer you will be installing Linux on. If you are installing on a PC-compatible computer, you will want the “i386” version. There might also be other “x86” versions (like 586), which should also work fine. If you are installing on a Mac, then you will want the PPC version.
An .iso is a binary image of a CD, so make sure that when you burn it to a CD, you select the option to “Make CD from an Image” or however your CD burning program words it. I've had good luck using ISORecorder under Windows.
I recommend that you download the files with BitTorrent in order to get the file as fast as possible. If you don't want to download it and burn it yourself, there are a few other ways to get a CD. Ubuntu will ship you CD's for free. You just have to ask nicely. Also, you can buy almost any distribution and have it shipped to you for a reasonable price at distrowatch.
Once you have the CD, the next step is to prepare your computer for the installation. Back up any files you are going to want to keep. If you want to have both Windows and Linux on your computer (called “dual booting”), you may want to partition your drives before you start the install using the Windows Disk Manager or a program such as partition magic. If you do intend to dual-boot, install Windows first and Linux second. Most Linux installation programs can help you set up dual booting. The Windows installation process is famous for changing the boot manager, which can be confusing for new people to fix, so save yourself some frustartion and install Linux after you finish the Windows install.
You may want to have a laptop or another computer handy in case you have some questions as you are installing. That way, you can easily have this guide and Google at your fingertips. You can also have your distribution installation notes in front of you. If you don't have another computer handy, I suggest you at least print out the installation instructions for your distribution.
Put your Linux CD into the drive and reboot your computer. It will go through a short setup process and then take you to the installation program. If it takes you to a flashing prompt, you can usually just press ENTER to start the installation. If it takes you to a graphical desktop, there will probably be an “Installer” icon on the desktop to get you going. From there, just follow the prompts. It is usually self-explanatory. Again, if you have questions, your distribution installation notes are the best place to look. The next best place to get help is in the forums for your distribution. You can ask in the Radified forums if you need some direction. Google is also your friend.
At some point, you will be asked to partition the disk and mount the partitions in their respective folders. Read on for an explanation of Linux partitions.
28 Jan 08