Ubuntu Linux for beginners: Tips for getting started

Answers to all your Ubuntu setup questions -- and some you didn't think to ask.

Maybe it was one piece of malware too many, maybe it was realizing that while Windows 7 doesn't look like XP, there really wasn't that much better about it, in any case the day had come when you decided to give Ubuntu Linux a try. Here's what you need to know to make the most of your new experiment in operating systems.

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Getting Ubuntu

The easiest way to try Ubuntu is to just buy a laptop or PC that already has Ubuntu installed on it. Dell, system76, and ZaReason are all reputable computer vendors who have shipped Ubuntu equipment for years. You won't go wrong with any of these vendors.

If you're not in the market for a new PC, it's easy to give Ubuntu a try on your existing PC. Indeed, you won't have to change a thing on your computer to try it.

First, you'll need to download a copy of the latest version of Ubuntu. Today, that's Ubuntu 10.10. You might be tempted to try a newer version. Don't give in to temptation. The alpha and beta releases of any Linux system are for expert users, not someone who's trying Linux for the first time.

The fastest way to get a copy is to download it from the Ubuntu download page. Not sure which version to get? Just go for the 32-bit. Even if your machine can support a 64-bit operating system, the 32-bit edition will still run just fine on your PC.

Tip: Not sure which version to get? Just go for the 32-bit. Even if your machine can support a 64-bit operating system, the 32-bit edition will still run just fine on your PC.

Once you have it downloaded, you'll need to burn the downloaded image to either a CD or an USB stick. If you aren't sure about how to do this, don't worry about it, the Ubuntu download page includes detailed instructions, under the “show me how” button. Trust me, if you know how to work a computer, you can do this.

Then, all you need do, is put the freshly burned CD or USB stick in your computer and reboot it. Almost all modern computers will boot up and give you a choice between trying Ubuntu out or installing it. Since at this point you're just fooling around with Ubuntu to get a feel for it, select Try Ubuntu.

This should boot you into an Ubuntu session. There are other ways to try out a new Linux distribution, but you won't need to worry with them. A live CD or USB stick is all you need to start with.

Next page: Trying Ubuntu

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