Try Linux

A few notes

Which distribution should I use?

There are websites that can help you chose an appropriate distro, however, only a few of them asks which Desktop environment (DE) you prefer.

A desktop environment (DE) is the graphical user interface of the desktop and various utilities such as text editors and multimedia players.

You are not limited to only one user interface like you are with Windows or Mac OS X. You can install multiple DEs and switch between the different desktops to find out which of the desktops you like the most. You could, for example, have both GNOME 2, GNOME 3 and KDE installed and choose one of them each time you log in.

The utilities will work independent of which desktop you use. You can use utility a from one DE and the desktop of another. For example: I wrote this page using KWrite which is from KDE, but on an LXDE desktop.

Software availability

More and more things are moving over to the web. We're about to enter a world where the only software you need is a browser.

The two most popular browsers are available, but often with minor differences. Firefox might be called something else and have a different logo, fortunately, it is often the default browser of a distro. Google Chrome as itself is not as common as Chromium, which is the open-source part of Chrome.

WYSIWYG editors (word processors) such as OpenOffice or LibreOffice are often installed by default.

Miscellaneous software can be installed with the package manager. The Ubuntu software centre, for instance, is very much like an app store. More technical package managers such as Synaptic are not too difficult to use either.

Afraid of the terminal?

If you're just the average Joe or Jane, the terminal is something you won't need.

The only time you'll ever "have to" use the terminal is when you a have a serious technical issue. (On a Windows platform you would "solve" the issue by rebooting and reinstalling stuff.)

How to run?

There are three ways that you can have a distro coexisting with Windows on your computer:

How?ProsCons
On a virtual machine
  • You don't need a CD.
  • You can (must) run both operating systems simultaneously.
  • There is a very low risk of destroying data on your harddrive.
  • Virtual machines are slow.
  • They may be difficult to set up.
  • Virtual machines are buggier than real ones.
  • Installation takes a long time.
Live-distro
  • You don't need to install anything.
  • You must burn a CD from an image. It is easier in newer version of Windows.
  • There is a small risk that you will delete all data on your harddrive by mistake.
  • You probably can't install any software on the distro. Workarounds are very technical.
  • CDs are slow
Multi-booting
  • This will be the fastest
  • You must burn a CD from an image. It is easier in newer version of Windows.
  • There is a small risk that you will delete all data on your harddrive by mistake.
  • Installation takes a long time.

Feeling ready?

Check out The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments to know which DE you'll prefer and visit Linux Distro Picker to know which distro fits you.