Unless you search it out, you're not likely to come across a PC that comes with Linux pre-installed (exception being the wide-variety of netbooks being sold). Because of this if you want to use Linux you are probably going to have to install the operating system yourself. To hard-core geeks that is not only a non-issue it's typically rainy-day fun. But for the vast majority of people (who are not of the geek persuasion) installing an operating system might as well be brain surgery.
Little do the unwashed masses know that installing Linux is actually a very simple process. In fact, installing Linux is far easier than installing any flavor of Windows. Let me walk you through the typical Linux installation from a LiveCD disk. There might be some minor variation on the order, depending upon which distribution you use.
NOTE: A LiveCD is a version of a Linux distribution that allows you to run the operating system from CD and RAM. No changes are made to your computer unless you start the installation process.
At this point the installation will be completely automatic. When the installation is complete you will want to reboot your computer (remember, you are running from the LiveCD still). When the reboot is finished you will be at the log in screen. Enter the username/password you supplied during install and your desktop will start up. Congratulations, you have successfully installed Linux!
But will all of my hardware work?
This is often one of the more often asked questions regarding Linux. Generally speaking, the answer is "yes". There are, of course, some hardware that might have trouble. One area that can give you problems is your video card. Linux does a great job of detecting hardware, and most likely your video card will be detected. There are, unfortunately, cards that simply aren't supported. For a good list of supported video cards take a look at this page for a fairly comprehensive listing. The next piece of hardware that can cause problems is wireless networking. I have found most modern distributions are outstanding at finding wireless cards. But just in case you need to know for sure, here is an extensive listing of how wireless cards fare with Linux support.
Most other hardware shouldn't give you problems. But in case you have one particular piece that doesn't work "out of the box" you can always try a different distribution. As far as I have discovered Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, and Mandriva are the best as discovering and automatically configuring hardware.
Installing Linux is a piece of cake. Seriously. If youc an install a piece of software on a Windows machine, you can install Linux. It's that easy.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.