How to Install Linux on a Computer
Linux is a free, open-source operating system that runs on desktop computers and servers. It powers the Pleiades supercomputer operated by NASA and IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence system, and it’s used by individuals and businesses alike to manage data, run web apps, develop software and hardware, and more. It’s easy to learn and use, and it offers a level of flexibility and customization that other operating systems don’t.
Linux was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991 while he was a student at the University of Helsinki. He built the kernel as a replacement for Minix, an inexpensive Unix system that he was using to learn computer programming. After he released the first version of Linux, other programmers contributed to the project by adding features and fixing bugs. Today, there are thousands of Linux “distros” (or flavor variants) that can be downloaded, burned to disk, and installed on as many machines as you want. They vary in their package management systems, desktop environments, and philosophies, but they all share the same core infrastructure and are designed to be fast, stable, and secure.
The most popular Linux flavors include Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, and KDE. Most offer a variety of desktop environments, which are essentially graphical user interfaces that determine how your Linux system looks and feels. Some feature modern designs, like those in Windows’s Aero and Metro environments, or macOS’s Aqua, while others are more traditional with a choice of icons, menus, panels, and widgets. Most of these DEs are highly customizable, though some are better suited to certain types of users than others.
New Linux users should start by connecting a live Linux boot disk to their PC and powering it on with the BIOS set to boot from the device. Then, they can explore the operating system and try out a few applications. This step is critical because it will help them decide whether or not Linux is a good fit for them before they invest time in installing it on their computer.
If they like what they see, they can continue on to the next step: a full installation. To do this, they’ll need to burn the Linux image to a DVD or USB drive and follow the instructions in the distro’s online documentation. The process can take a little bit of time, but it’s well worth it to find the best Linux setup for their needs.
Linux is a great option for both new and experienced computer users. It offers stability and reliability that other operating systems don’t, making it perfect for servers and other critical systems. And, with its wide range of desktop environments, software packages, and system configurations, Linux is also a great fit for personal computing. The more you use it, the more you’ll understand why so many people love it. Just be sure to back up your data before you begin! You’ll be glad you did.