I have helped a few people get started with Linux the last couple of years and the tool that helped them get exposed to it, and finally installing Linux on their system, is called UnetBootin. You can find their official homepage in the References list below this blog post.

The nice thing about UnetBootin is that it runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It gives you access to many different tools and operating systems that you can then simply install to a USB drive. It isn’t limited to operating systems, but also for recovery tools, administration tools, and other “live” CD’s.

The current ‘favorite’ distribution of Linux for an install is probably going to be Ubuntu, as it is highly documented, has a large user base, there are plenty of resources that are easily found on the web. It is available, of course, in the drop down list of UnetBootin as a ‘Live CD’ install, which means that you can install it to that USB thumbdrive that you have, you can test drive it, and if you like what you see, you can install it to your system. But you won’t be disappointed in it as a first install.

But I want to use the tools on my native system until I feel comfortable enough!

To get some of the tools that are available on Linux to your current system, you may want to install some software, such as LibreOffice which seems to be taking the place of OpenOffice as an ‘Installed by Default’ office suite for some distributions of Linux. The OpenOffice suite is also a good office suite of tools, though, and LibreOffice is a derivative of this project.

DSL - The small ‘Linux on a Stick’ distribution

Now, DSL may not be exactly for the person wanting to get started or seeing their very first Linux experiences, but it is good to have in your tool box. It will get you running and connected to the network on perhaps an older machine that you want to browse the internet on, or just play around with. It can do some serious things, but this is an article written for those that want to get familiar with Linux, so it has its place.

This gives you a very small Linux distribution with some basic software that lets you get familiar with the look and feel of a Linux environmnet. It is meant to be loaded from USB stick, for a temporarily booted environment, but with your standard useful tools, such as Internet browsers, ‘Office’ software, etc. It doesn’t have installed by default the common “Office Suite” software, but is a lightweight distribution. And those installations are available, so you can install them.

Congratulations on wanting to expand your Operating Sytem Experience

There are many reasons to use Linux. Linux is a workhorse operating system. It is free to install, free to use, has a very long history, has great people working on it, and is no longer for the technically elite. My children have used it from a very young age, and my mother started using it last year.

There are professional grade tools, and games available on it, and the available software will only grow. Much of the software available is free in various meanings of the word, including no monetary charge for use, even commercial use.

If you are just starting out using a Unix-like system, you could be up and running today. Of course, like any complex system, there is a learning curve, but you can start being productive with it quickly, and the good thing is it will open you up to a whole new world of computing.

So congratulations on being open to Open Source Computing!

References

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