Part 1: Why install Linux?
It’s completely free, no matter what system.
Linux is completely free – for one million computers, or just one computer, with free future upgrades and free potential software. Most Linux software is also free and open source meaning that you can get it and all of its future updates for free.
It works on all systems, new or old.
Whether you have an aging PowerPC or a newer netbook that’s not running at full speed Linux can get the most out of it. Linux can support more hardware, take up less space on your hard drive (or SSD) and use less ram than Mac or Windows.
It’s a customizers dream
If you’re looking to install Linux than there is a good chance that you love having your desktop just right. Your pop up notifications change color for different things, you have certain widgets that tell you just the right amount of info, your windows color needs to be perfect. Oh, did I forget about keyboard shortcuts?
When you’re running Linux everything can be modified or edited. Right clicking on stuff alone can get you lots of places but if you’re really into it then you can edit a configuration file for just about everything.
It is the best way to learn more about computers
The command line is the only way to get computers to actually do what you want them to do. Linux is the best place to learn some of these commands along with other fundamentals of an operating system.
It’s just plain fun to mess around with
Sure, there are plenty of algorithms and serious data processing going on but it’s still a ball to play around with. Try out GTK themes and conky widgets, new docks, and even make a live broadcast of the ISS your wallpaper.
Part 2: Picking a flavor
By now you have decided to take the plunge into Linux. Now it’s time to pick out a distribution of Linux. Every distro is slightly different and picking out one can be a daunting task. Here we will highlight a few of our favorites.
Ubuntu is a slightly different spin on Linux. The original idea for ubuntu was “Linux for humans”. We recommend Ubuntu because of its huge support community online and it’s extreme stability. There are also many variations of Ubuntu which all have different GUI’s but are all the same underneath. If you have an older computer we recommend the Xubuntu version of Ubuntu.
Linux Mint is also a great choice for beginners because of it’s easy to use, Windows like design. There are also more GUI elements in Mint than Ubuntu, meaning that if you don’t want to do something in the terminal there is probably a GUI way to do it.
Elementary OS is one of the most user-friendly distro’s with a very simple and easy to use Desktop and GUI.
Part 3: Installation
So you’ve found the right distro and you want to give it shot. This part of the tutorial goes over everything you need to do to get started with installing Linux. In this part of the tutorial we will be demonstrating using Ubuntu.
Getting the ISO
Go to your chosen distros site and download the ISO image of the distro. This will normally be under the ‘download’ or ‘Get it’ tab of the website. You will probably have multiple ISO files to choose from so when in doubt pick the 64-bit download. Some distros offer a bit-torrent download as well which might be a little faster so be sure to try and find that. Once your ISO image is downloaded you must burn it to a DVD or flash drive.
DVD vs USB
When installing Linux you have the choice of installing it via USB or DVD. We recommend DVD because it works on more devices and can be faster than USB 1.0 which most old laptops will have.
Burning to a DVD
If the computer which you are installing to, does not have a DVD drive, skip to the next step.
On Windows you can open up file explorer, find the ISO file, and right click on it. Then press ‘burn’
Burning to USB
If you just burned a disk then skip this step.
On windows you can use a tool called Rufus to make the live USB. Download Rufus from here and download and run the EXE file.
On Mac you can get a tool called UNETbootin. Go to http://unetbootin.github.io/ and click on ‘download for Mac’
Booting into the DVD (or USB)
Shut off your computer and put in the DVD or USB. Next, turn on your computer and go into BIOS (On Mac hold the ALT key after you hear the boot-up noise) In BIOS select boot from DVD (Mac users use the left and right arrows to find the CD icon). You should now see your distro boot up.
Trying out the live environment*
*Note that things may look different on your computer
Select ‘Try Ubuntu’ (it may say something else like ‘Try out Mint’). After it loads you will see a working desktop, this is what your distro will look like after installation. This is a great way to try out your distro before you install (note that it will be less laggy after installation). When you are done playing around you can double click the ‘Install ******’ icon on the desktop.
Check off both of those boxes and press ‘Continue’
Select ‘Something else’ and press ‘continue’. Even if you wish to wipe your drive and install Ubuntu, press ‘Something else’.
If you are planning to dual boot then select the appropriate option.
If you are going to wipe your drive then follow the following instructions.
Select ‘New partition table
Then click on the free space line and press the little ‘+’ symbol.
Make your menu look like mine apart from the size selection. The Swap partition should be as big as your RAM. Press ‘OK’
Select the free space and click on the ‘+’ again. Make your menu look like mine again except for the size. This partition holds all of the users data. All of your documents, downloads and pictures go here so be sure to make it big enough for all of that. Press ‘OK’
Press the little ‘+’ one more time and make your menu look like mine besides the size area. This partition is where all of your programs are stored. You should make it at least 10 GB (I made mine the size it is because I ran out of space on my drive). Press ‘OK’.
Your screen should look like the above image. When you are ready select the line that is selected in the picture and press ‘Install Now.” The next steps are very easy. Once it is done installing, reboot your computer and give yourself a pat on the back- YOU DID IT!
Part 4: Getting the hardware to work
If you’re lucky then everything will work out of the box, but you might need to work out a few kinks, for example my Bluetooth only works on Linux Mint.
The big problem: WIFI
Most of the time it works right of the bat but when it doesn’t it’s bad.
The first place to look if your WiFi isn’t working is this place. If your wireless card is in the green then you are good. If it’s not then you should check Ubuntu’s community documentation where people share how they got there hardware to work with Ubuntu. After that your best bet is to try using windows drivers on Ubuntu. Use ethernet to run the command:
sudo apt-get install ndisgtk
Press ‘Install new driver’ and select the downloaded Windows driver.
For more info on that processes check out How-To-Geeks article here.
Some hardware companies make there drivers proprietary, therefore, impossible to download. In Ubuntu search for ‘Additional Drivers’ in the Dash. After it finishes searching for drivers, you can switch which ones you use.
Cant watch any videos or listen to music? First you have to run these two commands.
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras sudo usr/share/doc/libdvvdread4/install-css.sh
Part 5: Going further
You have all of your hardware working and all of your drivers in, what’s next?
Installing an application works differently in Linux than in Windows or Mac. Instead of downloading an installer (they exist but people use them less) you use a package manager to install a program. Kind of like in the Windows app store but better. Search for “Package Manager” and you’ll find your distro’s preferred one. Launch it and search for whatever program you want to install.
Go into your distros settings menu and I promise you it will be huge. Here you can tweak some things in your distro. Still not happy? Install the Gnome-Tweek-Tool package for even more customization like changing your mouse cursor, GTK theme and icons. You can also install apps like Compiz to gain many animations like the desktop cube. Also, you can look on sites like gnome-look.com for inspiration.