Get started!So you like the sound of Linux and free open source software? Want to know where to go from here?
Try some free open source software!Well, if you would like to try out some software on your current Windows or OSX operating system you can! There are many open source applications available for you to try. Some are listed on the 'Software you might already use' page. Follow the links on that page and download the software you want to try. They are often available for Windows and OSX.
Try Linux!Perhaps you want to try out Linux on your own computer? If you're ready to jump right in you could install it straight onto your computer's hard drive, or you could also test Linux on your computer from a 'Live CD' without installing it! A Live CD boots your computer into a Linux system running entirely from the CD in your computer's memory. It does not install to your hard drive so you can try Linux without needing to change your computer's current setup.
As mentioned in the 'What is Linux?' section, there are many versions of Linux, called 'distributions'. In essence they are all the same but they can have different ways of doing things, such as the way they handle the installation of applications. Different distributions often come with different software by default and some come with different versions of that software. Artwork is often different as can be the layout and feel of the desktop. There are two main user interfaces (desktops) for Linux. One is called 'KDE' and the other is 'GNOME'. Most distributions come with both, so you test and see which one you prefer to use. Our gallery contains screenshots of both, so you can see what they look like.
You may like to try a few different Linux distributions until you find one you really like to use. A great resource for distribution news and information can be found at Distrowatch.com.
Here is a list of some of the most popular distributions for you to investigate:
|Mandriva||Live CD available|
|openSUSE||Live DVD available|
|Ubuntu||Live CD available|
Remember that Linux can be installed on the same hard drive next to your Windows installation, so if you aren't ready to make the full jump you can test Linux and still have Windows available if you need it.
Will Linux run on your computer?As Linux has excellent hardware support, chances are that the Linux distribution you choose will run well on your computer. Many distributions provide 'minimum requirement' information and some can even check your computer and report on what will and won't work, before you install! Linux also tends to be less memory intensive than other operating systems, so it often works well even on older computers.
If you have a very old computer however, there are special distributions designed for older machines. Two excellent distributions in this area are Puppy and Damn Small. They are also Live CDs and can even run on computers with a 486 processor and only 16MB of ram!
We suggest you start by downloading a Live CD from one of the distributions listed above, burn it to a blank CD then reboot your computer. This will let Linux boot from the CD entirely in memory without touching your hard drive. It's a great way to see what Linux is all about and how it works. It will also let you see which distribution you might like the most.
Documentation and HelpAs Linux works differently to Windows, we recommend reading the documentation that comes with the distribution you choose to install. This will help you create a successful installation the very first time round. Also, don't be shy to ask for help on the distribution's mailing list, forums, wiki or other support network.
Some Linux distributions like Ubuntu (via Canonical) and Fedora (via Red Hat) provide commercial support if you require it. We might also be able to help you here on our mailing list if you need assistance.
On the previous page we have some screenshots of various Linux distributions and free open source software for you to view. We also intend to have some videos so you can see Linux in action.