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Free Linux????

I have heard all of the hype about linux being free unix and how it is the best system to be working on but I haven't found anywhere two important parts - 1.  where and how do I get it free (there seem to be multiple distrubutions who would love to send me a copy for some monetary compensation) and 2.  How do I go about installing it on my existing empty FAT32 partition.  I realize this probably isn't difffucult it is merely ommitted from everything that I have read.
1 Solution
Yoho !
1. Well, you can find linux on the internet for free, check out http://www.linux.org/dist/ftp.html for that, if you want to know which distribution fits ur needs, check http://www.linux.org/help/beginner/distributions.html

2. This is not possible as Linux brings it's own filesystem with it, you can access your windows files from linux (with a kernel with vfat support compiled in, i think kernel 2.0.34 can read not only FAT16 but Fat32 as well) and otherwise round, a really good tool for windows --> linux is ex2fs, download it from http://jnewbigin-pc.it.swin.edu.au/linux.htm

a) Yes, Linux is free. The distributors charge for the service of gathering the most popular components of Linux (the kernel, important utilities, popular applications, etc) into "distributions". They are free to charge for this service, under the conditions set forth in the General Public License (www.gnu.org). By purchasing a distribution you get a complete package of everything you need, which usually includes a CD or two, a manual, boot disks, and some sort of installation support (Red Hat offers 30 days). Most distributions can also be downloaded from the Internet for free, from sites such as ftp.redhat.com. I strongly recommend paying for a CD, though. Downloading over 200 megs of software isn't anyone's idea of fun... If you want, you can get Linux CD's from www.cheapbytes.com for less than $10, including shipping. They don't come with a printed manual or anything but the CD has everything you really need.

b) If the partition is truly empty, you can just reformat it as a Linux EXT2 partition. You need about 500 megs of space (100 bare minimum; 500 is a "comfortable" amount). Linux's partitioning program can do this. You'll need to change its type to "Linux main", type 83. You'll also need a "swap" partition, so you might have to use the partitioning program to delete the existing empty partition and create two more in its place, one large one for Linux and a small (50 meg) one for swap space (type 82). Just make sure you know which physical hard drive the partition is located on, and which partition within that drive it is. For instance, the first physical hard drive is /dev/hda, the second is /dev/hdb, and so on. The first primary partition on the drive is /dev/hda1, the second is /dev/hda2, up to 4. The first extended partition is /dev/hda5. I strongly recommend reading the manual closely until you understand how this works; once I almost lost three partitions because I tried to repartition my drive for Linux without reading how first :)

-Reeves Hall

sleepnirAuthor Commented:
Sorry I took so long in responding to these answers.  Here is the deal.  I know I can get the kernel and I know it is possible to do the format but what I do not understand is how to go from downloading these files to setting up.  Do they have install programs which will run from win95, win98 or dos?  Or do I have to make some kind of boot disk.  If I do have to make a boot disk how do I do that?  Should I be able to find a converter program which will perform my conversion under win95 so I can boot from the converted partitionand save my files there?  I appreciate the insight on where to find the things I am looking for but I need to understand the bridge between win95/98/dos to Linux.
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Go to ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/redhat-5.2/i386/dosutils/ and ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/redhat-5.2/i386/images/.  Download the DOS utility 'rawrite.exe' from the 'dosutils' directory and 'boot.img' and 'supp.img' in the 'images' directory.  Use rawrite to create two floppies labelled 'boot' (the boot disk) and 'supp' (the supplementary install disk).  If you have an ethernet-based network connection and access to FTP, you don't need anything more; if not, then you will need to download everything under the "RedHat" directory at ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/redhat-5.2/i386/RedHat onto a partition _other than_ the empty one you want for Linux.  

If you have a connection to the Internet via ethernet (e.g. in an office or with a cable modem) then you boot with the 'boot' disk, select "FTP install", insert the 'supp' disk, point the install program to ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/redhat-5.2/i386, then go to bed.  It should be installed by the next morning.  Consider using a mirror site for this; ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/distributions/redhat/redhat-5.2/i386 is a lot faster and often less busy.

If you copied all the files to your hard drive, then boot from the 'boot' floppy.  Follow the prompts for a "local hard disk install".

The Linux installation utility runs under Linux.  You only need DOS to get the boot disks and the files that make up the Linux distribution, then you boot Linux just like any other OS.

It is possible to install Linux on a single huge file within a fat32 partition (e.g. you have one large fat32 partition and you don't want to delete files on it), but it's not for the timid and too slow to be useful.
sleepnirAuthor Commented:
Thank you for all of the help - you all had very useful details for me.  I haven't yet had the time to get this done but I think I have enough information to do it.  I will try to contact the administrator so you can all get some share in the answering.
sleepnirAuthor Commented:
Hey zblaxell and overcode, I have posted questions for both of you to get your points for answering this question.  If you don't reply to them to receive your points within a week or so I'm going to delete them.  I thought you were very helpful and I wanted to reward you but if you don't want the points I'm going to free up the space.
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