which linux version to use?

I am confused as to which linux version to start using. In a couple of months at work - I will have to be  inputting a few unix commands- so I thought I would install linux at home- because I have heard it is similar to unix.
If I have a computer with no operating system on it - can I install linux on it?
I have two computers - one I have XP on and the other has not operating system yet. I am hoping to put linux on the one with no os.
With windows I either use startup disks or boot from CD.
What version of linux is good to use?
And is there alot to installing it?

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Sure you can put linux on the PC with no OS, if it is powerfull enough (although basic linux will run on systems below Pentiuim Class PC's, I do suggest you use something better). For a beginner there are many Linux flavours or distributions which are good. Look on the http://linuxiso.org where you can find a whole lot of them to download. Most come as Iso's which means CD copies which you then burn to CD. You then boot that CD and start the installation.

Very good distributions are Fedotra-Core 4, which is the free version of Redhat, or another one is SuSE personal edition, which is also free for download. Then there is mandrivia, which is the successor of mandrake and is supposed to be the easiest to install.

There are also some very good versions which come on live CD and run directly from there, which is very good for testing and diagnostic purposes, you can find out with these if the system's hardware will work properly, before you have to install anything, and it doesn't do anything to the HD. My favourite here is knoppix.


But there is also Ubuntu linux and Mepis. All 3 of those distro's are based on the Debian distribution, which is probably the most stable distribution and the most widely used, but debian itself isn't very easy to install. Using the live CD's above allows you to install debian much easier.

A very good distribution for you if you really want to learn something about linux, is gentoo. This is difficult to install, because you can do it all manually, compiling the kernel and setting it up to be optimized for your hardware, but the documentation how to do that is very good and you really learn the workings by doing the installation.


OpenBSD or freeBSD would also be a good option for you, as it is a unix version and not linux


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You should try fedora Core 4 this version of linux is easy to use and there is alot of
support for it.

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