How to install Linux?

I want to learn about Linux and want to install Linux onto a pc. I believe it could be free but where to download and how to install? Is there a different separate installer for desktop and server edition?
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I think a good Linux distribution for beginners is Ubuntu. I have use Ubuntu and SuSE and RedHat and Ubuntu was the best.

I suggest you get VMware Workstation and install Ubuntu as a virtual machine. VMware Workstation is not too expensive, is best in class, and has good networking tools. You will be able to run Windows Host and Guest Linux simultaneously and learn about networking interconnections.

Ubuntu Server is different from Ubuntu Desktop. You can run either as a virtual machine.
Gerwin Jansen, EE MVETopic Advisor Commented:
You can have a try in a virtual environment first if you like, details are in this article I wrote:
The distrowatch site has a very large list of Linux distro's you can download and try. Most of them come as LiveMedia, from which you can also install the distro. LiveMedia is very practical as you can burn the iso to a DVD or CD, then boot the PC from that DVD/CD and run it directly, without having to first install it. You can then look at the features and test it. Most of them also have an installer on the desktop with which you can install it to your HD.

Personally I don't think Ubuntu to be the best distro, as it has a useless desktop interface and is slow and hardware hungry, compared with other distro's. One of the current best distro's for the desktop available is in my point of view MakuluLinux, the XFCE version. It is based on Ubuntu, but has a much better User Interface and also is a lot faster. There is an even nicer version coming out sometime in the middle of this month probably. The beta version looks really nice and very closely resembles Windows 7:

Basically you can use any Desktop distro also for servers, but if you want something for real server tasks you should get a distro dedicated for that. As server you can get Ubuntu Server, which has just a command line interface (no GUI), but I can also recommend Zentyal server which is also based on Ubuntu Server, but has a simple GUI, but mainly you would use a web browser to configure and maintain it from another PC. It is very easy to setup and use, and has a modular setup which allows you to add modules for the tasks you need the server to do. It is similar in functions to m$'s SBS server, but without it's limitations of user numbers, and is fully compatible with Active Directory and also includes OpenChange which can be used to replace an Exchange server. The disadvantage of Zentyal could be that it may not be the best OS to learn on, as almost everything is autmated with scripts which you wouldn't find on normal servers.
10 Tips to Protect Your Business from Ransomware

Did you know that ransomware is the most widespread, destructive malware in the world today? It accounts for 39% of all security breaches, with ransomware gangsters projected to make $11.5B in profits from online extortion by 2019.

Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I recommend the Ubuntu desktop for a first version.  It is not necessarily the best but I have CentOS and an old RedHat installs and Ubuntu was easier to get started with the Gnome GUI.
Ubuntu doesn't use the gnome GUI, that may have been the case half a decade ago. Now it uses unity which is a terrible desktop, very slow, in-intuitive, and needs a powerful 3d GPU. It is the worst GUI you can get for Linux.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Didn't know that, I don't have recent version apparently.
CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
Thank you guys for all the helpful info.
One more question, while hunting for a job I ran into a job description with 'Linux/BSD'. Does 'Linux/BSD' refer to two things -- Linux and BSD or simply one thing -- FreeBSD? Or something else?
Please help.
It refers to two things, Linux and BSD.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Linux and BSD are different things.  Here is an article summarizing differences

You can use either, but simple free Linux is probably best for beginning.
CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
So if the job description only lists 'Linux/BSD', do you know which Linux and which BSD it likely refers to?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
They are different products. Choose the BSD version you want (probably newest) or the Linux distribution you want. Despite any shortcomings, I think Ubuntu is good to learn on.
CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
Thank you.
I was job hunting and found a job description with the required experience of "Linux/BSD". I know there are many distributions of them. And I tried to figure which Linux and which BSD it likely refers to?
You know?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Here is the information on BSD. I have not used it.

I have used Ubuntu, SuSE and RedHat. I tried to use Gentoo but that was a waste of time.
Probably many different ones. BSD type OS's are often part of Routers, NAS etc., and those are usually heavily customized so you can't really go for any specific distro. While Linux is often used in Servers etc. Most Production servers are based on Red Hat Enterprise (CentOS would be a free clone of Red Hat), Ubuntu Server, or SUSE server (Novel).

But if you are looking to apply for a job for which the description is "Linux/BSD", I doubt that installing Linux or BSD on PC's and trying to learn it will get you anywhere within a useful time frame to actually be able to apply for the Job. By the time you have learned enough the job will have been taken. Even if you take courses on the subjects it'll take longer to get enough knowledge.
CastlewoodAuthor Commented:
Good point -- it may be late for the currently opening job but never too late to learn for the future opening.
By the way, you mentioned in your earlier post above that I can burn the distro to a DVD and run directly from it. I've successfully done that and it works. Now can you tell me how to install to a USB flash drive so I can boot and run Linux from the USB drive.
It depends a little on the distro. Currently I'm using mainly the Windows tool "WinSetupFromUSB", which although it's name only mentions Windows, it also works with many Linux distro's. The advantage of this tool when compared with others is that you can have several different iso's on it and boot to any of them via a boot menu, while other tools only allow you to have one iso on it.

Using this tool you'll be running Linux in LiveMedia mode as if you were running it from a DVD, which means changes or installations of software are lost after a reboot.

If you want to properly install the OS to the internal HD or a USB stick (or also to an SD card etc) then you first just boot the distro like you did just now into lifemode. Most of them have a desktop icon to install it onto your PC. Just start that, and eventually you'll get to an option where you can select the destination. There you would select your USB stick or disk or whatever you want to install it to. Make sure the destination isn't being used, as it needs to be partitioned.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
If you are new to the Linux operating system - give Ubuntu a try.  You can also try Zorin - it has a more "Windows" like desktop - even though it is a revised version of Ubuntu.  You can run either of these WITHOUT installing them or you can install them and run them - yes they are free.  These are easy to start with for beginners.  

However, if you want to get a certification in Linux, and you want a free OS - you should start with CENTOS - that is the Red Hat open source build.  There are some differences but there are a lot of resources on the web to help you get going.  I know there are MANY free distros for Linux and everyone has their preference!  (Mint, OpenSuse, Fedora, Debian, and Gentoo - among others.)

You may find it fun to emulate other OS desktops (Ubuntu Tweak UI coupled with Noobslabs apple look stuff - with some tweaking you can make Ubuntu look like a Mac...)

I wish you the best!
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.