If you haven't tested the Linux waters yet, now's the time. In this starter guide—and in step-by-step instructions—we'll help you every inch of the way And you don't have to give up using Windows.
By Neil Randall
Linux is hot again. In fact, there's never been a better time for Microsoft Windows users to give Linux a whirl. The OS is more usable than ever, easier to install, and more compatible with PC hardware. It still helps to be somewhat tech-savvy to get the most out of Linux, but that's no longer a major requirement. If you're reading this magazine, you already have what it takes.
Not long ago, Linux seemed ready to make a serious dent in the supremacy of Windows on the PC desktop. Corporations had begun to adopt it, and consumer versions appeared that removed much of the Unix-based operating system's oft-discussed user-unfriendliness. Suddenly, installing Linux and getting a PC's hardware to work was no longer solely the province of techies: Pretty well anyone could install it, work with it, and even use it regularly.
That was a few years ago. Since then, Linux's fortunes have waxed and waned—mostly waned—but development of this open-source OS and its open-source applications have continued apace. This year, something else has happened that always seems to spur interest in alternative OSs: Microsoft released a new OS of its own. Possibly because upgrading to Vista costs money, or maybe just because getting a new OS reawakens PC users' enjoyment of experimenting with new software, Linux is cool again.
With the tips and resources we give you in this story, you'll be better acquainted with Linux and have the guts to get started. We'll set you up with the right distro for beginners, a slew of apps, and valuable tips to keep you on track. But that's not all! When you're ready, hop online for step-by-step instructions in our Linux Installation Guide (go.pcmag.com/linuxinstall). And in our Solutions section, we launch a regular page devoted to Linux. In this issue, we guide you on dual-booting Windows and Linux.—next: Is Linux Really Free?
Hope this helps,