Ah yes, Linux. It’s the greatest OS ever made (to be sure), and not nearly as complicated as anyone ever fears it will be. In fact, the biggest problem that I hear about is getting Linux. So, my first advice is to buy it. Get a nice boxed set, like Red Hat 7.0, that comes with an instruction manual and tech support.
“But wait, starX,” you might say. “Linux is supposed to be FREE! I don’t want to pay for it, that would make it like Microshaft Windblows!”
Well, my answer is that your average RH7 box set costs less than $40. I don’t know how much Windows costs, but I’m sure that a full version is well over $200. And that doesn’t even come with a compiler, or a web server, or a good word processor, or a spread sheet, or…, or…, well, you get my point. The other nice thing is that a boxed set comes with a nice little instruction book that tells you how to install Linux. And that there’s usually some kind of tech support and priority FTP download that you get if you buy the box set.
That’s certainly not the only way. There are many books out there that actually come with distributions on CD. Yes, the books do cost money… usually somewhere in the $30-$50 range, and if you’re going to bawk at spending the money for a bixed set, you probably won’t find paying money for a book much more apealing.
So now we get into how to get Linux for free. The best thing I can do is point you to Linux Online’s Distribution List. It has links to a wide variety of distributions, so you’re bound to find one that suites your needs.
My personal method of getting Linux was to download the *.iso file from a Red hat Mirror site. Of course that was when I had broad band access and a CD burner. *.iso files are generally close to 600MB, and they’re only good if you have a CD burner. The other option is to download Red Hat one component at a time, but that is bound to take a while. Thus, when I want a new distro of Red hat, I plan on buying one (unless I bet RoadRunner and fix my CD Burner :#).
Installing a full fledged Linux system might not be your thing. If you’re just learning, I would actually recommend that you stick to somehting smaller. That’s why they make floppy Linuxes. A floppy Linux is a tiny distribution of Linux that lacks all the frill and froo froo, and so generally fits on one or two floppy diskettes. They generally work completely in RAM, and won’t even scratch your hard drive, so when the power button goes off, the distro goes away for when you screw up (and if you are mortal like me, you will). My personal recommendation is to use muLinux. It is small, but extensively expanseable through floppy add-ons.
So there you have it, my fellow enlightened individuals. You’ve just made your first steps into a larger world of Linux. Go forth, be fruitful, and multiply your ideas!