If you are building a new system or upgrading an existing PC, installing Linux as the OS may not be the first option you considered.
Linux is the underlying structure used to power operating system distributions which are similar to the software most users are familiar with – Windows.
It is open source and prevalent in a number of software distributions, from smart IoT platforms and Android smartphones to server operating systems.
Installing a Linux distribution instead of Microsoft Windows on a new or existing machine can be great for reducing overhead and saving costs.
While certain video games and applications may not run correctly on Linux desktop distributions, most common tasks can be conducted with the same level of convenience as “standard operating” systems.
Choosing a version
Popular Linux distributions which feature similar interfaces to Windows include Ubuntu, Mint, and Manjaro, although there are a variety of other projects, including an actively-developed desktop version of the Android operating system.
Which version you decide to install on your system will depend on what you plan to use it for.
If you use the PC as you would a standard Windows computer, then you could select a distribution which offers a Windows-like experience and is beginner-friendly.
If you are building a machine as a headless network-connected media centre with limited capabilities, you could use a lightweight distribution and control the system remotely.
It is also important to choose a distribution which is in line with the hardware capabilities of your system.
Note the storage requirements and memory overhead of your chosen distribution to ensure that your hardware will be able to run it smoothly, otherwise you may need to downgrade to a distribution with fewer features.
How to install Linux
The first step is to fire up a PC and download the correct version of your chosen Linux distribution.
Visit a secure website hosting the distribution, and download the correct ISO file for your destination system – example: 64-bit version for a system with a 64-bit CPU.
After downloading the ISO, insert a flash drive big enough to store the Linux distribution file on into the PC where the file has been downloaded to.
Using a free utility like Rufus, set up the flash drive as a bootable drive by selecting the ISO image option and opening the ISO file you downloaded.
Once the ISO has been installed on the USB drive, remove it from your machine and insert it into the PC where you want to install your Linux distribution.
Boot this PC and enter the BIOS menu to set the flash drive as the main boot drive.
You can then restart the machine and follow the on-screen instructions to install your chosen Linux distribution.
These on-screen instructions can vary between distributions, but usually require the user to run an install executable and then proceed through a setup wizard to define their type of installation.
This method works for installing Linux distributions either as a standalone OS or alongside an existing Windows installation.