Getting Linux

If you want to try Linux, here’s how to get it.

Some may think this post is very elementary geek, but I have two thoughts in making it.

  • We were all newbies once.
  • Even the most experienced and expert Windows home user may have never installed an operating system from scratch.

I picked Kubuntu for this post. is an official fork of Linux which, instead of using the Gnome Desktop, uses the K Desktop Environment (KDE), which I prefer to .

I’m not a particularly big Ubuntu fan for my own geeky reasons, but it is probably the best-known Linux distribution right now, and it is very easy to install and use.

Before I can install it, though, I have to get it. It’s two step process.

      1. Download the , which is an image of the installation CD.
      2. Burn the ISO to CD.

The process is the same for almost every other Linux distribution, though many of them, including Ubuntu, offer the option of buying or DVDs at a nominal price ($12.99 for Ubuntu).

Step One: Find the website

Since I knew what I wanted, I used Google to find the website . . .

Googling Kubuntu

. . . and went right to the download page . . .

Step Two: Select a Method

. . . and selected “Download now.” If I wanted official installation media or were on dial-up, I could choose “Buy.”

Download Now

Step Three: Start the Download

This page requires a little more input:

1. Select which release, the newest of the previous one. Some provide many more choices.

2. Select the computer architecture. At many distro download sites, Intel or Intel-compatible architecture will be referred to as “x86” or a variant thereof.

3. Click the dropdown arrow to choose a mirror site for the download.


When you click on the dropdown, you get a huge list of download sites to select from.

Mirror Sites

Select a download site and click “Start Download.”

A standard “Save As” dialog appears so you can select where you wish to put the downloaded file.

Then go vacuum the floor or something. It takes a while for CD/DVD files to download.


Most distro download sites provide MD5 information which you can use to verify the integrity of the download. (Half the time, I skip this step.) You can read more about MD5 here.

Step Four: Burn the CD/DVD

How to do this depends on your CD/DVD burning program.

I include the following warning because I’ve made this mistake, and I made it long after I knew better:

Do not copy the ISO directly to the disk. The ISO file is an image of all the directories and files on the original disk. The burning tool must recreate the files and directories from the ISO on the target media. Read more about ISO files here.

Every burning program worth its salt has an ISO tool, but they all seem to hide them in different places (it’s sort of like going to the Acme instead of the Safeway; they both have Manwich, but they hide it in different aisles).

The Ubuntu and Kubuntu websites have an excellent HOWTO page on burning ISOs as well as a link to a free Windows burning program.

Next: Installing Kubuntu.

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