Originally Published: Friday, 24 September 1999 Author: Mike Chan
Published to: news_learn_firststep/Firststep News Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Obtaining Linux

The first step in the long journey of Linux is to get the software itself. Before we begin, make sure that your hardware is supported in Linux. Problem spots tend to be video, network, and sound cards. We'll tell you the easiest ways to get your hands on a Linux distribution.

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Obtaining Linux

The first step in the long journey of Linux is to get the software itself. Before we begin, make sure that your hardware is supported in Linux. Problem spots tend to be video, network, and sound cards. If you haven't done that, surf over to PC-Clone Unix Hardware Buyer's Guide to see if the kernel will support your hardware. If any of your hardware does not show up on those HCLs (Hardware Compatibility Lists), you run the risk of Linux not being able to use that hardware.

By now, you should have decided what type of distribution that you would like to install, based on their respective merits. For most people who still await the day when everyone and their dog has a lightning fast connection to the internet, buying a CD is still the way to go. The numerous advantages of having a CD are speed and convenience. There are two things to keep in mind when buying a CD. If you are new to Linux, buying a boxed genuine version of your preferred distribution may be worthwhile. The boxes that come with Redhat, Caldera, or other popular distributions contain not only the kernel, popular software, and tech support, but they also come with some handy paper documentation that will start you on the right foot. In this case, Linux is not as "free" as it seems, but for beginners it is very worthwhile.

For those that are familiar with a specific distribution of linux, and want to try out other distributions, but don't want to spend a lot of money, there is an economical solution. Online stores like CheapBytes and Linux Central sell copies of the brand name distributions, without those pesky books, leaflets, and tech support numbers. Just cold hard CDs without useless packaging. By ordering more than one distribution at a time, you can save on shipping, and there are usually specials that you want to watch out for.

The seasoned Linux user with a fat pipe may opt to download the latest version from FTP. Most linux distros will also allow you to install from a local drive, Samba, or NFS. These latter methods are geared more for IT professionals who are interested in mass customized installations.

For the ultra-cheap, another often overlooked method for obtaining Linux is to just bug your friends and neighbors for a copy. Unlike most software, using the same installation CD many times on many computers by many individuals is actually promoted. This provides an easy way to try out linux without any financial investment.

Another option for users with a safe form of transportation, is to bring their computer to a local LUG (Linux Users Group) installfest. These are held in regular intervals by LUGs. This is a great way to meet other Linux users, and have Linux installed on your computer by professionals. Details vary from LUG to LUG, so if checking the web sites of a local LUG near you is the best course of action. If you are serious about Linux, joining the mailing list of a local LUG can be helpful. Be advised that joining the mailing list of a hard-core LUG like SVLUG will generate large amounts of techie mail.

Now you can kick back, relax, and pat yourself on the back. You are now on your way to becoming an enlightened user of a GNU OS. If you ordered a cd, wait patiently at your mailbox for it to arrive, and get ready to linux. For those that had someone else install linux on their computer, getting to know the of linux would be the next step. For those with too much time and money on their hands, making copies of linux installation CDs and distributing them on sidewalks is a great way to serve the community.

Michael Chan





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