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How to try a free software operating system...

by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Oct 15, 2010 03:52 PM
Making the switch to a new operating system can be a daunting task, but with free software, it's a little easier thanks to what are known as live CDs.

A live CD, is a CD-ROM (or sometimes a DVD-ROM) that you can either download and burn to a blank disc yourself, or get one from a friend, company or magazine.

A live CD is special, because it lets you run a free software operating system on your computer, without installing it. This gives you a real insight into how the system works for you without altering any of your existing files.

Try GNU/Linux in three easy steps.

  1. Decide which version of GNU/Linux you're going to try and download it. When you download it, you will have an ISO file, of around 700 megabytes.

    If you're not sure which one to try, Trisquel is the distribution currently shipping on the Free Software Foundation live CD membership card, and is good for both beginners and experienced users alike.

  2. Burn the ISO file to a blank CD. This is not just a matter of putting the file onto the CD, so please check the instructions if you're not sure how to proceed.
  3. Reboot your computer with the CD in the drive. If the CD does not automatically load up, you may need to tell your computer to boot from a CD.

If you decide you want to keep using the system you've downloaded, there is usually an install option on the desktop, or on the screen that appears when your computer first starts up.

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