How to Install Linux
- A Linux installation guide for standard users.
You will need the following:
- Check your software works on Linux
- USB stick
- Spare computer
- Peace of Mind
Now for the steps in detail:
Take a copy of everything you care about, either on a cloud-account (like Dropbox), a USB stick (not the USB you’re about to use to install Linux), your phone, or whatever.
Check your software works on Linux
Change your software to Linux software before you switch operating systems.
If you need a program, check if it works on Linux. If it does not, search for an alternative which works on Linux, then try that out.
- Do you use Microsoft Word? Try out Only Office.
- Do you need Adobe Photoshop? Make sure that Krita or Gimp can do what you need before making the switch.
- Need accounting software? Try GNUCash.
If you just use your computer for websites and writing then you’ll be fine on Linux.
The data on the USB will be destroyed. Pick any distro described as ‘beginner friendly’, and download the ‘iso file’ (this is a file which works like a CD image, which is what people used to install Linux in the Victorian era).
My recommendation is Linux Mint but if anything’s fine. Ignore anyone who tells you to install Arch.
You need to tell them (a) the USB stick to use, and (b) where that iso file is. Once the USB stick has been prepared with the iso, you’re almost good to go.
You may run into problems so you should have a spare computer ready to go. You might make do with just using a mobile phone, but that’s a little risky. The spare computer may - if things go wrong - be used to look up information about the target computer’s BIOS.
Best to open this guide on the other computer.
Peace of Mind
Now comes the only tricky bit.
The Dreaded BIOS
Put the USB stick with Linux Mint (or whatever) into your computer.
Before your computer starts Windows/ Mac/ Haiku, it starts a mini-system called the BIOS. You can access this by hitting a key when the computer is booting up. It’s usually one of:
You can either look up which key you should press on your computer, or just frantically press them all, repeatedly, while rebooting, until you see a new type of screen.
Now you’ve rebooted into your BIOS, you need to hunt for two settings:
- Most computers have a ‘secure boot’ option. This is lies from Microsoft, put there to suggest other systems are not secure. If the option exists, you must turn it off.
- The boot order, which says which thing to start first.
Your computer usually starts up with whatever operating system is on the hard disk inside the case. You need to switch from the hard disk, to the USB. You might be able to select ‘USB: something’, or it might just say the USB’s brand-name, like ‘KINGSTON’.
The rest is easy and safe.
Once Linux has started from the USB stick, press the button saying ’try it out’, or something similar. Connect to WiFi, open a document, and generally just check things are working as expected.
Once you’re happy it’s all working, use the installer on the desktop - it will wipe Windows (or keep it and choose which one to use when your computer starts up). If there’s an option for ‘proprietary codecs’, you should tick it (it helps wifi etc. work).
Modern Linux Desktop Environments generally have just one rule:
If you want something, hit the Windows key and type it in (except we call it the ‘Super key’)
- Want wifi? Hit the Super key and type in ‘Wifi’.
- Don’t like the desktop theme? Hit that Super key and type in ’theme’.
- Want to install something? Open the app store and type in what you want.
Linux systems are all built on massive app stores. Have a look around for games, useful office software, or whatnot.