Linux+: Linux Install 01 – Types and Downloading Linux has very many types of the Operating System (OS) available which are called distros. Distros can have different types and be downloaded differently as detailed in this article. There are two types of Linux distros: Free Supported A Free version can be downloaded for free and support is usually given through forum driven websites. An example is Linux.org where you may post a question and someone else may give you a solution to your problem. Supported Linux can be those which you pay for, but the payment is for support of the product. Even Free versions can have paid support. Support allows you to have access to technical information that you would not normally have access to with Free versions. For anyone with a large number of systems to manage it may be in their interest to pay for support to be able to use it when a problem arises that cannot be quickly and easily fixed. NOTE: The Supported versions or the Free version for which you buy support is usually considered a license. The fee you pay for the license entitles you to support. Once you decide which type of Linux you want to use, you will need to download the distro you have selected. When downloading a distro the file is usually an ISO file. NOTE: The ISO extension stands for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9660. The ISO 9660 standard is for optical media, mainly CDs. ISO images are exact replicas of a CD in a file which can be used to burn to a blank CD and have an exact replica. ISO images also refer to images of DVD and Blu-ray discs. ISO files can be downloaded from many various websites, but it is usually best to download from the main website of the distro maker. Downloading Linux Let’s look over three different distros at the various downloads and requirements needed: Ubuntu CentOS Linux Mint NOTE: These are only three of the distros. These are only used for example purposes. Ubuntu To download the installation files for Ubuntu go to Ubuntu.com and select Download and then Desktop (or Server if you require it). On the next page, select to download the Long Term Support (LTS) version or the Latest version. The LTS version is one that is support for a long term until a new LTS version is released. The LTS version allows for drivers and patches to be created and allows users to download them. The Latest version option allows you to get the latest version of Ubuntu with the latest features. Driver and updates support only lasts a few months. Select the option for your processor either 32- or 64-bit. When the proper screen appears, select “Download”. You should then start downloading the ISO file for the Ubuntu version you selected. Once downloaded, you can use a CD/DVD burning software to extract the ISO image and burn it the CD/DVD. Once burned, you can boot from the CD/DVD to start the Ubuntu installation. CentOS To download CentOS, go to CentOS.org. Select the link to “Get CentOS Now” or what the link may say if it has changed. Follow the pages and select the requirement for your processor type, such as i386 for the 32-bit processor and x86_64 for the 64-bit processor (both Intel). NOTE: You may see options to download packages, these will be covered later in the article. At some point, you should be given an option to select the ISO file you wish to download. There are various options: LiveCD – bootable CD image LiveDVD – bootable DVD image (includes more packages) Minimal – a CD image to burn to a CD and boot a system from to have a very minimal functional CentOS system. NetInstall – used to install from a network. Can also be burned to a CD which is bootable. BinDVD – two DVD ISO images. The first DVD contains the minimal OS while the second DVD has the rest of the distribution on it. Once downloaded, you can use a CD/DVD burning software to extract the ISO image and burn it the CD/DVD. Once burned, you can boot from the CD/DVD to start the CentOS installation. Linux Mint The Linux Mint distro can be downloaded from LinuxMint.com. Select “Download” and then choose your preferred distro of Linux Mint. The list includes various versions of Linux Mint with different desktops as well as the different processor types. Once a type is selected, you can choose your preferred country of residence to download the ISO file. Once downloaded, you can use a CD/DVD burning software to extract the ISO image and burn it the CD/DVD. Once burned, you can boot from the CD/DVD to start the Linux Mint installation. Packages A package is a collection of files within a single file, similar to the ISO file. Packages can contain applications, drivers, etc. There are a few package types. Each distro uses a different kind so be aware of which type you need. deb – Debian Linux and derivatives such as Ubuntu. pup – used by older versions of Puppy Linux pet – used by newer versions of Puppy Linux RPM – used by Red Hat Linux and Fedora derivatives such as CentOS When you install a piece of hardware that is not supported by your Linux distro, you can go to the manufacturer’s website for the hardware and look for the Linux drivers. Sometimes, they are provided in the package needed by your distro or in a general format that will work as well.