Now that the basics are out of the way, and you are ready to dive in to a Linux based operating system let's take a look at Ubuntu [o?'bo?nto?]. The people at Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, continuously update and strive for a more user friendly experience, add to that the fact that like most Linux distros... it is free! To get Ubuntu, open your web browser and go to http://www.ubuntu.com/download There you will see a few options, Download and install, Try from a CD or USB stick and Run it with Windows. In this article we'll go over the first two options, the third, although it does work, can have some compatibility issues and I don't recommend it. Like to see what I am talking about in this article? Check out the Installing Ubuntu 11.10 for Users New to Ubuntu and Linux video I made at: Downloading and Getting Ready No matter which of the first two options you pick, you will be taken to the same download page. Which is conveniently broken down into four sections. 1. Download Ubuntu This is where you select your version to download. Currently there are two options Ubuntu 11.10 Latest Version and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Long Term Support. For the purposes of this article we will be using the 11.10 version. You are also given the option of choosing the 32-bit and 64-bit version, this depends on your computer. If you are in doubt, pick the 32-bit version. Next, click the big orange Start Download button to continue. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection this could take a while, so be patient. 2. Burn your CD or create a bootable USB stick This section asks you which option you want, and what type of OS you are currently using, after answering these two questions click Show me How for all the steps needed to continue. 3. Try It! - Shows you how to try the OS without installing, which I'll go over next. 4. Install it! - Shows you how to install the OS, which I'll go over later. Getting Started Whether you are going to install Ubuntu or just want to try it, we start off the same. First, if you made a Live CD put it in your CD drive, if you made a Live USB stick plug it into an open USB port and restart your computer. You should see a purple-ish welcome screen come up followed by the word Ubuntu with a loading animation below it. If not... don't panic, if your computer just boots up as normal we need to tell your computer to boot from either the CD or USB. When your computer first boots up, you may notice a message that says something like "To enter set up press DELETE" of course, depending on the kind of computer it could be a different key like F1, F2, F10 or F12 my computer requires F2. We need to enter Setup, also know as the BIOS to set the boot order. So, determine how to enter Setup on your computer and get in to it. Now, unfortunately not all BIOS screens are the same, so this step requires a little ingenuity on your behalf. We need to find the section for Boot Order, sometimes it is its own screen, other times it is just an option on the main screen. Regardless, find where it is and set the first device in the order to either your CD, or USB drive depending on which you are using. Once that is set you should see on the screen the key needed to save and exit, usually F10, but again this could be different. Your computer will restart and this time you should boot in to your Ubuntu CD or USB stick. Keep in mind, that booting from a CD or USB stick can take quite a bit longer than you are used to, so be patient. Trying Ubuntu Once everything is loaded, you will get a window asking if you would like to Try or Install, we are going to select Try. This, again may take a few minutes to complete, and the computer may seem to reboot, this is just a part of the process. When it is done, you will be on the Ubuntu Desktop, now the fun begins. You will immediately notice that, even though you are clearly looking at a Desktop, that things look quite a bit different. First you will notice that the "task bar" is on top. In Ubuntu this is called the Panel, you will also notice a dock on the left side of the screen, this is called the Launcher. In the Panel you have notifiers for Date & Time, Volume, Network Status, and Battery Status. You As well as Menus forSystem Menu, User Menu and Message Menu. Also, the left side of the panel has the Minimize, Maximize and Closebuttons, simply hover the mouse over the left side of the panel to make them appear, also the window Title and window menus like File, Edit, etc. are placed here as well, again they hide when not in use and appear when you hover the mouse over them. in the Launcher you can have all your most used applications like Firefox, and have access to The Dash, Workspace Switch and Trash. The Dash allows you to find your applications, files and music. It can be accessed by clicking the Ubuntu Circle of Friends icon. From here you can search for a particular file or application or you can narrow things down by using the Lenses at the bottom, Home, Applications, Flies and Music, each can be searched, and filtered to help you find what you are looking for. You can also drag applications to the Launcher from here. Ubuntu, as most Linux OSes, gives you multiple Desktops to work on, the Workspace Switcher is how you view and move between them. Although all the Desktops look the same, you can have separate applications running on each one. By default, you get 4 Workspaces. Other icons in the Launcher can be rearranged by dragging them, opened by clicking on them while right clicking opens its Quick Lists with options like Keep in Launcher. To add applications to the launcher, you can either drag them there from the Dash, or open the application from the Dash and its icon is shown in the Launcher, just right click the icon and select Keep in Launcher. Now that you have a feel for the basics of Ubuntu, explore it and have fun. While you are trying it, you are not making any changes to your computer, so don't worry that you might mess something up. If you like it, let's move on to installing. Installing Ubuntu Boot from your live CD or USB and get to the Try or Install window, before we start the installation we want to make sure the computer is connected to the Internet. If your computer is plugged in directly to a cable or DSL modem or router, you will see an icon in the top panel with 2 arrows, one pointing up, and one pointing down. This means you are connected and we are good to go. If you have a wireless connection, you need to make sure you are connected. You should have seen a message pop up saying that a wireless network was detected, and the icon in the top panel will look a bit like a empty slice of pizza. Click on that icon and wait for the menu to populate, you should see your router listed underWireless Networks, click on your router name and Ubuntu will try to connect, if you wireless network has a password you will be prompted to enter it. If your if your network connection is not working Click Try Ubuntu and let it load. Then go to the top right and click on the gear icon -> select System Settings -> Additional Drivers -> it will search for the drivers for network adapter -> click on the drivers to install -> then from the Desktop select Install Ubuntu. Next select Install Ubuntu, the install wizard will check the minimum requirements and give you the option to Install Updates Now and Install Third Party Software. I recommend checking both of these boxes, Third Party Software installs support for non-GPL GNU formats such as MP3 and Flash among others. Next, choose whether you want to install Ubuntu by itself or along side your current OS, such as Windows. If you choose to install along side your current OS, you will next get to choose how much disk space you want to allot each OS with a simple slider. Next you will be asked to set your information such as: Time zone, keyboard layout and Name, User Name and password. You will also be asked if you want to log in automatically or manually, I recommend manual login, especially if you are going to have multiple people using the same computer. Once those options are set, sit back and wait for the install to finish, you will be shown a slide show of options and information for your new Ubuntu installation. When the installation is complete, you will be prompted to restart your computer and remove the CD or USB. If you installed Ubuntu by itself , it will reboot and take you to the Login Screen. If you installed Ubuntu along side another OS, you will be taken to an option menu called GNU GRUB, here you will see the option to boot into Ubuntu, Ubuntu (recovery), Memory Tests and Windows. Use the Up and Down keys to move and Enter to select. If you don't touch the keyboard in 10 seconds it will automatically boot into the first OS on the list. Select Ubuntu and press enter. In the next part of the series I'll cover how to gain more control over your settings and customize the look and feel of your Ubuntu desktop.