As it would be impossible in this course to talk about and give installation instructions for all of the Linux distributions, we have chosen Debian GNU/Linux for an example install.
Why have we chosen this distribution? It is: 1) A solid, quality Linux distribution with a long history (in Linux terms) 2) It has been used as the foundation of many other quality Linux distributions. 3) Non-profit and non-commercial (which lets us off the hook on a lot of issues!) 4) Applicable to a wide range of uses and users, from newcomer to seasoned IT professional. 5) Easily obtained and updated.
About Debian The Debian Project was founded by Ian Murdock in 1993. Debian gets its name from the combination of Ian Murdock and his wife Debra's name (Deb-Ian) One of the Linux community's most illustrious people has been a primary developer of Debian. I'm talking about Bruce Perens. He was one of the founders of Pixar, the company that created the Toy Story films, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.
Debian has no company behind it. The Debian project is sponsored by Software in the Public Interest, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping produce open-source software and hardware. Despite its not-for-profit status, Debian is an extremely versatile distribution. It forms the base of many user-friendly distributions like Ubuntu, Linspire and Xandros. It can also be found running on thousands of mission critical servers that have to be up 24/7.
Though the installation procedure is not as easy as some commercial distributions, it cannot be described as difficult either. We will go over this in more detail shortly. The major advantage to Debian is that it can be updated easily via their much lauded apt-get system.
Getting Debian GNU/Linux If you have a broadband connection (FIOS, Cable, xDSL or better), you can easily obtain this distribution and install it. There are two major ways to do this. The most popular is to burn the Debian ISO images to CDs and install. If you have a CD burner, this is an ideal option. The second is to obtain a minimal ISO image especially designed for an install over the Internet. With this option, the files are downloaded as the installer needs them. This can also be done by downloading a single disk image file instead of multiple CD/DVD images. More information on these methods can be found at http://www.debian.org/distrib/
If you don't happen to have a broadband connection, downloading Debian would be an extremely frustrating experience. You may want to consider contacting a local distributor of Debian CDs. Consult this page for further information about distributors in your area: http://www.debian.org/CD/vendors/
Installation from CD or "Net Install"? Both installation methods are easy and provide a step by step walk through process. The end result will be the same either way. The main considerations between the two options really come down to speed and the availability of an internet connection. If you have both, then we suggest doing a "Net Install" and download and only the single small installation files. If the computer you are installing Linux onto does not have an internet connection, then you will need to provide all of the installation materials on CD/DVD.