Download Linux For Free

Category: Linux

I see Linux mentioned in online forums, and people talking about dumping Microsoft Windows. I understand Linux is free, but I'm not clear on exactly what it is! Can I really replace Windows with Linux, and still have the web, email, word processing and all the other programs I currently use?

What is Linux?

Yes, Virginia, there is a free operating system. Linux is a complete operating system (software that controls the basic functions of the personal computer) and it runs on ordinary personal computers. The added fact that it's freely available and "open source" makes it all the more attractive.

And yes, you really can use Linux as a free alternative to Windows. From a user perspective, Linux does everything that Windows does. It has a slick graphical interface, web browsing, email, and tons of free application software for business, productivity, graphics and gaming.

Linux is also perfect for people who want to operate their own low-cost Internet servers, and it's robust enough to satisfy the needs of many Internet service providers. Linux is a multiuser and multitasking environment, and it can access huge amounts of memory (gigabytes) and huge amounts of disk storage space (terabytes). Linux offers virtually everything that Windows has been promising for years and may not deliver in a truly stable form for some time to come.
Download Linux Free

Linux is also being taken very seriously by the computer industry, with new Linux-compatible versions of popular Windows software being announced all the time. The Apache Web server software running on Linux platforms powers about half of all Web sites today. Even more telling, Microsoft considers Linux a major threat to its Windows empire.

Some Linux History

In the early 90s, a geek named Linus Torvalds at the University of Helsinki in Finland thought it would be fun to write a Unix kernel from scratch. He called it Linux, and it was cool but pretty much useless without all the utility programs needed to make it a complete operating system. At the same time, Richard Stallman and his pals at the Free Software Foundation were writing a bunch of freeware Unix utilities collectively known as the GNU Project. It was cool but pretty much useless without a kernel to make it a complete operating system. Fortunately, the two parties came together like peanut butter and chocolate.

Note: GNU is one of those recursive acronyms that computer scientists love; it stands for GNU's Not Unix. The GNU Project is an effort sponsored by the Free Software Foundation to provide freely available Unix software.

News of Linux spread quickly over the Internet, and many other Unix programmers joined the effort to enhance it. What we now know as Linux is a combination of Torvald's Linux kernel, the GNU Project software, and some other nifty software bit and pieces developed by programmers from all around the world.

Linux was written totally from scratch without using any of the original AT&T UNIX code. Because of that, and thanks to the larger open-source software community, Linux is free. You can obtain the source code, modify, sell or give away the software so long as you provide full source code and don't impose any restrictions on what others do with it.

If you want to try Linux, you need to understand that there are many variants called "distributions" that you can download and install. Popular Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware, Fedora and many more. I recommend that you start with Ubuntu if you're new to Linux. Wubi will install Ubuntu Linux on your Windows PC without affecting your existing Windows setup. If you decide it's not for you, you can remove Ubuntu with a few clicks.

Explore other Linux distros in the Linux Download Directory search for Linux application software, or visit my LowFat Linux tutorial to learn more about Linux commands.

Do you have a favorite Linux website to recommend? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Download Linux For Free"

Posted by:

29 Apr 2011

I was having horrific problems with Windows, viruses, and multiple security systems. Someone suggested I try Linux. I am currently an Ubuntu user, and could not be happier.
A bas les Gates!

Posted by:

29 Apr 2011

I intend to try Ubuntu. Alas, at the age of 75 I find it a bit difficult to master new operating systems.

The free lessons site was totally useless to me as I was unable to read the funny things they needed to ascertain I was human. I suspect their programmers are aliens.

Posted by:

al perger
29 Apr 2011

I have been using Linux Ubuntu since the 4. version. I am now using Ubuntu 10.04 and will NEVER go back to Windows and have also converted several friends. Linux is amazing and I'm going to be experimenting with new(to me)distros in the very near future. I think "Mint" will be my first excursion. I urge anyone who hasn't tried Linux to get their feet wet.

Posted by:

29 Apr 2011

Certainly, "low fat linux" ( is a great site for learning Linux. Besides that, DistroWatch ( is a nice place to find out about what's new, and Linux Questions ( is a good place for asking (and getting answers).
About Linux Distributions, a few personal recomendations are:
1. Debian ( Huge, nice, free. Tons of stuff to install, use and enjoy
2. Ubuntu ( A good distro to start with; easy to install
3. Debris Linux ( Excelent for old machines
4. Knoppix ( A great first aid kit in case your computer refuses to work. Boot from a CD, get your files from your disk, and even fix your hard disk. It is also good if you want to "test drive" Linux without installing anything.

Finally, my least favorite distro: CentOS ( Sorry, but I just find it slow and stubborn.

Posted by:

29 Apr 2011

I'd love to try Linux, even have an Ubuntu disc around somewhere, but have always been leery of having two operating systems on the same machine. Perhaps in a future article you could talk about what booting up would look like with two operating systems, what choices a user would make, and more about what current software people use would look like with Linux. If you have a paid antivirus, would you have to pay for a Linux version? How about browsers? Will FF and Chrome work nicely in Linux, IE? Just food for thought. Thanks. :^)

Posted by:

30 Apr 2011

Very nice article.

Something to keep in mind is that with most Linux operating systems you can run from CD/DVD to see if you will like it, no need to install. Yes it will run a little slower but this will give you an idea on how well it works. If you use PDF files alot Linux Mint opens them.

Something to consider when choosing Linux is that if you are a Netflix fan you will not be able to run Netfilx through Linux, you will still need Windows or Mac to run Netflix.

But the majority of other programs have Linux support.

Posted by:

30 Apr 2011

I've been a subscriber a long time, since the tourbus days and I have to tell you that "tip" about linux was the worst thing anyone has ever done to me. I took your advice. I went there, I couldn't download it because it kept insisting there be a disc in the drive, so i burned a copy of the windows version, installed it, and found that ALL I had was that abomination. No dual boot, the only thing that came up was linux. I would not mind having it on my machine as a dual boot, but that was not an option. I restored my system, from a system image, and am now slowly getting things back to normal. Though some things simply no longer work. I'll figure them out eventually. But I wanted you to know what a crappy tip that was, the screenshots weren't even right, or all inclusive. We are through. I will stick with people who know what they are doing like Fred Langa and Scot Finney. HOURS you cost me. Linux sucks. So does Ubuntu.

Posted by:

05 May 2011

@gene If you want to try a full linux distro without installing anything, try Knoppix: It boots from a CD or DVD. Or try VirtualBox (a virtual machine that lets you install an operating system inside another, like windows)
If you want to have two operating systems on the same machine, I'd say Ubuntu is a nice option: The installer lets you "divide" your hard disk without troubles. When you restart your computer, you will have a menu with the boot options (you can configure it in Linux... my laptop is working that way)
Finally: There's a lot of free antivirus software options out there ;)... And, about browsers, most linux distros have a browser preinstalled (Firefox or similar).

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