How to Install Linux

Table of Contents

You've likely heard about how Linux is superior to Windows or Mac, and you want to try it out yourself. If you have not, it typically boils down to privacy, security, reliability, customization, open-source, efficiency, and convenience.

Linux is not one operating system. It is made up of hundreds of distributions that each have specific use cases. It may seem like a terrifying decision because there are so many options. However, it is possible to narrow them down.

Your Use Case

The first thing to consider is your use case. What will you be doing with Linux? How much effort are you willing to expend to get it working? Certain distributions (versions of Linux) require more work to setup and maintain. Different use cases may also require more setup and maintenance work.

Do you prefer stability, or do you want the latest and greatest? Most novice users will likely want stability.

Linux Distributions (distros)

You can use this quiz to determine potential distributions (distros) to use. It takes into account various different factors and recommends distros that you might want. After, you can test that distribution in a web browser here. Be sure to do some research on the distribution and see if it aligns with what you need.

Consider your hardware. Does your computer meet the minimum requirements?

Desktop Environments (DE)

A desktop environment is the user interface that allows you to navigate the operating system. There are a ton out there. Many distributions ship with different desktop environments. You can read about different desktop environments here.

Each desktop environment also has different use cases.


If you're unsure with what to choose, some great beginner distros include:

Alternatively, use this quiz.

Ensure you do your own research first. Your needs matter more than a recommendation from some random blogger.

Problems You May Encounter When Using Linux

One common problem novices run into are programs. The sad reality about Linux is that it is difficult to get Windows programs running on it. There are programs on Linux that run similar to their Windows counterparts that you could try slowly switching over. For instance, you could replace Microsoft Office with OnlyOffice. Solutions like Wine exist, but they can be difficult for new users to use. One solution is to dual boot Windows and Linux. This means that your computer has 2 operating systems at the same time, and you get to choose which to boot into. It is a good compromise if you want the best of both worlds. The Installing Linux section will show you how to dual boot.

Another problem you may run into is the terminal. Technically, you don't need to know the terminal to use Linux, but it is very handy. The terminal is practically a Swiss Army knife; you can do almost anything with it. Unfortunately, its convenience means that Linux programs often require you to download from the terminal. Sure, you could copy and paste commands, however you're trusting a random person at that point. If you don't know what you're doing you could potentially damage your system. Learning a few helpful commands will make your transition to Linux easier.

Installing Linux


This YouTube video explains the installation process clearly.

As a general TLDR: 1. Get a USB. 2. Download the ISO file for your desired distro. 3. Flash the ISO file onto your USB. Use balenaEtcher (more user-friendly) or Rufus. 4. Once flashing is done, turn off your computer. 5. Ensure your flashed USB is plugged in. 6. Load your computer's boot options screen by pressing one of the function keys (F1, F2, etc.) or Esc. Keys differ for different models, but a useful table can be found here 7. When you're in the BIOS, set your USB to be first in the boot order. Disable Secure Boot. 8. Turn the computer back on. Ensure you have booted into your USB. 9. Go through install process. – At some point you will need to partition the system. You can choose to wipe the whole drive (which will erase all your data!), or you can manually set aside some free space for your operating system. – If you want to dual boot, you will want to choose the latter option. To dual boot: 1. Set aside space for your new operating system by resizing or deleting partitions. 2. Create a new partition for your new operating system. 3. Assign that partition. I recommend you create 2 partitions: one as / (root) and one as /home. It makes it easier to distrohop (switch between Linux distros). 10. Reboot. Remove USB. 11. Log into your new system

Configuring Linux

After, you will need to do some configuration in your new system. The most important are setting your mirrors (servers where you will download updates), updating, and downloading any programs, drivers, etc. that you need on Linux. Congratulations, you now have a functional system! At this point, you can go to other online guides, and complete their “After Installing {x} Distribution” (where x is your distribution).