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I am a pure windows person. I have only used Macs at work and never had to use linux. However I want to branch out.

What Linux operating system is the best for somebody that has never used it before and just Windows?

How to set up my machine to dual boot with Linux?

Ideally I would love to be able to choose which one to start up with like I did with Vista and Windows 7.

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Personally I use Ubuntu and that's quite nice for beginners. I've also heard that Linux Mint is good.

Provided you have already got your hard drive partitioned (or a 2nd hard drive) you should just be able to install Linux from the cd and it will prompt you with where you want to install it (make sure you don't overwrite your windows partitions). It will setup Grub (or something compatible) to prompt you on start up which OS you want to boot.

(If you don't already have windows installed it's generally considered best practise to install windows first as sometimes it can overwrite your Linux boot loader with it's own. I don't know if this has changed with newer versions or not)

It's as easy as that.

If you're new to Linux though, consider trying out a live CD or a VM for a bit first.

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You can find some detailed instruction on dual-boot between existing OS and Ubuntu here,
like this Jaunty Jackalope / Windows7 Ultimate MultiBoot 'B' page.

(Ubuntu is generally consider quite user-friendly and up-to-date regarding drivers)

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Ubuntu is probably your best option. Dual booting it should be quite easy. The normal recommended method is to install Windows first, then install Linux. It should pick up on your existing Windows isntall and give you the option of dual booting. Have a look at the guide here

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There are many, many tutorials out there. Pick the distribution you want and search for installation guides for it. (K)Ubuntu is the most popular and has the largest community, but the others are good choices, too.

You'll find there are several ways to install Ubuntu. The installation guide offers a decent overview, but you could also try Wubi (the Windows Ubuntu installer).

You might find some kinks while trying to install one of the distros, so pick a few to try. I'd recommend Ubuntu/Kubuntu, Fedora Core, or OpenSuSE, in that order. Ubuntu and Fedora work best with Gnome, a fairly simple desktop environment. Kubuntu and OpenSuSE work best with KDE, which is a bit flashier. They also have different selections of applications that come bundled, although you can install any of them.

Dual-booting is extremely common, so it's addressed by nearly every tutorial you'll find. However, if you can afford it, consider buying another hard drive instead; unconventional advice, but you won't go wrong with it.

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