I am interested in changing the Operating system on an old laptop of mine from Vista to Linux. Problem is I don't know anything about Linux. I have been told Fedora is a good distribution for me to get started with. Are there any tutorials or resources available on the internet to help me uninstall windows and get started with Linux?


I'd say Fedora is a big step if you're just getting your feet wet. There are many facets of the OS you probably wont explore at first due to complexity, and neglecting these areas may not give you the best user experience if unused features are using your resources in the background. I'd recommend Ubuntu for a beginner in the Linux world. This distribution has been fine tuned to assess the end user and will include more programs by default that are common on a desktop platform. There is also a wealth of information available from Canonical as well as other Ubuntu enthusiasts to get you started.

If you wish to wipe out Vista, there is the option in the Ubuntu installer to use the entire disk:

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this will effectively get rid of every other operating system that resides on the drive. I'd strongly recommend installing Ubuntu within Windows first using Wubi or installing into a virtual machine. These options will make removing Ubuntu easy if you find it is not for you.

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  • What OS is that VM running on? – Hello71 Aug 22 '10 at 22:34
  • GNU/Linux of course :) – John T Aug 22 '10 at 22:39

You can try Linux through a virtual machine on Windows.

You can download VMWare Player for free (there are other programs that do the same thing.) http://www.vmware.com/products/player/

Then download a virtual machine with the OS you want. You can download the latest Ubuntu (which I recommend for you) release from here: http://www.vmware.com/appliances/

Give those a download, get a Unix book and go have fun!

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  • 1
    +1 for using a virtual machine before taking the big step. – Sasha Chedygov Aug 22 '10 at 22:31
  • I had a wtf moment when reading your answer for the first time. I think you should obviously state that the guy who asked the question could use a virtual machine on a modern computer which is powerful enough to run it, not on that poor old machine which is planned to be switched to linux. – vtest Aug 23 '10 at 3:11
  • @vtest - good point! You do need a half way decent machine to run virtual machines. Memory is the key here. You probably want at least 2GB of memory, preferrably 3GB+. – Starkey Aug 23 '10 at 12:00

If you've never tried Linux before, it's not one of those things you want to just jump in and get started on. It's somewhat like buying a car. If you know somebody who's been with Linux for a while (and you trust them to speak to you without babbling jargon) consult with them. There are many great tutorials online too. When you get stuck on a hitch, there's almost always a tutorial on your specific problem.

Getting Started

That said, Fedora isn't a beginner's OS. If you want to get your feet wet, start with Ubuntu. Better yet, Linux Mint which has its own little tweaks here and there, as well as resembling Windows more concerning behavior.

If your computer is strong enough, run something like PortableUbuntu or VirtualBox to get started. If not, install Linux onto your computer using either Wubi or Mint4Win. To use those, just download and burn the appropriate disc and insert the disc while still running Windows. Again, like buying a new car, it's better to get a feel for it before you splurge and buy into it. Even when your old car is barely drivable anymore :-).


If you feel like you want to go full-on with Linux (which shouldn't be too quick—take your time to look around, create a backup as well as a backup plan in case of screwups) and you don't have any data on it, just burn a CD and select "Use Entire Disk" choosing the partitioning—there's no real "uninstalling" of Windows, just wiping it off the drive. But before it does any actual wiping, there's a Migration Assistant that'll copy off your data and settings for cross-platform programs like Firefox. Make a backup anyway.

But if you do have some data, and you went with Mint, Mint has a wonderful backup utility called MintBackup that'll backup your data (everything important, i.e. data and program settings is all in the same folder, unlike Windows and the registry) and even a list of programs you have installed. You can backup your stuff onto a flash drive and restore it after install.


I wrote a few tips here about stuff on Ubuntu. One thing I would add though, is don't be afraid to sound like a total n00b. Ask questions on the Ubuntu or Linux Mint forums. They have appropriate forums for um, those who want to get started. And the ever-wise, "Don't be afraid to ask questions!"

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