Well, I suppose it is appropriate to start at the beginning, installing Linux. As a novice I choose to go with Ubuntu as it is known to be a very user friendly version of Linux, leaning closely to Windows. There are actually 2 versions available, a server and a desktop version and even though I am planning to run my Linux box as a server I picked Ubuntu Desktop (8.04). There really is no difference except for the software (packages in Linux speak, more on that later) that gets installed for you when you install the OS. And the desktop version comes with a nice UI (again this is just a package), the server version doesn't. That's right, if you install Ubuntu Server, you get no UI, you have to interact with the OS through a terminal, just like you used to with DOS before windows. You can simply install a UI afterwards (and there are several you can choose from, getting confused yet?), but I thought it would be easier to start with a UI. Whatever gets installed in the server version of Ubuntu, you can install yourself manually later, and vice versa for the desktop vesion.

Your first step is to locate a CD or DVD image of Ubuntu. You can easily find one on the official ubuntu website, but you can download it much faster from bittorrent. And you always thought that bittorrent is only useful to expand your porn collection or illegal movie/music library, right? Nothing could be farther from the truth, at this very moment more than 30,000 souls are seeding the Ubuntu Ultimate DVD Image (that is a version of Ubuntu that contains all the packages officially supported by Ubuntu) which will result in blistering download speeds.

Once downloaded you need to burn the image to a CD (or DVD), pop it into your PC and reboot (make sure you have setup your Bios to boot from CD). After a few minutes you will get asked to pick your language:

and then you'll be presented with the following screen:

You just pick the second option (Install Ubuntu) which will load the necessary components into the RAM. You'll then be presented with a few simple questions, the first one of which is the option to choose your language for the OS

Then you need to pick your location

Next your Keyboard Layout

Then you will get asked how to partition your Hard Drive. I am installing a brand new system so no dual boot shenanigans for me. If you are in the same boat, just pick "Guided - use entire disk" and you are done with this step.

And finally you need to provide some information about yourself and your system:

And that is it really, you then just click "Install" and Ubuntu will do all the rest for you. In fact the installation is far less painful then with Windows. Ubuntu will not halt the process half way through to ask more questions, it will install without interruption. It is also much faster than installing Windows. In my case it went without a hitch and when I booted into Ubuntu after installation everything worked perfectly. I was on my network, could reach the internet and was ready to go.

Next time I will discuss how you can customize Ubuntu and talk a bit more about those packages that I mentioned earlier.