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I'm not following you. Are you asking for legal advice? Or administrative help?
From a technical perspective you can download "anything" that is available on the internet. If you SHOULD or not depends on your beliefs and the laws of where you live. From an administrative standpoint WHERE you download the content on your storage mediums, and what you do with them is dependent on WHAT you download and HOW you download it.
As far as don't:
- don't break the law (although using linux can be against the law in some regions)
(recalling something about curse word comments in the linux sources and australia back in the day)
- don't run anything as root that you do not trust, or have audited to deem if it is trust-able. The same goes for any user account with admin-like priviledges.
- do not start any services that you have not configured. Unfortunately the default for many linux distros is to start services like apache, bind, ssh immediately after installing. Before you have configured them with YOUR preferences. And they're also setup to auto start at boot. And re-setup to do that after every update.
The bulk of your software will be provided by your package manager. Assuming you are using a normal distro (there are 600+ to choose from) there should be no problem. If you're getting some 3rd party software and have doubts then ask about other people's experience. You can do that here if you like. Mostly getting software is not a big problem. If it runs on linux it's usually ok.
Yep, this is the mantra they all repeat. You first check if the package in question is already in your system (Ubuntu, etc) and then use
$ sudo apt-get install gfortran (as an example, if you are interested in gfortran)
So, it seems gfortran is already in your machine or whatnot. You don't have to download it from a distant website. All you have to do is to install it. It is a different mentality from what we all acquired working with Windows.
There are also other than apt-get commands many people prefer but I never used them, myself a newbie.
Distribution: OpenSUSE 13.2 64bit-Gnome on ASUS U52F
I think the few things you should know before downloading a Linux distribution are:
a) Always download the ISO image from the site of the distribution you are intended to install. If you want to install Ubuntu download the image from the Ubuntu website, if you want Fedora download their image from the Fedora website, and so on.
b)Download the image for the right architecture. That involves doing a little investigating on your part to find out if your computer supports 32 bits or 64 bits. Most 64 bits systems run 32 bits just fine but 32 bits wont be capable to use all the memory ram installed in a 64 bit machine. So there is going to be some wasted ram. 64 bit software wont run in a 32 bit machine.
c)Make sure the Linux distro you are downloading has all the support for your hardware. This also gives you a little bit of homework to find out what you have in your computer. Wireless cards, video cards, sounds card are sometimes a problem and you would want to install a distro that has support for the one you have in your computer. If you have a broadcom wireless card you will have to do some digging to get it working. at little bit easier in a distro like Ubuntu than in a distro like Slackware. but the driver exist you just need to look for it.
d) Once you have the distro of your choice installed up and running in your machine, and you want to install some of the apps that you really love. The first place to look for these apps will be your distro's apps store (In Linux terms that is called the package manager, or software manager) in some distros that is a graphical tool in some other is just a text base tool (by text base I mean command line). But most of the software will be there.
That is pretty much all I have for does. For donts the only advice I have is don’t go around the internet downloading software from random websites, Open Source software is different that Freeware software. If something is being offered to you as Freeware just get away from it. Dont get it close to your computer.
Good luck to you and hopefully you enjoy your downloading experience