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I am new to linux. I have a personal computer that I would like to install the linux operating system on. If anybody could tell me step by step instructions that include how to get rid of windows xp and install linux. I have read that the drivers for the hardware on my computer need to be backed up. I need instructions on how to do that as well. I more or less need complete instructions on reformating and installing the new operating systems all the while making sure the all of my hardware will work correctly once im done. If anyone can help me I would greatly appreciate it!
Go to distrowatch.com and pick out a distribution (if you haven't already done so). Then see if your chosen distro has a LiveCD. Burn the LiveCD to a blank CD-R *as an image* (Nero or whatnot), then reboot the machine with the disk in the CD drive. (might need to tweak your BIOS boot order, but don't worry about that for now). This will let you run Linux without touching your hard drive so you can make sure your hardware works (by the way, the Linux kernel contains nearly all of the hardware drivers you will need...if you want to dual boot Windows XP and Linux, then yes, you'll want to back up your drivers...if not, then there's no point unless you plan on going back to Windows later). If all of your hardware is autodetected and drivers are installed properly, then you've got 80% of problems with Linux taken care of (the other 20% consist of "why isn't this like Windows" and "I ran a command I saw on a forum and it broke my install!!"). Just for the record, don't blindly run commands you find on forums on your Linux box...get a second opinion about the command (if possible) before you unleash them.
Toy around with the LiveCD, and keep in mind that Linux and Windows, while both operating systems, are NOT drop-in replacements for one-another. They are very different systems! If you find that Linux suits your needs, then go back to distrowatch.com and grab the installer for your chosen distro, burn it to disk, and reboot the machine with the installer CD in the drive. For most modern user-friendly Linux install disks, they're self-explanatory.
The only case for backing up your windows drivers seems to be:
You have downloaded some extra drivers for your hardware: Otherwise you still have then on the installation media and you don't need to back them up for that reaason
You think you might go back to windows on that PC: Otherwise they are useless to you
You are just a bit paranoid and think that backing things up is a good thing anyway...
Of course any data that you have created is a different matter. Back that up, preferably twice. And write stuff out to a plain, straightforward CD or DVD. Don't use some proprietary backup program, which has its own format and that may or may not be available for Linux.
If you follow the instructions for partitioning your drive under Linux, that will get rid of the data that was previously in those areas of the disk, so there is no real need to worry about getting rid of Windows; telling the Linux install that it can use the areas of the disk previously used for the Windows install will do it for you.
As far as what Linux to use, I'd probably reccoment (k)Ubuntu. Ubuntu does a good job of being newbie-friendly and is a good place to start, but think about it again after six months or so; you might then think that you want to try something else.
(The various versions of Ubuntu, like the kde version kubuntu (instead of the default Gnome version called Ubuntu) are not really different OSs; you can install Ubuntu and just tell the package manager to add on the KDE parts and you've then got Kubuntu and Ubuntu (Gnome).
In general, this is the way to add software, whether it is drivers, applications or new GUIs under Linux; use the package manager and it gets what you want from the 'net or the install CD. Trying to do this 'the windows way' just makes life more complicated.)
I am in a similar position as you, but maybe you'll accept a few hints and tips from another newbie:
1) Make backups. Drivers are easily replaced but documents you created or digital fotos of your kids are not. Buy a reasonably priced external harddisk, copy all your personal files to it (still under Windows) and physically disconnect it from your PC. Store in a safe place. (IMHO, this is a good idea period. It actually has nothing to do with linux)
2) Practice on a user friendly live-cd. I myself used Ubuntu and everything worked straight away. Of course, this will vary depending on your hardware. I found Linux (Ubuntu) different to Windows, but not very. Its like relocating to a new city, it takes a while to find your way around and to get to know the neighbors. Don't get discouraged if things don't work straigt away.
3) Then, (using the live-cd) get your internet connection working! Write down exactly how to do this, step by step, no matter how trivial. Note passwords, IP adresses, provider specs etc. The internet connection will allow you to seek help on any other problem you may encounter.
4) Install on a dual boot. There are plenty of tutorials out there.
Sometimes you just need to do a task quickly. An experienced WinXP user and Linux newbie (like me) might not always want to spend 30 mins learning a 5 minute task. This is where we go back to windows, complete the task, and return to the linux journey.
5) Should you be at a point where you are not using Windows at all, you may consider freeing up the disk space by removing it. I cannot help you here, but hey, how hard can it be if you've solved all other problems along the way?
Everyone has given you good advice, I will only add one extra little tidbit.
If you really want to learn linux, don't spend time running back to windows use only linux. Thats how you learned windows isn't it??
Thank you everybody for all of the help. I think that I have linux successfully installed on my computer. My only last question as of right now is, how will I know for sure that windows xp is gone and my hard disk has been wiped clean? During the installation of linux i chose the option that linux could use the entire hard disk(or something of that nature). Does this mean that it erased windows? Again thanks for the advice it has been more than helpful! I'm sure I will be back with more questions later on!
For all intends and purposes, don't worry about the remains of Windows. Sure! Forensic analysis of your drive might still prove that at one point Windows was installed on your disk, but for you as a user of the system it doesn't matter one bit (pun not intended). Windows is gone...
If the hard disk has been reformatted and Linux installed on top, then Windows is gone. It will be possible for some time to retrieve some parts of the previous Windows files when using some extremely expensive software tools and services. If you use Linux for a few weeks and fill up the disk with new data over and over again, then it will become impossible even for those expensive expert tools to recover any remainders from the old Windows installation.
If you have any specific reason to destroy Windows on that disk (other than being paranoid), then get yourself a sledgehammer, beat the hard disk for half an hour, then throw it into a campfire and finally deposit the remainders in a can with salty water.
For your computer you should then buy a new virgin hard disk, of course :-)