[SOLVED] Learn to use linux without installing it?
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I am new here and much glad to find a place to ask priliminary questions.
My question is: How can I have a functional linux environment for me to learn(such as system administration,shell) WITHOUT making any modifications to my current system(WinXP).
I've been reading threads&google this whole day, my concern is that I have only one desktop pc which doesn't have a recordable CD/DVD drive,neither am I sure if the pc can boot from USB drive(I'm afraid it can't for I didn't see anything like 'USB' in first boot device option in BIOS).So cd/dvd,PXE,USB boot are all not feasible for me.
And most importantly, I am worried that BEFORE I have used linux for sometime and known what's really meant by initrd,lilo etc, chances are that I will mess up my current system and leave myself in an awkward situation.
Is my concern justified?
What can I do or can you recommend some specific manuals ,documents to read to have myself armed with the necessary knowledge to go on with the installation?
Any advice will be greatly appreciated!Thanks in advance!
PS:I've once used Virtual machine to host a redhat in winxp, but I don't know what to do with it and I guess that's because it's not a real linux.
Your install of a GNU/Linux as a Dual boot is one way to go but to keep the present Xp install without to much of a problem then a Virtual Machine would be the easiest. The XP host would allow you to have the GNU/Linux distribution as a client that once setup properly there will be no basic difference than a resident install. The big difference will be in the speed of operation but with newer machines this to will be nominal.
Look at the 'Virtual' section of 'Slackware-Links' to get some useful links.
As already said, virtual machine is the one way to learn without changing your WinXp. Another way is to install Ubuntu inside WinXp using wubi installer. That will not make any changes to your existing windows installation and still give you a feel of real installation. And when you think of removing Ubuntu, you could just do it from Add/remove programs menu in windows.
I suggest one of a few places to start. See pendrivelinux.com for ways to make a linux install on a flash drive. Other would be to see netboot.me or boot kernel dot org for a way to boot to a network install.
A VM can be useful and easy if you have a new enough machine. They tend to be safe.
Virtual machine is overwhelmingly suggested, but I believe it's bad for learning. Over time, you'll open the VM less and less. The only way to really get to know Linux is to install it, and configure it for yourself.
One drawback to a VM is you won't learn how to make Linux work with your hardware. If you're lucky (and most people are nowadays) that will be easy, but if you're unlucky it will be a pain.
Wubi would seem to be a good option. You get a 'real' Linux installation, just with a slightly odd filesystem setup. A potential drawback is a mistake, bug, or malware attack when running Windows could destroy your Linux more easily.
If you have no means to write CDs, and a computer that won't boot from USB drives, then to do a 'standard' install you'll have to either buy a CD (many companies sell them, they're quite cheap), or find a suitable magazine coverdisc. Either of those options will take a bit of time - wubi gets you started right away. (I will admit I've never used it; my computers don't run Windows)
Thank you all so much for your prompt responses and your precious time. I'm really grateful.
With your suggestions,I guess better stick with virtual machine to get started as it has no functional difference, and step forward to an independant linux when appropriate,for,i believe better safe than sorrow