Most computer stores sell packaged versions of Linux. They generally include Linux with some additional Linux software on a CD-ROM, as well as a printed manual. they'll often sell a box with Linux on a CD-ROM, plus other things like a printed manual. This is more convenient than waiting to download everything yourself, but can be are expensive. (Hint: CheapBytes offers Linux CDs for as little as US$2, plus US$5 shipping within the U.S. and Canada.)
Linux comes in many distributions, developed by many different people and companies. Every distribution works differently - it's all very confusing. Some include the graphical interface, "X Window"; some are text-only. Some take up dozens of megabytes of disk space; some fit on a single floppy disk. You can read about them all at the linux.org distribution list.
Hal91 is an interesting distribution of Linux. It was brought to you by Øyvind Kolås in Norway. However, Øyvind has stopped working on hal91, and his webpage no longer even mentions it. Hal91 works on any PC with a 486 or Pentium processor. Although not as full-featured as other Linux distributions, it fits on a single floppy disk, and you don't need to modify the hard drive in any way. (You just start the computer up with your hal91 disk in the floppy drive.) It's a good way to try Linux yourself.
How to get hal91 working:
(Hal91 is text-only, and you'll need to have some basic knowledge of UNIX or Linux commands to use it once it's installed.)
If you're having problems downloading, you can get the hal91 disk image from here, here, or here. Then, get rawrite from here, here, or here. If you're having problems installing or using hal91, remember that there are dozens of other tiny distributions out there. You can always try another one - go to the linux.org distribution list and scroll down to "Mini and Specialty Distributions".
When you're ready for a graphical interface and additional software, it's time to move on to a full-fledged Linux distribution. Due to the shoddy quality of the manuals included with many boxed Linux distributions, you're best off buying a book about Linux with an included CD-ROM. I recommend Red Hat Linux 7 for Dummies. Unlike many other Linux books and manuals, it requires no previous Linux knowledge at all. Plus, it includes the full version of Red Hat Linux 7.0 (the latest version as of March 2001) on 3 CD-ROMs. Click here to buy it from Amazon.com for the reasonable price of $19.99.
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Page last updated: Mar. 4, 2001.