This chapter represents your first step in installing Linux. We’ll describe how to obtain the Linux software, in the form of one of the various prepackaged distributions, and how to prepare your system. We’ll include ways to partition disks so that Linux can coexist with Windows, or another operating system.
As we have mentioned, there is no single “official” distribution of the Linux software; there are, in fact, many distributions, each serving a particular purpose and set of goals. These distributions are available via anonymous FTP from the Internet and via mail on CD-ROM and DVD, as well as in retail stores.
Because Linux is free software, no single organization or entity is responsible for releasing and distributing the software. Therefore, anyone is free to put together and distribute the Linux software, as long as the restrictions in the GPL are observed. The upshot of this is that there are many distributions of Linux, available via anonymous FTP or mail order.
You are now faced with the task of deciding on a particular distribution of Linux that suits your needs. Not all distributions are alike. Many of them come with just about all the software you’d need to run a complete system — and then some. Other Linux distributions are “small” distributions intended for users without copious amounts of disk space.
You might also want to consider that distributions have different target groups. Some are meant more for businesses, ...