Are you a Windows user who has been wondering about this Linux thing? Now’s your chance. Several of today’s Linux distributions are designed to be easier for Windows users to make the transition to Linux. Some of them even let you boot a CDROM and try out Linux without installing it on your computer.
Xandros Desktop (http://www.xandros.com) is designed almost as a Windows clone, with many functions duplicated in familiar places. Xandros is available in multiple different packages, from the free Xandros Desktop 3 Open Circulation Edition to a couple of business desktop versions and a server version for business.
SimplyMEPIS (http://www.mepis.com) is not quite as smooth a transition, but is still a good alternative for the Windows user. MEPIS has the added bonus of arriving as a bootable, runnable version of Linux run straight from the CDROM. After you try it (or play with it) for a while, you can click on the “Install Me” icon. It couldn’t be much simpler.
Another distribution, that has taken the Linux world by storm, is the Ubuntu distribution (http://www.ubuntu.com). Totally free for all versions, Ubuntu is available for Intel x86, AMD64 and PowerPC processors. Similar to MEPIS, Ubuntu has a free downloadable, bootable, runnable Live CD. Ubuntu has a separate CD for installation, and it’s free, too. You can even request CDs and they will mail them to you for free.
Updates to Xandros, SimplyMEPIS and Ubuntu, all of which are based on the earlier Debian distribution (http://www.debian.org), are easy and managed by each’s package manager. Other Linux version have similar update mechanisms.
Other common distributions of Linux include RedHat Enterprise Edition (www.redhat.com), SuSE Linux (www.suse.com), Fedora (the free spinoff from RedHat, fedora.redhat.com), and more. You can find extensive information and links to the various distributions at DistroWatch.com.