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Tutorial Linux for Windows Users

Updated on March 3, 2016

Benefits of a Dual Boot System

For many years, I had been a dedicated Windows user. My enthusiasm started to fade when some advanced viruses began to make my online life pretty miserable. After having one of these "should I really reinstall Windows to be sure the virus is gone before doing online banking" moments, I had enough and decided to switch to Linux but without getting rid of my Windows installation. And it turns out, I didn't have to.

If you have a bunch of unused gigabytes on your machine, it is pretty easy to install another operating system parallel to Windows. Installing Linux as a second operating system, a boot loader, e.g. Grub2, will automatically be installed. After the overall installation is finished, the boot loader screen appears whenever you start your computer and asks you which operating system you would like to work with. That will allow you to use the best of both operating systems and to slowly transition from Windows to Linux.

Comparison of Windows and Linux

Feature
Windows
Linux
cost of OS
not free
free
threat by viruses
yes, a lot
unheard of
software selection
great selection
ok
troubleshooting
usually easy
can be really tricky
community
mixed quality
usually very helpful and friendly

Preparing for the Linux installation

Now, it is time to create some space on your hard drive for your Linux installation. To continue, you should have Windows already installed on your computer and around 35GB of free disk space available. If you already have an unused partition that you would like to use for your Linux installation, you can skip the following paragraph.

If you don't, it is time to shrink the size of your Windows partition. Before starting with this enterprise, you should backup, clean, run a file system check, and/or defragment this partition. When you are finished, click on the Windows Start Button and enter diskmgmt.msc in the "Search Programs and files" prompt. This command opens the disk management window, where you can right-click on your Windows partition and select the "Shrink volume" option from the context menu.

I would recommend to create at least a 20GB partition for your Linux system and a second 10GB partition with a Fat32 file system so you can easily exchange files between the operation systems. Reboot your computer before proceeding. Another little piece of advice. Take a second and write down the partition sizes since this information might give you some orientation and come in handy proceeding with the Linux installation.

Downloading Linux Kubuntu

Now, it is time to decide what kind of Linux derivative you would like to install. There are hundreds of different Linux distributions out there. In my opinion, an Ubuntu based distribution is a good choice for beginners. Ubuntu has contributed a great deal to popularize Linux and offers a well supported distribution with a great community who welcomes Linux novices.

Unlike Windows Linux offers various desktop environments each providing a different look and feel and preinstalled bundles of software. A good choice is the modern KDE Plasma desktop environment whose popularity is an advantage for getting support on a great variety of topics. The latest release of the Ubuntu distribution that includes the KDE Plasma desktop, called Kubuntu, can be downloaded at http://www.kubuntu.org/getkubuntu

To install Kubuntu, you need to create a bootable DVD or Usb stick. You can use the Windows tool Windows Disc Image Burner to burn a bootable DVD. If you don't know how to do this, you can find a tutorial at http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/burn-a-dvd-on-windows. Alternatively you can can create a bootable USB drive using the downloaded image files.

Installation Process

Installing Kubuntu is pretty straight forward with one exception. Installing Kubuntu on the right partition of your hard drive can be tricky for beginners. Following the the Kubuntu installation process, the screen "Installation Type" displays a graphical representation of the partitions on your hard drive. This step allows you to create new partitions or in our case to select an already existing partition to use for the installation. With our dual boot scenario, the partition will before the installation will look similar to the following example.

You need to install Kubuntu on the partition you created by shrinking your Windows partition. In the depicted example, this would be the orange partition. Your written note with the partition sizes might come in handy to help you find the right partition. The other steps of the installation process should be self-explanatory.

Reaping the Benefits

You have finished your Kubuntu installation? Congratulations!

It is time to reap a few benefits for all that hard work. A feature I always appreciated about Kubuntu is the generous amount of preinstalled office software. Kubuntu comes with LibreOffice which offers software similar to Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Visio. I really hope Kubuntu will serve you well and offer you a great alternative to your Windows operating system.

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