Ever pine away for a car for months, or even years, then when you finally get it—you have buyer’s remorse? You should have taken a test drive. Sure, you say, testing a car with a chatty salesperson next to you isn’t ownership but it does give you an idea of the look and feel of the car from the inside out. You can do the same with Linux—take it for a test drive before you commit!
Yes, through the magic of Live CDs, a CD that holds an entire Linux Operating System that boots and acts like it’s installed on a hard drive, you can try before you buy. It’s easy enough to do. Try these simple steps to try out that new Linux Desktop you’ve heard so much buzz about.
1. Go to LWN’s Distribution Page or Distrowatch and select from any of the distributions that have a Live CD available.
2. Download the ISO image and burn it to a CD/DVD.
3. Reboot your computer with the CD/DVD. (You may have to change your BIOS settings to allow you to boot from the CD/DVD drive—get help with this part if you don’t understand it.)
4. Enjoy your new Linux computer without overwriting any of your current Operating System, hard drive, or settings.
5. When finished, remove the CD, and reboot to your old system.
A word of warning: Sometimes applications don’t behave well when on a Live CD. Just realize that it’s pretty amazing that you can do this at all and enjoy the things that do work and don’t fret about those that don’t. Also, don’t expect great speed when working from your CD/DVD drive—often applications stay compressed until they’re used and it takes time to uncompress then launch—be patient CD/DVD drives are much slower than hard drives.
Be sure to ask questions in Forums if things don’t go the way you think they should for a particular application.
Test as many as you want and let me know the results of your findings. I am curious to know which Live CDs get the best responses. Who knows, you may find a new way to use your computer or a new Operating System.