Paths for Further Exploration













At this point, perhaps you are intrigued by the resources that are available and you'd like to learn more about this world. How can you proceed? There are at least five different avenues for you to consider. These are listed in order from least disruptive to your computer to most disruptive. Before trying any of the more disruptive approaches, you are well advised to remember to backup your data files.

Ways to Explore Free, Open-Source Software
  1. Locate a program that you are interested in learning and using, find the appropriate version for your operating system, download and install it on your computer, search for learning resources as needed, learn it and use it, and then tell others about your experiences. If you are using Firefox, you've already followed this path.

  2. Locate, download (this takes a long time), and burn a bootable, live CD. Reboot your computer from the CD and explore the operating system and programs included on the distribution. Your computer's hard disk will not be modified if you only run (and don't install) the live CD.

  3. If you are currently running Windows, you can download and install a program called Wubi that allows you to run Ubuntu as a program within Windows. To Windows, Ubuntu looks like just another program.

  4. Set up a second hard disk partition (this can be tricky if you have lots of files) and install a version of GNU/Linux in the second partition. This is a rather technically complicated path to follow. If you are technically inclined and have worked with partitions previously, this is a viable option to consider. When you boot your computer, you will see a brief menu that allows you to choose which partition (operating system) from which to boot.

  5. Convert an existing, older computer to GNU/Linux. Remember to backup any data files that you want to keep because this option will overwrite your current files with new ones. One of the definite benefits of GNU/Linux is that its hardware requirements are quite modest, which means that you can breathe new life into an older computer instead of confining it to your closet, garage, or local landfill. If you have programs that only run under Windows, you can use an emulation program, such as Wine, to simulate a Windows environment.