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Starting GNU/Linux

So you have decided to install GNU/Linux and give it a shot.Good choice.You'll be happy you did.

The question usually a lot of people ask me is there are so many different flavours of GNU/Linux which one do I install??

This is a common misconception as actually speaking there are no different flavours of GNU/Linux like we have a lot of flavours of Unix.Having said that the question arises as what is Debian GNU/Linux, Red Hat Linux,Slackware Linux,Suse Linux,United Linux.
All these are various distributions.The GNU/Linux operating system remains the same for these various distributions,though they may have different versions of the kernel and the various versions software which it comes with.
Many a times a lot of these companies like Red Hat add proprietary software to the distribution too and this is what distinguishes them from the others.
A lot of people have this question as to which distribution should I use??

It really depends on an individual,their knowledge of Unix,their philosophy in life,their knowledge about computers and so on.
If you are new to Unix/GNU/Linux then I would suggest Red Hat or Suse GNU/Linux is very user friendly and more of a point-click installation.
If you know Unix/GNU/Linux pretty well I would strongly suggest using Debian.As in my opinion it is the best distribution ,totally run by volunteers.
After choosing which distribution you want to install what are the steps to follow?
1> Once you have decided on a distribution you need to read the documentation of the version of the distribution which you are going to install. 2>The other thing which you want to do is make a list of all the hardware which you have on your machine.Most of the hardware will be automatically recognised with all the latest distributions of GNU/Linux,but sometimes if things go wrong it really helps if you know what hardware you have during the process of installation. 3>There are two major things in the installation of GNU/Linux. a>The first and the most important step is partitioning your hard drive.Partiotioning software comes with the installation CD's of your distribution. In all circumstances please backup your exisiting data before partitioning the hard drive. b>Once you are done partitioning installation will usually be a breeze and the system will boot in the linux command prompt without any problems.
The next biggest thing to configure is to have a graphical display to work.i.e. to get a GUI desktop.Depending on your graphics card,it can really be easy to very very hard(generally the case with the latest hardware).The problem is not with GNU/Linux but with the companies which make these graphics drivers.They,in many cases do not provide a driver for GNU/Linux.So in these kind of circumstances,once a volunteer gets this graphics card he would then write the driver for it.
Nevertheless,you need to check on Xfree86 whether your graphics card is supported or not.Even though if your graphics card may not be supported yet you can run XFree86 with a generic driver.

Check out on these websites whether you have compatible Hardware.
The GNU/Linux Documentation Project : Harware compatibility
GNU/Linux Harware Database
Red Hat Harware Compatibility List
N.B. If your hardware is not listed on the above websites doesnt necessariy mean that it is not supported.Search on google and you may most probably find a workaround to make it work.
What should I do if I have questions about GNU/Linux.
Some of the websites I usually get all my questions answered are
Linux Newbie
Linux questions
Apart from that you can always get associated with your local GNU/Linux user group.People are usually very very co-operative in these User groups.

Here is a list of free downloadable books.Free online books on Linux for beginners.
And of course another major resource is to search your question on various search engines like

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