Re: I'm totally inexperienced with Linux
Hello MAFinOKC. Another welcome from the community! Firstly, 'bravo' to your foresight in coming here and poking around before charging ahead with an install. If more people approached their installs with your methodical caution, there would be a lot less desperation and fewer cries for help on these forums.
+1 to pkadeel. This is by far the best way to start. Most of all, make sure that you can surf and ping a site like google.com, esp wirelessly. This will mean that your wireless card is supported. Actually, the biggest general issue with Linux installs is the graphics card, but an incompatibility there would be self-evident: the desktop won't start up.
Originally Posted by pkadeel
Once you feel that you are ready to install, make sure you read this link first:
It's really quite easy. I feel that it's easier than a Windows install, but opinions differ.
Here's the important stuff, though:
1. Before doing anything BACK UP all of your data to an outside drive/DVD/USB stick. Then check the data to make sure it is good. This is far and away the most important step. If this is done, disaster is averted and any misstep is limited to being an inconvenience at most.
2. If you want to dual boot, then it is best to create/modify your partitions properly beforehand. This way, at the point where the installation asks you how you want to install, you can select "something else" and customize your installation in a more controlled fashion (see point 3 below). Alternatively, you can simply choose the "install Ubuntu alongside" option and the installer will use a default partitioning scheme that is perfectly serviceable.
3. This step is optional. It is more complicated and you may wish to forego it at this point until you are more familiar with partitioning, Linux file structures, etc: I used to recommend a separate /home partition, but have since modified my recommendation based on advice from @oldfred. If you want to preserve your data so that future installs do not wipe it out, then it is advisable to create a separate partition for data. Provided that you select "something else" during the install process, you will be given a chance to tell the operating system where to mount this partition. I would mount it at /home/data but others are happy with /mnt/data or /media/data.
4. What follows is just general advice and preferences. The above measures assume that you want to set Ubuntu up as an independent operating system that runs outside of Windows--a true dual boot. There is also an alternate way to install Ubuntu, called WUBI, that runs it from within Windows. I strongly discourage this method, but that is just my opinion. Others are better placed to advise you on the WUBI method, as I have never used it.
Happy install! Hope you enjoy Linuxing.
Edit: Wow. In the time it took me to write my post, you received tons of good advice from others. All good stuff. Esp listen to @oldfred
Last edited by DuckHook; December 8th, 2012 at 08:10 PM.
Reason: Advice superceded