Whichever distribution you finally decide on you will need to install it on your machine in order to take full use of the operating system. Once you have downloaded or brought your distribution and it is on cd the best way to start the installation is to boot it from the cd/dvd. This is done quite simply; enable the cdrom as the first boot device in the bios then put the CD in the drive and reboot your computer. Whichever distribution you install will probably give you a number of options.
SuSE for instance gives you a number of different boot options for different types of installation. You will want either graphical installation or simple installation. The installation program then boots and will try to configure as much as it can without any need for you to change anything. SuSE for instance will default select a package and attempt to rearrange your partitions for you, though if you don?t like anything it has changed you can always change it back at this stage.
Redhat and Mandrake will require you to change the partitions yourself this is normally the only difficult stage on the installation and I would recommend you use a program such as partition magic as described in the previous article. Once you have gone through the simple installation procedure you are ready to start copying files to your hard drive.
This can take anywhere between 20mins to 2hours depending on the speed of your computer and how much you install. A typical desktop system with office will take around 2gbs of hard drive space so there is quite a lot of copying to be done! After everything has been installed the installer will run a number of configuration programs to configure different bits of hardware such as network cards, graphics cards and printers.
Most devices will automatically be configured properly however you do have the option to tweak any settings you wish at this point. Its best if you look up your distributions guide while installing too as this guide is quite general into installation through out the major Linux distributions. Installation is the most nerve racking part of getting Linux but is also one of the most important parts.