Currently there are more than 600 Linux system distributions (called distro). Each distro has its own specification and most of them are free to download. You can find distro, which will work on 10 years old machine, distro, which will give you classic unix-like look, distro, which is easy to download and operate for complete Linux newbie or distro, which is super flexible and gives you the power of versatility. If you ever wanted to try Linux, but don’t know how to start this post is for you.
First idea, that comes to mind is downloading Linux as second OS on your machine. However, having two operating systems on one machine is never good option. Much better solution is trying Linux on Virtual Machine (called VM). VM takes some resources from your computer like RAM and disc space, but doesn’t interfere with your OS. The most popular VM is VirtualBox from Oracle, which is free to download https://www.virtualbox.org/ After downloading VirtualBox install it like any other software on your Windows system. Next step is choosing Linux distro you want to try. I personally like Arch Linux, because it’s super light and simple, the installation ISO size is only 804.3 MB https://archlinux.org/download/ yes whole system with latest Linux kernel has less than 1GB. Although, later you will have to spend few hours customizing your system, because Arch Linux doesn’t even have Chrome browser preinstalled. Instead, it gives you full freedom of what software you want on your system, maybe you prefer to download Chromium browser, an open-source alternative.
If you want to try Arch Linux on VirtualBox first step is downloading Arch ISO file on your Windows machine, you can find Index of /iso/2023.09.01/ here https://geo.mirror.pkgbuild.com/iso/2023.09.01/ and choose the archlinux-2023.09.01-x86_64.iso.sig file for latest version. After downloading the file open VirtualBox and click on New blue sun icon on top then follow the installation process, this way you are installing the system virtually. When new window appears go for the Expert Mode, insert Name: Arch Linux and the path to downloaded ISO file on your Windows machine. Type: Linux and Version: Oracle Linux (64-bit) stay the same. Unattended Install stays the same as well. Next choose Hardware and set Base Memory: 4096MB and Processors: 4 CPUs. In Hard Disk select option Create a Virtual Hard Disc Now and set it to 20.00 GB. Then select Finish and wait few seconds. Now you should find Arch Linux menu on the left side below Tools. Double click on it and you should see Arch Linux window. Now the fun part starts, we will be installing Arch Linux OS with command line.
The previous process was to install Arch Linux on VirtualBox, this way every time you open VM you will see Arch OS ready to start. But, when you download new Linux OS, you have to install it first. Please prepare some time, because Arch Linux installation is done manually step by step. From the Arch Linux window choose the first option Arch Linux install medium and click on it. New window will appear where you have to type simple command archinstall and click enter. Now you start the actual installation. First choose your desired language and keyboard, I go for English and us. Next select Mirror Region and by pressing TAB key go for Belarus for Europe. Following choose Local Drive and choose the existing /dev/sda, next select Disk Layout and choose Wipe all selected drivers (don’t worry it won’t wipe your Windows system). Then choose the BTRFS filesystem and press enter. Note: here you can learn about other Linux filesystems. Afterward we create root (main user) password and create new User Account by choosing Add a User, Username, Password, and YES for Default. In Profile menu set your desktop environment, I go with KDE, next for graphics driver set VMware/VirtualBox. For Audio I go with Pipewire. In Arch installation you can choose your preferred Kernel (Linux system core), but for beginners it is recommended to go with the default option. Next you can choose Additional Packages for longer installation or install them later manually. Following enter Network Configuration and set Network Manager. Then set your Time Zone and Optional Repositories. Congratulations! Now you can press the install button to start the installation process :) This is where the magic happens and you will see Linux OS installed on your machine. The process can take few minutes so sit and relax. After the installation is completed, the system will ask if you want to do post-installation configuration, but you can safely select No for now. Then the system will ask you to reboot — type: shutdown now in the command line. Now you need to remove ISO file from VirtualBox that have been used for installation before starting Arch Linux again. You are all set with your new Arch Linux installation.