"Try it now. Read the manual later."





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You do not need to remove your Microsoft Windows installation in order to install linux. Use them both at the same time.

Are you a clueless beginner? is made for you.

Selectively boot both msWindows and linux on your existing desktop or laptop.

reducing uncertainty

When you start into a new topic with unfamiliar rules and conditions there's uncertainty. The uncertainty I am talking about is the beginner's worry that he might ruin his existing hard drive by trying to repartition it in order to add a new operating system.

If you have no previous experience this is just the beginning of a list of intimidating problems. There's a lot of decision making involved. There's partioning the hard drive, file system choices, boot choices and boot managers. There are many different distributions. Within those distributions there are many different window managers that make for a large array of different desktops. And after all of that there are a lot of different applications/programs that you may or may not want or need.

Many people have taken the plunge by simply reading the manuals. If you're working on a blank hard drive on a new computer there is very little risk. If things go wrong you learn a lesson, erase the disk and try again. Risking a hard drive that contains valuable personal data on an existing msWindows installation isn't the same easy gamble. It becomes worst if you are not sure about what to expect or even which distribution to install.

the linux learning curve

"rtm" is a response that is sometimes given on linux help forums. It's an acronym that means "read the manual".

But do you really want to rtm just to find out if you'd like using linux? You not only have to read the manual you also have to have enough comprehension to apply what you are reading. That's some investment of time and effort. The customers I am looking for are not currently computer geeks, not yet anyway, and for that matter, not sure if they want to be.

If you would like to give linux a try but are not sure what to do, I've made all the initial decisions for you. After I am done you can leave microsoft one step at a time, at your own speed, all in a graphical desktop environment.

the desktop environment
debian firefox gnome beryl gnu
links, screenshots and other important details

the upgrade centers around a pre-formatted hard drive

What I'll do is upgrade your existing pc by adding a hard drive. This hard drive will have the new OS already installed. Your original hard drive with ms Windows will be untouched and will remain as is. When you boot up you can select which OS you would like to start. If you get tired or bored with one OS then reboot and make a different selection. The selection is made with a graphical interface.

Note: The new hard drive can be a conventional internal hard drive, a external hard drive or a usb stick, whichever you like.

advantages and options of a hard drive upgrade from
  • You can make things as complicated or uncomplicated as you like. More than likely a beginner will opt for uncomplicated but that's up to you. My assumption is that you know nothing about the topic so I make all the initial decisions for you.
  • New hard drives run cooler and faster. Hard drive technology is constantly improving but hard drives still don't last that long. If your hard drive is a few years old then it's hot, obsolete and has limited storage capacity. If it's 3 - 5 years, it's at the end of its expected life. A new bigger and better secondary hard drive allows you to backup both your data and your whole existing system.
  • There are no feeding tubes attached to your wallet. There are no subscriptions, memberships or leases.
  • Both the remote install and the local install apply only to the new hard drive. Your origional hard drive is left untouched.
  • If you should change computers, you can take the new hard drive with you. It will still boot up and operate.
  • If you opt for installing the hard drive yourself, there's practically no downtime when compared to the time it would take to ship the pc to me and then ship it back.
  • Bonus advantage: I don't just add 1 linux install, I add 2 independent and identical installs of linux. If you misconfigure or otherwise mess up the first install then just boot into the second install. You can use it for comparison to trouble shoot the first.

further details: how I do the upgrade

If you have a desktop pc then there are 2 choices. Both choices require installing a new hard drive. The cheapest and fastest solution is where I send you a hard drive, you install it and then I remotely access it to do any final configuration. I call this technique a remote install. The second choice is for you to send the pc to me and I work on it here. I call this a local install.

I call this a local install because you send the pc to me and I do the work on my local network. I charge the same fee for a local install that I do for a remote install, however the overall price of the local install is higher because of the higher shipping and insurance cost.


I'll ship you a hard drive with pre-installed linux installations. You will plug this new hard drive into you computer in conjunction with your current hard drive. Then I will remotely access you computer over the internet to do the final configuration.

If you have a laptop/notebook pc then there are still 2 choices but the details are different.

laptop: local install

On a desktop pc there is a lot of room to add hard drives. I can leave the existing copy of ms Windows on the original hard drive and install the new partitions to the new secondary hard drive. It doesn't work like that on a laptop.

Usually a laptop pc can only have 1 hard drive. Because of this both OS's must be on this single hard drive. This is different from the way I am doing a desktop install because on a desktop each OS gets its own individual hard drive. this means the existing copy of ms Windows must be cloned from the old hard drive to the new hard drive. Otherwise you would loose the copy of ms Windows. The original hard drive is removed and saved for possible future use.

To add to the complications there is a lot of variation in laptop design and making the wireless network function can be a problem. For these reasons I do not even attempt a remote configuration on a laptop pc. Ship the laptop to me, I'll make the modifications and then ship it back. From the customer's perspective, this type of laptop install is similar to a local install because they both require shipping the computer to me. The good news is that boxing up a laptop is much easier than a full size desktop and the shipping cost is much lower.

laptop: remote install

There is only 1 option for a remote install on a laptop that gets moved around. You must use a usb flash drive. For a boot loader I will use the resident msWindows boot loader. Like the desktop remote install this is a 2 step process. (1) There is the remote evaluation to determine if your laptop is a good candidate and (2) then I ship you the flash drive and do the remote configuration.

If your laptop is stationary, if you leave it on your desk and never take it anywhere then you can use an external esata hard drive or an external usb hard drive for a remote install.

It wouldn't surprise me if you don't follow all of this at first. For a discription with more detail scroll down a little on this page and click the tap that says 'laptop install'.

Note for those who want a quick opinion: On my own laptop I would want the local install inspite of the convenience of the remote install. For the reasons why, scroll down a little on this page and click the tab that says 'laptop install'.

Restated, here is the decision making tree.

decision making tree

wait! the customer might have to install the hard drive?

For the remote install, yes. It's not hard. Here are the instructions. You the customer will also have to be there when I do the final remote configuration.

how about the customer who can't or won't deal with the hardware?

Package up the pc and send it to me, this is a local install. I will take care of the rest. Click the local install tab below for further details.

What does it mean to dual boot?
  • I offer a service for anyone who wants to gradually move from ms Windows to linux.
  • I am targeting those who either are not sure what version of linux they want or who instinctively know they want a broad selection of possibilities and want it now.
  • I will configure your exiting computer to boot to 2 installs of linux and, in addition, boot to the existing ms Windows that resides on your origional hard drive. This is called dual booting or in this particular case multi booting because there are 3 operating systems on the computer.
  • You will receive what I have decided is the ideal set up, in addition to any changes you wish. Over time you would then develop your own understanding of the ideal set up and make the modifications as these preferences develop.
  • If you are not familiar with dual/multi booting, and how this relates to the installation, I will explain with the following examples. First the elements that are common to every installation method and then the details of the installation types (remote, local and laptop).

The detail that is common to every installation method that I use is a new hard drive. This hard drive contains the new OS. This allows me to not take responsibilty for your ms Windows installation. Everybody wins with this approach. I don't have to worry about the state of your current hard drive or how infected your ms Windows install is; and you keep your current install untouched as a backup. Any experimenting you may want to do with new OS's can be done on the new hard drive.

Usually a computer only has 1 OS to boot up to. Usually this OS is a version of ms Windows. If you wanted to you could call this single booting but it is not usually refered to it this way.

The next most common booting technique is dual booting. Dual booting means you have a choice of 2 OS's installed on the computer. At boot time you decide which OS you wish to start. The OS are independent of each other. It is possible to access the storage space of one from the other. Dual booting includes several variations. You can arrange to dual boot from 1 hard drive that is partioned into 2 parts(such as a laptop) or you could boot to 2 separate installs in the partitions of 2 separate hard drives.

An extension of dual booting is multi booting. Booting to multiple OS is less common than dual booting so the term muti booting is also less common. It simply refers to the fact that you have more than 2 choices at boot time. This is a upgrade, you have a choice of 1 install of windows or 2 installs of linux for a total of 3 choices.

The installation techniques are: remote install, local install and laptop install. The installation technique is independent of the result. You decide which installation technique is best for you. You end up with a new hard drive with 2 new OS's under all circumstances.

For more information review the fundamentals of a omniboot upgrade.

the upgrade process

An experienced technician would just add a hard drive and install new software. He would have the answers for the big questions and the small. If some detail was new or unclear he would solve it. It's great to have accumulated knowledge and experience. A difficult step #2 isn't so bad if you can already deal with step #1.

What I offer here is step #1 for the non-technical. You'll be in a new computing world. You can stay as long as you like, try out the many options, and switch back to the familiarity of ms Windows as you like. And here's the best part. It won't be all that unfamiliar. The desktop experience in linux is very similar to the desktop experience in windows or apple. To get to this point I will make all the decisions for you. Where you go from there is up to you.

"Try it now. Read the manual later."

One of the aims of a graphical interface such as the desktop interfaces of windows, apple or linux is to allow the user to avoid having to use a text based command line interface at all. Ideally any administrative decision making or modifications to the enviroment could be determined by viewing a series of menus. Also the default settings would be acceptable enough to not require changing.

The linux desktop enviroment is like this if your needs are typical enought. For example if you wanted to change the desktop wallpaper you could right click the mouse on the open desktop or click the main menu in the panel then navigate through the most likely possibilities and intuitively guess your way to a new wallpaper file.

If you don't fix it then it won't get broke. You could go for years on a linux install without having a need to use the command line or read a manual. This assumes that all you do is cruise the web, send email and use graphical programs with either default settings or settings that are easily accessable through a menu. Here's a short tour of the type of settings I'm talking about. The graphical interface to a program gives you an easy way to enter settings. It also gives you visual clues as to what the settings are by means of drop down list, chech boxes or multiple choice radio buttons.

question: could you get by indefinitely without knowing how to administer a computer?

Answer: That's not likely. You could for a while but sooner or later, depending on how demanding you are on the os, you will have to deal with some aspect of computer organization. Either by reading a manual or reading tutorials on the web. But when you get to that point you will have the advantage of familiarity and the desire to progress with a good thing.

You will have a working linux install without the jeopardy of accidentally erasing your windows install. When you do have a need to consult the manual you will have a better idea of which part of which manual to look at. Also, you will have a working example of linux as a reference.

A linux desktop is made to be administered by the end user. No matter what the problem may be there will be a howto or a guide or a forum or chat room to deal with it.

see what you are missing

If the reader was a hopeless microsoft conformist or afraid of the corporate fud that microsoft produces then you wouldn't have made it this far. Some people can't live without ms Windows, inspite of the shortcomings. But at the same time: ms Windows isn't for everyone. You may be tired of the invasive manuipulations of a greedy corporation. You may be tired of paying for restrictions. A hard drive upgrade from may be your best option.

After the upgrade you will be able to decide if linux is right for you. With a working install you can decide if it is worth the effort and if you are interested in making the effort. Switch back and forth from ms Windows to linux as you like with no restrictions. Learn what you want when you want.