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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? Omniboot.com is made for you.
Selectively boot both msWindows and linux on your existing desktop or laptop.
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 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.
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.
Restated, here is the 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.
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 omniboot.com 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.