How to get Linux operating system onto a datastick to try it out

Linux is different from the programmes that you use to produce documents, spreadsheets, presentations, manipulate images, watch videos etc. Linux is an operating system – equivalent to Windows, rather than the programmes you run on it. So when you switch on your computer, you get a Linux system rather than Windows.

You don’t need virus protection with Linux – This avoids the cost and the space requirements of anti-virus software which can take up significant portions of memory and processor speed. This makes a computer run much more quickly than it would with Windows, plus the software is more efficient, so it will run on & rejuvenate old computers. It’s a good way of getting another 5 years’ life out of an old laptop. And of course, it’s free.

One more thing – open source operating systems or programmes never harvest your data.

These instructions are to help you download Linux onto a datastick, so that you can boot Linux from the datastick, and when you take the datastick out, you’re back to Windows. Any changes you make to files in Linux stay changed when you’re back in Windows. Then you can play with it until you’re sure that you know how to use it. Later, you can install Linux on your hard drive, and just keep Windows as a back-up in case you need to use it for some reason.

Incidentally, if you don’t even want to have a go at downloading Linux onto a datastick yourself, you can buy datasticks with Linux already on, for less than a tenner from eBay, so that you can boot your computer with it and have a play with it, without having to do anything yourself. But in the DIY spirit of open source, this article explains how to download and ‘unpacked’ Linux, put it on a datastick and run Linux on your computer from the datastick.

Information about how to get Linux on a datastick can now be found at our sister organisation,


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