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You want to install Ubuntu on your Windows computer, don’t you? The thing is, you’re not 100% certain, yet. What if it goes wrong?

Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can try Ubuntu Linux and see whether you really like it, from running a Live CD to installing the OS in a virtual machine, before going all the way and installing it alongside Windows to dual boot.

You might even abandon Windows altogether, converting your device into a 100% Ubuntu computer!

Are You Ready to Switch?

The first thing to do is work out whether or not you’re ready to switch to Linux The Ultimate "Should I Use Linux?" Checklist The Ultimate "Should I Use Linux?" Checklist Deciding whether switching to Linux isn't so easy, because Linux isn't perfect and sadly not for everyone -- although we'd like to think that. Is it for you? Read More . That you’re reading this is a good sign that you have strong inclination to try out Linux 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux I was a Windows user for years, but was doing things that have taught me I'm a Linux user at heart. Wondering if you're a secret Linux user? Here are the warning signs. Read More , and the ideal place to start is with Ubuntu.

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While Linux isn’t identical to Windows 7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching 7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching Read More , Ubuntu is the most accessible Linux distribution, offering both an intuitive user interface and a solid package manager.

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If you’re feeling particularly brave, you might have spent some time thinking about how to use Ubuntu as your new, main operating system, replacing Windows entirely. For this, you will need to understand how you can migrate your data from Windows to Ubuntu Migrating From Windows 7 To Ubuntu: The Ultimate Guide Migrating From Windows 7 To Ubuntu: The Ultimate Guide Despite what all the Linux haters say, choosing Ubuntu is logical and migrating from Windows 7 & to Ubuntu is a breeze. This article summarizes the process and provides solutions to the most common beginner... Read More , assuming that is the version you’re going to be switching to.

Which Linux Version Should You Choose?

As you’re probably aware, several flavours of Linux Why I Switched From Windows 7 to Elementary OS Luna Why I Switched From Windows 7 to Elementary OS Luna Bye bye, Windows. Hello, Linux! Here's what convinced me that eOS Luna is a better bet than Windows 7. Read More are available. Some are intended for hardcore enthusiasts, while others come with a Windows-esque user interface, designed to help newcomers to the platform ease their way in.

Ubuntu is a happy medium between the two types of Linux distribution, and while the remainder of this guide applies specifically to Ubuntu, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take a look at our list of the best Linux distributions The Best Linux Distributions The Best Linux Distributions There are many Linux distributions available for a number of different purposes, which makes it difficult to choose at times. Here's a list of the very best to help you decide. Read More  and try some alternatives.

After you’ve downloaded your Linux distro, remember to burn it to DVD in preparation for installation. If a DVD isn’t available, USB flash devices can also be set up Running Linux from USB: Are You Doing It Right? Running Linux from USB: Are You Doing It Right? Did you know that can keep data persistent, or even do a full install for Linux, on a USB drive? Read More as installation media.

Not that you should install just yet.

Get Started: Test with Live CD or Virtual Machine

Before installing Ubuntu, you should spend some time with the operating system in live mode, which enables you to load the OS from the optical disc into your computer’s memory. Do this by inserting the disc, rebooting your PC and selecting Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer from the boot menu. Soon Ubuntu will appear, giving you the chance to try out the apps and become more familiar with everything before making the decision to install. While some functionality may be missing here, this is the best way to take your first steps towards Ubuntu.

Not all Linux distributions have a live mode, so check the documentation if you’re looking at an option other than Ubuntu.

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For ease of switching between Windows and Ubuntu, meanwhile, as well as testing the OS at your convenience without the somewhat inflexible presence of the Live CD (you can’t switch to Windows easily when running a Linux distro from the DVD), you may instead consider using a virtual machine.

As Joel recently wrote, you can keep your main computer safe by testing new operating systems in a virtual machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More . Briefly, free tools like VMWare Player and VirtualBox create a virtualized software PC using your device’s hardware.

Using a virtual machine is an easy way to try Ubuntu Linux. If you’d like to go with that option, have a look at our detailed VirtualBox guide How To Use VirtualBox: User's Guide How To Use VirtualBox: User's Guide Learn to use VirtualBox. Get virtual computers up and running inside your computer, without having to buy any new hardware. Read More .

Dual Booting Windows 8 and Ubuntu

After discovering that you quite like Ubuntu, you may still have reservations about switching completely. The answer here is to dual boot Ubuntu with Windows Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu Tired Of Windows 8? How To Dual Boot Windows & Ubuntu If you discover that Windows 8 isn't quite your cup of tea, and you have no feasible path to downgrade, it may be a good idea to dual boot with Linux to have an alternative... Read More , which is essentially done by creating a new partition on your computer’s hard disk drive and installing the Linux OS into this, as explained in our Windows/Ubuntu dual booting tutorial How Do I Install Ubuntu on a New Windows 8 Computer? How Do I Install Ubuntu on a New Windows 8 Computer? The introduction of personal computers with Windows 8 preinstalled with them also introduced a controversial under-the-hood modification - Secure Boot. Secure Boot is a technology which is included in any new computer that has Windows... Read More .

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Following installation, you’ll see a boot menu each time you boot or restart your computer, with your preferred operating system selected using the arrow buttons on the keyboard.

(Incidentally, if you are interested in dual booting Ubuntu and Mac OS X How To Install Linux On A MacBook Pro Retina How To Install Linux On A MacBook Pro Retina MacBook Pros come with some very nice hardware, but some people want more. Some people want Linux. Read More , this is also possible.)

Help! I’ve Made a Terrible Mistake!

In the unlikely event that you realize that Ubuntu Linux doesn’t cut the mustard for you and your productivity takes a terrible nosedive, the best thing that you can do is switch back to Windows. If you have been using a Live CD or virtual machine so far, this shouldn’t be an issue.

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However, if you installed Ubuntu to dual boot alongside Windows, then you might be happier switching back to the primary operating system and deleting Ubuntu from your HDD How To Safely Uninstall Ubuntu From A Windows Dual-Boot PC How To Safely Uninstall Ubuntu From A Windows Dual-Boot PC Read More . Fortunately this is relatively straightforward and can be done safely, without any loss of data.

The process involves backing up your Linux data to an external device, then switching to Windows to delete the partition and restore the MBR. The explanation we provided for XP users still applies through Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.

Meanwhile, if you decide that actually, yes you do quite like this new OS, you can install Ubuntu as your computer’s sole operating system Bring an Old Computer to Life With Ubuntu Bring an Old Computer to Life With Ubuntu Give an old computer a new life, using Ubuntu. Outlining everything you need to know to get an Ubuntu distro on to an old slow computer. Read More , ideal for bringing an old computer back to life or enjoying new functionality on a modern device.

Do you have plans to dual boot Ubuntu or another Linux distro on your Windows PC? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Thinking lady via Shutterstock, Optical drive via Shutterstock

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