Linux isn’t nearly as challenging as you’ve been led to believe. In fact, it’s just as easy to use as any other operating system. But what about the installation? Wouldn’t installing an operating system be a challenge that’s way above the paygrade of the average user? Not necessarily. And now that you know how to test-drive Linux, it’s time you learned how to install the open-source operating system.

SEE: 40+ open source and Linux terms you need to know (TechRepublic Premium)

Like the previous entry in this series, I’m going to focus on elementary OS because it’s one of the more user friendly distributions, and the installation is fairly indicative of the average Linux installation.

With that said, let’s get to the installation.

What you’ll need

To make this work, you’ll need a desktop or laptop PC and a USB drive with the elementary OS ISO installed as a bootable drive (a process that was described in the previous article).

Before you continue, make absolutely sure you have backed up any files you have saved on Windows, as I’m going to walk you through the process of deleting the current operating system (Windows) and installing Linux over it.

Again, backup your data to an external drive or cloud account, as it will no longer be accessible after the installation is finished.

Once more with feeling … backup your data.

How to install elementary OS

Insert your bootable USB drive into your PC and start it up. When you get to Try or Install (Figure A), select Erase Disk and Install. This will erase your disk, so only select this option if you’re OK deleting everything from the drive on the machine (see “backup your data” warnings above).

Figure A

Selecting the Install path with elementary OS.

Next, select the drive elementary OS is to be installed to (Figure B) and click Erase and Install. If you have more than one drive (such as if you have a drive for data), make sure you are selecting the correct drive for the OS.

Figure B

Select the target drive to install Linux on.

In the resulting screen (Figure C), you can choose if you want to encrypt the drive. Do this if you want to protect the data, should the laptop or desktop fall into the wrong hands. Either select Don’t Encrypt or Choose Password. If you select Choose Password, you’ll be prompted to type and verify a password to continue.

Figure C

To encrypt or not to encrypt; that is the question.

At this point (Figure D), the installation will begin.

Figure D

The installation has begun.

This portion of the installation is the longest and will take between 2-5 minutes (depending on the speed of your hardware). When this portion finishes, you’ll be prompted to restart the device. After the restart, you’ll be prompted to select your language (Figure E) and keyboard layout.

Figure E

Selecting the language for elementary OS.

After you’ve selected the language, you will then be prompted to create a user for the system (Figure F).

Figure F

Creating a new user for elementary OS.

The device name is the hostname for the computer, which will be visible to other devices over your network. Fill out the details for the new user, change the Device name (if you desire), and click Finish Setup. You will then be prompted to log into elementary OS (Figure G), where you can start working with your new Linux installation.

Figure G

Logging into your freshly installed elementary OS operating system.

And that’s all there is to it. In about five minutes, you’ll have installed a user friendly Linux distribution and logged in to experience this powerful, flexible, secure and reliable open-source operating system.

Next time around, we’ll learn a bit more about the desktop and how to install software.

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Image: Shutterstock/Arthur Palmer