Despite its prevalence in the marketplace, Windows is far from being the only operating system that can be installed on your PC. Unless you fancy going down the route of creating your own Hackintosh, running OS X may well be out of the question, but there is an alternative available in the form of Linux.
The friendly face of the Unix operating system, Linux, is an operating system that many people will have heard of, but only a relatively small number of Windows users have gone as far as partitioning their hard drive and setting up a dual-boot system. LinuxLive USB Creator is an amazing free tool that can help, guiding you through every step of finding a distro to use, downloading it, and then creating a live CD or USB drive so you can try out the OS without the need for installation.
LinuxLive USB Creator is a free program, and you can download yourself a copy by paying a visit to www.linuxliveusb.com. Head to the Download tab and then click the Download LiLi button to save the installer to your hard drive. Once the download is complete, run through the installation routine and then launch the program from the Start menu.
Create A Bootable Disk
The program’s colourful shortcut icon gives you a good indication of what to expect, and the application interface is similarly bright and slightly unusual. Despite appearances, LinuxLive USB Creator works in much the same way as any other Windows tool.
You have the option of creating a bootable CD or DVD that can be used to try out Linux on your computer, but a far better option is to use a USB drive – this means that you can use the same drive to store files as well as your operating system.
You’ll need to have a USB drive to hand and you should create a backup of any files it contains as you’re going to be formatting it in a few moments. Plug the USB drive into a spare port on your computer and select it from the drop down menu in the Step 1 section of the program window – notice how the traffic lights to the right turn green.
If you have already downloaded a Linux distro, or you have a CD already burned, you can select it as a source for your live USB drive in Step 2. However, to ensure that you are using a version of Linux that is fully compatible with LinuxLive USB Creator it is a better idea to download a copy from within the program click the Download link and then use the drop down menu to choose which version of Linux you would like to use.
There are literally dozens of different versions of Linux for you to choose from and it is difficult to say which one is best – the beauty of Linux is that there are so many variants, each having different strengths and weaknesses- one of the Ubuntu variants is a good starting point, however. When you’ve made your selection, click the Automatically button and then choose a folder to save the file to before clicking OK. The download may take a few minutes to complete as most versions of Linux are several hundred megabytes in size.
Configure Live Linux Settings
Once the download is complete, you can turn your attention to Step 3. Ordinarily when you use a bootable, live version of Linux, your settings and changes will not be saved between session – you effectively start afresh each time you boot up. However, the persistence setting enables you to set aside some space on your USB drive to store your preferences and files, and you can use the slider to choose just how much space you want to reserve for this purpose.
Now move to step 4 and tick all of three of boxes. This will ensure that your USB is correctly formatted as well as giving you the option of launching Linux from within Windows as well as booting from the drive you are about to create.
When you’re happy that all of the settings have been correctly configured, click the lightning bolt icon in the Step 5 section of the program window. If you’ve opted to format your drive you’ll have to click OK to confirm this and then LinuxLive USB Creator will take care of everything else for you.
You can now make use of your USB drive in a few ways. The first option is to check your BIOS settings and ensure that your computer can be booted from USB drives – you can then just start your computer with the drive inserted and choose to boot from it whenever you want.
You could also use a virtualization tool such as Virtual PC or VirtualBox if you already have one of these tools installed, but there is also a built in version of VirtualBox that you can work with. Browse to your USB drive in Explorer and launch the file labelled Virtualize_This_Key.exe.
Linux is an operating system that is often viewed with suspicion by people – this is, until they try it out. It is great operating system to help breathe new life into an older computer, but it can also sit very happily alongside Windows. If you are unsure about whether you want to make the switch permanently, if you want to be able to use both Windows and Linux, or if you are just curious to try something new, creating a bootable disc with LinuxLive USB Creator could be the way ahead; it’s a great way to open up a whole new world of computing for free.