2.6. Get Linux
Once you have your hardware ready and have decided which distribution you want to run, all you have to do is go get it! There are many ways you can obtain Linux installation media or images. That is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that for nearly any type of machine with any limitation you can imagine, there will be some
Linux itself is free of any license fee because it is distributed under the GNU Public License. This is also true for the GNU utilities that go along with the Linux kernel to make up a typical Linux distribution. Because the GPL allows it to be redistributed free of charge, this means you can
Even if you don't know anybody who already has a copy, most distributions are available for free download or on moderately priced CD-ROMs. While there is no license fee for the software, companies that sell Linux distributions often include media, documentation and/or support in their price, so you're getting more than just "free software" for the price.
The simplest installation method is to get access to Linux on some type of static media, usually a set of compact discs. CDs are easy to buy, move, and store. Should you ever need to reinstall your Linux machine, you can just get out your CDs and go to work. The
In preparing to write this book, I purchased the most recently available version of seven different Linux distributions (for a Pentium-based platform  ) on CD-ROM and spent less than $100 (Figure 2-5)
Figure 2-5. Approximate cost of some popular Linux distributions.
The difference in price is usually explained by how many CDs make up the distribution, how much packaging is included, and whether any paper documentation (like an installation guide) is included.
Linux is available for purchase in many places; a good web search will
If you are installing Linux in an environment with existing Linux machines (such as a medium-to-large company or a university), there may be copies of installation images available on the local network. You might be able to copy install images from another machine via any number of network utilities as long as you have a network card in your computer. Talk to your systems administrator, or someone knowledgeable about such things, as the details of exactly what steps to take vary greatly depending on where the data resides and what kind of network interface you have in your system.
If you have a connection to the internet, you can also download installation images from www.linux.org as well as most web sites of companies who manufacture their own Linux distribution. Downloading installable images involves copying standard ISO install images and writing them onto a CD or local hard disk. This is truly only an option if you have a high-speed connection to the internet, and even then it is very time consuming. At some point, the time required for this activity (not to mention the cost of the blank CD-ROMs) outweighs the relatively low price of a media-only copy from a vendor. Unless others at your company or school are