Included with this book is a full-featured Linux distribution called Knoppix. Knoppix is a Debian-based Linux distribution that runs entirely from your PC's CD-ROM drive (though slower than if you actually install Linux). That's right. You can run Linux on your system without having to change your system or uninstall Windows.
This CD is full of great software, some of which I will be covering in this book. You'll have access to e-mail applications, Web browsers, word processors, spreadsheets, games, and more. In fact, you should be able to follow along with this book and do many though not all of the things I talk about without having to install Linux at all. The bootable CD is a fantastic introduction, but there are limitations.
The first limitation is one I have already mentioned, but it bears mentioning again. The CD does run much slower than a hard-disk install, so keep in mind that the performance you experience from the CD is not indicative of the performance you can experience from a Linux hard-disk install. At their fastest, CD-ROM drives are no match for even the slowest hard disk drive. Furthermore, because this bootable Linux does not install itself on your hard drive, you are limited to the packages on the CD. In other words, you can't add or install any new software.
Ready to take Linux for a spin? The bootable CD is a perfect introduction. I'll tell you all you need to know in the next chapter.
When are truly ready to make the move to Linux, consider installing a full distribution. I'll tell you about how to find the distribution that's right for you and how to get a copy of Linux in Chapter 3. If you'd like to see some step-by-step installations, check out Appendix B in this book.