Getting hold of Linux is easy. You'll already have spotted that there is a version of SUSE Linux packaged with this book. SUSE Linux is the main focus of this book, and I consider it to be one of the very best versions of Linux out there.
SUSE is one of the most well-established Linux distributions. It's ideal for both beginners and power users, and it really does match the functionality offered in Windows. It includes the unique YaST2 configuration tool, which makes changing your system settings a breeze. It's also a very good-looking distribution. You'll find your friends and colleagues "wowing" when they happen to pass by and glance at your PC!
There are actually quite a number of Linux distributions available. If you want to explore other Linux distributions as well as SUSE, by far the most fuss-free method of getting hold of Linux is to pop over to your local computer store (or online retailer) and buy a boxed copy. You can choose from Red Hat, Mandrake, Libra Net, TurboLinux, Conectiva (if you want foreign language support, although nearly all commercial distributions do a good job of supporting mainstream languages), and many others. Many distributions come on more than a single CD—up to four is the average number at the moment. There are also versions of Linux that come on DVD.
Bearing in mind what I've said about the sharing nature of Linux, you might think it possible to buy a boxed copy of Linux and run off copies for friends, or even sell them for a profit. However, you shouldn't assume this is the case. A minority of distribution companies, such as Xandros and Linspire, incorporate copyrighted corporate logos into their distributions that place restrictions on redistribution. Sometimes they include proprietary software along with the Linux tools, which you cannot copy without prior permission. However, in many cases, reproducing the CDs in small volumes for friends or for use on workstations in a company environment is permitted.
Many of the Linux distributions are also available to download free of charge. In fact, there are also many community-run distributions that are only available this way, such as Slackware, Debian, Fedora, or Gentoo (although you can often buy "homemade" CDs from smaller retailers, who effectively burn the CDs for you and produce makeshift packaging). If your PC has a CD-R/RW drive and you have some CD-burning software under Windows (such as Ahead's Nero), you can download an ISO image and make your own installation CD from it.
An ISO image is a very large file (typically 700MB), which you can burn to CD. This CD is then used to install Linux.