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Create a Linux Live CD

This mission involves a lot of different concepts, so be sure to read up before you get started!

What is Linux?

Linux is an open-source operating system.  An operating system is the program that runs all the other programs on your computer, like Mac OSX, or Windows 7.  But there's a big difference between Linux and other operating systems: ownership.  Mac OS is owned by Apple and Windows is owned by Microsoft.  Since they're owned by companies, they're what's called proprietary.  Linux is open source, which means it's not owned by anyone.  The "source" part of that phrase means the source code - the programming code that Linux is written in - is open to the public.  That means anyone can look at it, hack it, and modify it any way they like!

Since it's publicly owned, Linux is free for anyone to download and install on their computer. Some computers even come with Linux pre-installed, which makes them cheaper because you don't have to pay Apple or Microsoft to use their operating system.  The other neat thing about Linux is that, since it's open to anyone to hack (and lots of people do) there are many different types of Linux, called distributions (or "distros").  There are Linux distros specifically designed for PCs, servers, netbooks, or even tablet PCs.  Two of the most popular distros are called Ubuntu and Fedora.

Creating a Linux Live CD

We're going to create a live CD that can be used to run Linux on any computer without actually installing it.

Step 1: Download your chosen distro

Ubuntu        Fedora  <--Note: these links only work in school

You can learn more about these or download them at home at ubuntu.com and fedoraproject.com

Step 2: Burn to Disk

The file you downloaded is a .iso file: a disk image.  That means that it's an exact copy of a disk - in this case, a CD - but in the form of a file.  To run it, you need to burn it. Here's how:
  1. Insert a CD
  2. Search in Spotlight for Disk Utility and open it.
  3. You should see the Ubuntu.iso or Fedora.iso file on the left.  If not, just drag the file into that list.
  4. Click on the .iso and click burn, then confirm by clicking burn again.
  5. Wait for the disk to finish burning
Step 3: Boot up in Linux

When you start up a computer, it is set to look at the hard drive as the source of information for how to boot up and start the operating system.  But every computer has a special key that let's you boot from other devices, like a CD, USB drive, or even a network drive.  On Macs, that key is the Alt/Option key.
  1. Restart your computer.
  2. When it's fully shut down, press and hold the Alt/Option key.
  3. Keep holding it while the gray screen comes up.  You'll eventually see two icons, one for the Hard Drive that is usually used to boot, and one for the Linux CD.
  4. Click on the arrow under the CD.
  5. Watch your computer boot up in Linux
Step 4: Explore Linux!
Poke around in a new OS!  See what you like and dislike about it.  It's always fun to try something new, especially if it's free!  You can take your disk home and try it on your computer too.