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The best way to learn how easy Linux is to use is by actually trying it out on your current computer. There are at least 5 ways to try Linux – without the need to remove Windows from your current computer. In this article, we will review some of the pros and cons of each of these methods. The 5 ways to try Linux include:
#1 Put Linux in a Virtual Machine
#2 Dual Boot Linux on your computer.
#3 Put Linux on any old laptop you may have in your closet.
#4 Create a Live USB stick
#5 Create a Persistent USB “Computer on a Stick”

Why Look Before You Leap
It is understandable that, if you have only used Windows your entire life and never had a chance to use Linux, you may be concerned about moving all of your documents over to Linux Mint. Even if you are interested in learning more about Linux, you might want to try it before you take the plunge. Finally, it is useful to learn a simple and easy way to test various operating systems.

#1 Put Linux in a Virtual Machine
A Virtual Machine is a basically installing any operating system inside of an isolated folder inside your current computer hard drive. The problem with virtual machines is they are not very stable over time. Also, any operating system will be slower in a virtual machine (where it can only use part of the RAM) than in a real machine where the operating system can use all of the RAM. In addition, virtual machines cannot be taken from one computer to another. I have written an article explaining the entire process which you can read at this link: https://learnlinuxandlibreoffice.org/2-linux-to-the-rescue/2-2-take-linux-mint-for-a-test-drive

#2 Dual Boot Linux on your computer.
Dual booting requires partitioning your hard drive and giving a portion of the hard drive to one operating system and the rest to a different operating system. A screen then appears when you start your computer which allows you to choose which operating system you want to use. The problems with this process is that partitioning the hard drive can get complex. One mistake and you can bork your entire computer hard drive.

#3 Put Linux on an old laptop you may have in your closet
There are lots of old Windows 7 computers around that do not have enough RAM to run Windows 10 (which requires at least 4 GB RAM and more likely 8 GB RAM). All of these computers work well with Linux Mint (which only requires 1 to 2 GB of RAM). It is relatively quick and simple to take your documents off an old machine and install Linux Mint on it with a USB Live Stick. The only problem with this option is that you may not have an old laptop in your closet. The other problem is that keyboards and screens and hard drives do not last forever. So an older computer may work well with the Linux Mint operating system only to have the monitor or key board go out at some point. Of course, monitors and keyboards can be replaced.

#4 Create a Live USB stick
This is a simple and common option. You can buy a 16 GB USB 3 drive for under $10. Then turn the blank USB into a Linux Mint Live Stick using a free program called Etcher that works well even on a Windows computer. Then set your computer to boot from a USB and start your computer with the USB Live Stick in a USB port. Up comes Linux Mint. The only problem is that none of the changes you make will be saved. So you can practice using Linux and see how well and how easy it works. But you cannot do any real tasks with a Live Stick.

#5 Create a Persistent USB “computer on a stick”
A persistent USB “computer on a stick” is basically adding Linux to an external hard drive that can then be used in place of your computer’s internal hard drive. This is an ideal way to learn Linux because you can use a Computer on a Stick on almost any host computer that is set to boot from a USB drive. It does require a USB 3 drive with at least 64 GB of storage capacity. But these can be bought for under $20. So for an extremely low price, you can learn Linux in a realistic way without ever making any significant changes to your existing computers.

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