Places to obtain it

What are the options?

The most common way to make your 386 or higher PC into a Linux box is to obtain a Linux "distribution", which generally includes the kernel and various system and optional software packages.

Quote from Section 2.1 of Linux Installation and Getting Started by Matt Welsh:

"Because Linux is free software, no single organization or entity is responsible for releasing and distributing the software. Therefore, anyone is free to put together and distribute the Linux software, as long as the restrictions in the GPL are observed. The upshot of this is that there are many distributions of Linux, available via anonymous FTP or via mail order."

There are two ways to obtain a distribution: downloading and purchasing a CD-ROM.

Downloading a distribution

This approach has the advantage of being free and not requiring a CD-ROM drive, and the disadvantage of taking a very long time.

Here are some FTP sites and homepages:

Purchasing a distribution on CD-ROM

If you have a CD-ROM drive, it is recommended that you purchase a distribution on CD-ROM. Not only do you not have to download anything, but installation is usually alot simpler. Even if you have a non-standard CD-ROM drive (e.g. one that connects to a SoundBlaster card), most distributions provide boot disks that contain the required drivers.

What distributions are there?

Eric S. Raymond maintains a HOWTO document on Linux distributions. It contains information both on ftp sites and CD-ROM vendors.

What distribution does Linux International recommend?

Each distribution has its own following, large or small. The only way to find out if a distribution is for you is to get it, install it, and try it out. But under no circumstances should the above list be considered exhaustive or a recommendation or advocation of any kind!

Are there mailing lists for users of particular distributions?

Red Hat

To subscribe to the Red Hat mailing list, send a message consisting of the word subscribe to the address Please remember, though, that even though some members of the Red Hat staff are active on the list, it is a forum where Red Hat users help out other Red Hat users, and not a source of official product support.


There are numerous Debian mailing-lists. The three most interesting lists for users are: debian-announce, debian-user and debian-changes.

To subscribe to the mailing lists, send the word subscribe to one of these addresses:
There are a lot of experienced users on this list who can answer any question you might have. There can be 20 messages a day or more on this list.
Major system announcements. Averages less than one message per week.
This is a list for announcements of new package uploads for the Debian system. It may carry several announcements in a day.

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Last modified July 23, 1996. Maintained by *Nathan L. Cutler <>.