When you want to switch from Windows or Mac to a distribution (version) of Linux, the first step is to obtain a copy of Linux in a format you can use to install the new operating system. That format is usually an ".iso image file." (See our tutorial on the following step: How to install Linux.) The .iso file you download doesn't do you much good on its own. You need to convert that file into a form that will allow you to create a CD, DVD or USB drive that allows you to try Linux without changing your computer at all, with an option to install it permanently later.
This article provides guidance on how to create the installation media (CD, DVD or USB device) that will allow you to do just that. Installable media is often referred to as "live" media because using this method you run the Linux distribution directly from the media, live. This allows you to try Llinux on your computer without installing, and without changing anything at all on your computer. When you shut down and remove the "live" media, your computer is back to normal.
The quickest and easiest method of installation is to use a USB drive ("thumb drive," "pen drive" or "USB stick.") You can also use a CD or DVD to install Linux, but this method is recommended only for older computers or where the computer can not be configured to boot from a USB device. For information on how to make a CD or DVD for installation using Windows, OSX and Ubuntu, see the "Burning ISO HowTo" article on Ubuntu help.
Most likely, if you are considering a switch to Linux, you are using Windows. This is a link to the official Canonical (parent company behind Ubuntu) method for "Creating a bootable USB stick on Windows" using a tool called Rufus. This should work whether you are installing Ubuntu or another distributions of Linux.
A popular cross-platform (Windows, OSX and Linux) app for creating a "live" USB drive is UNetbootin. This excellent tutorial in the Ubuntu MATE community provides step-by-step instructions for using UNetbootin to create a "live" USB drive: "How to use Unetbootin."
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