Linux newbies shouldn’t dual boot

If you lurk around many Linux support forums, you are bound to see the regular post that looks something like this:

Hi, I’m new to Linux. I tried to dual boot Windows and Ubuntu, now I can’t use my computer at all because it has errors. Help!!!

Troubleshooting Grub errors is difficult enough. Troubleshooting Grub errors when you know very little about how any of it works or when getting help from strangers on the internet is even more difficult to nearly impossible.

I offer 3 suggestions for newbs who want to learn Linux other than dual booting.

  1. Use a virtual machine. Download Virtualbox on any platform, and install Linux there. It is a little slower than a real computer, but it is safe. If something breaks, nothing is lost. Just start again.
  2. Use bootable live installations. OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, and others allow you to use their Linux distribution from a USB key without ever installing it. This is faster that a VM and when rebooted, it’s like it was never there.
  3. Get a dedicated Linux machine. I’m not talking about spending a ton of money on something new. A raspberry pi will do nicely. So would an old machine from Craigslist. Something that would be used only for Linux and that’s all.

All of these are safe alternatives. I suggest the first option though because it costs nothing except time and your data will be safe.