Now that we have burned our image of Linux we will be able to check that your existing computer is compatible with Linux by loading the Linux distribution from the CD without actually installing it. This allows you to try Linux without touching your current operating system. To check multimedia compatibility I suggest that you prepare a few audio and video files on your hard disk to test the audio and video subsystems. If you are testing with Linux Mint these can be in almost any format, but if you are using Ubuntu it is better to have then in the free OGM, OGG or WAV format, as with Ubuntu the non-free decoders have to be installed.
This will be a two part post. In the first part we see how to boot from the live CD, while in the second part we will see how to check that our computer is Linux compatible.
How to boot from the CD.
Place the linux Min or Ubuntu live CD in your drive and restart your computer. If your BIOS is correctly configured Linux should load when you restart your computer. If Windows loads instead this means that you Bios is not configured to start from the CD drive. This will need to be changed: restart your computer again, and when you see your computer manufacturer's logo press the "delete" key to enter the Bios. On some computers it's the F2 key instead. In any case you should see the mention "hit XXX to enter setup" XXX is the key you should push. Note that you may have to hit that key repeatedly, as it will only register during a specific part of the boot process. If you see the Windows logo it means that you were too slow and that you will have to restart the computer and start again.
Once in your bios try to find the "boot order" menu and ensure that CD/DVD is before (i.e. higher) than HDD. If you are using a nebook with an USB CD drive or thumb drive you may not have a CD/DVD option; If that is the case select USB instead. There should be instructions on how to navigate the menus on the screen, as this is different for various brands of computers I can hardly help much.
Once the change is done you need to "quit and save" the bios to make your changes effective. This is usually done by pressing the "F10" key.
After the changes are done restart the computer, and you should notice that it boots from the CD instead of the hard disk. You should be presented with a boot menu. Select the option to start the live CD. Let the computer boot up. This may take quite some time because a CD is not designed to be used as you boot device. Rest assured that if you actually install Linux on your hard drive it will boot much faster. If you see a login prompt with a countdown just wait for the countdown to finish and the boot will proceed. At some point you should hear the little Ubuntu or Mint "boot music" and finally be presented with the Ubuntu or Mint desktop. Congratulation, you successfully started Linux!
In the next episode we will see how to check that you computer hardware is supported by Linux.