I am currently running Windows 7 on my system and want to try out Linux, but I'm afraid to download it and have something happen to my computer. Can I somehow download Ubuntu and when I start up my computer have an option on running either Ubuntu or windows?
Ubuntu is exactly what you need to try it out, and install it side-by-side with your current os:
- download the current desktop ubuntu version and burn the to a cd
- restart your pc, enable boot from cd
- you will be taken to a full graphical desktop with two options:
- try out
In the try out mode, ubuntu will run entirely from the cd (so it's a bit slow when starting up applications for the first time). You can even access your files.
When you decide you want to install ubuntu, select that option on the desktop. The installer can resize your windows partition and install a boot loader which allows booting into windows or linux.
I believe that what you want is wubi.exe found here: http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/windows-installer . Wubi will allow you to easily install and use Ubuntu without disturbing your currently installation. You will get everything out of a wubi.exe installation as you would with a completely separate Ubuntu installation.
After getting familiar with Ubuntu you might look at installing Ubuntu on another partition on you computer.
Wubi is the safest way to do it if your biggest concern is not messing your current OS. It installs from Windows just like any other program and does exactly what you're wanting it to do: every time you restart your computer it will ask you if you want to run Ubuntu or Windows. And if you decide down the road that you don't like it, you can uninstall it from the Windows Control Panel, just like any other program.