Downloading files for a new OS - what the hell is what?

I wanted to try out Debian and a couple of other OS’s - which I’m sure that when I download I will be able to muddle out the installation procedure.

Now I’m open to new ideas AND I’m not a complete thicky with computers, but I am thoroughly confused about which files I should download from Opensource sites.

Nearly all these sites refer to different architecture types of installation:

Now I am guessing i386 refers to a normal home PC?
So what the hell are those other types?

(Just for info my home PC is a Dell 1.8Ghz with 256Mb memory.)

Oh - anyone used Debian - any good?

Well, the SPARC version is for computers using SPARC processors like SUN SparcStations. (I happen to have one at home running Suse 7.3 for SPARC).

The i386 is for computers using Intel i386 processors (this is the version for most home computers that are capable of running Windows, since all versions of Windows only run on Intel x86 processors).

Some of the other Debian ports run on Motorola 68k processors (most often seen in Macintoshes and Amigas), S/390 machines from IBM, HP-PA RISC machines, and MIPS (for SGI machines mostly).

In your case you will most likely need the i386 port (if your PC normally runs Windows).

Oh and also, Debian is a nice Linux ditribution, but it is not really user-friendly if you are used to working in Windows exclusively. It may need a lot of tweaking and tuning that can be hard to figure out if you’re not a Linux or UNIX expert.

Some more user-friendly distributions that are easier to install are SUSE, RedHat, and my personal favorite (because it has the easiest learning curve and has almost a Windows like feel. Heresy I know, but there you go) Mandrake. You should be able to download bootable .iso images from the ftp servers of each distributor. But even with a broadband connection this can take some time. For the three .iso images neccessary for Mandrake Linux, my ADSL connection of 768k download speed needed about 6 hours.

If you need any help on how to download the .iso images, check if they are valid, burn them to CD and install Linux just go ahead and ask in this thread.