if you want to “test drive” Linux, why not download an Ubuntu LiveCD ISO image, burn it to a CDR or DVD-R, then boot to it, and select “Try Ubuntu”.
A LiveCD will boot to a working Linux desktop without making ANY changes to your hard drive… you can then test compatibility, and get a “feel” for Linux without changing your Windows setup at all.
(though obviously it will be slower than a hard drive installation, and you won’t be able to save any changes)
Ubuntu homepage here:
Download the LiveCD image from here:
To burn the ISO image to a blank CD/DVD, Your best bet would be to download ImgBurn on your Windows box (it’s free):
(be aware I don’t think the Ubuntu ISO fits on a standard CDR any more, so use a DVDR)
Install it, then see here for instructions on how to burn an image with ImgBurn:
on the second picture, where it says Write Speed: AUTO … change that to 4X
and put a tick in the Verify box.
Once burned, just reboot to the CD, and when asked, select “Try Ubuntu”, NOT Install Ubuntu.
It is also possible to put Ubuntu (or pretty much any other Linux distribution) on a USB stick for test driving (LiveUSB), which has the added benefit that you CAN save changes … but your PC must be capable of booting from a USB stick.
Then once you’ve test driven Linux, if you decide you want to install it properly … you can use the LiveCD (or LiveUSB) as the installation disk.
If you have any questions… just ask, and we’ll be more than happy to answer them
If/when you decide you want to install Linux to your hard drive … let us know and we’ll help with the installation (including setting up your system to dual-boot Windows and Linux).
BTW, Linux will do all the things you mentioned (including networking with Windows PC’s) … with one caveat … talking to your Android phone … that depends on what you mean by “talk to” ?
If your system is old and low spec, Ubuntu may not be the best Linux distribution for you … in that case, let us know the system spec.
(most PC’s that were sold with Vista preinstalled will be OK with Ubuntu unless they are very short on RAM)