You can try Linux before changing anything on your Hard Drive. This is one of the reasons why Linux is so awesome. This allowed me to try out Linux and I still use it today. I still try out Linux with LIVE CDs.
Many people purchase computers from online or “in store” retailers. At Best Buy you can get a Windows-based or Mac OS-X based PC. Can you get a Linux-based PC? Well, I didn’t see any in my local Best Buy. I’m not trying to generalize about all Best Buy & I hope they don’t mind me using their name. But I’m inclined to believe that Linux-based PCs make less profit than Mac or Windows-based machines.
Let’s face it. Linux is not popular among retailers. Linux retail sales are probably low due to the nature of Linux itself—freely distributable, and a download gets it for you. When you can download and burn your own CD or DVD installer, why pay someone else to do it, right?
Typical end result: Linux is rarely considered for purchase. People don’t want to “tinker” with a “toy” —they want to get on the internet, check email, share pictures, and stay in touch with others. Consumers can also be “brand-centric” (example: kleenex) and may feel lost without Microsoft Word.
A Linux operating system does all of the things that other operating systems do. Using “LIVE CDs” permits you to try out a particular type or “flavor” of Linux without modifying your computer. That is, unless you want to perform the install from the Live CD, which is not stumbled upon by accident.