"So much faster now!"
How I did it: Having grown tired of my 3 year old laptop that virtually ground to a halt any time I asked it to do anything under the Vista OS, I decided I wanted to give it a second life by loading up Ubuntu on it.
Initially it would not boot from the disk to let me try Ubuntu without installing since Vista is a selfish cow, so I was forced to finagle things until I could set up a dual boot on it where they're side by side on the hard drive. After logging in and seeing how fast Ubuntu ran even on 3 year old software and hardware in comparison to Vista, I was hooked.
Because Vista wouldn't allow any installs from disk, I had to do a few tricks ot sidestep this problem. The first was that I downloaded DBAN, or Darik's Boot and Nuke. It comes as an .iso file, and Windows proved incapable of burning a bootable disk from the file. Because of this I turned to a program called MagicISO and attempted to burn a bootable CD. MagicISO did not like my CD-Rs, so I had to go snag CD-RWs for it to work (a common resolution to problems where DBAN didn't launch properly or MagicISO wouldn't burn a program, btw.)
After burning it and confirming in the BIOS that it was set to boot from the CD tray first, I slapped it in and ran it. Because I didn't have a lot of precious data on it, I opted for the bare bones "autonuke" feature, which makes 3 passes over the hard drive to wipe data. It took 4 hours to complete, during which time I went to bed since it was 11 pm.
When I woke up I found that it had completed it's work, so I popped the disk out. A list of I/O errors popped up, but seeing as the machine restarted and found the Ubuntu disk I put in just fine, they were inconsequential.
From there it was almost literally a cakewalk. Ubuntu 10.10 has a lovely and fast installer and walks you through settng everything up. I was done and had a functional and fast machine again. This will be my first foray in to Linux territory, and I'm really excited. I fully intend to make this thing my programming workhorse and I'm glad I'll be able to get a few more years out of this much sleekier operating system!
Lessons & tips: ~BACK EVERYTHING UP. When it says nuke, it means it. It will literally eat everything on your hard drive and leave no trace behind. This is part of its appeal and its success.
~Make sure you have everything ready before you start. If you run through DBAN but don't have a bootable disk for Ubuntu, you've got a very sexy looking doorstop.
~Most people will only need to type in "autonuke" when prompted in DBAN. If you have financial data or sensitive info on there that you don't want to get out, there are multiple options for an even deeper erase job. YouTube has multiple walkthrus to show you how to find these options and which to select.
~Allow a LOT of time for this. Even with the barest of wipe and reinstalls, this took me 5 hours. If you go for a more thorough wiping of the hard drive, alot at least 8. Plan on this being your weekend project while watching TV or getting other things done.
~Remember to set your BIOS to boot from disk when doing this instead of from the hard drive! That way it will find everything first before trying to load Windows or whatever you use. If you have questions on how to do that, YouTube has many useful tutorials there.
~If you have any sort of question about what's going on or run in to a problem, Google and YouTube are your best friends. Chances are good that whatever you've run in to has happened to somebody else and they've either created a forum post on it, or someone has created a video about it. Search away, and read until you're satisfied with the answer!
~www.ubuntu.com - I ordered the disk so I wouldn't have to fiddle with burning another .iso, but you can get an .iso off this website.
It took me 2 days.
It made me Ecstatic!