Try out: the live CD
Take no risk
Using a live CD means that GNU/Linux will be running on your computer without installing anything. It's a risk-less way to try and see by yourself what GNU/Linux is.
When running on a live CD, your computer uses solely the CD-ROM to work (without accessing the hard drive inside). You can launch all of the default programs, edit documents, and browse the web.
Since it is only designed as a trial mode, it is a little slow (it will take you five minutes to boot up, and programs launch somewhat slowly). If you proceed to install, the system will go much faster.
What you need
To use a live CD, you need a little bit of curiosity and fifteen minutes of free time, but no advanced knowledge in computing. If you feel confident simply using Windows from time to time, then this is within your reach.
Installing as a dual boot
Choose at start-up
It is possible to install GNU/Linux along with Windows. This means that upon start-up, you will be greeted with a screen allowing you to boot into the operating system you prefer.
Setting up a dual-boot can be helpful if you need time to abandon restrictive software. It is not difficult to set-up, though erasing Windows altogether is even easier.
What you need
Installing GNU/Linux on your computer will take you less than 30 minutes. It is not an obvious step for complete beginners, but if you use computers on a daily basis this is very likely within your reach. If you have already re-installed Windows on your computer, rest assured that installing GNU/Linux is no harder.
Get the CD you need
For the distributions we recommend, the live CD (or DVD) is the same as the installation CD. You can either download and burn a CD yourself, or order a CD from a trusted vendor.
The Fedora live CD also enables installation. Follow the Fedora installation guide to get started with Fedora.
The Trisquel installation is very similar to that of Ubuntu.
Note: Purchased and downloaded CDs are identical! GNU/Linux is free software. You are simply paying a handling/shipping fee.
Free Software pre-installed
Not all computers are shipped with Windows. If you do not wish to make the install yourself, or are in need of new hardware, you can get a laptop or a desktop pre-installed with GNU/Linux. LinuxPreloaded.com has compiled a list of vendors pre-installing GNU/Linux just for that reason.