I was wondering how to test drive the new Ubuntu 8.10 without replacing my current Fedora 9 installation (without using Live CD) and I came across Wubi which is a windows installer for Ubuntu 8.10.
Wubi can be started from Windows and it will install itself from Windows (I used Vista). It will create an entry in the Windows Bootloader and once you restart your system it will be configured on your system. The whole installation is as simple as it can get. It is actually a one click installation and presumes common configuration by default.
The only issue I faced was that because I am using Core 2 Duo processor, it installed the x86_64 version of Ubuntu on my machine and 64 bit applications are still not so handy ;-) (such as Flash player and Sun JDK 6 .. but there are workarounds)
For a first time user, Ubuntu is an excellent option and for a person who wants to dabble in linux a bit more....Wubi
Some Useful links which I used for updating and upgrading some applications for Ubuntu 8.19 x86_64:
Upgrade to OpenOffice 3 from default Openffice 2.4
Install JDK 6 - $ sudo apt-get install openjdk-6-jdk
Install Flash - $ sudo aptitude install flashplugin-nonfree
If you are wondering where are the directories of your Windows partition then they are under /host
To close this post, I must say that desktop Linux has improved tremendously in the past few years and is a viable alternate OS for non-geeks