Now that the HC file server runs GNU/Linux, the cautions below are happily out-of-date, to an extent. ITS does not support GNU/Linux on individuals' machines, but the system administrators of radius are very knowledgeable. Unsecured machines are also well-protected on campus, but if you install GNU/Linux on a personal machine you should still disable or protect any services you run.
This short primer and command reference may be useful if you're new to GNU/Linux.
If you're a Holy Cross student, staff, or faculty member, please read the disclaimer before attempting to install software (including GNU/Linux) on your computer. The warnings may seem dire, but they must take into account worst-case scenarios. While other users will attempt to assist you with problems you have (and such attempts are almost always successful), there is no warranty of any kind, including but not limited to any warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In brief, you accept responsibility for all problems, including data loss, voiding of service contracts or other warranties, and so forth.
If you read your Microsoft EULA carefully, you will find that the same terms hold. The most you can expect is for your vendor to return your machine to the state it was in when you purchased it, namely to "re-image" your hard drive. Seen in this light, the disclaimer above should not be so alarming.
As you learn more about GNU/Linux, your questions will become deeper and more specific. The Linux Documentation project maintains a complete set of "HOWTO" documents, which cover a wide variety of topics in varying depth, but almost always in fairly complete technical detail. HOWTO documents are available in several formats, either individually or as a package. The plain text currently occupies 6.4MB (compressed)! The LDP also offers shorter FAQs, longer Guides, and a couple of online magazines. All these materials are available not just free of charge, but without your having to register anywhere. Freedom of access to information is the essence of the Free software movement.
These are links to external sites: