Saturday, 24 January 2009

Installing Ubuntu Linux

To install Ubuntu Linux on your system you'll first need to get it. Go over to the Ubuntu Download Page and download the .iso image. I'll be using the latest version of Ubuntu for this tutorial – 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) but the steps for installing 8.04 (Hardy Heron) LTS are the same.

You'll need to burn the .iso to a disk as an image file - not as a data disk. How you do this will depend on what burning software you are using. However, you should be looking for an option along the lines of burn image to disk or burn file to disk as image or similar.

Once you have your shiny new Ubuntu disk ready you'll need to set your computer's BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) to boot from CD-ROM. Once again how you do this will depend on what BIOS you have. Usually you can enter your BIOS by hitting either the F2 or DEL key when you first power up your computer. Different BIOS manufacturers may use different keys. If you're unsure of how to access your BIOS have a look here. Once in the BIOS set your computer to boot from CD-ROM, save and exit the BIOS and pop your Ubuntu CD into your CD-ROM drive.

Your computer will begin to read the disk and after a short amount of time you should see the following screen (you may be asked to choose your language first);

Use the arrow keys and the Enter key to make your selection. We're going to select the first option: Try Ubuntu without any change to your computer. Ubuntu will now boot from the CD and after some time you will be presented with the default Gnome Desktop (see image below). Please note that Ubuntu may appear to be a bit slow and unresponsive – this is because it is running directly off the CD – the CD-ROM's data throughput is a bottleneck to performance. After installation to the Hard Drive it will run much, much faster.

Have a play round on the Ubuntu desktop and make sure everything works properly and that your hardware has been detected and set up properly. If you like Ubuntu and want to 'take the plunge' then read on.

Double-click the Install icon on the desktop and answer the questions about your location and keyboard layout. You will then be presented with the Partition Manager (see below image). If, like me, you are installing to a blank Hard Drive, you'll want to select the Guided – use entire disk option. This will set up the necessary partitions and allocate the whole drive to Ubuntu.

If you already have another Operating System installed (e.g. Windows) then the Ubuntu installer will detect this and you will have an extra option: Guided – resize partition #1 (sda) and use freed space. Select this option and the Ubuntu installer will resize your existing Windows partition to make space for Ubuntu (NOTE:.this is a non-destructive process and you will still be able to use Windows and access your data afterwards... however there is always a very small risk that something will go wrong, so make and test a backup of your important data before you install Ubuntu... just in case!).

After you're done partitioning you will be asked to enter a username and password. This will be what you use to log in and to perform administrative tasks (such as adding and removing software) so make sure your password is memorable but strong. Once you're done with that the installer will ask you to review your options and confirm you wish to install Ubuntu to disk. Use the Back button if you want to make any changes and when you're done click Install. Sit back and wait while Ubuntu installs itself. It will typically take around 20-30 minutes on a modern machine. Once it's done you will be presented with the following screen;

Click Restart now and when prompted remove the CD from the drive. Close the drive, hit the Enter key and et voilĂ  – your computer will restart. If you installed alongside another OS you will be presented with a menu to choose which OS you want to boot into. If not your computer should boot straight to the Ubuntu login screen. Log in with the username and password you specified during installation and start using your brand new OS.

I'll be upping another tutorial within the next few days that details what to do post-installation and the basics of installing extra software.

Have fun!

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