If you are reading this guide, I assume that you already know what Ubuntu is. However, for those who are unaware – Ubuntu is a free Linux based operating system which is one of the fastest growing and popular operating systems in the world. The main reasons behind its popularity apart from its completely free tag is that it has an awesome user interface, boots really fast and does not demand a large list of resources to run. It is a light weight operating system and has everything in it that you need. And the best part is it is really easy to use and you have thousands of free apps to fulfill your appetite!
Why Install Ubuntu?
If you ask me in five words – why should I go with Ubuntu? Here is the answer:
- Completely Free (Most of the apps are also free)
- More secure
- Super Fast
- Compatibility with devices
- Accessibility (Soon you get Ubuntu for Android and Ubuntu for Phone)
This guide is for beginners who want to install Ubuntu for the first time to their existing PCs. I understand that you may not be comfortable in the beginning, I will explain about the process of getting Ubuntu installed side by side of your existing Windows operating system. This way you have both the choices to select at PC boot – Either work with Windows or Ubunt. So, no need to worry at all, nothing can go wrong here! Whenever you want, you can get your PC in the original state.
As I told in the beginning, Ubuntu is not resource hungry. So, if you have not already, drop the idea of throwing away your old PC and install Ubuntu on it! For new PCs, it should happily work in your desktop if it is running Windows XP, Vista or 7. However, have a look at the minimum system requirement for Ubuntu OS.
- 700 MHz processor (Well, even Celeron Processor will do)
- 512 MB RAM
- In-built or external graphics card capable of 1024×768 screen resolution
That’s it! And oh, you don’t compulsorily need any hard disk space; it can be installed on your USB drive as well. So, 5 GB of hard-drive, USB stick, memory card or external drive space should be sufficient. And even if you don’t have any optical drive like CD or DVD; it can be installed from a USB drive!
If you have a latest PC with 64-bit processor; Ubuntu has a separate 64-bit version. It is recommended to install 64-bit version if you plan have more than 3GB or RAM. Otherwise, you should install 32-bit version because it will be easier to use and will have less problem in getting driver support.
For those PCs which are 10-15 years old, you may probably need to upgrade RAM to 512MB. Otherwise also, you can at least give it a try with the minimal install or distro version. Here is the guide if you are looking for minimal installation of Ubuntu.
Enough on system requirements! Let’s get Ubuntu now.
If you have the internet connection (I am sure you have because you are reading this article!), the best way to get Ubuntu is to download it from its official website. Here, you get the option to download the latest version (Ubuntu 12.10 at the time of writing this article) or a LTS (or long term support) version (Ubuntu 12.04 this time). LTS versions get guaranteed support for upcoming five years, but there is no harm trying the latest available version.
You have the other options available here – If you are unable/don’t wish to download, you can purchase an official DVD for a little price (£4.71 Plus Shipping charges). You also have the option to download the Windows Installer which is just like another Windows Program which you can install and uninstall at your wish. This will be a good idea to download it if you are still not ready for the standard version and want to give it a try and learn before making your mind.
Here, we will be using the standard latest version i.e. Ubuntu 12.10 (32-bit). So, before we proceed with the installation, download this version.
Burning a DVD or creating a bootable USB drive
Burning a DVD
The file which you have just downloaded is an ISO image file which you need to write on a DVD before you can install Ubuntu. Don’t worry; it’s not a big deal.
If you are using Windows 7, you can straightaway right-click on the downloaded ISO file and choose ‘Burn disc Image’. The ‘Windows Disc Image Burner ‘program will start where you need to select the DVD drive with a blank DVD and click Burn. Wait till the Windows finishes burning ISO image to DVD.
For earlier versions of Windows, you need to download and install an external program to do this task for you. There are several free programs available; you can go with Infra Recorder, which is both light-weight and user friendly. After installation, open the Infra Recorder and click on ‘Write Image’ icon. In the Pop-up, select the downloaded ISO image file and click OK to burn the image on a blank DVD.
Creating a Bootable USB drive
If, for any reason, you don’t want to burn a DVD, you can create a bootable USB drive. But make sure that your PC supports booting from USB. Most computers should have this feature unless it is very old. And your USB stick must have at least 2GB free space. It will be better to have a blank USB drive, so first remove all the files and folders from it.
For creating a bootable USB drive, you need to download and install a free program – Universal USB installer from pendrivelinux.com.
After installation, open the program. As displayed in the program window, there are total three steps required.
- Step 1: Select the Ubuntu Desktop Edition from the dropdown list (In our case, it is Ubuntu 12.10 Desktop).
- Step 2: Browse and open the downloaded ISO file
- Step 3: Select the USB drive from the dropdown list and click create.
Before you Install Ubuntu
If you are going to install Ubuntu on a fresh desktop (without any Operating System or Data), you can skip this step and straightway go to installing Ubuntu section. For those, who want to install Ubuntu on a PC which is already running Windows, here is the list of recommended task before doing this.
- Back up your Data: In a remote chance of doing something wrong accidently, all your data may be erased. It is highly recommended to take the back up on an external hard drive, USB drive or DVDs.
- Make sure you have all the resources available in case you need to reinstall Windows.
- If you have separate partition for Ubuntu with at least 5GB free space, great. Otherwise also, make sure you make room for Ubuntu installation and have free space of at least 10GB in the hard drive.
- Although this is not required, if you wish to create a new partition for Ubuntu in the hard drive without erasing windows, you may like to follow these steps.
- Make sure you have uninterrupted power supply during Ubuntu Installation process.
- Have a look at the BIOS booting order. It should be set to boot from CD/DVD drive or USB drive first. To enter the BIOS, the most common way is to press the ‘Delete’ or ‘F12’ key when the computer is booted. But it may be different, look out for the User’s manual for right key or key combination.
Well, a lot of reading before coming here – the final process of Installing Ubuntu. So, put your Burnt DVD in the DVD drive or plug-in your bootable USB stick and restart your computer. Installing Ubuntu is really a simple process, just follow these steps.
- After restarting your computer, you will see a Welcome Screen. Ubuntu Installer will ask you to choose your language and give you an option to either try or install Ubuntu. If you select ‘Try Ubuntu’, your system will not get changed and Ubuntu will run from the DVD or USB stick itself. This is a good idea if you have a quite old PC and you want to ensure everything runs fine. Otherwise, click on ‘Install Ubuntu’.
- The ‘Preparing to install Ubuntu’ window will appear. Nothing special here, you already know the space and uninterrupted power requirement. It will also recommend you to have internet connection so that the Updates are automatically installed. You may like to download the updates and install third party software. Click on ‘continue’ button after making selection.
- In next screen, Ubuntu will give you an option to add Wireless Network, you may select from the available Wi-Fi networks or select ‘I don’t want to connect to Wi-Fi network right now’ and proceed.
- The next window is the ‘Installation Type’. Choose the option to ‘Install Ubuntu alongside Windows’ option. Here, you also get the option to completely replace windows by erasing everything from your PC (so, be careful not to select it unless you really want to do so).
- Click on continue. The next screen will show you the summary of your previous selection.
- Click on Install Now. The installation begins and you are asked to provide your location in ‘Where are you’ screen. Select your closest location and click on continue.
- Next you will be asked to select the ‘Keyboard layout’. Select the correct one and click on ‘continue’.
- In the last step, the wizard asks you to fill-in your name, computer name and password for log-in. Fill-in the details and click on ‘continue’.
- The installation process continues and after it finishes, ‘Installation Complete’ window appears.
That’s it. Click ‘Restart Now’ and select ‘Ubuntu’ from boot menu. You are in!
I hope this guide will help you to easily and correctly install Ubuntu in your desktop. The photographs here are taken from Ubuntu Offical Website. Feel free to write in the comments section below if you have any question, suggestion or feedback.