Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Linux/UNIX/Open Source

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Booting and Installing

This section begins with instructions for running Ubuntu from the desktop CD that you burned earlier, from the DVD that came with this book, or from a bootable USB stick. You can explore and test Ubuntu without making any changes to your hard drive. If you don’t like it, reboot and remove the CD/DVD/USB stick to return to what you already have.

Place your CD or DVD into your CD/DVD drive or your bootable USB stick into a USB port, and reboot your computer. If your computer does not boot from the CD/DVD, you should enter your computer’s BIOS and change the boot order to ensure that the boot medium you are using is first in the boot order. Save your BIOS changes, and then restart again.

After a few seconds, the Ubuntu logo and boot screen appear and then you are presented with a list of languages on the left of the screen and two options on the right. Use your mouse to select your language. Then decide whether you want to Try Ubuntu 12.04, which allows you to try out Ubuntu without making any changes to your computer and install it later if you decide you want to, or whether you want to install Ubuntu 12.04, which will jump straight into the installer. Select the first option, and Ubuntu will begin to boot. After a minute or so, the Ubuntu desktop will appear, and you can use the system right away. Under this scenario, the system is running from the CD and will not touch your hard disk. Do bear in mind that because Ubuntu is running from the CD, it will run slower than if it were installed to your hard disk.

If you decide you want to install the system permanently on your computer’s hard disk, there are two ways you can do so:

  1. Double-click the Install icon located on the left side of the desktop.
  2. Reboot and select Install Ubuntu from the initial menu.

Using either option, an installer application will walk you through the steps to permanently install your Ubuntu system. The remainder of this chapter describes each part of the process.


Ubuntu provides a migration assistant, which aims to ease your transition to your new OS. If a supported OS is found during installation, you are presented with a list of accounts and the features that can be migrated. If you choose to migrate anything, you must provide details for the new user to whom the features will be migrated.


The first screen you are presented with when you boot the computer introduces you to the installation program and asks you to select your language, as shown in Figure 2-1, and whether you want to Try Ubuntu (run the operating system from the CD without changing anything on your hard drive, which we suggest for first time users before committing to an installation) or whether you want to Install Ubuntu.

Figure 2-1. Pick your language.

Ubuntu supports a huge range of different languages. Select your language from the list, and then click Install Ubuntu to continue with the installation.

Preparing to Install Ubuntu

You will be informed of the install requirements, as in Figure 2-2. We strongly suggest selecting the option to Download Updates While Installing because this option will end your installation with an up-to-the-minute current system that includes any existing security updates or bug fixes. A nice feature is that these updates will be downloaded while installation is in process, in parallel to other operations, so it happens with great efficiency.

Figure 2-2. Preparing to install Ubunt.

You may also choose to install third-party software to enable your computer to play certain media files immediately after installation. This will also save you time later, although some users may not want to install closed-source software and will choose not to enable this option. Click Continue after making your selection(s).

Allocate Drive Space

To prepare your hard disk to store the Ubuntu system and your files, hard disks are divided into partitions. Each partition reserves a specific portion of the hard disk for use by a particular operating system. As an example, you may use the entire hard disk for your new Ubuntu system, or you may share the disk so that both Windows and Ubuntu are installed. This shared scenario is known as dual-booting. In a dual-booting situation, your hard disk typically has Windows partitions as well as Linux partitions, and when it boots it gives you a menu so you can select whether to boot Windows or Linux.

In this part of the installer you create the partitions for your new system. This can be the trickiest part of the installation and can also be the most dangerous. If you have existing partitions (such as a Windows installation) on the disk, it is highly recommended that you back up your important files.

Deciding How You Would Like to Set Up Your Partitions Before You Create Them

If you have a clear idea of how your hard disk should be partitioned, it is easier to get everything up and running quickly.

These are the most common methods of partitioning.

  • Only Ubuntu on the disk: If you are installing only Ubuntu on the disk and are happy to wipe the entire disk, your life is simple. Ubuntu can do all the work for you.
  • Dual-booting: If you are installing to a computer that will have multiple operating system options, you will partition your hard drive and install each operating system to its own partition.

Regardless of whether you will install only Ubuntu on the disk or you will dual-boot, you need to either confirm that Ubuntu may use the entire disk or enter your desired partitioning scheme, beginning in Figure 2-3.

Figure 2-3. Allocate all drive space to Ubuntu

Ubuntu Only

If you are happy to erase your entire hard disk, select Erase Disk and Install Ubuntu. If you choose this option, skip ahead to the next section of the book, Installation Begins.

Manual Partitioning

If you will install only Ubuntu or will dual-boot with an existing operating system but want more control over the process, you must set the partitions manually. To do this, select Something Else and click Forward to continue. You will see the screens shown in Figure 2-4, Figure 2-5, and Figure 2-6.

Figure 2-4. Erase disk and install Ubuntu

Figure 2-5. Allocate drive space another way

Figure 2-6. Create partitions manually

The main part of this screen displays available drives and configured partitions. Clicking on a drive or partition changes the actions available to you below the list. Select the relevant disk to add partitions to. The disks are listed by device name in the order they are connected within your computer.

Before you begin, you should prepare the disk for your partitions. If you want to completely wipe a disk, right-click on the name of the device (/dev/sda in Figure 2-6), then click New Partition Table. You’ll be asked if you’re sure, so click Continue. The disk is now filled with unallocated data. Now you can add your Ubuntu partitions.

To add a partition, click a free space entry in the list and then click the New button. A new window appears like that shown in Figure 2-7.

Set the values according to your requirements. The Type combo box lets you select which one of the many filesystem types you want the partition to use. The default filesystem included with Ubuntu is ext4, and it is recommended that you use ext4 for any Ubuntu partitions. Although ext4 is a good choice for Ubuntu, you cannot read an ext4 partition in Windows. If you need to create a partition that is shared between Windows and Ubuntu, you should use either the FAT32 filesystem or NTFS.

Figure 2-7. Configuring a partition

Use the Mount Point combo box to select one of the different mount points, which tells Ubuntu where the partition should be used. You need to have a root partition, which has a mount point of /. Click OK to finish configuring this partition.

Once you’ve completed configuring all your partitions, click Forward to proceed with the installation. Please note that if you have read all of these comments on partitioning and feel a bit overwhelmed or confused, you don’t need to worry. You may simply use the default settings given by the installer and all will work well.

Installation Begins

At this point, the installation begins. While it progresses, you are asked some questions to customize your installation appropriately. Doing this concurrently saves time.

Tell the installer where in the world you live (Figure 2-8).

Figure 2-8. Click the map to select a location

You can select your location in one of several ways. First, you can hover your mouse over the time zone on your part of the world map to select your location. When you are happy with the time zone selection, click it, and select the city nearest to you. Alternatively, use the Selected City drop down to find the city nearest to you.

When you are done, click Continue.

Configuring Your Keyboard

The next screen (shown in Figure 2-9) configures your keyboard.

The installer will suggest a keyboard option for you based on your location choice, but you may choose a different one if you desire. You can also use the box at the bottom of the window to test whether your keyboard layout works. Try typing some of the symbols on your keyboard (such as “, /, |) to make sure they work. If you press a symbol and a different one appears, you have selected the wrong keyboard layout.

Figure 2-9. Select the correct keyboard to ensure the symbols on the keys work correctly


The next step is to enter some details about you that can be used to create a user account on the computer (Figure 2-10).

Figure 2-10. Enter your personal details to create your user account

In the first box, enter your full name. The information from this box is used in different parts of the system to indicate who the user is behind the account.

Enter a computer name in the last box. Also called a “hostname,” this is a single word that identifies your current machine. This is used on a local network so that you can identify which machine is which.

Hostnames can be great fun. Many people pick themes for their hostnames, such as superheroes, and name each computer on their network after a superhero (Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and so on). Think of a fun hostname theme you can use. For many people, this ends up being the hardest part of the install!

In the next box, set a username for yourself (the installer will provide a suggestion based on your full name). Your username should be something easy to remember. Many people either use their first name or add an initial to their first or last name (such as jbacon or jonob). Each username on your computer must be unique—you cannot have two accounts with the same username. Usernames must begin with a lowercase letter—only lowercase letters and numbers are permitted after that.

In the next two boxes, add a password and then confirm it. This password is used when you log in to your computer with the username you just created. When choosing a password, follow these simple guidelines.

  • Make sure you can remember your password. If you need to write it down, keep it somewhere secure. Don’t make the mistake of putting the password somewhere easily accessible and known to others.
  • Avoid using dictionary words (“real words”) such as “chicken” or “beard” when choosing a password, and try to input numbers and punctuation.
  • Your password should ideally be longer than six letters and contain a combination of letters, symbols, and numbers. The longer the password and the more it mixes upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, the more secure it is.

Here you also have the option to encrypt your home folder. Select this to make the contents unreadable without a password. Note that if you lose the password, your data will be unrecoverable.

When you have added all the information, click Continue.

To learn more about the cool things in your new operating system, view the slide show that appears as installation finishes (Figure 2-11).

Figure 2-11. Slide show users can watch as installation finishes to find out more about Ubuntu

Finishing Up

From here, as the Ubuntu software continues to be installed on your computer, you are shown a slideshow containing useful and interesting information about the operating system. At the end of this process, you are asked to restart your computer. You are now finished and can skip ahead to Chapter 3 to get started with using Ubuntu.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account