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This chapter is from the book

Installing from the Alternate Install CD

Although the desktop CD is ideal for installing Ubuntu, you may want to use the traditional installer method to install the system. This method involves booting the alternate install CD, running through the installer, and then starting the system. This kind of installer is ideal for installation on older hardware.

To get started, put the CD in the drive, and restart your computer.

Select the Install Ubuntu option with the arrow keys, and press Enter. After a few moments, the installation process begins by asking you to choose a language. Select from the different languages by using the up and down arrow keys, and then use the Tab key to jump to the red buttons to continue through the setup.

Choosing Your Spot in the World

Next you are asked to specify your location. First you need to choose your language.

Then you need to pick which country you are in, again pressing Enter to accept your choice.

Now you need to select your keyboard layout. Keyboard layouts vary across the world to take into account the many and varied symbols and letters used in different countries. Even if you are using the typical Latin character set (as used in most European countries, America, Africa, and Australia), there are variations and additions (e.g., German umlauts). You can let Ubuntu detect your layout for you, or you can choose from a list of options. If you want your layout detected, you will be asked a series of questions until a guess can be made. If the guess is wrong, you can repeat the process. Otherwise, choose your keyboard layout from the options available.


Next, the system will attempt to load the rest of the installer and to detect hardware. In most situations, this happens without prompting you for anything, although sometimes you might need to provide input such as choosing a primary network device. Once this is set up, your computer will also configure itself with your local network—if possible. If it cannot configure itself with a local network, it will tell you this and you’ll have the option of configuring it manually or choosing to not configure it at that time. You can always come back and change things later once the installation is done.

Setting the Hostname and Time Zone

You are next asked for a hostname for the computer.

Use the text box to add your own hostname, or use the default Ubuntu hostname if required. Feel free to let your imagination go wild, and create a theme for your hostnames (such as superheroes).

After choosing a hostname, you will be asked to select your time zone. Choosing this should be a fairly straightforward operation.

Creating Partitions

The system will then read your disks to find out the current partition information. You will be asked to create or select partitions for Ubuntu to install on to. Creating partitions is the most challenging part of the installation routine. Before you partition your disk, think about how your partitions should be organized.

You are given a number of partition options:

  • Guided—Use Entire Disk
  • Guided—Use Entire Disk and Set Up LVM
  • Guided—Use Entire Disk and Set Up Encrypted LVM
  • Manual

In most cases, you probably want to use the Guided—Use Entire Disk option. This will erase everything on the hard drive in your computer and set everything up for you. The second option, Guided—Use Entire Disk and Set Up LVM, allows you to use the Logical Volume Manager (LVM). The third is identical to the second option but also employs disk encryption, which will make your data safer and more secure in some circumstances. Finally, if you want to set up specific partitions, use the Manual option.

Let’s look at each of these options in turn and how they are used.

Guided—Use Entire Disk

When you select this option, your entire disk is partitioned automatically. The installer tells you that a primary and logical partition will be created, and then it asks if you want to go ahead and create the partitions. Click Yes, and you are done.

Guided—Use Entire Disk and Set Up LVM

Configuring LVM is covered in Chapter 8.

Guided—Use Entire Disk and Set Up Encrypted LVM

Configuring LVM is identical to the previous option except that it also uses a secure encryption layer to provide additional security and protection for your data. If you choose to do this, during the process you will be asked to provide a passphrase. Be very careful to choose one that is impossible to guess and that you will also remember. You will need to use this passphrase to access your data every time you boot the computer, and if you lose or forget the passphrase, all your data will be permanently inaccessible. There is no way to recover a lost or forgotten encryption passphrase.


Select this option if you want to create your own partitions manually. Here you can create a number of different types of partitions, set their sizes, and configure their properties. Creating these partitions is not done in the same graphical way as the live CD installer, so it is a little more complex. However, doing so is still largely a process of selecting something and pressing Enter.

Depending on your configuration (and the options you selected), you are given a number of options from which to choose:

  • Configure Software RAID
  • Configure the Logical Volume Manager
  • Guided Partitioning

Your disk is listed below these options, and it may display a few existing partitions. If you want to delete the existing partitions, select each one, press Enter, and select Delete the Partition. When you have deleted some partitions, you should see a FREE SPACE line. The FREE SPACE line is used to create new partitions. If the disk was empty already and you don’t see a FREE SPACE line, select the hard disk, and press Enter. When it asks if you want to create an empty partition table, click Yes. You should now see the FREE SPACE line.

To create a new partition, select the FREE SPACE line, and press Enter. In the next screen, click Create a New Partition, and press Enter. Now enter the size the partition should be. You can use gigabytes (GB) and megabytes (M) to indicate size. For example, 4.2 GB is 4.2 gigabytes, and 100 M is 100 megabytes. You can also use a percentage or just add max to use the entire disk. Add the size, and then press the Tab key to select Continue. Press Enter. You are next asked whether the partition should be primary or logical. It is likely that you will want a primary partition. Make your choice and continue.

If this is the first partition, you are asked if the partition should be at the beginning or end of the disk. It is recommended that when creating the root partition (known as /) on older computers, it should be placed at the beginning of the disk. This gets around some potential BIOS problems on older hardware. On newer computers, this is no longer a problem, and you can put the partition where you like on the disk.

On the next screen to display, you can configure some settings for the partition.

Table 2-1 describes the settings.

Table 2-1 Partition Settings




Use as

This is the type of filesystem. For a normal Ubuntu system, ext4 is recommended.


Format the partition

This setting appears when editing an existing partition.


Mount point

This specifies which part of the filesystem will live on the partition. See earlier in this chapter for details about the kind of partitions you should set up.


Mount options

A number of options can be passed to the mount point, although the default setting should be fine.



A text label describes the partition. Usually it is set to the same value as the mount point.


Reserved blocks

This is the percentage of the filesystem reserved for the super-user; 5% is a good default.


Typical usage

This option can be used to optimize how the filesystem is organized, although the standard setting is typically used.


Bootable flag

Does this partition contain the kernel and bootloader? If this is the root partition (known as /), set this to on.


When the partition is configured, choose the Done Setting Up the Partition option.

You can now select FREE SPACE again (if there is free space left, of course) to create another partition. When you have finished partitioning, click the Finish Partitioning and Write Changes to Disk option.

The system will now install the Ubuntu core to your newly partitioned disk. Depending on the speed of your computer and your CD drive, this installation could take some time.

Configuring a User

The next part of the installation routine configures a user for the computer. This user role is important because it not only can be used as a normal user but also has the ability to use sudo to perform system administrator tasks.

You are first asked to enter a full name for the user (such as Matthew Helmke). Next you are asked for a username, or one will be picked for you from your full name (such as matthew). If you want another username, enter it there. Finally, you are asked to enter a password for the user and asked to repeat the password for verification.

Finishing Up

At this point, the installation routine will install the full system for you. After this, the computer will reboot, and the installation will be complete.

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