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This chapter is from the book

Installing from the Desktop CD

So let's assume you are playing with Ubuntu running from the desktop CD, and you decide you like it. You decide you like it so much, in fact, that you want to install it on your computer. Does this mean you need to get a separate CD and install it? Heck, no. Ubuntu lets you install to the hard disk by simply clicking a single icon and following the instructions—one disk to run them all.

If you don't already have the desktop CD running, pop it into your DVD/CD drive, and reboot your computer. If your computer does not boot from the CD, you should enter your computer's BIOS and change the boot order to ensure that your CD-ROM drive is tried first and the hard disk is tried next. Save your BIOS changes, and then restart again. The disk should boot now.

After a few seconds the Ubuntu logo appears and the top option is Start or Install Ubuntu. Press Enter to select this 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, however, 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, double-click the Install icon located on the left side of the screen. An installer application appears that walks you through the different steps to permanently install your Ubuntu system. We will run through each of these pages in turn now.


The first screen you are presented with introduces you to the installation program and asks you to select your language, as shown in Figure 2-1.


Figure 2-1 Pick your language.

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


Now you need to tell the installer where in the world you live (Figure 2-2).


Figure 2-2 Clicking the map zooms in, allowing you to select a location more easily.

You can select your location in one of several ways. First, you can hover your mouse over the red dots in your part of the world to select the nearest location. When you are happy with the location, click it, and the map zooms in. You can then select the city nearest to you. Alternatively, use the Selected City combo box to find the city nearest to you.

When you are done, click Forward to continue.

Configuring Your Keyboard

The next screen (shown in Figure 2-3) configures your keyboard.


Figure 2-3 Select the correct keyboard to ensure the symbols on the keys work correctly.

Choose your country from the list to select your keyboard layout. 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.

Disk Space

The next part of the installation process prepares your hard disk for the software. This involves creating a number of partitions that 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 OS. 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 little 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 is the trickiest part of the installation and also 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 on Your Partitions

Before you create your partitions, you should get an idea of what you want to do. 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 common methods of partitioning.

  • Only Ubuntu on the disk: If you are only installing 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 want to dual-boot your system with Windows or Mac OS X and Ubuntu, you can share the disk among your Ubuntu and Windows or Mac OS X partitions.

Irrespective of whether you only install Ubuntu or dual-boot, you will need to decide how Ubuntu is partitioned. Ubuntu requires at least two partitions (one for the system and one for virtual memory swap space), but you can use additional partitions if you want to. The installer tries to make things easier for you by presenting options for partitioning, as shown in Figure 2-4.


Figure 2-4 Main partitioning view

Ubuntu Only

If you are happy to erase your entire hard disk, just select the Guided—Use Entire Disk option, and click Forward. You are then asked to confirm the actions. Click Yes to continue. That's it!


Let's say you want your existing OS and Ubuntu to coexist, but you don't care about the details. Click the Guided—Resize... and Use Freed Space option, move the slider according to how much space you want to give each operating system, and then click Forward. You are then asked to confirm the actions. Click Yes to continue.

Manual Partitioning

In both installing only Ubuntu and dual-booting with an existing operating system, you may not be satisfied with the suggestions guided partitioning makes. In this case you will want to manually set the partitions. To do this, click the Manual option, and click Forward to continue. You will see the screen shown in Figure 2-5.


Figure 2-5 Manual partition view

The main part of this screen displays available drives and configured partitions. Clicking on a drive or partition will change 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, click on the name of the device (/dev/sda in Figure 2-5), then click New Partition Table. You'll be asked if you're sure, so click Continue. Click Create to continue. You are then asked if it is fine to destroy the data on the disk—click OK to 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. If there are none, you will have to create one by deleting or editing an existing partition. A new window appears like that shown in Figure 2-6.


Figure 2-6 Configuring a partition

Set the values according to your requirements. The Use As 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 ext3, and it is recommended that you use ext3 for any Ubuntu partitions. Although ext3 is a good choice for Ubuntu, you cannot read an ext3 partition in Windows. If you need to create a partition that is shared between Windows and Ubuntu, you should use the FAT32 filesystem.

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.


New in Ubuntu is the migration assistant, which aims to ease your transition to your new OS. If a supported OS is found during installation, you will be presented with a list of accounts and the features that can be migrated. If you choose to migrate anything, you will need to provide details for the new user to whom the features will be migrated. Figure 2-7 shows a migration in progress.


Figure 2-7 Migration assistant


The next step is to add some details about you that can be used to create a user account on the computer (Figure 2-8).


Figure 2-8 This user account is also used as the main system administrator.

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.

In the next box, set yourself a username (the installer will provide a suggestion based on your full name). Your username should be something easy to remember. Many people use either their first name or add an initial (such as jbacon or jonob). Each username on your computer must be unique—you cannot have two accounts with the same username.

In the next two boxes, add a password and then confirm it. This password is used when logging in to your computer with the username that 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 WarGames mistake of putting the password somewhere easily accessible and known to others.
  • Try not to use dictionary words such as "chicken" or "beard" when choosing a password. One nifty way to keep a password secure is to use a dictionary word but replace letters with numbers (e.g., "chicken" becomes "ch1ck3n").
  • 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 letters, numbers, and symbols, the more secure it is.

Finally, add a hostname in the last box. The hostname 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.

Believe it or not, 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.

When you have added all the information, click Forward to continue.

Finishing Up

Before the installation is completed, you are given a summary of the choices you made. Once you confirm these choices by clicking Install, the Ubuntu software will be installed on your computer. At the end of this process, you are asked to reboot your computer. You are now finished!

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