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The Official Ubuntu Book, 4e: Installing Ubuntu

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If you are reading this, it is fairly safe to assume that you have made the decision to give Ubuntu a try. What a wise choice. Ubuntu is a cutting-edge Linux distribution with a dedication to freedom, ease of use, and flexibility. This flexibility manifests not only in how Ubuntu creates a powerful and extensible operating system for your computer but also in how you evaluate and install it. This chapter shows how to use the desktop CD or the traditional alternate install CD approach to get Ubuntu on your computer.
This chapter is from the book
  • Choosing Your Ubuntu Version
  • Getting Ubuntu
  • Installing from the Desktop CD
  • Installing from the Alternate Install CD
  • Installing from a USB Key
  • Summary

IF YOU ARE READING THIS, it is probably safe to assume that you have decided to give Ubuntu a try. You will find that Ubuntu is flexible and powerful not only as an operating system but also in how you evaluate and install it.

Trying Ubuntu is simple. The Ubuntu desktop CD is a special “live” CD. You can use this disk to run Ubuntu from the CD itself without Ubuntu removing or even interacting with your hard disk. This is ideal if you are already using another operating system like Windows or Mac OS X; you can try Ubuntu by running it from the CD, and you don’t have to worry about it overwriting the data.

Choosing Your Ubuntu Version

The developers behind Ubuntu have worked to make the software as easy and flexible to install as possible. They understand that people will be installing Ubuntu on different types of computers (desktops, servers, laptops, and so on) and using different types of computers (PCs, 64-bit computers, Macs, and so on). To cater to everyone, there are two Ubuntu CDs that can be used. The DVD with this book is equivalent to the desktop CD with additional packages included.

  • Desktop: The desktop CD is the one recommended for desktops and laptops. With this CD, you can boot Ubuntu from the CD and, if you like it, install it. Note that this is the default option on the DVD or CD.

  • Alternate install: The alternate install CD is recommended for use in any scenario where the desktop version is unusable (e.g., not enough RAM) or inflexible (e.g., automated deployments or special partitioning requirements). With this CD, you boot into an installer and then run Ubuntu when the installation is complete.

Ubuntu 9.04 officially supports two main computer types, or architectures, and a couple of additional variations:

  • i386: This supports all Intel or compatible processors except those that require AMD64. This includes the new Apple hardware.

  • AMD64: If you are using a processor based on the AMD64 or EM64T architecture (e.g., Athlon64, Opteron, EM64T Xeon, or Core2), you should choose this version.

  • LPIA: A variation of i386, LPIA stands for low-power Intel architecture and is designed for MIDs and Netbooks. The Intel Atom is a commonly used LPIA chip.

  • ARM: ARM is low-powered chip commonly found in cell phones and similar mobile devices. ARM Inc., the makers of ARM, and Canonical have an agreement to build the entirety of the Ubuntu archive on ARM, which makes Ubuntu the first major distribution to support ARM as a standard rather than custom device–specific distribution, such as OpenWRT for routers.

You can choose between the desktop and alternate CDs depending on your requirements. For example, for your Intel Core Duo laptop you could use the i386 desktop CD, while for your Xeon server you would choose the i386 alternate CD.

Other Ubuntu Distributions

In addition to the official Ubuntu release, some additional distributions are based on Ubuntu but are slightly different. Here are some examples:

  • Kubuntu: Kubuntu is Ubuntu, but instead of using the GNOME desktop, Kubuntu uses the KDE desktop. See http://kubuntu.org or Chapter 8 for more information.

  • Xubuntu: The Xubuntu distribution replaces the GNOME desktop environment with the Xfce 4 environment. Xubuntu is particularly useful for those of you who want to run Ubuntu on older hardware. See http://xubuntu.org for more or Chapter 10 for more information.

  • Netbook Remix: This is a custom version of the standard GNOME desktop with the addition of a custom application launcher and some other Netbook-specific configurations.

Additionally, Edubuntu is a version of Ubuntu aimed at educational use and schools. It is no longer distributed on its own install CD. To install it, you should install the base or default desktop version of Ubuntu first and then use the Edubuntu CD as an add-on to install the Edubuntu environment and applications.

With a range of different distributions and options available, Ubuntu is flexible enough to be used in virtually all situations.

Is It Still Ubuntu?

Some of you may be reading about Kubuntu, Xubuntu, the Netbook Remix and wondering how different they are from the regular Ubuntu release. These distributions differ mainly in which applications and desktop interface are included. As such, they may differ quite a bit, but the underlying OS and software install system is the same.

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