How to Get Started With an Ubuntu Linux Distribution
The Linux operating system has grown from a niche audience to widespread popularity since its inception in the mid-1990s , and for good reason. Once upon a time, the installation process was a daunting task, even for those with extensive experience with such tasks. However, modern Linux has come a very long way. To this end, installing most Linux distributions is as easy as installing an application. If you can install Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, you can install Linux.
Here, we’ll walk you through the installation process of Ubuntu Linux 17.04 , widely considered one of the most user-friendly distributions out there. (A distro is a flavor of Linux, and there are hundreds or hundreds to choose from.)
Ubuntu also has some of the best recognition hardware available – so it will most likely have no problem recognizing your hardware (network / sound cards, displays, printers, etc.). Another reason to choose Ubuntu is that it is very easy to use – so almost anyone (of any level of experience) can gain experience right away. Here’s how to download and configure Ubuntu below:
Download the ISO image file
The first step in installing a new Linux distribution is to download the required ISO image. This image is a special type of file that can then be used to create a bootable CD / DVD or USB stick that will allow you to install the operating system on your computer. Each Linux distribution offers its own ISO file, so you should be sure to download the ISO file for the distribution of your choice and then “burn” the file to a CD / DVD or USB stick. To do this, we need an application that can convert the ISO file to a bootable system (which will be placed on a USB stick) and the best tool for this job is called UNetbootin . UNetbootin is a handy standalone executable tool that can convert your ISO file and create a bootable USB stick. Since most laptops and desktops are sold without CD / DVD drives, this is the most logical tool to get the job done.
Assuming you are using Windows to create bootable media, all you need to do is download the standalone UNetbootin executable and double-click the downloaded file. Unetbootin will launch (without having to install anything), ready to create a bootable USB drive.
For this process, the first step is to go directly to downloading the Ubuntu 17.10 ISO image. During boot, insert the USB stick into the machine and then download UNetbootin to your Windows computer. To launch UNetbootin, simply double-click the downloaded file to launch the application. When the UNetbootin window opens ( Figure 1 ), click the Diskimage button and then click the … button to open the file manager. Navigate to where you saved the Ubuntu image, select the image and click Open.
From the Type drop-down list, select USB storage, and then make sure the correct USB storage is selected from the drop-down list.
After you’ve taken care of the above options, click OK to write the Ubuntu image to your flash drive. This will take some time (depending on your hardware, 2 to 5 minutes). When the process is complete, close UNetbootin and safely remove the USB drive.
Connect the USB stick to the machine (i.e. your computer, if that’s what you’re working with) that will host Ubuntu and boot the machine. Most modern computers boot directly from the hard drive by default and do not automatically display the boot menu. If your computer does not have the means to select a boot device, you may need to access the boot menu to instruct the machine to boot from the USB drive. For example, on my System76 Leopard Extreme, I have to press and hold the F8 button as soon as I turn on the machine. This will give me access to the boot menu where I can select the flash drive as my primary boot location. If your computer does not have a boot menu, you will need to either consult your computer’s documentation or search Google for “ Computer make / model” of the boot menu (where “Make / model” is the actual make and model of your computer). …
After you manage to boot your computer from the USB drive, you will be greeted with a boot screen that automatically launches a welcome screen ( Figure 2 ).
You have two options:
- Try Ubuntu – this will boot into a live Ubuntu instance where you can test it out without making any changes to your hard drive. From this desktop, you can also start the actual installation process if the trial convinces you that you want to use Ubuntu in the long run.
- Install Ubuntu – this will jump straight to the installation process.
If you choose the Try Ubuntu option, you’ll get a good idea of how Ubuntu will work on your desktop (as well as the specifics of the GNOME desktop environment — the user interface that allows you to interact with your computer.). Either way, when you start the installation process, the steps are the same.
If you chose the Try Ubuntu option and you don’t like what you see, just shut down your computer, remove your flash drive, and restart your computer. Your computer will automatically boot from your hard drive, and you’ll be back to where you were before you tried Ubuntu.
During the installation process, you will see several windows. The first one asks if you want to download updates when you install Ubuntu and if you want to install third-party software. Check both of these options and click Continue ( Figure 3 ).
In the next window ( Fig. 4 ) you need to select the type of installation. You have several different options:
- Erase the disk and install Ubuntu – this will erase everything on your disk and install Ubuntu as your only operating system. If you already have an operating system installed, it will also give you the option to install Ubuntu along with your current OS (aka “dual boot”).
- Encrypting a fresh Ubuntu installation for security purposes is a good option for anyone paranoid about security.
- Use LVM with a fresh Ubuntu installation – This option allows you to take snapshots (for backup purposes) and resize partitions more easily (if necessary).
For new users, I highly recommend erasing the disk and installing Ubuntu. This is the least complicated way to install Linux on your computer. If you have Windows installed on your system, you can install Ubuntu along with Windows for a dual boot configuration – that way you can switch between Linux and Windows by rebooting and choosing the operating system to boot. It should also be noted that erasing the disk and installing Ubuntu will erase all data on your computer. If you have files that need to be saved, you must first boot into Windows, back up all your files to an external drive, and then (after installing Linux) you can move the data to the newly installed operating system.
In my example, I don’t have a pre-installed operating system, so I’ll select Erase Disk and install Ubuntu. You will then be prompted to click Continue so that the changes can be written to disk.
In the next window ( Figure 5 ) you have to specify your location (for time zone purposes). Enter a state and city or click the map to select your location.
Once you have set your locale, click Continue to proceed to the next step, which requires you to select a keyboard layout ( Figure 6 ). You can configure the installation program to automatically detect the keyboard, or select it from the list. If necessary, press Type to test the keyboard area and start typing. If you have the correct keyboard, click Continue.
In the next window, you need to create a user. Enter your full name, computer name, username (which will be automatically generated after you enter your full name – you can use this or enter whatever), and enter / confirm the user password ( Figure 7 ).
On the same screen, you can also choose to log in automatically, ask for a password to log in, and / or encrypt your user’s home folder. If you are especially concerned about security, I would recommend encrypting your home directory.
At this point, the installation will continue and complete without interaction. When the process is complete, you will be prompted to reboot the machine ( Figure 8 ).
Once the machine boots into Ubuntu Linux, you can log in with your username and password that you created during installation and start using your new desktop operating system.