If you’ve taken the time to read the last two posts, then surely you must be aware that the time has now come to finally install Ubuntu; and if not, then oh well, just look at the pictures or something.
In my last two posts, I’ve attempted to explain the pains that I went through trying to get the best out of my new laptop. The problem originally started with my realization that I am in no means whatsoever a fan of Vista. Postpartum depression urged me to seek out XP’s familiar setting. Much to my dismay, though, XP would not install on my new laptop, so that was the first hurdle I had to surmount.
Not only was I interested in a return to XP, I was also curious about Linux; particularly Ubuntu. So, the obvious choice, or at least a logic one in my mind, was to dual-boot. In the previous two articles, I explained how to install XP on a new machine intended for Vista, as well as how to prepare a system for a dual boot operation. Okay, so now that we’re all up to speed once again, let’s take the plunge once more, shall we…
If this first step doesn’t seem blatantly obvious, then maybe Linux isn’t for you, but in order to do anything further you’ll need the Ubuntu installation disc. So, head on over to Ubuntu.com. and download the latest version — 7.10 at the time of writing. Once armed with the image file, you’ll need to burn this to a disc. If you already own it, I would recommend using Nero, but if not, InfraRecorder is an excellent, and not to mention free, alternative.
Once the disc has been burned and finalized, pop it into the machine you wish to persuade into conversion — and cross your fingers, for the moment of truth is at hand. Linux is often labeled as being far more stable than Windows, which is true for the most past, but the main problem is getting it to run in the first place. Not all hardware likes Linux flavor. If you’re unlucky, you may have in front of you a machine cursed with unsupported hardware. If this is the case, you may experience issues ranging the benign, such as a nonfunctional web cam, to real show-stoppers, like incompatible graphics cards or display devices. Curing any of these issues may require long and inquisitive searches of some of the less frequented fringes of the net. Fortunately though, there always seem to be a plethora of willing and able Linux hobbyists to help you out.
Oh, and if the CD doesn’t boot right away, make sure that your BIOS is set to boot from CD-ROM drive…
Okay, so assuming that the CD boots properly, you should soon see the Ubuntu desktop–but, hey, wait a minute! What happened; nothing was installed, or was it?
The CD you just popped into your machine is what is known as a Live-CD, meaning that it contains a bootable version of the operating system. Allowing the user to experience the full operating system without having to install a single file is a great way of demonstrating the potential of product that many might be too hesitant to install.
“Okay,” you say, “but I want to install it, not just demo it.” Well, see that little icon on the desktop, the one that says “Install”? That’s where you wanna be if you’re interested in giving Ubuntu a serious test-drive.
Starting up the Installer, you should see a dialog box that will guide you through the installation process in seven rather easy steps. The first three steps are real no-brainers, simply select your prefered language, the appropriate time zone and your keyboard layout.
Step four is were things start to get a little more exciting. Depending on how many drives and partitions your machine has, this step may be more or less complicated. Since I’m writing this as part of a series in which I explain how I managed to dual boot XP and Ubuntu on a Vista-shipped laptop, the path I chose to follow in step four of the Ubuntu installer is quite specific to my particular needs. In the previous article, I explained how GParted was used to partition my drive into a Windows partition and a Linux partition companioned by a SWAP partition. If you followed the same procedure as I did, and used GParted to prepare the drive, then all you’ll have to do is select the correct partition, and move on. Since we already used GParted for most of the heavy labor, it makes little sense to reformat/resize the partition again — unless, of course, you made a mistake the first time around. Not to sound to repetitive, but step four is where you really want to pay attention. It’s very important that you select the correct drive to install Ubuntu onto, otherwise you’ll be in serious danger of losing existing, potentially important, data.
Looking at the screenshot below, we see that the system I used to grab the screenshots has two physical hard drives: HDA and HDB. We can also tell that the first drive, HDA, has three partitions on it: HDA1, HDA2, and HDA3. The one we’re after is the one that is formatted as EXT3, so in this case that would be HDA2. To double check that this is the right drive, take a look at the size of the partition. If this number corresponds to what you specified in GParted then you’re good to go. Note that there is no need to check any of the boxes unless you want to reformat the drive again, which really can’t hurt. So, once again, if you want to reformat, check the box, otherwise just highlight the drive. And in case you are wondering, SDA1 is a removable thumb drive.
If you have decided to reformat any of the drives again, make sure to also hit the “Edit partition” button. This should bring up another dialog box, asking you to specify the new size of the partition as expressed in megabytes, what format to use, and where to set the mount point. If the drive that you are partitioning is meant to house an installation of Ubuntu, it’s critical that you use the EXT3 format and set the mounting point as a single forward slash. If you’re confused, refer to the picture below.
Once you’re done with the “Edit Partition” dialog box, hit “OK,” and then click “Forward” once you’re back at larger dialog box.
Step five is particularly useful for those of us who have decided to dual boot, since Ubuntu will scan existing partitions for any other operating system from which it might be able to port over any important documents and folders. I always prefer to start fresh, and since Gutsy Gibbon is capable of reading Windows partitions, I will leave this step up to you. If you’re not interested, just proceed to the next page.
Even though there appear to be 7 steps, number 6 is really the last one that really requires any work. The purpose of this step is to help you set up a user account, and it’s pretty straight forward. As such the only note to make here is that your log in name cannot be capitalized and that…uhm, oh yeah, don’t forget your password.
Series: Dual-Booting: XP and Ubuntu