Installing Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo

Ubuntu is the favored GNU/Linux distribution of the NatickFOSS group. We're planning to do an install fest in November. Ubuntu is recommended for users new to GNU/Linux because it is designed to work "out of the box" for most basic situations. The people who will participate as helpers for the install fest will know Ubuntu best and will have more skills with it than with other distributions. However, it may also be possible for visitors to the install fest to request other options.

This document is intended to help illustrate the steps that happen during a direct install of the Ubuntu on a computer hard drive.

It is intended to help you follow the process during a demonstration at the October meeting of NatickFOSS. For those who attend the meeting, please use this document to follow the actual demonstration of an install. As we prepare for the install fest, we also want a version of this to be a visual guide for those who will bring in their computers to have GNU/Linux installed. (printed?)

The age and speed of the computer will determine the length of the install. This document shows the most advanced version of Ubuntu available as of October 2012. It is designed to run best on a relatively recent computer. If a person comes to the install fest with an older computer model, it may be wise to counsel them about using a lighter weight install. Ubuntu has plenty of features which will be inappropriate for an old computer. As a simple guideline, if the computer was purchased with Windows 7 originally installed, we're good to go. If the computer ran with Windows XP, it will do OK. Anything older will do better with an install of Xubuntu or Puppy Linux.

(The extra steps involved in sharing the drive with Windows (also called Dual Boot) will follow. The computer which I have available to do the demo does not have Windows on it. For the record, these directions were actually done in a virtual computer to make it easier to capture the screen images. The demo will use a real computer, though, to make the demo like the actual install fest event.)

Step 1
Open your CD drive and insert a CD/DVD of Ubuntu. This release of Ubuntu no longer fits on a standard CD. Older versions and some other distributions still do.
Alternatively you may use a live image on a USB drive. This document does not cover the details of making a DVD image or USB install image.

Step 2
Start your computer and if it does not start from the CD drive or USB stick, you'll need to tap the key which allows you to choose the boot drive.
On my computer the key is the F12 function key. Unfortunately each computer manufacturer decides which key will activate the boot menu.
You might find F2 gives you a choice of various options.
Sometimes holding down the escape key during the startup will offer options on the screen.

Step 3
Once the DVD or USB of Ubuntu has become active, you will see a screen similar to one of these.
The first image is the menu from an ISO image (CD/DVD). The second is the menu of the USB image created by the utility called UNetbootin (not a Ubuntu product).

Installing Ubuntu 1   Installing Ubuntu usb menu

For our example, in this demo, we have already decided to take the big jump to GNU/Linux. We will go through the process of an install, but clearly the first option will let a person begin more slowly by using Ubuntu without ANY changes. If you decide as I have, use the down arrow on the keyboard to move down and highlight the "Install Ubuntu" choice. (By the way, if you don't decide rather quickly, the highlighted choice will activate after a short delay.)

Step 4 (covers through the end of the elements of the "install")
Next, you'll choose the language that will be used for the install. (I read English best, so that's the one I chose. Clearly the Ubuntu team has consideration for those who don't have English as their native language. Whatever language you choose, you will click the button with the word "Continue" on it. I'll generally just say, "Click Continue" when I mean this kind of thing. The install is designed to be done with a mouse in hand, though you can also use keyboard taps to move forward. In this case, tapping the Enter key will activate the Continue button (You should note that the button has a little heavier outline which indicates it is the selected option which Enter will activate.)

Installing Ubuntu 2

Ubuntu's installation moves on, and as you will see in the next illustration, Ubuntu evaluates some of its own recommendations. The check marks indicate that the computer I used for the illustrations had enough drive space and was connected to the Internet. You do have to decide whether to download updates DURING the time we are installing. There WILL be updates. You might save time doing the install and update together, but updates can take half an hour and should only be done while connected to a broadband connection (wired). Significant updates (like the ones I encountered) don't work well on WiFi, especially while several people are connected at the same time.

You also need to decide if you want "Third Party" software. In general, say yes to make your computer do all the things you expect. Flash, MP3 and similar software are not desirable for the purists who avoid proprietary code. We are assuming that the majority of the people who come to an install fest will not come in as GNU/Linux experts. Those experts are very welcome, though. Step up and help.

Installing Ubuntu 3

The next illustration has some more advanced options which I'm going to gloss over. I've already decided that I'm wiping my computer to put Ubuntu on it. I decided not to encrypt the drive. I'll use a password later for login. Encryption is good for "road warriors" who might lose their company computer while on a business trip. If that's your situation, check with your boss.

Now, be aware, when you click the Continue button on the next screen, the install begins. If you want to chicken out, click the Quit button now before changes are made to your drive.

Installing Ubuntu 4

Most of you will have brought in a computer with a current operating system (Windows XP, Windows 7, etc.) You will then see a screen similar to the next image. The Ubuntu installer recognizes the structure of your current disk.
The details will vary. The computer in the illustration below has two operating systems sharing the hard drive (AKA dual boot). I chose to do the second choice "Erase Ubuntu 11.10 and reinstall" because the version was old, and not core Ubuntu (Kubuntu - my normal personal choice).

Installing Ubuntu - choices Photo of screen...not screen capture.

As you can see in the next illustration, your disk is being formatted for the install. Formatting creates the magnetic structure for the drive to store the bits of software efficiently. For the record, the format is NOT the disk format of Microsoft Windows nor of Apple OSX. Called EXT4, the disk format is the currently most popular and a very efficient one for GNU/Linux.

You are going to answer a few questions while the installer works in the background. Here you are picking your time zone. For your computer clock to make sense, choose a major city in your time zone. For us in MetroWest Boston, the signature city is New York even though the Red Sox and Yankee fans don't see eye to eye, in spite of sharing the same time zone.

Installing Ubuntu 5

Unless you know otherwise, the US English keyboard is your best choice.
(Again, notice that the progress notice at the bottom show files are transferring to the hard drive.)

Installing Ubuntu 6

Take WRITTEN notes as you go through this next step. Especially be sure you KNOW the password you use. You need a password even if you decide to bypass using a password when you routinely log in (automatically). The account you are creating is the master administrative user. To do system updates you will need to use this password. Checkmarks show your choices are adequate. You can see that the password I picked isn't considered strong enough.

Good passwords are:
Be careful. Don't use your pet's name or your birthday or phone number.

(If you are one of the volunteers helping at the install fest, make the "client" feel more comfortable by turning your head away while the person types the password the two times. That action reinforces the security of a good, private password.)

Installing Ubuntu 7

While the files continue to transfer from the CD/DVD/thumb drive to the hard drive, Ubuntu's installer software presents you with a short slideshow tour of things to come with your new setup. You get a hint about the new features and the default set of installed software. It is really worth noting that the software which the Ubuntu distribution chooses for your default set is useful. It is not bloatware. There are no "demo" versions. The base distribution is all value packed software. In addition, of course, you may choose to add software through the package management system which is called the "Software Center."

Continue to be patient. The age and features of your computer determine the length of the overall installation. Older, slower computers will take longer. The more RAM (memory), too, the faster things will go.

Installing Ubuntu 8

We have reached the end of phase one. There are a few more steps, but the software that has been copied over from the CD/DVD/thumb drive. In most cases, a restart will work smoothly right after you click the button. If things stall, don't worry.

Installing Ubuntu 10

As the computer restarts, a screen showing information about the available "boot" options will appear. The following illustration shows the computer with a dual boot of Ubuntu (the system we just installed) and another GNU/Linux system called openSUSE. Using the arrow keys to move up and down the list lets you select the options. Generally, you will only need the Memory test if you are having some serious system troubles.

The top option is the default, and after a few seconds (typically ten) the default system will start.
Rearranging the startup options isn't a basic user task.

Installing Ubuntu - bootmenu

The computer is now a GNU/Linux computer. It is running Ubuntu 12.10. (In my case, the second beta because the official release happens in late October and this demo is scheduled for the 11th. By the time of the install fest, we'll be able to offer the official version. We may also want to recommend that some users will prefer the stability and longer maintainance cycle of Ubuntu 12.04 which is called "Long Term Support" version because it is maintained for five years. The interim kind of version like 12.10 is only supported with official updates for18 months.

Installing Ubuntu 11

Although the install is done, there is a really big chance that there are a few questions that remain in the "client's" mind.
It is appropriate to lead the person through a quick guide to the interface.
(Maybe we can offer the link to the first pages of the Senior Center Ubuntu Guide or sell paper copies at cost.)
Even with that guide, you'll help the person who is new to Ubuntu by showing a few basic activities.
If we have the luxury of a wired connection, you could also offer the chance to do the first updates. That's actually going to be one of the most technical issues a new user is going to face. It will ease them in if you can show how it is done (especially since it isn't done at shutdown the way Windows updates are done.)

Try not to make too many technical details part of your help. Judge the response you give by the kind of questions you get asked. Be as basic in your answers as you think the person needs. Add more if necessary or if you get technical questions.

(During the demo, let's decide what a minimum intro should be.)

Installing Ubuntu 11

If a person is in a rush, make sure that you show them the built-in Yelp help system. For some, that will be a safe place to start. The online forum discussions are also a great source of information, but do not provide direct answers. Reading through the discussion often involves some very technical stuff with command line recommendations. It may safely be presumed that most of the people at the install fest will not be geared toward that. If we can draw them in so that they plan to come to the NatickFOSS meetings, they can find out more of the insider's perspective.

Installing Ubuntu 12a

Show a person a way to get started. Don't tell them too much to bury them in details they will NOT remember when they get home.

Installing Ubuntu 12

Step 7
I'd be inclined to show them Firefox (especially if they are a user of Internet Explorer user). Browsing the Internet is a skill that seems central to the use of computers by most people these days.

Step 8
Show how to shut down. Have the person restart the computer and get into a program, perhaps Firefox or maybe the LibreOffice word processor. We want them to feel comfortable with their "new" computer.

Step 9
Officially invite every visitor to the install fest to keep in touch. Let them know about NatickFOSS. Give them a brochure/card/?? for the Web site.

If we have official Ubuntu CDs, we can pass them out. If a person wants us to burn a CD/DVD, we can do so for cost. (Unless we get a blank media donation.)
If they have a thumb drive, we can offer to give them an install tool for their family/friends/neighbors. As the Ubuntu Massachusetts team likes to say, "Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn."

Step 10
Shake hands, smile one last time and watch as the person heads home.

Look around for somebody else to help. Won't it be nice if we are busy? (Depending on your style, maybe you can do a group install with two or three computers.)