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Thread: HOWTO: Learn about, try and/or install Ubuntu

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Land of fire and drought

    Thumbs down HOWTO: Learn about, try and/or install Ubuntu

    * Learn About, Try and/or Install Ubuntu *

    * This HOWTO is intended primarily for people who have NEVER used Ubuntu before and are starting COMPLETELY from square one but are keen to learn more.
    * For those with some knowledge of Ubuntu;
    from the contents choose the best place to jump in for the help you need.
    * For the initiated; this could be a good place to point people when they ask for more info.
    * For everyone; if there is anything you think I've missed or any corrections, please post on the thread and let me know (especially if you follow this as a newcomer and think there is something I should add).

    There are many sites that have all this information in one form or another; I've just dragged some together. As always many thanks to all members of the community for contributing HOWTOs, advice and articles for all to share and for me to gather here and save some time! I've tried to keep things simple (hopefully) but with plenty of opportunity to expand your research.

    Dive straight in and install or while away some hours linking to links in the links and learning about Linux/Ubuntu. If you launch from here and find what you're looking for elsewhere, fine. Here is an excellent site massively more comprehensive than this HOWTO. However you go about it enjoy the journey.

    1/ Ubuntu Info
    2/ What to Download?
    3/ Where to Download?
    4/ How to Install?
    5/ I've Installed: Now What?
    6/ Making the Transition
    7/ Final Words
    8/ Note about Edubuntu

    1/ Ubuntu Info
    Ubuntu is one of many Linux distributions, or 'distros'. Let's start with What Ubuntu is and What Ubuntu is not.

    Ubuntu Philosophy

    Generally open-source software uses a GNU General Public License (GNU GPL).

    2/ What to Download?
    Let's deal with a couple of points of possible confusion before we go on as there are various releases and versions of Ubuntu available.

    * The 'Desktop' version simply means a graphical installer, NOT exclusively for desktop computers; it's suitable for notebooks/netbooks, too.
    * The 'Alternate' version is a text based installer, also suitable for both. Try this if you're having trouble installing the Desktop version of whatever you're installing.
    * If you are intending to install on a netbook you should go to the
    Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) page. It is designed to run on these machines and would be the one to try. This HOWTO does not deal with UNR (see post #2 for more detail, thanks RH).

    * i386 version: For single-core, 32bit processors, Intel OR AMD. Most older machines.
    * AMD64 version: For dual-core, 64bit processors, Intel OR AMD.

    * Ubuntu can be run with various 'desktop environments' (DE) or 'desktop managers'.
    * Three of these distinguish the main members of the Ubuntu family. Ubuntu with three different DEs. Here they are in order of resource usage, most demanding to least:

    Kubuntu: Kubuntu uses the KDE Desktop Environment; make sure you have plenty of RAM because it has all the bells and whistles
    Ubuntu: Uses the Gnome DE; not lightweight nor too bloated.
    Xubuntu: Uses Xfce, a lightweight DE; perfect for low spec/older machines

    This is general. ALL of these desktop environments and installs can be tweaked to your liking, to run faster or bloated, as you become more familiar with the way things work.

    NOTE: If you are running a very low spec machine (old CPU, not much RAM) and can't get Xubuntu to run (alternate install, NOT desktop) there are many alternatives. You might like to start with Damn Small Linux or Crunchbang. Look for some at the DistroWatch link given later in the HOWTO. There are many ways to create your own hybrids but for now ...

    * About Releases:
    Ubuntu is always moving forward and improving. For this reason, a Ubuntu release comes out every six months. The release dates at the bottom of This Link are old but give you an idea of the release schedule. Releases are available before the release date and are considered 'testing':

    * Karmic Koala is currently testing.
    * The current stable Enterprise version is Hardy Heron, 8.04 LTS (Long Term Support).
    * The current version is Jaunty Jackalope, 9.04

    8.04 LTS is a safe place to start, and if you are running production machines a good idea, as it has long term support and is very stable. 9.04 is a little up and down for the moment.

    *NOTE: If wanting to run Edubuntu packages see note at end of post. Easier to install on 9.04

    3/ Where to Download?

    The most reliable, but not the only way to get Ubuntu, is by torrent. Here is a link to the torrent files.

    You can order a disk in the mail from Canonical but it can take awhile.

    You can buy a disk from a dealer (if you're in Australia good luck with that) or download it. Here are links to:

    Download Ubuntu
    Download Xubuntu
    Download Kubuntu

    Download Ubuntu Netbook Remix (* intended for netbooks)

    When you have downloaded the ISO of your choice burn it to disk with your favourite application. Just remember: you are making a BOOTABLE disk, not a data disk or anything else. You are looking to burn a disk image (the ISO file you just downloaded).

    You can, of course, bypass all of these methods by buying a machine with Ubuntu already installed. In Australia, the choice is limited if you can find one at all, but elsewhere they seem to be less rare. In the US System76 seems popular.

    4/ How to Install
    You've burned the disk? If it hasn't already ejected, eject it and:

    * Label the disk, not forgetting to write 'i386' or 'AMD64' along with the release/version and date. This avoids confusion. (Especially if you happen to own a 64 and a 32bit machine!)
    * Boot your computer and press the appropriate key to get into the BIOS. Probably F1 or DEL. The boot screen when the machine first boots should tell you if unsure
    * Once in the BIOS change your boot order to boot from CD
    * Open the tray and insert the Ubuntu CD
    * Hit 'F10' to 'save changes and exit'

    ... and you're rolling. The computer should restart and boot from CD. (DON'T forget to change the boot order back when you're finished).

    If you are using the Desktop version you will be greeted with a friendly GUI.

    Safety First: Choose the option 'Check Disk for Defects!'

    Thankyou. It takes a little while. You can then 'Try from CD without making any changes to your system' and have a look around, double check your hardware is compatible (if not things can usually be tweaked), or dive right in and install.

    If you are looking at a GUI it is a promising start for hardware compatibility. Here is a guide to installing.

    If you have Windows installed and would like to keep it and dual-boot with Ubuntu here is one of the most useful resources around for Windows/Ubuntu dual-booting help, info and install instructions.
    * If you are having trouble installing, especially on a lower spec machine, try the ALTERNATE install rather than the Desktop version or try Xubuntu or a more lightweight Linux distribution.
    * Lastly, once installed you'll be asked to remove the disk and reboot. This is a good time to reboot to the BIOS and change the boot order back to hard disk.
    * Hit F10 to save changes and the machine should boot from the hard drive
    * If you are dual-booting you should see a menu with your operating systems
    * If you only have Ubuntu installed you should see a menu with several Ubuntu kernels

    5/ I've Installed: Now What?
    * Make sure you have an ethernet cable plugged in (even if you are going to be using wireless) and boot in to your new Ubuntu install. The first one on the list and not the 'recovery' kernel; use that if you are having problems booting into your regular kernel.
    * After not very long you should be notified that you have updates to download.
    * Click on the icon and get them.
    * If you are running a video card or a wireless card you may be notified there are 'restricted' drivers available. If you are happy to go the non-free route, accept and follow the instructions. Because they are non-free they are licensed and you need to personally agree to use them (which is why they are not part of the Ubuntu install).

    The trickiest bit of all this (if everything else has gone smoothly) is getting video and audio codecs installed. HERE is a bit of info on why this needs to be done and HERE is a guide on how to add the non-free, restricted extras for MP3 playback and other things.

    To go all the way, you need to add the Medibuntu (Media, Entertaninment and Distractions in Ubuntu) respository to your software sources; not as tricky as it might sound.

    - First and slightly easier way is:

    * At the top left of your toolbar on your Ubuntu desktop: 'Applications->Accessories->Terminal'
    * Copy this:
    sudo wget`lsb_release -cs`.list --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list && sudo apt-get -q update && sudo apt-get --yes -q --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get -q update
    * Then go to Edit->Paste in the terminal (control/shift/v also performs paste in a terminal).
    * When you have pasted the code in there hit 'Return'.
    * Copy and paste the GPG key below into your terminal (also found on the Medibuntu repo link):

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

    - The second and slightly trickier way is:

    Once at the page;

    * Find the heading for the release you have installed
    * Mark and copy the code (text) in the box underneath it
    * Open a terminal: 'Applications->Accessories->Terminal'
    * 'Edit->Paste' in the terminal
    * Hit enter
    * Once back at the cursor
    copy and paste the GPG key below into your terminal (also found on the Medibuntu repo link):

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

    All going according to plan, you should now have Flash, MP3 playback and other things.

    While you are at the terminal, add the restricted modules for releases that use it by cut/pasting this code:

    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-modules

    ... and you should be done.

    6/ Making the Transition
    If you're now sitting at a Ubuntu desktop (or some other flavour of Linux) for the first time and things seem to be working, Congratulations! If you are familiar with Windows HERE is a fairly comprehensive list of Ubuntu software which approximates Windows software.

    To try out some of the free software from the repositories in your software sources:

    * To Add/Remove applications:
    Applications->Add/Remove: or;
    System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager

    * Getting Help

    If you have questions the forums are the place to look. You can start at 'Absolute Beginner's Talk' (no question too dumb ... well, almost no question!) or post to the right forum for a specific problem area. But before you do that, search the forums or open a search engine and search for your problem as specifically as possible adding 'ubuntu'. For instance, if your Acer monitor were problematic you might try:

    acer x193hq monitor flickering ubuntu 8.04

    (your_problem) ubuntu (your_ubuntu_release_by_number_or_name)

    It may seem obvious but it surprises how often people post and it takes another user one simple search to find a million links related to the issue!

    Few simple rules of thumb when posting that will help you get helped:

    * Use a descriptive title for your posts, not just 'HELP!'
    * Give as much info about hardware/software relevant to the issue as you can.
    * Give as much info as you can about what you are doing or have done to achieve your current state of disarray, give the exact error message or best description you can of what's happening.
    * Have a look around first and see if someone else has posted and solved your problem.
    * Post to the appropriate forum.
    * Be polite and patient - no-one might know the answer to your question.
    * Keep THIS in mind:

    For the official forum rules see the link at the forums home page.

    7/ Final Words
    * Have you changed the boot order back to boot from hard drive in the BIOS?
    * Is all hardware working (USB, internet, optical drives, dongles etc ...)?
    * If you are dual-booting are both OSs booting?

    * If you are having problems with anything besides what I have outlined in this HOWTO (wireless, sound, graphics etc) DO NOT post on this thread for a fix. Please post in the appropriate forum in a separate thread outlining your problem as described previously (ta).
    * Please, no private messages unless I have personally referred you to this thread in the real world (either way, if it's about a Ubuntu problem you will probably get a quicker (and possibly wiser!) response by posting on the forums).

    So, that's Ubuntu. Fun, free, extremely flexible and well supported by a thriving community. If you're into tweaking code and changing things around you can. If you fancy using a very lightweight Desktop Environment like Openbox or putting together a mish-mash of your own creation, away you go. If you then want to share it with your friends or install it on all your network machines you're encouraged.

    As far as Linux distros go, Ubuntu has possibly the most active community but is one of many. Another Ubuntu spawn is Ubuntu Studio specifically for audio/visual work with the real-time kernel and Mythbuntu and the much older Debian from which Ubuntu springs in the first place, to name a few.

    If you would like to experiment further or just explore open-source operating systems, here is a link to distrowatch but keep in mind some of the more 'boutique' distros may have very little support.


    8/ A Note about Edubuntu
    If you are interested in installing Edubuntu add-ons it has been made very simple in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope. If your main purpose is to use the Edubuntu add-ons I strongly advise you install 9.04; it will make life easier.

    To add Edubuntu to Ubuntu 9.04:

    System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager

    * Do a search for 'edubuntu'
    * You will find the preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary add-on packages
    * Click the box to the left of the ones you want and 'mark for installation'
    * Click 'Apply' and install.

    The educational apps will be added to your 'Applications' drop-down menu. That simple.

    If you are having problems with 9.04, try with 8.04, although slightly more involved it seems. I have never tried Edubuntu with 8.04 (except the artwork) so maybe someone who has might like to post on this or PM me and I'll add the method.

    Looks like you need to download an ISO, burn Edubuntu to disk then install the add-ons from that. Here is a link for the
    ISO Download and some instructions intended for 8.04.


    So, hope this has been of some help. Welcome to the forums and Ubuntu. Ask questions and hope you enjoy your explorations and the learning curve.

    Last edited by Bucky Ball; January 11th, 2011 at 06:36 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Re: HOWTO: Learn about, try and/or install Ubuntu

    Bucky ... just a 2-cent thought ....

    Download Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) is designed to run on these machines and would be the one to try, especially if you have tried and are having trouble installing Ubuntu.

    UNR (unless I am mistaken) was designed to optimize the screen space of netbooks and not the processor. It is still Ubuntu .... with 9.04 repos and the option to add the interface with sudo apt-get install ubuntu-netbook-remix. (see a Dell install, as an example)

    The above quote might give the impression that a UNR install on a netbook might be a alternative to a Ubuntu install.

    Also, how about adding the necessity to use the slider when choosing side-by-side as (if not), the operator ends up with the classic 2.3GB / install which is not even enough for the first update.

    Good How-to. It sure gets my vote.

    Just a 2-cent thought. Thanks Bucky.
    Last edited by raymondh; September 12th, 2009 at 03:46 PM.
    "The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it" .... A. Glasow

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Land of fire and drought

    Re: HOWTO: Learn about, try and/or install Ubuntu

    Thanks for your kind words and the tip(s). I have changed that section accordingly and referenced your post for further UNR detail. I imagine the HOWTO will change a bit more over the next week or so now it's up.

    Cheers! Bucky

  4. #4
    DeMus is offline I Ubuntu, Therefore, I Am
    Join Date
    May 2008
    The Netherlands

    Re: HOWTO: Learn about, try and/or install Ubuntu

    Sorry to have some comments on your how-to, but I need to write this:

    XFCE is not a real lightweight DE, there is hardly any difference with Gnome. If you really want to go lightweight try Lubuntu with the LXDE desktop.

    The most reliable way to download Ubuntu is NOT by torrents but straight from the Ubuntu site. With torrents you never know what has happened with the file, or if you manage to download it completely. I know when everybody downloads it straight from Ubuntu the servers will crash, but that is the most reliable way to download.

    Once again sorry for my comments.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Land of fire and drought

    Re: HOWTO: Learn about, try and/or install Ubuntu

    Why are you apologising? Thought we all had a right to an opinion?

    Thanks for the comments.

    To correct you though, the torrent is on the official Ubuntu site:

    ... and is the most reliable. The MDsum is checked and you know exactly what you are getting. If you join the OFFICIAL swarm you are helping the community by disseminating Ubuntu.

    I disagree about Xfce (and so do benchmarks). If you are running it like Gnome using Gnome apps and bells and whistles with Gnome dependencies set at boot - in other words attempting to make Xfce run like Gnome - then it probably would run the same speed. If you are running Xubuntu it is definitely faster than a straight Ubuntu. I have Ubuntu installed and am running Xfce as my DE of choice and it is faster, for sure, with productivity made even faster by the twenty or so keyboard shortcuts I have added.

    Last edited by Bucky Ball; January 11th, 2011 at 06:41 AM.


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