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Thread: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

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    Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    NOTE: This is NOT intended to be a complete or comprehensive installation guide!

    A new live installer (aka: ubiquity) was introduced in the Maverick release and there were quite a few changes so, whether you're an experienced user or a new user that might be looking at some older guide(s), I think it's worth having a look at just what to expect.

    Both Aysiu and HowtoForge have assembled some very good screenshots describing an “Entire Disc” installation so I’m not going to reproduce everything they’ve done:

    http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/installing

    http://www.howtoforge.com/the-perfec...verick-meerkat

    Softpedia also has a good guide here that shows a bit about creating partitions "on-the-fly":

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Insta...0-160966.shtml

    But I'd like to point out some of the most prominent changes between this version of ubiquity and earlier versions.

    #1: There is no longer an option to “Install in largest continuous free space”. There's a bug report filed regarding that:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...ty/+bug/652852

    #2: The option to choose where to install grub is now only available if you choose “Manual partitioning”, and there is no option to not install grub. AFAIK if you don’t want to install grub to the mbr of a drive you must now install grub to the pbr of the new "/" (aka: root) partition or the “/boot” partition if one is being created. More about using a separate “/boot” later.

    #3: I personally find the “Install alongside other operating systems” option to offer some rather confusing options (more about that later), up to a total of eight decisions to be made:

    Select drive
    Allocate drive space by dragging divider
    Offer to use advanced partitioning tool
    Use entire partition
    Use entire disc
    Quit
    Back
    Install now

    I have filed a bug report regarding that:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...ty/+bug/655950

    And this bug may exacerbate the problem:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...ty/+bug/657397

    #4: There is no longer a final screen where you can review changes before proceeding with the installation! (That’s where you used to change the bootloader install location). After you complete the user/computer name and password categories the installation begins!

    NOTE: The user name must not include CAPS!


    **************************************************


    Time out!

    Always follow basic pre-installation safeguards! Just a few that come to mind:

    #1: Since it’s always a good idea to test the Live CD/USB anyway, by all means select “Try Ubuntu” instead of simply choosing to “Install”! Then while you’re trying out the Live Desktop lets find out how Ubuntu recognizes your existing drives, partitions, operating systems, etc. The most useful tool for doing this is Gparted which is installed in the Live Desktop by default, it’s found in System > Administration. You’ll notice in the upper right hand corner you can toggle between, and display, each recognized drive.

    Since you’ll be installing with this Live CD/USB you need to understand Ubuntu’s device designations. For quite some time Ubuntu has used the “sd” designation regardless of hard drive architecture while others continued to use “hd”, but since you’re installing Ubuntu you’re only concerned with how Ubuntu recognizes your drives/discs & partitions!

    Basically device designations begin with “/dev/sd”, the first character following “sd” indicates the drive/disc number, and the second character following “sd” indicates the partition number. So /dev/sda = drive #1, /dev/sdb = drive #2, /dev/sdc = drive #3, etc. And /dev/sda1 = drive #1/partition #1, /dev/sda2 = drive #1/partition #2, /dev/sdb1 = drive #2/partition #1, /dev/sdc2 = drive #3/partition #2, etc.

    NOTE: If any of that is unclear please post a new thread here:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=333

    And don’t just take the first advice offered. If we’re serious users we understand people are concerned about doing things right the first time. One saving grace of the new ubiquity is the option to QUIT until you’ve completed the username info!

    #2: Once you feel comfortable about installing you should still back up anything important! Bad things can happen no matter how careful you are, like an unexpected power outage during repartitioning or resizing operations.

    #3: Only resize Windows Vista or Windows 7 using their own partitioning tools, and only after defragging and cleaning up!

    **************************************************

    Now onto what the new ubiquity options look like, as previously mentioned there is no longer an option to install to largest free space. Depending on the existing configuration you’ll see up to three options:

    Install alongside other operating systems
    Erase and use the entire disc
    Specify partitions manually (advanced)

    As previously mentioned I've been discussing (and cussing) the "Install alongside other operating systems" option and you will find a brief summary here along with a screenshot:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php...5&postcount=46

    I've literally installed Ubuntu hundreds of times as an iso-tester and I find that very confusing.

    In spite of my personal dislike for the new "Alongside" option in Maverick I decided to go somewhat more comprehensive in post #15:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php...6&postcount=15

    I hope that may save someone from data/OS loss.

    And I assume that everyone knows if they choose the “Erase and use the entire disc” option it will do just that! It will erase everything on the chosen drive - period! And even if you have more than one drive are you sure you selected the proper drive? Also remember that you can no longer choose where to install grub unless you choose the manual partitioning option.

    So I think everyone needs to understand the “Specify partitions manually (advanced)” option. And there is no real reason to be scared, I’ve long believed the safest and smartest process is to create the new partitions in advance somewhat as described here:

    http://members.iinet.net.au/~herman546/p22.html

    But things look different so I created some screenshots. The first shows what you'll see after selecting “Specify partitions manually (advanced)”:

    Ubiquity #3C.png

    Basically you see (from top to bottom) a graphic displaying the current partition arrangement, the section listing all devices, and the section allowing you to change where grub will be installed. The graphic is just eye candy, do NOT rely on it for accuracy! Let’s concentrate on the section listing all devices for now.

    Just below that you can see five options:

    #1: New partition table - will only be available if you select a disc/drive, selecting this will erase everything on that drive!
    #2: Add - should only be available if you select a device with free space available.
    #3: Change - well, just what it says. This is usually the only option you'll use if you pre-created partitions as previously recommended.
    #4: Delete - does what it says!
    #5: Revert - should revert any change before it’s been applied if possible. Don’t count on it!

    Since the Change option is what you'd likely be using you’ll see four options:

    (1) New partition size
    (2) Use as
    (3) Format the partition
    (4) Mount point

    Ubiquity #3Ca.png

    I think (1) is fairly self explanatory. If you’ve created your partitions in advance as suggested you’ll be using the existing size. The “Use as” option allows you to choose the file system type. The current default is Ext4. At this time I’d say using either Ext3 or Ext4 is fine for your “/” (aka: root), and “/home” partitions. Of course SWAP will be used as swap area, but if you already assigned the SWAP using Gparted you’ll find that the installer will use any and all existing SWAP partitions. I multi-boot a lot and quite often have a SWAP on each of two or more drives, so if I don’t want the SWAP on a certain drive to be used with a new installation I simply choose the “do not use this partition” option.

    Ubiquity #3Cb.jpg

    I assume everyone knows that “Format” will erase everything on that specific partition! Commonly if you’re creating a new “/” and “/home” you will want to format the new partitions. However, if you’re using an existing “/home”, you would not want to format that “/home”! Doing so will erase all data in “/home"! There is no need to format a SWAP partition.

    In the next screen you'll see the “Moint point” options displayed. Normally you’d only be concerned with “/” (aka:root) and “/home”. IMHO it’s seldom necessary to create a separate “/boot”, I’ve found doing so can create more problems than it solves. By default the automated installation creates only a “/” and a SWAP.

    Ubiquity #3Cc.jpg

    The next shot shows “Device for bootloader installation” options:

    Ubiquity #3Cd.jpg

    I'm aware that a lot of this may seem overwhelming and I will try to provide some partitioning examples in the near future.
    Last edited by kansasnoob; November 23rd, 2010 at 02:09 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    Well, this turned out fairly well after all

    Should I remove that warning in red?

    Should we ask the mods to sticky this?

    I love criticism so let me have it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    I love criticism so let me have it.
    My suggestions:

    Who is the target for this guide? I ask as the focus seems to be split between experienced users and brand new ones. Any new users will not need to know that the installer has changed and I imagine most old users will be happy to explore this themselves.

    Some headings would be useful, the only one I see is called "Time out!" which is not particularly descriptive. Here is how I would lay it out with relevant headings for each section:

    What has changed? - Your section describing the changes from the old installer
    Preparation - Your tips on what to do before running the install
    Installation
    Further guides - You mention other guides right at the start, which is something best put at the end IMO.

    You could also clean up a few things. As a general rule this would be removing any personal preferences (e.g. "I personally find the “Install alongside other operating systems” option to offer some rather confusing options"). Personal preferences are not bad, it is just that they do not offer anything helpful. It also does not fill the reader with confidence to know that the author is confused which you do mention on two occasions.

    Layout consistency is also helpful for the reader. You use "#1" as a part of your headings and as a part of your text in the Time Out! section which should be avoided. And later on you switch to heading style to "(1)" but refer to it as "#1" still.

    Other than that, a good guide!

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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    Who is the target for this guide?
    Both old and new users. Even the noobies will likely find outdated guides like this:

    http://apcmag.com/how_to_dualboot_vi...lled_first.htm

    But there is no longer an option to "install to largest continuous space".

    Some headings would be useful
    I don't really intend that this be a full guide. I simply lack the skills and availability of web site to create an entire guide. That's also why I listed the other guides first. They show all screenshots up to what I've included here.

    I also could not get the screenshots to "thumnail" as expected so I included a link to a post in my thread addressing the "side-by-side confusion":

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php...5&postcount=46

    Here's a typical screenshot of that:

    Ubiquity #3A.png

    I do find that very confusing

    Why ask if a person wants to use entire partition or disc after they have already selected "install alongside".

    That's exactly why I don't want to "fill the reader with confidence". From what I've seen, and I've had very little time to spend at the desk, the number of new users reporting that they've wiped out Windows has increased greatly

    In order to publish a truly complete guide I'd need to include at least 14 screenshots and I couldn't get past 5 this time. I have in the past managed to post one actual screenshot and up to 5 thumbnails but this time I couldn't figure it out.

    I'd love to collaborate with someone to create a more complete guide. I have a 3.9MB file of screenshots that I'd send anyone interested

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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    Some good improvments have been done, but its not enough, not for me as ive definively dropped that tool because i play with several hdds and a bunch of partitions, meaning that i never remember their typology.
    Thats why i use an external tool to prepare installation partition (partedmagic) and be able to "see" the whole hdds image.

    I still cant understand why ubiquity dev(s) dont use the image partitioner, which is less confuse than those too often meaningless dialog boxes. Well, seems the problem is that devs are devs not designers

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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    I thought what you've done is quite good ...

    That being said, I really think you need two guides:
    1) For the new person coming over from MS Windows who wants to install dual-boot with Windows (probably Win7)
    2) The experienced person who is interested in the details

    I am ALARMED by the changes in the new installer that puts new folks in the position of accidentally wiping out their Win7 installs. Talk about creating a BAD first impression! How much WORSE could it be than destroying someone's work simply because they wanted to try out something new?

    The new user is going to need a very simple, step by step list of actions to perform, perhaps with screenshots as well. You already have ALL of that, but you just need to trim it back for the new user.

    Put basically, they don't care about WHY something needs to be done, they only care about HOW. And, they really do want a cookbook approach.

    Also, as a FIRST step, since the practice of preinstalling Win7-loaded PCs (especially laptops) with 4 primary partitions is becoming more commonplace, I would suggest starting out with a detail example of how to use "sudo fdisk -lu" in the LiveCD mode to check the number of partitions in place. If they have 4 already, it's going to be a LOT more work for them to preserve what they have while also installing Ubuntu. So much work, that it probably merits a different guide -- one containing details about partitioning.

    Not being negative -- think you've done a great job -- just providing some suggestions.
    Ubuntu 16.04 Mate, Mint 18 Mate; MS Win 8.1, MS Win10 Pro.
    Will not respond to PM requests for support -- use the forums.

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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    Quote Originally Posted by dino99 View Post
    Some good improvments have been done, but its not enough, not for me as ive definively dropped that tool because i play with several hdds and a bunch of partitions, meaning that i never remember their typology.
    Thats why i use an external tool to prepare installation partition (partedmagic) and be able to "see" the whole hdds image.

    I still cant understand why ubiquity dev(s) dont use the image partitioner, which is less confuse than those too often meaningless dialog boxes. Well, seems the problem is that devs are devs not designers
    I frequently end up using Gparted 0.4.6-1.iso which I know is getting a bit prehistoric but it always works

    But when I perform iso-testing I always try to put my noob-shoes on and ask myself, if I'd never installed an OS before, would I understand this.

    Well, I've installed Ubuntu literally hundreds of times. Partly because I've converted a lot of seniors from Win 98 and ME to some flavor of *buntu, but even more so performing iso-testing.

    This spring and summer has just been bad for me. I've had almost no time to spend between the keyboard and the chair.

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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Phelps View Post
    I thought what you've done is quite good ...

    That being said, I really think you need two guides:
    1) For the new person coming over from MS Windows who wants to install dual-boot with Windows (probably Win7)
    2) The experienced person who is interested in the details

    I am ALARMED by the changes in the new installer that puts new folks in the position of accidentally wiping out their Win7 installs. Talk about creating a BAD first impression! How much WORSE could it be than destroying someone's work simply because they wanted to try out something new?

    The new user is going to need a very simple, step by step list of actions to perform, perhaps with screenshots as well. You already have ALL of that, but you just need to trim it back for the new user.

    Put basically, they don't care about WHY something needs to be done, they only care about HOW. And, they really do want a cookbook approach.

    Also, as a FIRST step, since the practice of preinstalling Win7-loaded PCs (especially laptops) with 4 primary partitions is becoming more commonplace, I would suggest starting out with a detail example of how to use "sudo fdisk -lu" in the LiveCD mode to check the number of partitions in place. If they have 4 already, it's going to be a LOT more work for them to preserve what they have while also installing Ubuntu. So much work, that it probably merits a different guide -- one containing details about partitioning.

    Not being negative -- think you've done a great job -- just providing some suggestions.
    I couldn't agree more, especially with this:

    I am ALARMED by the changes in the new installer that puts new folks in the position of accidentally wiping out their Win7 installs.
    If I were able to write a guide, errrrm maybe should say "guides", I guess I'd begin with the new "Install alongside other operating systems" option.

    And I guess I'd say, "ignore the use entire disc/partition options, they may (or quite likely will) hose your existing OS and/or data partition!"

    But enough about that for the moment, on to this:

    Also, as a FIRST step, since the practice of preinstalling Win7-loaded PCs (especially laptops) with 4 primary partitions is becoming more commonplace
    That's why I put in the Time out! You'll notice after my brief explanation I include this:

    NOTE: If any of that is unclear please post a new thread here:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=333
    As I've said previously, I've had very little sit-down time in recent months and as time slips by I keep looking for someone else to jump in and create some kind of a guide.

    So I tried to show a few of the pit-falls/differences. To my knowledge there is no actual 10.10 dual boot guide yet.

    The guides I listed have very good screenshots, I provided a link to one of my previous posts about the "confusing side-by-side option" with a screenshot, and screenshots of each step if using the manual partitioning option.

    Also a link to Herman's:

    http://members.iinet.net/~herman546/index.html

    I really would love to collaborate with someone on creating a proper guide for 10.10. Right now I'm going to focus on trying to fix things in 11.04. I joined the proper group, now I need to put together a sensible argument

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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    I made a few minor tweaks.

    I'm also going to take a few new screenshots and possibly try a slightly different approach.

    I think I did a fairly good job of displaying what a person will see as they click thru the different manual partitioning steps so they'll at least know what to expect. That way they can hopefully plan in advance

    I really do think Aysiu's guide is great:

    http://www.psychocats.net/ubuntu/installing

    It shows choosing "try" rather than "install" so that's great. It doesn't show the "side-by-side" option but the Softpedia guide does.

    I guess the biggest problem is explaining what to do with the "Use entire partition" and "Use entire disc" options if using the "side-by-side" option.

    I say ignore them! If you've already chosen to "install alongside" an existing OS they don't belong there!

    If you choose "Use entire disc" you'll wipe things out for sure, unless you've chosen to install to a different disc. Will a Windows user know how to select the proper disc/drive

    The "Use entire partition" option is equally confusing. Which partition? Do you mean a new partition? I guess I want a new partition, or do I? Or do you mean wipe out the existing partition? The latter is correct! You'll lose your stuff

    If you're a Windows user what is a disc and/or partition? If you have a floppy it's Drive A. Generally the main partition is Drive C, but what if you have Win 7? Are the extra "boot" partition and/or "utils" partition even recognized?

    And even for those of us that do understand Ubuntu device designations there's this actual bug:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...ty/+bug/657397

    That's why it's so hard to even think about writing an "alongside" guide. You're offered confusing options & there's also a bug!

  10. #10
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    Re: Understanding the new live installer/ubiquity

    Thanks Erick for all the efforts and time you spend to make Ubuntu better, you rock

    By the way im considering that its easier for a new comer to find a quick and simple howto with the main warnings about installing, than deeply explain everything and techy words and so on.

    So the installer might load the image partitioner to let the user select where he want to install.

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