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Thread: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

  1. #1
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    Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    Post #1: Backup & try before installing a new system (this post)
    Post #2: UEFI
    Post #3: mini.iso, minimal install, netboot iso
    Post #6: Is the computer running in UEFI mode or in classical BIOS mode?
    Post #7: Boot options
    Post #12: How to select the version and flavour of Ubuntu


    Backup before installing a new system and create a regular habit to backup your personal data

    Editing partitions and installing operating systems are risky operations, and I recommend that you backup at least all your personal data (documents, pictures, ...) before you start. In general, it is a good idea to have a regular habit to backup the personal data. You never know, when something bad will happen to the computer, and you will need to restore the backed up data.

    Try Ubuntu (and the community Ubuntu flavours) before installing

    It is a good idea to try Ubuntu and some of the Ubuntu community flavours before installing into an internal drive. This can save a lot of trouble compared to installing directly.

    This link contains links to all Ubuntu flavours: http://releases.ubuntu.com/

    1. Run a live session booted from a CD/DVD/USB drive and select 'Try Ubuntu without installing'

    Download a desktop iso file, create a CD/DVD/USB boot drive and reboot the computer from that drive. Check that the download was successful with md5sum.

    a. Basic install drive (live drive)

    See instructions at these links

    the official Ubuntu instructions: http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop
    more tips: Checking the iso file and the boot drive - detailed tips

    with instructions to burn a DVD on Ubuntu, Windows, MacOS
    and instructions to create a bootable USB stick (pendrive) on Ubuntu, Windows, MacOS

    CD disks can be used to install Lubuntu 14.04.1 LTS and Ubuntu mini.iso while the other iso files are too big for CD disks. (But mini.iso does not run a live session, it only installs.)

    Find more details for booting from USB at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/In...n/FromUSBStick

    Basic install drives (live drives) are the standard tool to try Ubuntu live, and if it works well, to install Ubuntu to an internal drive.

    b. Persistent live drive

    It is fairly easy to create a persistent live drive with a USB pendrive using Unetbootin, mkusb, grub-n-iso or some similar dedicated tool or method as described here. There are detailed instructions at the following links to get persistence with CD/DVD and USB drives.

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCD/Persistence
    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LiveUsbPendrivePersistent
    mkusb/persistent
    One pendrive for all PCs - 'grub-n-iso' with persistence described in post #6 and the following posts

    Persistent live drives are similar to basic live drives, and in addition can save settings, installed programs and data files, but are slower (with the same hardware). The kernel cannot be upgraded (except by upgrading to a new iso file in a 'grub-n-iso' pendrive).

    The persistent data are stored in a file with the name or a partition with the label casper-rw (and sometimes with an additional file or partition home-rw). Several tools create persistent live drives with the file system FAT32 and a file for persistence. This limits the size to 4 GiB. Other tools, for example mkusb, create a casper-rw partition for persistence, which is limited only by the available drive space.

    2. Install (a complete installed system) to a USB stick or pendrive and boot from it.

    This way you can find which version and flavour that works best when installed without touching the internal drive. It is also the way to try, if you use an installer which does not offer a live session, for example from the Ubuntu mini.iso or an alternate iso file and Ubuntu Server. You find working mini.iso files for 12.04 LTS (32-bits pae (and non-pae in a subdirectory)) at this link.

    It is a two step procedure: Make a CD/DVD/USB boot drive, boot from it and install into a[nother] USB pendrive. Make sure that you install the bootloader into the head of the target pendrive (not into the internal drive or the source pendrive and not into a partition). Install almost like you would do (into an internal drive), but into the pendrive. In BIOS mode it is easier, if you remove the internal drive, or you must use Something else at the partitioning window and point the bootloader into the pendrive. Otherwise it will be installed into the internal drive /dev/sda. In UEFI mode the system will install the bootloader into the internal drive unless you disconnect or unplug it. So it is a good idea to unplug the internal drive, if it is possible.

    This will test a complete installed system (but in a USB pendrive). Boot from this installed system and check what works directly, and what needs tweaking (boot options, or drivers for graphics, wifi etc).

    It is also a method to create a portable Ubuntu system in a USB drive. The normal installation method described above works also to create an installed system in a pendrive. It is a bit more complicated to make an installed system, that works in UEFI as well in BIOS mode. See this link,

    Another new, simpler and so far successful attempt to create a stable portable system, that works in UEFI and BIOS model

    USB pendrives have a rather bad reputation concerning lifetime, but there is evidence that they have improved, and can last quite long nowadays, at least when managed in a good way. If you intend to use an installed system in a USB pendrive, you should add the mount option noatime to the line controlling the root partition '/' in the file /etc/fstab. You can also consider running the ext4 file system without journaling (but there is a tradeoff - journaling makes the file system much more reliable).

    Code:
    sudo tune2fs -O ^has_journal /dev/sdxy
    where x is the drive letter and y is the partition number of the root partition.

    You can also avoid swapping. If you remove the swap partition, you should also remove or 'comment' (put a # character in the beginning of) the 'swap' line in /etc/fstab.



    See also these links describing different methods to create installed systems in USB sticks or pendrives

    for new or middle-aged computers:

    - https://help.ubuntu.com/community/In.../UEFI-and-BIOS
    - Boot Ubuntu from external drive

    for old or middle-aged computers:

    - https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu/AdvancedMethods

    and finally these links for old computers:

    - Old hardware brought back to life
    - General tips, that may help
    Last edited by sudodus; January 24th, 2018 at 12:14 PM. Reason: This post is updated, when necessary ...

  2. #2
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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    This post is about UEFI

    Having a PC with EFI firmware does not mean that you need to install Ubuntu in EFI mode. What is important is below:

    • if the other systems (Windows Vista/7/8, GNU/Linux...) of your computer are installed in EFI mode, then you must install Ubuntu in EFI mode too.
    • if the other systems (Windows, GNU/Linux...) of your computer are installed in Legacy (not-EFI) mode, then you must install Ubuntu in Legacy mode too. Eg if your computer is old (<2010), is 32bits, or was sold with a pre-installed Windows XP.
    • if Ubuntu is the only operating system on your computer, then it does not matter, you can install Ubuntu in EFI mode or not.


    To install Ubuntu in EFI mode:

    • Use a DVD or USB drive made from a 64bit desktop iso file of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 32bit cannot be easily installed in UEFI mode. Ubuntu mini.iso does not work.)
    • Use a supported version of Ubuntu, 14.04 LTS, 16.04 LTS, 17.10.1, 18.04 LTS ...
    • Set up your firmware (BIOS) to boot the disk in UEFI mode (see the "Identifying if the computer boots the HDD in EFI mode" paragraph below)
    • Then:
      • nothing special is required if you use the automatic installer of Ubuntu ("Install Ubuntu alongside others" or "Erase the disk and install Ubuntu"). Important: if you have a pre-installed Windows and you want to keep it, make a Backup, and choose "Something else" at the partitioning page. The other options are likely to overwrite Windows.
      • if you use the manual partitioning ("Something else"), the difference is that you will have to set the /boot/efi mount point to the EFI partition. And if there was not any EFI partition on your HDD, you first will have to create it (see the "Creating an EFI partition" paragraph below).



    Notice this:



    See these links for more details:


    UEFI Installing - Tips

    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UEFI
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/In.../UEFI-and-BIOS

    With Ubuntu we can get the benefits of both UEFI and Secure Boot. I can offer no assurances that the following link is useful or accurate.

    https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/ssd
    Last edited by sudodus; January 23rd, 2018 at 09:32 PM. Reason: DVD/USB from 64bit desktop iso file

  3. #3
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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    mini.iso, minimal install, netboot iso

    Learn how to use Ubuntu mini.iso. If you add no extras at all, you will get a very minimal system (which boots into a text screen). From that system you can install lubuntu-desktop to get Lubuntu, xubuntu-desktop to get Xubuntu etc. You can install several server alternatives or you can build your own system 'almost' from scratch, well at least your desktop environment and set of application programs. bash will be there from right after rebooting into the very minimal system.


    Edit: This general link works in order to find and download the Ubuntu mini.iso files http://cdimages.ubuntu.com/netboot/


    You can find the corresponding md5sums in each version's parent directory.

    -o-

    The following link may help you get started with the Ubuntu mini (it is about Lubuntu, but can be applied more generally to other flavours of Ubuntu)

    http://help.ubuntu.com/community/Lub...MinimalInstall

    -o-

    Unfortunately the mini.iso does not work in UEFI mode. If you must run in UEFI mode, you should start the installation from a 64-bit desktop iso file or from a 64-bit Ubuntu Server iso file, for example

    ubuntu-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso
    ubuntu-16.04.3-server-amd64.iso
    Last edited by sudodus; January 23rd, 2018 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Thanks davmor2 for the general link :-)

  4. #4
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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    Thank you!

  5. #5
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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    You are welcome David,

    When you have tested Ubuntu and feel that your problem is solved, please browse to your thread Reassurance needed, click on Thread Tools at the top of the page and mark that thread as SOLVED

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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    Is the computer running in UEFI mode or in classical BIOS mode?

    You may want to test if your Ubuntu flavour is running in [U]EFI mode. An installed system and a live system too is using the directory /sys/firmware/efi, so you can [cut and paste and] run the following command line (when linux is running)

    Code:
    test -d /sys/firmware/efi && echo "booted via EFI (UEFI)" || echo "booted via BIOS (legacy boot)"
    or simplified if you can't cut and paste
    Code:
    test -d /sys/firmware/efi && echo efi || echo bios
    If you boot via syslinux, I think you are running in BIOS mode.

    At the grub menu you can run the following command:

    Code:
    echo $grub_platform
    It will print 'pc' in BIOS mode and 'efi' in UEFI mode.

    Colin Watson@askubuntu:
    As of GRUB 2.00, assuming GRUB is working well enough to get into normal mode rather than rescue mode, "echo $grub_platform" from the GRUB shell will show "pc" in BIOS mode and "efi" in UEFI mode.

    The BIOS build corresponds to the grub-pc package, and the UEFI build corresponds to the grub-efi-amd64 (or, less commonly, grub-efi-ia32) package.

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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    Boot options

    When there are problems to boot and run Ubuntu or an Ubuntu flavour, you can add some boot options according to the following tips.

    nomodeset is good if there are problems with nvidia or AMD/ATI/Radeon graphics. It can help you get a simple user interface, so that you can install a proprietary graphics driver and after reboot get good graphics.

    See this link to a post by oldfred for details about boot options for Intel graphics.

    forcepae is good for old Pentium M and Celeron M processor, that lack the PAE flag, but have PAE capability.

    acpi=off might be good if there are problems with the power management.

    You can add several boot options at the same time. See these links:

    1. For syslinux boot (in BIOS mode)
    BootOptions

    2. For grub boot (in UEFI mode and BIOS mode)
    Editing the GRUB 2 Menu During Boot
    Grub2/Setup

    See the section about GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX

    3. See also this link with detailed illustrated descriptions how to add a boot option in syslinux and grub:
    Enter the boot option persistent



    The following link contains a long list of boot options, so there are many more options, than those suggested in the syslinux menu.

    An exhaustive list of kernel boot parameters from kernel.org
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by sudodus; February 19th, 2017 at 12:48 PM. Reason: link with detailed illustrated descriptions

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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    Part of the instructions on installing Ubuntu to a USB drive says, "Make sure that you install the bootloader into the head of the target pendrive (not into the internal drive or the source pendrive and not into a partition)."

    I don't understand what is meant by

    (1) install into the head of the target pendrive

    (2) not into a partition

    If I look at my potential target USB drive with gparted, I see a 3.76 GiB ext4 partition that fills the largest part of the drive, plus a small, dull yellow area at the left end, probably the 132.13 MiB under "Used".

    I am firmly of the opinion that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask, so I ask:

    A: Does the "Used" area contain the firmware for the drive, and is that where viruses or other bad actors are sometimes hidden?

    B: Does the installation, with the bootloader pointing to the pendrive, install the bootloader to the head of the target pendrive?

    C: Do I need to delete the partition before installing to the pendrive? (Is such an installation even possible?)

    Thank you for any clarification.

    Henry IX

  9. #9
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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    Quote Originally Posted by Eanruig View Post
    Part of the instructions on installing Ubuntu to a USB drive says, "Make sure that you install the bootloader into the head of the target pendrive (not into the internal drive or the source pendrive and not into a partition)."

    I don't understand what is meant by

    (1) install into the head of the target pendrive
    The head is the beginning (if looked at linearly with a beginning and an end. You see it graphically in gparted: The head is the left edge, and it is described by the block files /dev/sda, /dev/sdb ... /dev/sdx for drive a, b, ...x.
    (2) not into a partition
    Partitions are parts of a drive, and can contain file systems or other partitions or swap. You see them graphically in gparted: Segments of the drive, and they are described by the block files /dev/sda1, /dev/sda2 ..., /dev/sdb1, /dev/sdb2 ..., ... for the first, second, ... partitions of drives a, b, ...

    In very special cases you want to install the bootloader to a partition, but this is not covered in this tutorial thread.
    If I look at my potential target USB drive with gparted, I see a 3.76 GiB ext4 partition that fills the largest part of the drive, plus a small, dull yellow area at the left end, probably the 132.13 MiB under "Used".

    I am firmly of the opinion that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask, so I ask:

    A: Does the "Used" area contain the firmware for the drive, and is that where viruses or other bad actors are sometimes hidden?
    The used area is what is used by the file system's own administration plus storage of files and directories.
    B: Does the installation, with the bootloader pointing to the pendrive, install the bootloader to the head of the target pendrive?
    The automatic alternatives usually install the bootloader to the head of the first drive, /dev/sda. This is often, but not always, what you want. Use Something else at the partitioning window, if you want better control where to install the file system, swap and the bootloader
    C: Do I need to delete the partition before installing to the pendrive? (Is such an installation even possible?)
    You need not delete the partition. But you can do it. You can overwrite the existing partition table and install to the whole drive. You can also install into existing partitions. In that case you should normally format the partition (not delete it). But if you want to keep your home partition, you must leave it as it is. Formatting would destroy what you want to keep.

    Sometimes there is data on a drive, that will confuse the installer or gparted. In such cases it might help to wipe the first megabyte (overwrite with zeros), and after that create a new partition table (and maybe also partitions).

    Thank you for any clarification.

    Henry IX
    Last edited by sudodus; November 9th, 2015 at 09:59 PM. Reason: confuse the installer *or gparted*

  10. #10
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    Re: Try Ubuntu (Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, ...) before installing it

    I installed Lubuntu 14.04.2 (persistent) to a USB flash drive, and it boots perfectly but slowly. I suppose that is because a USB drive is slower than a hard drive.

    I also had no wireless connectivity, but found the thread

    http://askubuntu.com/questions/35497...ubuntu-booting

    and following the information there found the cure for the wireless problem - the Broadcom card needed a firmware update.

    Thank you again.

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