Guide to Installing and Setting up Linux — The Easy Way

So you want to try Linux but don’t know how. Well, it’s actually pretty simple and you have a few options before deciding to fully commit to a Linux based operating system.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is which Linux distro do you want? I recently read an article on Digg about the top 35 Linux ditros out there.

Don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with all the different choices you have, but the three that you should consider are Ubuntu, Mandriva, and OpenSuse.

I like OpenSuse and Mandriva because of the interface, usability, and because it just looks really cool right off the bat. Ubunto is also a great option and the ease of installation makes it a great choice for any Windows user to try out.

There are a few things that I am going to address in this article:

  • I’ll talk about how to use the Live CD so that you can try out Linux without actually installing it
  • I’ll also discuss how to do a complete install for those of you who have given up on Windows completely … hey, I don’t blame you, I sympathize
  • I will also address another option for those of you who still want to be able to use Windows every now and again while also having Linux

Downloading Ubuntu Linux

The first thing you want to do is go to www.Ubuntu.com and determine how you want to receive your free copy of Ubuntu.

Your options are to either download directly or request a copy through mail. Both options are free but remember, a copy through the mail can take up to 10 weeks. The quick option is to just download it.

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You have a few options with the download. The default is the one you will probably want to stick with but you have choices like a 32 bit version of Ubuntu or a 64 bit. Unless you know your graphics card can handle 64 bit graphics I wouldn’t change/or worry about this selection and just stick to 32 bit.

Next you’ll have to select your location. I would just pick whichever location is closest to you and click download. The download will vary depending on your Internet speed but 30-45 min is a good estimate.

Getting Your ISO onto a CD

You’ve downloaded Ubuntu … Now what?

Well what you’ve downloaded was an ISO image. An ISO image is an image of a CD/DVD, so what you need to do is get that ISO image onto a CD. There are a few ways to go about this.

If you have a CD burner on your computer then you probably have software as well. Something like Nero or Toast Titanium will work.

If you don’t have burning software then what you can do is go to CDBurnerXP and download burning software on XP. Follow the steps (each software will be a little different) and ultimately you should see an ISO/burn image option.

Once you have your copy of Ubuntu on a disk it’s time to get the party started!

Try Out The Live CD

With your computer running, go ahead and throw in you copy of Ubunto. A menu will automatically appear with all the options you need — the first being Demo and Full Install.

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If you want to demo Ububtu, you will have to restart your computer with the CD in the tray. This is also the best way to install Ubuntu because you have that option in the Demo as well. When your computer reboots it should automatically come up with the Ubuntu menu (pictured below). From there you can go and try Ubuntu without any changes.

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Ubuntu will come up and from here you can go ahead and start surfing around.

Do you see the Install icon your desktop? Good! Go ahead and click on that — it’s time to start the install.

Installing Linux Ubuntu

The next question you have to ask yourself is: In or out?

You’ve probably determined by now whether you want to install Ubuntu exclusively on your computer or if you want to install it while keeping Windows. If you haven’t you don’t have much time — make your snap decision now!

The first thing that will come up will be Language preference. Make your selection and click forward.

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Next you will have Time Zone selection followed by your keyboard selection.

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Pretty simple so far, right?

Your next option will be about Partitioning and there are two options you want to worry about.

Basically, do you want to do a full install of Ubuntu (Guided – use entire disk) or if you have a spare hard drive you will have that option under Guided (just make sure you select the right drive!)

You also have the option to partition your single drive and Ubuntu makes it really easy to use. There is an arrow tool in the middle that you can click and drag and decide for yourself. Just make sure Ubuntu gets at least 10 GB of space; I selected 50/50. Windows will have 50% of the drive and so will Ubuntu.

Once you decide click on the forward button and continue.

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Next you will need to enter a name and password for the computer. Almost done!

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You also have the option to import some of the documents and settings from your Windows accounts.

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The last step is just a review of the installation. If everything looks kosher you can go ahead and click forward.

Note that the installation process will start after this. Go ahead and take a break as the install will take about 30 minutes.

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All Done!

Now that wasn’t so bad was it? The install will include everything you need to start using Ubuntu right away (internet, Openoffice.org, etc.).

If you did a complete install your computer will go right into Ubuntu once it reboots. If you installed it alongside Windows, you will be prompted to a selection menu every time your computer starts — you will have to select Windows or Ubuntu.

Don’t Forget To Update

If you have a wired connection then you are good to go and you can start surfing away.

One thing you will want to do is to get some updates. There is a button on the top right corner that will update everything for you. It’s quick and painless and will benefit you for obvious reasons.

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That’s all folks and remember there is a ton of Linux distros out there. Not all installs are the same but some are similar in installation, so check them out and make sure you find the right one for you.

Good Luck & Godspeed!

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