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Linux - Installation

Started by nuthatch, June 25, 2011, 03:48:13 pm

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Following the last meeting where I demonstrated how to install Ubuntu on the club laptop (and discovered that the latest installation on my own laptop would not drive the projector by default) I though a few notes might not go amiss.

Remember one of the most important features of Linux is that it is free to use - no restrictive licences or registration keys or validation checks.  Similarly there is a wealth of free software out there to do just about anything you can think of.

Congratulations to Colin Thomas who has already successfully taken the plunge and installed Ubuntu on his laptop.

To keep this short I will link to fuller descriptions and websites for downloads.

What is Linux?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux

An important difference compared to Windows and Apple systems is that "The development of Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and open source software collaboration; typically all the underlying source code can be used, freely modified, and redistributed, both commercially and non-commercially, by anyone under licenses such as the GNU General Public License."

I referred to many different 'flavours' of Linux which are the different user interfaces and desktop environments by which we interact with the underlying Kernel, operating system or 'engine' of the system.

Examples include:

Worth trying on really old computers with limited memory and disc space:

Knoppix (a live CD) may get you out of trouble when you have a bit more experience http://www.knoppix.net/

Ubuntu has one of the largest followings and is usually very easy to play with and install.

All versions have their followers who will insist that their favourite is the best.  Try a few running from the CD or DVD and decide for yourself which one 'feels' right.

It is possible to install and run Ubuntu from within Windows using the Wubi installer (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/windows-installer)

I suggested and have used the following method:

Download the ubuntu version you wish to try (http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download).
Follow the instructions to burn a bootable CD/DVD (don't just copy the file across - it will not work).
Boot your computer from the CD/DVD (you may need to press a function key or tell your BIOS to boot from the CD/DVD rather than the hard disc).
Running Ubuntu from the CD will not make any changes to your computer until/unless you tell it too.
You can play with the system including connecting to the internet via your ethernet LAN or Wireless LAN.
When you decide you're ready to commit to an installation you can click on the Install Ubuntu icon on the desktop but first check:
  • If you want to keep your existing Windows installation make sure you have backed up everything important, deleted rubbish and defragmented the hard drive.

  • You can also install it on another hard disc if you have more than one.  You will probably lose anything else on the disc unless you fully understand partitioning discs.

During the simple installation process you will have to decide whether to install Ubuntu alongside your Windows system (Dual-booting at startup) or to use all the available disc space for Ubuntu.  You will completely overwrite the Windows installation if you choose the latter.
You will have to choose a user name and password (make sure you don't forget/lose it and remember it is case sensitive).
When the installation is finished it will prompt you to reboot and reove the CD/DVD.
You should then see the GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) which will offer you the choice of Windows (if you kept it) or Ubuntu.
Load up and enjoy!

Ubuntu does very well at recognising printers, scanners, monitors etc but you may occasionally have to find and install drivers.  Follow the prompts or Google for a solution.

Have fun with your new operating system but remember it is not Windows and although much will be intuitive some things are done very differently. 

I suggest reading as much as possible using the fora and chatrooms and Googling for answers to questions you will have: http://www.ubuntu.com/support/community

Don't be afraid - have a try on an old computer first.  You may then decide to try it on your main PC and even transfer completely to Linux in preference to the expensive and restrictive alternatives.