Step-by step beginners guide to installing Ubuntu 10.04 Linux on your computer

By Leeky · 21 replies
Aug 6, 2010
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  1. So I’ve noticed some interest in members trying out Linux since I’ve arrived here, so thought I would spend a bit of time and write a very detailed guide, with lots of pictures to help those considering it.

    I’ll try to explain certain options and helpful hints along the way, so rather than just following the guide, you can understand the reasoning behind the decisions.

    I’m not a professional, and the guide below is drawn from my experiences, and from what I have learned doing this myself. If there are any mistakes please draw my attention to them and I’ll correct as needed. I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible.

    In this guide I will cover the installation of Ubuntu linux 10.04, 32bit version, from a live CD. The installation of Kubuntu versions, or 64bt versions is near enough identical.

    Step 1:
    So the first thing everyone should do is head to and download Ubuntu 10.04 Live CD. Just click the big orange Start download box.

    Step 2:
    Using your disc burning software, burn the .iso you downloaded to a CD.

    Step 3:
    Before you go any further, ensure all important data is backed up, in case of data loss on all your drives. This guide assumes you have media backups of your Windows partitioned hard drive, and you are safe to proceed.

    Hint: Installing another operating system without first ensuring you have backups of your current files and operating system is a big risk. If you have no data to lose, or you’ve backed up important data, you’re now ready to proceed. I’m not responsible if you lose data.

    Step 4:
    Ensure you have a network cable connected, and restart your computer, and boot from the CD drive.

    Step 5:
    The Live CD will load up, and you’ll be presented by the following box:


    For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume you’ve already seen and tried Ubuntu, and want to go ahead and install it now. So to get started, let’s click “Install Ubuntu 10.04 LTS”

    Hint: “LTS” refers to long term release. Ubuntu offers two types of their Linux. You can use the most cutting edge (the latest release) which offers 12 months updates, or you can use the more stable, long term release, which is updated and kept current for 3 years from its release date.

    Step 6:
    You’ll now be greeted by the box below, with the “where are you?” title, exactly as below:


    Select your current region. In my case, I’m in the UK so have selected United Kingdom. Select forward when you have finished this step.

    Step 7:
    The next screen you’ll see is the “keyboard layout” screen as below:


    It should already be set to the correct keyboard (its uses your region to find the best match), so confirm it is correct. United Kingdom as been correctly set for my keyboard. Click forward once your finished.

    Step 8:
    The screen that now greets you is the “prepare disk space” screen. Picture is below:


    You have three options:
    1. You can “install them side by side” letting the installer sort it for you automatically.
    2. You can use the guided disk utility, and let the installer automatically erase and then format an entire disk (you can select the disk from the drop down box)
    3. You can specify the partitions manually, for advanced users, or those wanting to create several seperate partitions. This is ideal if you would like to set partitions a certain size, so your not wasting too much hard disk space.

    Hint: Linux recognises and assigns ID’s to drive in a different manner to Windows. In the above image you can clearly see my hard disk in the list. It is identified by “sda.” Linux recognises hard disks in the following way:
    • Sda = 1st hard disk
    • Sdb = 2nd hard disk
    • Sdc = 3rd hard disk and so on.

    However, (and this is where it gets confusing) partitions are also shown after the drive letters. So if I had 2 partitions on my first disk, they would be identified as:
    • Sda1 – 1st hard disk, 1st partition
    • Sda2 – 1st hard disk, 2nd partition

    You will not see the common windows C: in the disk menu in the above list. You do however have key things to help you recognise your windows c: drive. Both of these can be used to identify which is your windows disk.
    • The size of the disk is shown
    • The name of the drive is shown

    Option 1: Install them side by side, choosing between them each startup
    This option will be the most common one for users wishing to use only one hard disk. It’s far easier for an inexperienced person to let the installer do the work for you. Ensure this option is selected, and then click forward and you’ll then be greeted by the following box:


    Click continue, and then proceed to step 9, ignoring option 2/3 below.

    Option 2: Erase entire disk and use for Linux
    The easiest option by far is to select a 2nd disk from the list which doesn’t contain your Windows partition, and erase and use the entire disk. If you have a 2nd hard disk, use this option, but remember to check your using your “non-windows” hard disk! So select the correct disk, and press forward. Continue to step 9 ignoring option 3 below..
  2. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Option 3: Manually specify partitions (advanced)
    This is the most difficult option, but I’ll go through it step by step. So select Manually specify partitions and click forward and you’ll be greeted with a screen similar to below.


    Firstly, identify your windows installation... In my case it is sda1 (which is my first hard disk, 1st partition). Now depending on how you’ve created the extra space, depends on what you see. In my case, I just resized the windows partition from within windows, and left the free space ready to install Windows. I recommend using Windows, or a free utility from within Windows to resize your partition as most beginners will understand it more.

    So now we need to create a minimum of two partitions. So you do the following:

    Click “Add” and you’ll be greeted with this box:


    You can have a maximum of 4 primary partitions, or 3 primary partitions, and 1 logical (which allows for another 4 partitions)
    The size above is 24.074GB. e.g 1,000 = 1GB 10,000 = 10GB
    Location for new partition: e.g. do you want it at the start or end of the free space. Select beginning.
    Use as: Ext4 is Ubuntu’s file system, much the same as NTFS is Windows. SWAP is for SWAP space.
    Mount point: This is where you want the partition to mount. E.g. we need a root partition.

    So below is my root partition with information filled out ready to click OK:


    In my case I choose 20GB, but you could use as little as 5GB if you wish. I don’t really have much issue with hard disk space, but you might. So I clicked OK, and now it’s added my new partition table as below:


    We now need to add the swap space. So click “Add” again, and then set the size (in my case I’m just using the remaining space), and change the “use as” box to “Swap area” and click OK.

    Hint: It used to be said that you needed to set the size of the swap space as the size of your RAM. These days I doubt that is needed though, but out of habit I’ve always set it as the size of my RAM (on this PC its 4GB). You could use as little as 500MB without any issues at all.

    You should now have something looking like this:


    So let’s recap what’s above:

    • /Dev/sda1 is your ntfs windows partition
    • /Dev/sda2 is your new / partition (the linux equivalent of windows C: disk)
    • /Dev/sda3 is your swap space.

    Once your happy with these changes, click forward, and proceed to step 9 below.

    Step 9:
    Now you’ve completed the hardest part of the install, and it’s all home free from now on.  The next screen is the “who are you?” as below:


    Fill in the details as requested on the screen, and then when completed click forward.

    Hint: You can opt to have Ubuntu automatically log in for you, even with a password set. Or you can choose the traditional option requiring a password to log in. You really don’t need to choose the decrypt option unless you’re installing on a laptop and are dealing with highly secure information. Keep it simple, if you’re the only user, just select log in automatically.
  3. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Step 10:
    The next screen is the “ready to install” screen as shown below:


    Review all the changes carefully, and make sure your happy everything is correct. Once your satisfied it is, click install.

    Ubuntu linux will now install to your selected hard disk, during which time you can read the information on screen and watch the progress bar increase. J

    Step 11:
    Your all done! You should now be greeted with the box below:


    Click restart now to restart your computer. J When requested, remove your CD, and press enter to reboot.

    Step 12:
    Upon rebooting you’ll be greeted with a bootloader screen:


    Select Linux (top option), and press enter. Linux will now load up. Dependant on whether you selected to automatically log in or not, you may need to enter your password to log in to your desktop.

    Your desktop should look like this:


    Step 13:
    First things first, lets get those updates sorted. Select update manager which will likely now have appeared in your window list (bottom left), and you’ll be greeted with this screen:


    Click install updates, and enter your username password in the pop up box. Updates will now download and install for you.

    Once this is completed, you can close update manager, and restart linux.

    Hint: The power button is located on the top right corner of the screen. Click this and select restart.

    Step 14:
    No install is complete without full mp3 support, support for core MS fonts, DVD playback codecs, flash and java, so let’s go ahead and sort this now.

    We’ll do this the simple way:

    Click “Applications” on the top left of the screen, and select “Ubuntu Software Centre”

    It will now open, and in the search bar, type “restricted” and you should end up with your screen looking like this:


    Select “Ubuntu restricted extras” if you haven’t already done so, and then click “Install”
  4. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    The following box will appear:


    Enter your username password and click “authenticate”

    Hint: Authentication is much like UAC (user access control) in windows Vista and 7. It is required to elevate your user privileges to that of root (linux administrator).

    Ubuntu restricted extra’s will now download, sort any dependencies and install. You can check its progress by selecting the In Progress tab on the left of the window.

    Once finished the In Progress tab will disappear, and Ubuntu restricted extras will be showing near the bottom of the install software list.

    Restart Linux (it’s not strictly necessary, but I always do it after installing this package so everything can start up properly.

    You’re now fully updated, and have the extra support packages to make using your linux operating system more enjoyable.

    Time for you to now have a play with it!

    More Ubuntu related guides to follow soon. I hope this is of help to those unsure of how to proceed installing Linux.

    P.S. It goes without saying, that neither me, nor TechSpot accept nor are responsible for any errors or damages made to your computer during, or after installing linux. It is up to the user to ensure proper backups are made of important documents and files.

    I'll host the complete guide as a .PDF shortly, either attached to this post, or hosted on my server and linked here.


    A printable pdf version of this guide is available here

    For those that can boot from USB (and have a spare 1GB+ USB memory stick laying around, you can use my guide to downloading, and setting up Ubuntu (or any live linux for that matter) to boot and install from a memory stick - Its located here:
  5. ChinoNYC

    ChinoNYC TS Enthusiast Posts: 85

    This is a good step-by-step guide. This right here should be stickied.
  6. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thank you ChinoNYC. I tried to make it as simple and informative as possible. If its well recieved I'll consider adding more guides for Ubuntu.

    How do I go about getting it stickered, assuming everybody finds it useful of course! lol.
  7. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Excellent guide Leeky! :approve:

    I might just have to install an Ubuntu partition on one of my machines now to play with
  8. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thank you sir. :)

    I think you'd be suprised how quick it is. You could also install the live version to a usb flash drive and use it in live mode. Its suprisingly quick using a flash drive. I recommend it for those that want to road test linux. Maybe thats another tutorial/guide to do next. :)
  9. steeve

    steeve TS Enthusiast Posts: 146

    nice, leeky, thanks...a great service to newcomers or even oldcomers who haven't done it for a while
  10. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thanks, I'm happy its proving popular. :)
  11. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    Hey Leeky, I've managed to install Ubuntu according to your instructions, and it was working great until now. I can start up and get to the login screen, but the login screen doesn't look like the regular login screen i.e. instead of looking like this, it has a box in the centre with the Ubuntu logo and in the lower-right corner of the screen it displays the time, along with two other options; one of these is the restart\shutdown button, while the other has options to display the on-screen keyboard etc.

    I'm basically stumped, and dunno what to do. Think you can help me out?
  12. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    That is rather strange. It sounds more like the Live boot login screen than the user one.

    Do you have an option to select a user, or the "other" ?

    If you could take a picture of it and link it here that would be awesome. :)
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    It's completely unresponsive. I can't do anything except go to the terminal using Ctrl-Alt-F1. When I try to use startx from there, I get an error saying "Server is already running" or some such. I also tried sudo get-apt install ubuntu-desktop, but it didn't fix anything.

    I'll try to put up a picture ASAP.
  14. As root do

    service gdm stop
    Then as your regular user

    Note any errors
  15. abe10tiger

    abe10tiger TechSpot Paladin Posts: 789   +16

    I might try Ubuntu out. This sure will help a lot. Thanks . :)
  16. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    Just an update (albeit a long-overdue one!): As per caravel's instructions, I was able to boot to the desktop, but it was totally unresponsive. The cursor moved, but clicking anything didn't give me any response. I ended up re-installing and it's worked fine so far. *knocks on wood*
  17. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    Linux, of ANY distribution, should have SWAP = 2 x the installed RAM and can be as high as 3x Ram.
  18. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    In today's multi GB RAM computers it is not strictly necessary in the amounts it used to be. I appreciate in a commercial environment in regards to Linux servers its a different story (and beyond my skill set), but those needing to worry about that will already have a considerably larger skill set at their disposal than covered in this guide.

    Realistically, matching your RAM is more than enough on most home systems, as this will allow for certain features like suspended sessions, and memory dumps for crashes to work in an acceptable fashion.

    I do however agree that it is misleading somewhat and should be edited as I see the reason you've commented. I plan to re-do the guide for Ubuntu 11.04 shortly anyway, so will change during its revamp.

    As I understand it, SWAP used to be used in considerable amounts back when RAM was extremely expensive, and processes often used considerable SWAP due to low RAM capacity. Things have changed considerably since the days of 64-512MB RAM in a system. Along with that as I understand, so has the rules in regards to SWAP.

    I personally just match my RAM's total size, and have done for the last few years.

    Thanks for the feedback though.
  19. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,168   +986

    I'll continue this discussion via PM to reduce the noise level to the topic . . .
  20. Atham

    Atham TS Enthusiast Posts: 460

    Very well detailed. I am going to download and install Linux right now.
  21. desert_storm

    desert_storm TS Rookie

    I liked the guide posted showing step by step how to install Ubuntu 10.04. My question is this. I have three drives, C,D, and E, and there's plenty of room. I want a dual boot, because some programs even with WineHQ and other programs that enable many Windows based programs to be used with Ubuntu, still only run on Windows.

    I would like to install Ubuntu in Drive E if possible, since it's almost empty and has a capacity of 74.5GB. Can I do this? How would I do it? Drives C capacity is 39.5GB, 24.5GB used, free space is 24.5GB. Drive D capacity is: 35.5GB, 11.3GB used, and 24.2GB free. I know I want to partition, but can I avoid making an overall partition and just use the one Drive, Drive E?
  22. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 3,797   +117

    You can install Ubuntu to any of those partitions.

    The free capacity of Drive E is more than adequate. I would recommend for simplicity that you use the entire disk for Ubuntu however. I recommend the following steps:

    1. Transfer any existing files from Drive E to another and create backups of any important personal files.
    2. Boot to BIOS and change the hard disk boot priority so that disk E is the first hard drive to boot. You will be installing the bootloader to the MBR of Drive E, thus keeping Drive C's Microsoft written MBR working as intended (should Ubuntu fail you can change Disk C back to 1st and boot normally).
    3. Follow the installation guide until the partitioning option at Step 8.
    4. You should be able to select the "Erase and use entire disk" option and from the dropdown box select Drive E. Otherwise you'll have to select the third option (manually specify partitions) and create the necessary partitions yourself on Drive E.
    5. The remainder of the installation is as per the guide.
    The bootloader will install itself on the primary hard drive unless you tell it different -- this will now be Disk E, and the computer will boot from this drive and load either Ubuntu or Windows, depending on which option you choose.

    If you wish to preserve the original Windows bootloader it's very important to carry out step 2.

    Let me know if anything else needs further explanation.

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