Linux Ubuntu Installation Guide: Main


There are a number of HOWTOs for installing Linux already on the web. And there are even several for Ubuntu. Others may prefer those other tutorials, and that's fine. But what makes me hesitate to recommend them is that they jump into installation too quickly, before verifying that this is such a good idea for you. Hence this tutorial puts emphasis on verifying that your computer will work after the install. And on verifying that the things you do with your computer can be covered by Linux apps.

Here are some other tutorials I found:

Table Of Contents

  1. Why Switch?
  2. Questions?
  3. Try It Without Switching
  4. What About My Software?
  5. Taking The Plunge

Why Switch?

There a many reasons to switch to Linux. And a few reasons to not switch. To keep this Tutorial more focused, the Why/WhyNot section is in a separate page. I recommend you read it, especially the section WhyNot. LinuxUbuntuWhySwitch.html


If you have questions or feedback you can either email me using the contact link at the bottom of this page or you can join deviantart and post a response to

Try It Without Switching

The only way to run Windoze is from your hard drive. Linux is more flexible. It can be booted from CDs, USB drives, flash cards, and in special cases from floppy disks. Because of this we can test how well Linux works on your computer without touching your hard drive. I highly recommend this. It means we can have some confidence you will be successful before we make permanent changes to your computer.

I recommend Ubuntu Linux, especially for beginners. This is one of many distributions available. Ubuntu is one of the easiest to install. Despite that it is still free of charge (however they accept donations if you wish). And it doesn't skimp on security.

  1. Download a copy of the CD image. You will need to select a location. Try to get one close to you. I use "United States OSU Open Source Lab" because it is in Oregon. In fact, it is about 10 minutes from my house by bicycle.
  2. Burn the CD image onto a CD. Don't create a new project and drop this image into it. You need to burn this image directly. It already is a project. If you burn it wrong the CD won't be bootable. Here are instructions that will work for most people:
  3. Put the CD into the drive and restart your computer.
  4. Make sure the boot order in your BIOS will try CDs before the hard disk. Here is a web page which describes the process very nicely: When you get to step 6 you simply use the Ubuntu CD rather than their WipeDrive product.
  5. Do it. Booting from CD is slow. Let's face it, CDs are a lot slower than hard disks. Eventually you will be presented with a fairly empty desktop looking a lot like this
  6. Don't be alarmed that the system is running slowly. The problem is that you are running from a CD. Once installed on your hard drive Linux will be quite fast.
  7. Test your computer. Before we commit we want to make sure all of your important hardware will work. Here is a list of the hardware I like to test. You may have things I don't list here. The types of hardware you use on your computer the more effort the switch will involve. But don't freak out. Most of these items are easy to get working. If you need help with any of these, let me know as a comment under . If you are not a member of deviantart you can join for free.
  8. If any of your important hardware is not working we need to determine why not before proceeding. Either contact me or get a local Linux guru to help. The way to get local help is to do an internet search for "Linux User Group mycity" Of course if you don't find any groups in your city, try nearby cities. You shouldn't have to search very far. The city I live in has 2 user groups, in a population of 52000. But you may want to try multiple groups for a different reason. Some groups are more active than others. You will want to find a group that is actively helpful to new recruits.
  9. If everything is working let's proceed to the next step.

What About My Software?

Most games don't work on Linux. Plus many programs such as photoshop don't work. In some cases there are good alternatives. Nevertheless the more applications you use on your computer the more effort the switch will involve. If all you do is read web sites and email, switching will be a piece of cake.

Windoze Linux Linux cost Comments
Excel openoffice free Some advanced macros may not work
Internet Explorer firefox free More secure
Media Player kaffeine free May require special codecs. More on this later
Nero, CDBurnerXP, Roxio k3b free
Notepad gedit free Generally gedit can read more files than notepad
Office openoffice free
Photoshop gimp free Some people don't like gimp as much.
Visio dia free
Word openoffice free I've heard that Word can't read old revision word files. But Openoffice can!

For a far more complete list of equivalents, see and

For software that you need, and which is not on one of the lists above, first try an internet search for that program and for Linux. If it just doesn't work, contact me or talk with your local Linux guru. Let's see if we can find a solution for you.

Taking The Plunge

To be continued once I get feedback on what's here now...

No computers were harmed making this tutorial. However, an illegal monopoly may have been threatened.

Copyright © 2009 C. Allen Brown

Last modified 2 Mar 2009