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Ubuntu Help & Advice Pages
Do not start with this page. You should only use this page if you have already well familiarized yourself with all the material on our Ubuntu Pre-Installation Considerations page. You have been warned.
We have tried to make this page a compact but detailed and exact step-by-step procedure, so there is little if any discussion of what you are doing or why you are doing it: that was all covered on the
previous page. If you don't have a second computer handy on which to access and read this as you go, you can and should print it out (which is why it's as compact as we could get it while still being exact and--we hope--
Obviously, "compact" is a relative term, but, as Albert Einstein famously observed, "Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
On other pages:
Master Index to all Pages
Maintenance Considerations and Methods
On this page:
Put the Ubuntu "live CD/DVD" installation disk in your computer's CD/DVD reader device.
Power down your computer. Leave all attached peripheral devices--monitor, printer, scanner, sound system, whatever--fully connected and powered up. Remove only any plug-ins (such as "flash drives") that will not
normally be attached at all times to your normal working system. (If you have no plugging or unplugging to do, you need not power down--you can just do a reboot.)
Power up your computer (unless you're just doing a reboot). As when you took your Ubuntu test drive, your system will boot off the CD/DVD, and you will get a screen asking whether you want to try Ubuntu or to install
it. This time, click the Install Ubuntu button.
The first screen you eventually get after selecting Install will ask you if English is (as it presumes) your chosen language; accept the choice. If your preferred language is not English--or whatever you might
be offered--obviously you should select and accept the one you want.
The next screen you get will include a couple of "will you?" questions in the form of statements with "accept" checkboxes beside them. Those will be:
Download updates while installing.
Install this third-party software.
For each, click the box to signify "Yes"; when both boxes are ticked, click the Forward button to continue the install.
At the next screen, do not accept "Erase and use entire disk": select instead "Specify partitions manually (advanced)".
That assumes that you have--as discussed on our Pre-Installation page--opted for planned partition use; if you don't care and just want the "for dummies" version, you can instead click the "use entire disk"
option, which will also mean that the next couple of steps described below will not be presented to you, and those instructions can be ignored.
After making your selection, click the Install now button.
This sequence is not difficult, but it requires care to be sure you're doing it exactly as it should be done. We will give it as a series of sub-steps.
If there is more than one drive in (or attached to) the machine, make sure you identify the one you want to clean out and install Ubuntu on to. What Ubuntu considers the "first" drive will be the one labelled
/dev/sda, the second would be /dev/sdb, and so on. Do not just assume that sda is the drive you want: look at the drive size and any other data to verify which drive is which. The system's
idea of "first drive" may not correspond to yours.
If there are multiple drives, use your cursor to select, by clicking on it, the one you want to install Ubuntu onto: be sure you're getting this correct.
Unless your target hard drive is brand spanking new and never used, there will be some existing stuff on it. The drive will be shown graphically, as a horizontal bar in one or more colors (each current partition
will be in its own color). In any event, just click on the button labelled New Partition Table to clear the entire drive. Eventually--it may take some seconds--the entire drive will be marked as one large "free
You are next going to make your new partitions. It is very important that you make them in the exact order given here. Each is made by the same simple procedure:
With your cursor, select (by clicking in it) the remaining "free space" from the partitions display for the drive you are working on. Owing to design folly, as you go on with the various partitions, you will have to
scroll the display down each time to get to the "free space" line, which is always at the bottom of the list.
Click the "Add" button; that will pop up a mini-window for data entry for the next partition to add.
The mini-window will want five data, in this order (because the drive is all free space, Ubuntu automatically knows to format each new partiton, so you won't need to tell it that):
- Primary | Logical [which type of partition this is to be]
- New partition size in megabytes [decimal megabytes, not binary]
- Use as [meaning what file system you want it to have]
- Location [beginning or end of current free space]
- Mount point [what Linux directory this partition will be]
For the partition you are making, take the entries from the table below (the "sequence #" is the order that partition comes in, and is just for clarity in these instructions--it is nothing you enter anywhere):
* the /tmp partition is 55 GiB, as discussed in the earlier pre-Installation page here; if you feel space-cramped on your drive, you can reduce it to as little as 5369, which is 5 GiB. We suggest that you select
a size value for it based on the capacities of DVDs and BDs (blu-ray disks); the /tmp partition ought to be able to hold the maximum size of whichever sort you might one day need to write out.
Remember that 1 GiB is 1073.741824 MB (that is, multiply 1073.741824 by the number of GiB you want the size to be, then round off upward to the nearest whole number--5 x 1073.741824 is 5368.70912, which
is where we get that 5369).
In each case, when the new-partition window pops up, it will have pre-filled the "size" entry with all of the free space that is left--you must manually modify that to the correct value, save in the case of the last
partition to add, the /home one, which will indeed get all that is left. Also, in some cases, one or more of the other selections may be pre-made (such as filesystem type). And when you specify the swap partition, some
of the options will disappear, since swap space is swap space and that's that.
We cannot overstate the importance of making painstakingly sure that you have each datum correct for a partition before you accept it with the "OK" button. It's easy to muck up because the friendly installer
keeps trying to fill in things for you; for example, the primary/logical choice is an easy one to muff. Review carefully before clicking "OK".
Finally, before going on to the next step, review the on-screen table showing the new partition layout you have created against the one above in these instructions. Make sure every line is fully correct. (But note
that owing to a sort of "rounding error", the partition sizes you get may not exactly equal those you typed in--that's OK so long as they're pretty close.) If you find an error, work back to it: that is,
click on the rightmost partition and "Delete" it, moving leftward till you have deleted the erroneous one. Then re-start from there.
Finally (for this part of the job), you need to make a selection from the drop-down bar at the bottom of the installer screen:
Device for boot loader installation.
Make sure you select the choice that equates to your /boot partition; getting this right is crucial. Fortunately, it's not difficult--just don't rush through it. In the horizontal bar display representing
your drive, the /boot partition is (and had jolly well better be) the leftmost, with a size around 537 MB. It will have a designation something like /dev/sda1. The "sda" (which, in odd cases, could be sdb or
even something else, but is very probably sda) is the designation for the drive you're working with; on that drive, the partitions are numbered, though--very curiously, but for historical reasons--the numbers don't necessarily
correlate with any common-sense pattern: not necessarily their physical order on the drive, nor yet the order in which you installed them. But check (and double-check) to see what the /boot partition is identified as.
Then just select that choice from the boot-loader-selection dropdown menu. If you can't easily tell which of the choices is the /boot partition, there's probably something wrong. Think through and re-check your
Remember that while an error here could be fatal to your install, that is by no means the end of the world: the worst you lose is a little time, because till you start doing post-install customizing, you waste nothing but
that bit of time by re-starting the whole install anew from the beginning. After all, the whole disk is being wiped anyway.
When you have satisfactorily identified and selected the /boot partition as the "Device for boot loader installation", click the Install now button, and off she goes.
While the system is being installed, you will be asked for a few elementary customization data. The first of those will be from a screen that asks "Where are you?" Even if you live in a rather small town, try
typing in the name: you'd be surprised the places the installer knows about. If it doesn't seem to recognize your entry, just use any large city in your Time Zone, which is really what this question is all about. When the
map confirms that the installer has your Time Zone correct, just click the Forward button.
The next choices screen will ask you about your keyboard layout. Unless you know you have something quite bizarre, you can accept the default choice (for most readers, probably just USA); if you do have
something bizarre, like a Dvorak-layout keyboard, you should have no trouble identifying and selecting it from the lists displayed. When you are satisfied with the choice, again click the Forward button.
Next comes the "Who are you?" screen. Simple as the choices here seem, there are traps for the unwary. Let's look at the wanted data in turn:
Your name: Well, easy enough--enter your name as you usually sign it (that is, with or without middle initial or name, or whatever).
Your computer's name: While you can be as cutesy as you like, it is a very good idea to keep this short, simple, and preferably to one word with no spaces. That is because later on you may well be using this name in
networking setups (whether you contemplate that just now or not), so if your name is Artemus Mugglewump, stick to something like AMdesktop or tintagel or moonbase7, things easily typed without error
or quotation marks needed, and with no fancy symbols or other odd characters.
Pick a username: While the same general considerations apply here as for the computer name, the restrictions are quite definite (and have stalled many an installation): A username cannot contain any capital
letters, must start with a letter (not a numeral or other character), and cannot contain any blank spaces. We're not actually sure whether non-alphanumeric characters are acceptable, but it's as well to avoid them.
As the old motto goes, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
Choose a password: This is just your session logon password. How important you think security may be, and how at-risk a mere logon password being cracked might put you, are topics far too arcane for discussion here.
The chiefest desideratum is something you cannot forget and are not terribly likely to find annoying to type in (you'll need it on lots of occasions other than logging in to a session). The best choice is probably some
nonsense word or name with special meaning to you--something pithy like durabash (arbitrarily derived from Jimmy Durante's sempiternal show ending, "And good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.")
Confirm your password: Don't be a smartass and just use cut-and-paste--take the time to re-type your choice. It helps assure that you have chosen what you think you have chosen (so an overlooked typo doesn't leave you
unable to log in), plus it emphasizes to you how well or poorly you have chosen as far as convenience in entry goes. You can, after all, change it till you leave this screen.
Log in automatically or Require my password to log in (you can click one or the other, but not both or neither). This depends a lot on the environment in which your computer will be used: if it's just
yours on your desk at home, it would be foolish to pick anything but auto-login; if it's in an office or other public place where anyone could sit down at it while you're at lunch, you obviously want password logon. Just use
Encrypt my home folder: Even in a public environment, your logons are password-protected, so encrypting your home directory is one of those things best left to those who have the convictions of their certain knowledge
(or paranoia) that such a feature is important to them. If you are not 100% sure what this means or implies, don't check it.
Review your choices one more time, then--assuming you're satisfied with them--click the Forward button.
Ta da! You're done. In the fullness of time, the system will tell you so, while it continues to do some under-the-hood work. To keep subscribers to Short-Attention-Span Theater happy, the system will, to pass the time, give you a somewhat fatuous slide show about how great and wonderful Ubuntu is (as if you needed persuading at this point). Eventually, everything will be over and done, with only one thing remaining to do: reboot the computer.
Have a care here: as the system shuts down prior to the reboot, it will eject the installation CD/DVD and tell you to remove the disk, to close the disk-drive door, and to then press <Enter>. Be sure to do that, and wait for it--don't jump the gun with manual ejecting. Then just wait for the rebooted system to come up. With any luck at all, the whole process, start to finish, will have taken 15, maybe 20 minutes.
You now have "an Ubuntu system", but it is as yet miles away from being in the state you will want your system to be in. There are a great many things yet to do, and we have laid them all out for you, with detailed procedural steps, on our Post-Install page; click the link and let's go.
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