Need an alternative OS? A ubuntu HOWTO: Part 1

Ubuntu is a GNU/Linux based operating system that you should install, today. I have been using ubuntu for a little over 2 years, and apart from getting stuck a few times, it has been great. I have always been a linux-wannabe, not having the geekiness to use it but would still use it and spend hours browsing on the web to figure something basic out. Now, ubuntu solves it for you. You dont need to be a geek, you dont need to know shell scripting or anything.

Why would I want to switch to ubuntu you say. Some reasons…

1. why not?

2. coz Windows is a pain in the ass

3. its free. which means you dont need to spend hundreds on the OS, or pirate it.

4. its less susceptible to viruses etc. Well, a lot less. But I should warn you here though. One of the primary reasons this is true is coz well, most of the users are on Windows machines, and virus writers dont see a decent ROI for trying to infect a Linux machine.

5. coz you are bored, and would like to try something cool.

6. coz you can act cool and high and mighty.

So, what do you use your computer for?

1. browsing the internet

2. listening to music

3. watching videos

well, ubuntu does all that for you. and well, if there are some things that you absolutely need to do in windows…

1. you can install Windows inside it, and whatever apps you need.

2. it can do cool stuff like Vista, but without the uncool stuff.

3. you can keep your existing Windows install if you lack RAM or are scared.

In this series, I will guide you through

1. the installation

2. installing apps

3. running windows inside ubuntu

4. desktop effects

Hmm, maybe this wont be a true HOWTO, as there as so many good howto’s there, and I will link to them where appropriate. But I will also try to fit in problems I have had and seen other people moving from Windows to Ubuntu have had and hopefully glue it together.

Getting Started – The Installation

Well, you need the latest version of the OS. So, you can either download it and burn it to a CD or order it for FREE. So, go here to download or here to get free CDs. Now, I will skip ahead to you having a CD and you put it in the CD drive and reboot your system. Make sure your boot sequence is CD first and HDD second, which will enable the ubuntu install cd to load. And ubuntu will boot. Isnt that cool? Well, its not installed yet though. Once it boots up, and yes it will be slow as it is running via CD, click on the “install” icon on the desktop. The next stuff is straightforward, entering timezone and stuff. If you need help with that, check out this video. But you really dont need help here, that is until the PARTITIONING. And I will try to help you through that part. What this step does is physically allocate space for ubuntu to live in. Say you have a 80 GB hard drive, you can allocate 40 GB for Windows and the rest for Ubuntu or something. When you get to the partition manager, you will see details about your present hard drive. you want to partition it into 3 – existing windows, swap and linux. “swap” is where ubuntu will write data in to allocate RAM better. what this means is, lets say you are using 500 MB of your RAM and then run a memory intensive app. ubuntu will store the 500 MB on the swap, and thus have more RAM for you now. I recommend around 1 GB for the swap. In the “details” for the swap partition, select “swap” from drop down. For the linux partition, select “/” for mount point. Now, its gonna look like this image. There are cooler things you can do here. Like setting up a common data partition, where Windows and Linux can write into. And a separate /home for you, which is equivalent to My Docs. If you want to do that, look at this post. Or if you want to partition from Windows, look at these videos. Dont worry, this is the hardest step, but if you understand what and why, it makes it easier.

And the easiest thing of course, is to install ubuntu and ubuntu only. This means you dont need to do any partitioning, except for the swap.

After this agree to install GRUB, which will let you boot into ubuntu or Windows. And thats it. And when you reboot, select the ubuntu one and you will login.

Installing apps

Click on  System on the top menu, and inside “Administration” select “Synaptic Package Manager”. Select whatever app you want and it will be installed. If you need apps that arent in there, you need to expand your repository list or just go to the application webpage, download it there and follow its install instructions. Expanding your repository list basically means looking for applications from a wider variety of sources. Applications you might wanna look at are

  • vlc media player
  • mozilla thunderbird
  • pidgin internet messenger

And lets install some codecs while you are at it. open up “terminal”(Applications->Accessories) and paste the following

sudo apt-get gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg.

What does “sudo” mean?

su means superuser. So, sudo tells the system to do some task that requires higher privileges as there are tasks that modify your system. It is basically a mechanism that makes sure you know what you are doing. so, if you have other people using your system, it prevents them for screwing around with it.

Lemme know if you need help with your installation. I can guide you through more pointed problems if necessary.

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