Monday, April 28, 2014

Installing Ubuntu

After a recent SNAFU provided the opportunity to rebuild my Ubuntu machine from scratch, I decided that this time around, I might as well keep track of what I'm installing. So, here we go, starting with, well, the actual operating system.

So, I'm installing Ubuntu 12.04 on ye olde Lenovo ThinkPad T60, with 1 GB of RAM and a 60 GB hard drive.

On a side note, I'm by no means an expert on this; if you notice any obvious (or even just subtle) errors or mistakes, please let me know.

You can find the minimum requirements to install and run the operating system here. For Ubuntu 12.04, these requirements are
64 MB RAM (512 MB recommended)
5 GB Hard Drive

Download Ubuntu
Download the current version here. Be sure to pick the right version (32 bit vs 64 bit). This download provides an iso file that allows you to create the installation CD.

Once downloaded, burn the iso file onto a recordable optical disk.

Note The iso file for Ubuntu 12.04 is 731 MB big, so you need to make sure you're using a blank CR-R that can actually take that much data (the capacity of a standard CD-R is 700 MB), and use a CD burner and software that feature the overburn option. Alternatively, you may want to burn the iso file onto a recordable DVD, just to be on the safe side.

Install Ubuntu
1) Boot the computer with your brand new Ubuntu installation disk in the CD/DVD drive (depending on your computer, you may have to manually interrupt the boot process and direct it to boot from the CD/DVD drive. The installation disk provides 3 options:

Install Ubuntu as the only system on the maching. Any data that might sit on the hard disk will be erased, the entire hard disk will become part of the Ubuntu environmental

Install Ubuntu on a separate partition. Alternatively, you can create a new partition just for Ubuntu, while leaving, for instance, your Windows environment intact. This will give you a dual-boot machine where you can run either Ubuntu or whatever other operating system you have already installed there. Obviously, for this option, your hard drive needs to be big enough to support both operating systems.

Explore Ubuntu from CD If you're not ready to commit just yet, you can start Ubuntu from the installation disk, explore the features and tools, all without making any change whatsoever to your computer.

Ideally, your computer is connected to the internet while you run the installation process, this allows Ubuntu to download any updates that may not have been included in the release provided with the iso file as part of that installation process.

Post installation updates
Even if you ran the installation process while connected to the internet and the option Download available updates selected, the first thing to pop up after starting your brand new Ubuntu system for the first time may still be the Update Manager. So you may spend some more time letting that Update Manager do its job, that way you're at least certain that your system is well and truly up to date.

First steps
If you intend to run Ubuntu with a dual screen setup (or with a single big-ass monitor), you will need to switch to Ubuntu 2D, as Ubuntu 3D supports only a very limited maximum screen size. To switch between 2D and 3D, click the little Ubuntu logo next to your user name on the login screen.

Ubuntu comes with a range of tools and applications, so you're pretty much good to go. The following list is by no means exhaustive, it just features some of the tools that may help you with your most common everyday tasks:

Mozilla's Firefox web browser. As with all applications, you may want to check for updates, as the Ubuntu distribution may not include the latest version. I'm mentioning this here specifically because the Firefox version that came with my Ubuntu download was very outdated.

Mozilla's Thunderbird email client

LibreOffice Office suite, featuring a word processor, spreadsheet application, and presentation / slideshow tool. And yes, they can handle (and create) Microsoft Office files). Additional applications are available and free, too.

Rhythmbox Music player

Movie player. It plays videos (well what did you expect)

Brasero Disk burner

GEdit text editor

Ubuntu One
For those who are keen to share their content with the NSA and other cyber-scum, Ubuntu used to provide (and still includes the tool in its current distribution) the Ubuntu One cloud service and online music store. However, this notification informs us that Ubuntu One will be shut down from June 1, 2014. So, if you're reading this before that date, it's probably best not to bother.

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