How to install Ubuntu: Imagine a free operating system, with a sea of applications already included and that does not even require the installation of an antivirus because it is almost immune to the threats of viruses and malware. Again: imagine a fast, stable operating system, which never crashes and does not need frequent reinstallations. It would be nice, right? Well, then stop dreaming, open your eyes and install Ubuntu on your computer!
If you’ve never heard of it, Ubuntu is a Linux distribution that combines extraordinary ease of use with high hardware compatibility. It is completely free, open source and includes many applications inside that you will surely have already learned about Windows, such as Mozilla Firefox and LibreOffice. It does not require particularly advanced hardware resources and, to install it, just copy it to a DVD or a USB stick. If I were you I would try it immediately.
How do you say? You don’t want to completely abandon Windows because you need it to work or play (we know, most videogames are made to measure for Windows). Well, but who says you have to do it? Ubuntu can be safely installed in dual-boot. This means that every time you turn on your computer, you can decide which operating system to use between Windows and Ubuntu. Did I convince you with this revelation? Well, then make yourself comfortable and find out how to install Ubuntu on your PC. I assure you that this operating system will not disappoint you!
Before seeing in detail how to install Ubuntu , make sure your PC has everything it needs to run this operating system. The hardware requirements necessary for its execution, as I said, are low, but better to inquire and not take unnecessary risks.
- 700 MHz processor or higher (dual-core 2 GHz processor or higher recommended).
- 512MB of RAM (2GB of RAM recommended).
- 5GB of disk space (25GB recommended)
- Graphics card with support at a resolution of at least 1024 × 768 pixels.
In addition, you must have a fairly fast connection to download the Ubuntu installation files from the Internet and a blank DVD or a USB stick of at least 2GB to copy the latter.
As for the compatibility of video cards, sound cards, network cards and other hardware components with Ubuntu , there should be no problems. Ubuntu is now compatible with the vast majority of computers in circulation and does not require additional drivers. In any case, before installing the operating system on your PC, try to find out about the compatibility of some specific hardware components (e.g. network card or printer) by searching the Internet. If you don’t know what the exact models of hardware are on your computer, use the Speccy software to easily identify them.
Before getting to the heart of the tutorial and discovering, together, how to install Ubuntu on your computer, let me give you some advice on the operations to be performed in the phase preceding the download of the operating system.
As mentioned above, installing Ubuntu does not lead to the deletion of Windows or the files present on the PC (at least not necessarily). However, when changing disk partitions or installing an operating system, it is always a good idea to be careful and back up your data .
Before going to work, therefore, copy your documents, your photos and all the files you care about most on an external medium (e.g. a hard disk, a series of USB sticks or DVDs). It is a somewhat tedious, lengthy, but necessary procedure. If you want some advice, read my guide on what is the backup and how to do it.
Another thing that you almost certainly need to do is change the BIOS settings . Ubuntu must be installed by booting from the DVD or from the USB stick on which its installation files have been copied, so you must make sure that in the BIOS of your PC the USB drive and the DVD are set as a priority over the hard disk ( otherwise Windows will normally start instead of the Ubuntu installation process).
Furthermore, if you use a rather recent PC (sold with Windows 8.x or Windows 10 pre-installed) you must know that your computer no longer has the BIOS but the UEFI: a more updated version of the BIOS that includes additional security-related functions. One of these functions is called Secure Boot and prevents the start of operating systems that do not have a specific digital signature (in practice all systems other than the most recent versions of Windows). Well, to install Ubuntu on a UEFI-based computer it is almost always necessary to go to the latter’s settings and disable Secure Boot. You find it explained how to do it in my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS / UEFI .
In some circumstances – when you are unable to boot Ubuntu on a UEFI-based computer – you can activate the Legacy BIOS mode which emulates the operation of old BIOSes on newer computers. Unfortunately, this feature is not available on all computers and prevents the creation of a dual-boot system (unless you reinstall Windows in Legacy BIOS mode). If Ubuntu is installed in Legacy BIOS mode, you must enable or disable the system to switch between systems. For more info on this, consult the Ubuntu Italia website .
If you are going to install Ubuntu by creating a dual-boot system with Windows , then maintaining the possibility to choose which operating system to boot each time the PC is turned on, you must partition the disk in order to leave free space for the Ubuntu partitions (which you they will then create during the installation phase of the operating system).
To reserve space for Ubuntu, you need to use the disk partitioning utility included with your PC. Then click on the Windows Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), look for the term “partitions” in the menu that opens and select the Create and format the hard disk partitions icon from the search results. In the window that opens, right-click on the main partition of the PC disk (eg C:) and select the item Reduce volume from the menu that opens.
At this point, use the field Specify the amount of space to reduce, in MB to specify the amount of space to reserve for Ubuntu partitions (at least 20,000MB is recommended) and click on the Reduce button to save the changes.
At the end of the operation, you should obtain an unallocated portion of disk (represented by a black rectangle in the partition graph) of the size equal to the amount of space you have indicated in the field Specify the amount of space to reduce, in MB .
Disabling Windows Quick Start
If a version of Windows equal to or higher than 8.x is installed on your computer, in order to correctly start the Ubuntu installation support, you must disable the quick start function provided by the Microsoft home operating system.
Then click on the Windows Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), search for “control panel” in the menu that opens and select the classic Control Panel icon from the search results .
In the window that opens, go to Hardware and Sound , then to Change the behavior of the power buttons (under the wording Energy saving options ) and click on the option Change the options currently not available . Then click on the Yes button in the window that opens, remove the check mark from the Enable quick start option and save the changes by pressing the appropriate button located at the bottom right.
Ubuntu download and preparation
You are now ready to download Ubuntu and copy it to a USB stick or DVD. Before proceeding, however, let me clarify your ideas on the various versions of the operating system available for download.
In addition to being distributed in the desktop and server variants and in the 32 and 64 bit variants, Ubuntu is in fact declined in the LTS (Long Term Support) and standard versions . LTS versions are released every 2 years and can count on 5-year support, standard versions are released every 6 months and have 9-month support.
As easily understood, the LTS versions of Ubuntu are late in receiving the new features introduced in the standard ones but are generally more stable and have more extensive support. This means that in working environments and, more generally, when you want to be on the safe side, it is better to opt for the Long Term Support versions.
All clear? Well, then let’s proceed with the Ubuntu download. The first step you need to take is to connect to the Ubuntu Italia website and click on the Download it now button ! located in the center of the page. In the page that opens, choose the version of Ubuntu you want to download from the first drop-down menu ( standard or LTS ), select 32 bit or 64 bit from the second drop-down menu (depending on the type of PC on which you intend to install the operating system ) and click Start Download to download the Ubuntu ISO image file to your computer.
Once the download is complete, as mentioned above, you must burn the Ubuntu ISO file on a blank DVD or copy it onto a USB stick of at least 2GB. In the first case you can use any burning software with ISO file support, such as ImgBurn which I mentioned in my guide on how to burn ISO files .
To copy Ubuntu to a stick, however, you must use the free Rufus application which does not require installation and is extremely easy to use. To download Rufus on your PC, connected to its official website and click on the item Rufus 2.xx which is located in the center of the page. Then start the Rufus-xx.exe program which is downloaded to your PC and click on the Yes button in the window that opens.
At this point, select the drive relating to the USB stick on which you intend to copy Ubuntu from the Device / Drive drop-down menu , click on the CD icon located at the bottom right and select the Ubuntu ISO image . When the operation is complete, select the MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI from the Partition scheme and target system type drop-down menu , set the FAT32 option in the File System drop-down menu and make sure there is a check mark next to the Quick format item .
Finally, click on the Start button , choose to copy the files to the stick in ISO image mode and click on the Yes button to start the transfer of Ubuntu to the USB stick. The procedure should take just a few seconds.
If for one reason or another Rufus does not satisfy you, you can create a USB stick with Ubuntu using the free UNetbootin software . Its operation is very simple. Just put the check mark next to the item Disk image , click on the button […] and select the ISO image of Ubuntu. Next, you need to select the ‘ drives USB where you inserted the key and click OK .
To install Ubuntu you need to insert the DVD or USB stick into which you copied the operating system and restart the system. At the next startup, Windows will not start normally but Ubuntu. If not, proceed to enter the computer BIOS and apply the changes that I suggested earlier (in the second chapter of the tutorial).
If you are trying to install Ubuntu via a USB stick and, despite the changes made in the BIOS / UEFI, it cannot boot the drive, try downloading the bootia32.efi file from this website and copying it to the EFIBOOT folder of the stick (this allows to boot on 32-bit UEFI systems typical of many cheap convertibles). Alternatively, try to re-create the key in Rufus by setting the GPT partition scheme for UEFI as the partition scheme and the target system type and the dd mode as a way to copy the data to the unit.
At this point you should be on the Ubuntu home screen. Then select the Italian language and then the option to try Ubuntu without installing it or to Install Ubuntu (depending on whether you want to try the system in live mode a little or if you want to install it directly on the PC). If you decide to start Ubuntu in live mode, to start the installation procedure of the operating system you need to double-click the Install Ubuntu icon located on the desktop.
In the window that opens, select the Italian language from the left sidebar and press the Install Ubuntu button . Then if you have a fast Internet connection, put the check mark next to the items Download updates during Ubuntu installation and Install third-party software (…) so that during the setup the latest updates for Ubuntu and MP3 codec for the operating system and click on Next .
Now you have to choose whether to install Ubuntu alongside Windows or to erase the disk and install Ubuntu as the only operating system on the computer. Alternatively, you could also select the Other option and manually adjust the disk partitions, but this is an operation intended for more experienced users and therefore I do not recommend selecting it if you are not sure where to get your hands.
At this point, if you have chosen the option to install Ubuntu alongside Windows, use the graph that is proposed to you to adjust the percentage of space to allocate to Ubuntu (or better, to its partition) on your computer’s hard disk and go forward by pressing first on Install and then on Next twice in succession.
Now all you have to do is indicate the time zone to be used (eg Rome ), set the keyboard language (eg Italian ) and go on to enter the username, password and computer name to be used on Ubuntu.
At the end of the procedure (it will take about 15-20 minutes), click on Restart now to restart the computer, extract the Ubuntu DVD or USB stick from the PC and every time you turn on the PC you will be asked if you want to start Ubuntu or Windows . More comfortable than that?
Would you like to try Ubuntu inside Windows or macOS without having to boot from a USB stick or DVD? No problem. By following the instructions in my tutorial on how to virtualize Ubuntu you can create a virtual machine with Ubuntu and test the functioning of this operating system without leaving your Windows or macOS working session.
As easily understood, the performance of virtual machines is not equal to that of a real system, but to test Ubuntu “on the fly” and take the first steps in the latter can be a good solution. Good fun!