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How to install Linux

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How to install Linux: After hearing a lot about it from your “geek” friends, finally you too have decided to try something different and install Linux on your computer.

Linux, as is well known, is an alternative operating system to Windows and macOS which is based on the open source philosophy. Its source code can be viewed, edited and redistributed by everyone freely. There are several versions, called “distributions” or “distro”, most of which are 100% free. Among these, one of the best known is Ubuntu which over the last few years has managed to conquer many supporters thanks to its extreme ease of use and good compatibility with the hardware currently in circulation.

Another very important thing to underline is that Ubuntu includes very famous applications such as LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox and is compatible with other software that you will surely have learned about Windows such as Chrome, GIMP, JDownloader and many others. In short: if you want to find out how to install Linux  try Ubuntu and I assure you that you will not regret it. There is no simpler and more convenient way to approach the “penguin” operating system. What do you say then? Are you ready to start? If your answer is yes, take some free time and read on: find all the instructions you need right below.

Minimum requirements and preliminary operations

Before you get down to work and try to  install Linux  on your PC, make sure you have everything you need to do this.

A PC compatible with Ubuntu

How to install Linux

As previously mentioned, Ubuntu is compatible with most of the computers currently in circulation. However, it is better not to take unnecessary risks and carefully check the compatibility of your hardware with the operating system distributed by Canonical.

The  minimum requirements to run Ubuntu are as follows: a 700 MHz or higher processor, at least 512MB of RAM, 5GB of disk space and a graphics card with support at a resolution of at least 1024 × 768 pixels. These instead are the  recommended requirements to better enjoy the Ubuntu experience: a dual-core CPU at 2 GHz or higher, 2GB of RAM, 25GB of free disk space.

As for the support of graphics cards, sound cards, network cards, printers and other hardware components, I recommend checking component by component by carrying out quick searches on Google (eg “[name of video card] Ubuntu”). If you don’t know the internal components of your computer, use a software like Speccy for Windows  that is able to identify all of them very quickly.

A good Internet connection

How to install Linux

Ubuntu ISO image weighs approximately 1.5GB. In addition, during the distro installation process you will be offered the possibility to download the latest available updates and third-party software from the Internet that are not included by default in the operating system, such as MP3 codecs. In short: to download Ubuntu and everything you need for its operation you need a  good Internet connection .

A DVD or USB stick to copy Ubuntu to

How to install Linux

Depending on your preferences – and the hardware of your PC – you can choose to install Ubuntu via a DVD or via a USB stick . In the first case you can use any empty diskette. In the second, however, you need a stick with at least 2GB of free space. The stick is formatted, so it should not contain any important files.

A correctly configured BIOS / UEFI

How to install Linux

To boot the DVD or USB stick with Ubuntu, you may need to enter your computer’s BIOS or UEFI configuration panel and change some parameters in the latter. The UEFI, if you don’t know, is an evolution of the traditional BIOS that is found in most PCs sold with Windows 10 or Windows 8.x pre-installed. It is easier to use than the old BIOS, but includes security measures that can prevent the Ubuntu installer from starting.

If you use a rather recent PC, then go to the UEFI configuration panel and the secure boot function is disabled  , which prevents the start of operating systems that do not have a specific digital signature (practically all operating systems other than versions newer than Windows).

Furthermore, in some cases, you may need to activate the Legacy BIOS function which allows you to emulate the operation of the old BIOS on UEFI-based PCs. Be careful though, by activating the BIOS Legacy mode you will lose the possibility of creating a dual-boot system with Windows (you will have to continuously switch from the Legacy BIOS mode to the UEFI mode depending on the operating system to boot). You can find more details on these features and the procedures necessary to modify them in my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS / UEFI and on the Ubuntu website .

A backup of the data on the PC

How to install Linux

Installing Linux does not automatically delete the files on the disk (it does this when you choose to format the destination disk), but before proceeding it is always advisable to  make a backup of your files . So get an external hard drive or very large USB sticks and create a backup copy of documents, photos, videos and other files.

How to download Linux

Now you can take action and download Ubuntu on your PC. Before proceeding, however, know that there are two versions of this distro: the standard one and the LTS one (short for Long Term Support). Long Term Support versions have extended 5-year support and are released every 2 years, standard versions are released every 6 months and have 9-month support. Personally I recommend the LTS, even if they have some function less than the standard versions (or better, they acquire the functions introduced in the standard Ubuntu releases later).

When you are ready to start, then connect to the Ubuntu website and click on the Download it now button  ! . In the page that opens, select the version of Ubuntu you want to download from the first drop-down menu, the 32-bit or 64-bit option  from the central drop-down menu (depending on whether you want to install the version of the 32 or 64 operating system bit) and click the orange button Start the download to download the ISO image of the operating system to your PC.

How to install Linux

How to copy Linux to a DVD or USB flash drive

When the download is complete, you need to decide whether to copy Ubuntu to a DVD or a USB stick. If you want to use a DVD, insert the disk in the burner and burn the ISO image of Ubuntu (e.g.  ubuntu-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso ) with any program suitable for the purpose. I recommend the free ImgBurn program , but there are many others that you can use. To find out how to burn ISO files in detail, you can consult a guide on the topic that I wrote some time ago.

If, on the other hand, your computer does not have a DVD player and you want to copy the Ubuntu ISO image to a USB stick, you can use the free Rufus software that supports all the main Linux distros, all the latest versions of Windows and also many LiveCDs. related to antivirus, partitioning software etc.

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 file  , click on the Yes button  and, in the window that opens, select the drive relating to the USB stick on which you want to copy Ubuntu via the Device / Unit drop-down menu  .

When the operation is complete, click on the diskette icon  located at the bottom right, select the Ubuntu ISO image and make sure that  the Schema items are selected  in the Partition scheme and destination system type  and  File System drop-down menus.  MBR partition for BIOS or UEFI  and  FAT32 . Then add the check mark next to the Quick Format  option  and click the StartWrite ISO mode  and  Yes buttons   to start copying the files on the USB stick.

How to install Linux 

Note:  if you have a computer based on a 32-bit UEFI system (like many medium-low convertible tablets), to start the Ubuntu stick you may need to download the bootia32.efi file   from  this web page  and insert it in the EFIBOOT folder  on  the stick. If you are unable to boot with the key, try inserting the file I just suggested to you in the latter and / or re-create the key in Rufus by selecting the option  GPT partition scheme for UEFI  in the Partition scheme and system type menu  destination  and choosing  dd mode  to write data to the drive.

How to install Linux

You are now ready to  install Linux on your PC. Remember that installing a Linux distro on the PC does not mean deleting Windows , at least not necessarily, as the new system will create a new partition on the computer hard disk where it will be positioned and each time you turn on the PC you can choose whether to start normally Windows or boot Linux. The only caveat you need is to leave some free space on the hard disk so that Ubuntu can be installed without problems (20/25 GB should be enough).

At this point, then insert the Ubuntu diskette or USB stick in the PC and restart the latter to boot from Linux. If the computer does not detect the drive on which Ubuntu was copied and normally starts Windows, you must enter the BIOS / UEFI and set the CD / DVD drive or USB drive as the primary boot drive. The whole procedure is well illustrated in my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS / UEFI .

Once booted, after a short load you should be in front of a screen with the language selection . So  choose Italian (using the arrow keys on the keyboard and the Enter key) and select the option to  install Ubuntu . Alternatively, if you prefer, you can also choose the option to  try Ubuntu without installing it  and then proceed with the installation of the operating system on the PC by clicking on the appropriate icon on the desktop.

How to install Linux

After starting the Ubuntu installation process, select the Italian item  from the left sidebar and click on the Install Ubuntu button  . Then put the check mark next to the items Download updates when installing Ubuntu and Install third-party software (…)  so that the system is already complete with all the updates and basic multimedia codecs after installation and click on the Next button . If you don’t have an active Internet connection, you can also leave off the check marks and make updates after installing the operating system.

How to install Linux

If everything went smoothly, at this point Ubuntu should detect the presence on the Windows PC and ask yourself what you want to do: Install Ubuntu alongside Windows , Erase the disk and install Ubuntu or Other (to manually manage the partitions, only for experts). So put the check mark next to the item to install Ubuntu keeping Windows intact and go ahead.

How to install Linux

At this point, use the mouse to move the graph through which to select the size of the partition to be dedicated to Ubuntu and complete the Linux installation procedure on the computer indicating your  geographical position  (it is used for the time zone), the  layout to use for the keyboard and setting the combination of  username  and  password  to use to access the system.

How to install Linux

Once this step is completed, you just have to wait a few minutes. Once installation is complete, restart your PC, remove the Ubuntu diskette or USB stick and you will have the opportunity to choose which of the two operating systems to start each time the PC is turned on.

How to install Linux

If you want to install Linux instead of Windows , select the option  Erase the disk and install Ubuntu  in the initial setup phase or, if you are quite expert in the matter, select the Other option  to manually manage the disk partitions (thus having the possibility to create new ones, delete or format existing ones).

In case of doubts or difficulties, contact the Italian Ubuntu community which is large and always ready to help new users who want to “dive” into the world of Linux.