Installing Ubuntu. Obtaining files required

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1 Installing Ubuntu Historically, Linux has required its own private space on your hard disk. Achieving this required making some fairly fundamental alterations to the files on your hard disk that could result in all your data being lost if anything went wrong (although I've never known this happen). We will install it in a much safer way. If you don't already have Linux installed on your machine, I would recommend installing it as a Virtual Machine you run a program that pretends to be a separate computer and then install Linux on this virtual computer. Although this method of running Linux requires a more powerful computer than would be required to run it on its own, there are many advantages: you don't have to reboot your computer to use it, and you can use your normal programs at the same time as Linux programs (and indeed copy things between them). If you decide you don't require Linux any more, virtual machines are easy to delete. Obtaining files required Running Linux as a virtual machine can be done on a computer running either Windows or Mac, or indeed Linux 1, and these instructions should work for all platforms although what you see on the screen may vary. We need to download two pieces of software: the virtual machine program and a Linux install CD. We will be using the VirtualBox virtual machine software and the Ubuntu version of Linux; the following paragraphs describe where to find these files. VirtualBox is produced by Oracle can be obtained from Visit the download page and download the version appropriate for your computer, listed under VirtualBox Platform Packages. If you are installing on a Windows machine, you need VirtualBox for Windows hosts ; on a Mac, VirtualBox for OS X hosts. The Ubuntu download page ( has several options for installing, we want the Download and install option which will allow us to download a CD image. This will download a large file (~700MB) containing the entire contents of a CD. The other options are: Try it from a CD or USB stick or Run it with Windows ; my experience with running Linux directly from a CD is that it is painfully slow and impossible to do any realistic amount of work but running from a USB stick may provide a better experience. The third option provides an alternative to using a virtual machine for the Windows platform. We should now have have two files: VirtualBox win.exe and ubuntu desktop-i386.iso (the actual file names may vary depending the exact version downloaded). The VirtualBox software is easy to install: do this, getting help from your system administrator if necessary. 1 It's penguins all the way down.

2 Creating a virtual machine and installing Ubuntu After installation, we need to create a virtual machine on to which to install Linux. There is nothing inherently difficult about this, and there is plenty of documentation available, but following is an illustrated guide to take you through the process. The virtual machine wizard Run the VirtualBox program and a window like the one shown in Illustration 1 should appear. Illustration 1: Opening screen for VirtualBox, ready to create a new virtual machine. Click on the New button to start the process of creating a new virtual machine, opening a window like the one shown in Illustration 2.

3 Illustration 2: The "Wizard" (helper) to create a new virtual machine. The next window, see Illustration 3, allow us give the virtual machine a name to distinguish it from any others we might install (and there is no reason why multiple machines couldn't be installed, or even run, simultaneously). We will call this virtual machine Ubuntu : the Illustration 3: Naming the virtual machine.

4 operating system and version are filled in for us automatically but these are just labels to help organise things and are of little consequence. Choose the amount of memory After clicking Next, a window like Illustration 4 asks how much memory should be reserved for the virtual machine. Once the virtual machine is running, all of this memory (plus a little extra) is used by the program and so not available for any thing else. Picking the right amount of memory is tricky, although it can be changed later, because it requires balancing how much the operating system to be installed on the virtual machine requires compared to the operating system the virtual machine is being installed on requires. Recent version of Ubuntu recommend 1GB (=1024 MB) of memory, so this is what has been chosen here and this is a reasonable if your computer has 2GB memory or more. You may have to reduce the amount if your computer has less than 2GB. Illustration 4: Amount of memory to reserve for the virtual machine. The virtual hard disk Having chosen the right amount of memory for the virtual machine, we need to create a hard disk (actually a file on your current hard disk that the virtual machine is allowed to alter). This is done in several steps: firstly, as in Illustration 5, we create a new disk but we could reuse an old if we already had created one.

5 Illustration 5: Virtual hard disk for machine. Next we are asked for the type of virtual hard disk we would like to create. As shown in Illustration 6, this is just a list of formats that different virtual machine programs use and the Illustration 6: Type of virtual hard disk to create

6 default option (VDI VirtualBox Disk Image) is perfectly fine. You might use the other options if you were creating a disk image for somebody else who used different virtual machine software. The window shown in Illustration 7 allows to choose between a fixed size hard disk (the entire Illustration 7: How storage is to be allocated. file is allocated at once) or a dynamic size (the file gets larger as needed but will be no larger than the size we ask for. There is a slight performance advantage to a fixed size but we'll choose dynamic size so we don't create a huge file on the hard disk straight away. Illustration 8 Is a dialogue asking for the size of the hard disk to create (either dynamically or fixed) we'll choose 8GB, which is enough for a toy Linux installation but probably not enough for real work. The recommended minimum amount for Ubuntu is 15GB.

7 Illustration 8: Size of virtual hard disk. Ready to create a new virtual machine Finally, Illustration 9, we are ready to create the virtual machine. Click on the Create button to start the process (this has to be done in two windows on some versions of VirtualBox). The virtual hard disk (a large file) will be created at this time, so it may take a little time before the virtual machine is ready for use (Illustration 10). Illustration 9: Ready to create virtual machine.

8 Illustration 10: The machine is ready to start.

9 Altering a few settings Before we start the virtual machine (by selecting the virtual machine and clicking the start arrow) there is one final change to make to get the best performance out of the machine: Ubuntu is quite graphics intensive and the default is not good enough. Click on settings, to Illustration 11: Changing the graphics capabilities. bring up the dialogue in Illustration 11, and select Display and increase the amount of video memory to 64MB (or more) and select Enable 3D Acceleration.

10 Starting the virtual machine The virtual machine we've created can be started by selecting it and the clicking on the green Start arrow. Starting a virtual machine for the first time brings up a window like that in Illustration 12, although there be an intermediate window informing you about auto capture keyboard 2, where you select what to boot from initially. We would like to boot from the Illustration 12: Select media to install from. Ubuntu installation CD image that we downloaded earlier. Clicking on the yellow folder-like icon on the righthand side brings up a file selection window, see Illustration 13, find the Ubuntu CD image and open it. Illustration 14 shows the virtual machine ready to boot the Ubuntu install CD. 2 Clicking on the virtual machine window captures all the keyboard input so things like using the keyboard to change windows may not work. Also, your mouse may disappear. Pressing the key mentioned in the window (left apple key on a Macintosh, right control key on Windows) frees both the keyboard and mouse so they will work as normal again.

11 Illustration 13: Selecting the Ubuntu CD image. Installing Ubuntu from here is left as an exercise and there is plenty of documentation available to help (e.g. Note: whenever the installation refers to your computer or your hard disk, it is taking about the virtual machine and it's disk not your computer. In particular, you will be asked if you'd like to use the whole hard disk to install Ubuntu, see Illustration 15, with suitably dire warnings about everything else being deleted. Here, it means the whole of the virtual hard disk and not your computer's hard disk Illustration 14: Ubuntu image is selected.

12 so it is safe to say yes. The are two ways you can confirm this: firstly, when you are asked about using the whole hard disk, Ubuntu notes that there is no operating system currently installed (your real hard disk would have). In the following window, the hard disk to be installed on will be called VBOX HARDDISK and will be quite small (we asked for about 8GB) compared to your real hard disk, which is probably several hundred GB. Installing Ubuntu will take about 30 minutes or so, depending on the speed of your computer. Illustration 15: Warning dialog. Note that no operating system is detected.

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