Friday, June 1, 2012

Getting Started With Linux 2012

So you've finally decided to take a look at getting started with a whole new operating system!


Whether you choose to proceed or not, running a linux based OS is one of the tenants of classic geekdome. It immediately grants you 1,000 geek points (completely made up) and causes others to think of you as a Wargames style computer nerd who can hack in and give the hot girl at school an "A" on the test she just failed... then she will totally take you for a ride on her sweet moped!

There are of course many good reasons to consider installing linux besides the nerd glory. Maybe you are tired of paying for Windows or Apple software and want to save some money. Perhaps you have an older computer laying around the house and have been wondering what to do with it. You could even be considering a dual boot between several operating systems (even more geek status!). In any case it is difficult to turn down a 100% free operating system!

In recent years the development of the modern linux environment has boomed. Many distributions are so polished that an unfamiliar user will be able to jump in with no experience whatsoever and feel immediately at home.

The process is actually very simple and should be completed within an hour if you are installing on a fresh machine.

There are many linux distributions to choose from, and picking the one that is best for you is often the most difficult part of installing your first linux OS.

I recommend Ubuntu as your first foray into this new world. The latest version released by Canonical is Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. Ubuntu distributions are released on a six month schedule, in April and October. This version was released April 2012, hence "12.04".

If you are ready, lets just jump right in!

1. Download the Ubuntu disk image

Ubuntu Download
Click the link above and choose your processor architecture 32bit or 64bit. If you are unsure choose 32bit, it will work on any system.

2. Burn an Ubuntu installation disk

From Windows 7

  • Right click on the .iso image file you just downloaded.
  • Choose "Open With"
  • Click "Windows Disk Image Burner"
  • The Windows image burner will open and ask you what CD-drive you want to use.
  • Select your CD drive and click Burn
Once the process is complete your new disk will eject and you will use that to install your brand new OS

3. Install Ubuntu 12.04

Put the disk back into your cd drive and restart your computer.
You should see the computer begin to load the Ubuntu installer. If not then you may need to adjust your boot order. You can easily do this by entering setup when your computer starts the boot process (usually by pressing delete or F2) and rearranging the cd-rom drive to come before the HDD.

Once the Installer starts choose Install Ubuntu.

Next select Download updates while installing and Install third party software. This will let you play common media files like .mp3 and mpeg video. And click Continue.

Choose to Erase disk and install Ubuntu. This will completely erase the files on your hard drive and install a fresh operating system. None of your files will be backed up if you did not already do so! Click Continue to begin the installation.

Now choose your primary installation hard drive. Most computers have only one drive making the choice fairly simple. Once you have chosen the hard drive click Install Now.

Ubuntu will begin installing in the background and you will be asked to create some simple user settings. First choose your current time zone. This will set your computer clock.

Next choose your keyboard layout. If you are unsure of your layout you can use the detection wizard which will ask you a series of questions and help you identify the correct choice.

Time to create your user profile. Input your real name. Then choose an identification name for the computer. I usually use something like "bedroom-desktop" or "matt-laptop". This name will be used to identify your computer on your home network. Finally choose a username and password. I recommend simply using your first name as the username. It is unnecessary to encrypt your home folder. There are only a few scenarios in which you will need to do this, and in most cases it makes your computer boot a little slower.

Once you are done you can wait for the installation to complete. The installer will show you some of the great new features in Ubuntu 12.04. You can choose to watch and read them, or you can walk away and make yourself a refreshing beverage!

Finally the installer will signal you that it is time to restart your computer! Click restart now and remove the installation CD when it is automatically ejected.

Your computer will restart and automatically boot into Ubuntu. Once the first boot has completed, future boot sequences should be faster. You will be asked to enter your password and you will be greeted by the shiny new Unity desktop interface!

Congratulations! You have just installed Ubuntu linux! Now you can enjoy thousands of free programs and the many other benefits of a powerful opensource operating system!

Check out future posts on what to do now that you have installed Ubuntu!

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