Easing into Ubuntu, part 2

tips_n_tricksLast time, we examined the first few baby steps toward using Ubuntu. This time, we’ll go all the way up to the installation process!

So here you are, well-read on the topic of Ubuntu installations and Ubuntu experiences, in general. You’ve tried out the live CD (it worked, right?), and you’ve verified that your hardware will work with Ubuntu. You’re fairly confident that installation won’t throw you a curve-ball, or maybe not. But if you’ve made it this far and you’re still reading, then you probably want to carry on, right?

Right. Where shall we go next, then?
Well, you’ll probably want to decide whether or not you want to dual boot. Dual booting enables you to have two operating systems on one hard drive, or one computer. If you dual boot Ubuntu and another OS, such as Windows, you’ll be greeted by the GRUB boot loader when you turn on your computer. You may then choose which operating system to boot into by pressing up or down on your arrow keys.

If you do want to dual boot, you’ll have to partition your hard drive. Partitioning can either be done from within Windows with proprietary software such as Acronis Disk Director, or you can simply do the partitioning when you install, without paying $50. Again, you’ll want to read up on partitioning. Many people offer Ubuntu dual boot installation tutorials with photographs, so you can follow along if you printed the instructions out before you embarked on your installation journey, or if you have another computer nearby.

But wait a minute! Don’t start installing Ubuntu just yet; you need to take care of a few things first:

  • Make sure you have several free gigabytes of space on your hard drive–somewhere around 10 GB or more. You can’t install an operating system if you don’t have enough space!
  • Defragment your hard drive. You may need to defragment a few times, as the first time doesn’t always do the trick.
  • Backup, backup, backup! Make sure your life won’t be ruined if something goes wrong with installation.
  • Ideally, you’ll have your installation CD for your non-Ubuntu OS. It’s a good idea to be sure you can recreate your old system setup. Remember, there’s no guarantee that something won’t go wrong.

You’re probably ready to install, at this point. If you want to wipe out your old OS and just install Ubuntu, then the process should be a piece of cake, although you may still run into problems. See how easy it is here. However, if you want to dual boot, make sure you know what you’re doing. People tend to make the most mistakes when they partition their hard disks, and you don’t want to be another horror story! This guide, written by Aysiu, a self-described “regular on the Ubuntu forums,” is excellent for dual booting, and comes complete with photographs. Don’t forget to back up any important files, and good luck!

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