08 Aug 2017
7 min read
The lack of third-party support for Linux operating systems is the only thing holding back the implementation of Linux by normal users
Since Linux operating systems are quite complicated to begin with, the installation process is difficult as well. Before you begin, you will need basic information of the following components in your system: The first component is the firmware of your computer’s motherboard, normally called the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). BIOS has been the standard hardware-initialising software since 1975, and it’s the first software that loads when your computer boots up. The primary purpose of the BIOS is to provide a good platform for the operating system to work with input and output devices, but it also performs other tasks like testing and starting up the hardware once the computer starts up, as well as identifying the bootloader and booting into your installed operating system.
In recent years, however, BIOS is slowly getting replaced by the modern UEFI firmware that supports modern hardware. Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) works with the new GUID Partition Table (GPT) that supports hard drives larger than two TB. Master Boot Record (MBR), the partition table used by the old BIOS, can only create four primary partitions and any other partition after the four initial partition works as logical partition, segregating partitions within the final fourth primary partition. GPT can create an almost unlimited number of primary partitions; because Ubuntu will need three primary partitions to work well, and with MBR tables, you’re limited to one Windows partition, with three for Ubuntu. You’ll thus be using up the maximum partitioning capability of the MBR tables. To sum all this up, it’s better if you have a system that runs on UEFI than legacy BIOS. To find out what firmware you’re on, simply search for System Information on your Windows OS and look for the ‘BIOS Mode’ entry: If the entry says Legacy, you’re on the older BIOS, whereas if it says UEFI, you’re on the modern UEFI firmware. Some BIOS software also give you the option to switch between legacy and UEFI, but to do this, you might need to reformat everything on your hard drive; if you’ve installed Windows on BIOS,
It’s likely that you have the older MBR partitioning tables that won’t work with UEFI. You’ll need to repartition everything with the newer GTP tables so that UEFI can find the boot headers that will help it boot into the operating system. Once you’ve figured out what firmware you’re on, decide how you want to install Ubuntu. If you’re on legacy BIOS mode, you will need to copy everything Windows onto a single partition and allocate all the other partitions to your Ubuntu install. If you’re on UEFI, you won’t need to worry about partitions and can create as many partitions as you please. So let’s move on to the installation process. Download the latest version of Ubuntu from their website and create a live boot USB. Creating a live-USB is really simple and can be performed easily with the help of tools like Linux Live USB Creator.
Once you have a working live-USB, plug it in and restart your computer. If your computer does not boot from your USB, you might need to change the boot sequence within your system menu during startup. UEFI firmware often display a blue screen with white text, but this menu is often different depending on manufacturers; you can select your boot device from this menu. Once you’ve booted into Ubuntu, try it out for a while, and when you’re ready to install, click on the ‘Install Ubuntu 15.10’ icon on the desktop. After a few basic windows that can easily be navigated through, you come to the installation type screen where you’ll be met with the basic ‘Install Alongside Windows’ option that will automatically manage all your hard-drive partitions for you. This is the simplest option that is, unfortunately, prone to a lot of errors since the system handles everything for you. The safer option would be to go through the installation process manually.
To do this, click on Custom on the Install screen, and you will be treated to a screen that lists out all your hard drives and partitions. All Linux systems work with three separate partitions: /home, /root and /swap. You also need a boot partition, but if you already have Windows installed, Windows has already created a boot partition for you, so you don’t need to worry about this. The /home partition is where all your files and folders are stored, so you can decide the size of this partition for yourself. I would suggest going for at least 30GB. The /root partition is where your Linux system files are installed; Ubuntu’s website suggests a size of at least 5 GB, but I would recommend creating a larger partition because you will need the extra space when you upgrade. The /swap partition acts as the virtual memory, which Ubuntu uses when your RAM memory is not enough. This partition can be anywhere from one to 4 GB, depending on the size of your physical RAM memory. So take a note of all of these partitions and create these three partitions manually during your custom install. Also make sure that all of your partitions are primary when you create them.
After allocating all of these partitions, you should be good to go. Ubuntu should boot up after the installation process succeeds. You might run into a problem where your computer boots directly into Windows. To fix this, you need to make sure Ubuntu is in a higher boot priority than Windows. To do this, launch Terminal from your Ubuntu Live-USB and run the script ‘sudo apt-get install efibootmgr’. Once the EFI boot manager has installed, run ‘efibootmgr’ script and you’ll see all the bootable devices in the terminal window. Figure out the boot sequence number for your Ubuntu installation and run the script ‘sudo efibootmgr –o *,1’; replacing the * with the boot sequence number of your Ubuntu install. Once you’re done with this, you’ve successfully installed Ubuntu alongside your Windows installation. Enjoy the Ubuntu experience!