After having heard so much from your “techie” friends finally, you have decided to try something different and to install Linux on your computer.
Linux 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 that in recent years has managed to win many supporters thanks to its extreme ease of use and good compatibility with the hardware currently in circulation.
Another very important thing to stress is that Ubuntu includes very famous applications such as LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox and is compatible with other software that surely you will have learned about Windows like Chrome, GIMP, JDownloader and many others.
In short: if you want to find out how to install Linux, try Ubuntu and we assure you that you will not regret it.
There is no easier and more convenient way to approach the “penguin” operating system.
What do you say then? Are you ready to start?
If your answer is affirmative, take some free time and read on: find all the instructions you need right below.
Minimum requirements and preliminary operations
Before you get to work and try to install Linux on your PC, make sure you have everything you need to get this done.
A PC compatible with Ubuntu
As already mentioned above, 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 the following:
A processor with 700 MHz or higher, 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 are the recommended requirements to enjoy the Ubuntu experience at full: a dual-core CPU at 2 GHz or higher, 2GB of RAM, 25GB of free disk space.
Regarding support for graphics cards, sound cards, network cards, printers and other hardware components, you can use software like Speccy for Windows that can identify them all very quickly.
A good Internet connection
The ISO image of Ubuntu weighs about 1.5GB. Moreover, during the installation process of the distro you will be offered the possibility to download from the Internet the latest available updates and third-party software that are not included by default in the operating system, such as MP3 codecs. In short: to download Ubuntu and everything necessary for its operation you need a good Internet connection.
A DVD or USB stick on which to copy Ubuntu
Depending on your preferences – and the hardware equipment 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 disk.
In the second, however, you need a flash drive with at least 2GB of free space. The key is formatted, so it must not contain any important files.
A properly configured BIOS / UEFI
To boot the DVD or USB stick with Ubuntu, you may need to enter the BIOS or the UEFI configuration panel of your computer and change some parameters in the latter.
The UEFI, if you do not know it, is an evolution of the traditional BIOS that is found on most PCs sold with Windows 10 or Windows 8.x pre-installed. It’s easier to use than the old BIOS, but it includes security measures that can prevent the Ubuntu installer from starting.
If you are using a fairly recent PC, then go to the UEFI configuration panel to deactivate the secure boot function, which prevents the startup of operating systems that do not have a digital signature (practically all operating systems other than versions more recent Windows).
In some cases, moreover, you may need to activate the BIOS Legacy function that allows you to emulate the operation of the old BIOS on UEFI-based PCs.
But be careful, by activating the Legacy BIOS mode you will lose the possibility to create a dual-boot system with Windows (you will have to continuously switch from the BIOS mode to the UEFI depending on the operating system to be started).
You can find more details about these features and how to change them in my tutorial on how to enter the BIOS / UEFI.
A backup of the data on the PC
The installation of Linux does not automatically delete the files on the disk (it does so when you choose to format the destination disk), but before proceeding it is always advisable to backup your files. Get an external hard drive or very capacious USB flash drives and create a backup 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 and the LTS (short for Long Term Support).
The Long Term Support versions have extended support lasting 5 years and are issued every 2 years, the standard ones are issued every 6 months and have a 9 month support.
Personally, we recommend the LTS, even if they have some function less than the standard versions (or better, later acquire the features introduced in the standard Ubuntu releases).
If you are ready to start, then open the Ubuntu website and click on the Download it now button. On the page that opens, select the version of Ubuntu you want to download from the first pull-down menu, the 32-bit or 64-bit option from the central drop-down menu (depending on whether you want to install the 32 or 64 operating system version bit) and click on the Start download button to download the ISO image of the operating system on your PC.
How to copy Linux to a DVD or USB stick
When the download is complete, you must decide whether to copy Ubuntu to a DVD or USB stick. If you want to use a DVD, insert the disk in the burner and burn the ISO image of Ubuntu (eg ubuntu-16.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso ) with any program suitable for the purpose.
We recommend the free ImgBurn software, but there are many others that you can use. To find out how to burn ISO files in detail, you can consult a guide to the topic we wrote some time ago.
If your computer does not have a DVD player and you want to copy the ISO image of Ubuntu on a USB stick, you can use the free Rufus software that supports all the main Linux distros, all the latest versions of Windows and many LiveCDs related to antivirus, software for partitioning etc.
To download Rufus on your PC, connect to its official website and click on Rufus 2.xx in the middle of the page.
Then start the file Rufus-xx.exe, click on the Yes button and, in the window that opens, select the drive for the USB stick on which you want to copy Ubuntu through the dropdown menu Device/Unit.
When the operation is complete, click on the diskette icon located at the bottom right, select the Ubuntu ISO image and make sure that in the drop-down menu Partition and target system type and File System there are selected the Schema items, respectively MBR partition for BIOS or UEFI and FAT32.
Then put the check mark next to the Quick Format option and click on the Start, Write in ISO image mode and Yes buttons to start copying the files on the USB stick.
Note: if you have a computer based on a 32-bit UEFI system (like many medium-low-end convertible tablets), to start the Ubuntu stick you may need to download the bootia32.efi file from this web page and insert EFI\BOOT folder of the flash drive.
If you can not boot with the stick, try inserting the file we just suggested in the latter and/or re-create the Rufus stick by selecting the GPT partition scheme for UEFI option in the Partition scheme and system type menu destination and choose the dd mode to write data to the unit.
How to install Linux
Now you are ready to install Linux on your PC. Remember that installing a Linux distro on your PC does not mean eliminating Windows, at least not necessarily, as the new system will create a new partition on the hard disk of the computer where you will place and every time you turn on your PC you can choose to start normally Windows or start Linux.
The only precaution you need to have is to leave some free space on your hard drive so that Ubuntu can install itself without problems (20/25 GB should suffice).
At this point, insert the disk or USB drive of Ubuntu into the PC and restart it to boot from Linux.
If the computer does not detect the drive that was copied to Ubuntu 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.
After booting, you should find yourself in front of a language selection screen after a quick upload. Choose your language (using the arrow keys 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 icon on the desktop.
After starting the Ubuntu installation process, select your language item from the left sidebar and click the Install Ubuntu button.
Then put the check mark next to the items Download updates during the installation of Ubuntu and Install third-party software so that the system is already complete with all updates and basic multimedia codecs after installation and click on the Next button.
If you do not have an active Internet connection, you may not even check and make updates after installing the operating system.
If everything is spun smoothly, at this point Ubuntu should detect the presence on the Windows PC and ask you what you want to do: Install Ubuntu next to Windows, delete 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 intact Windows and go forward.
At this point, use the mouse to move the graph through which to select the size of the partition to devote to Ubuntu and complete the installation of Linux on the computer indicating your geographical location (for the time zone), the layout to use for the keyboard and setting the combination of user name and password to be used to access the system.
Also completed this step? Now just wait for a few minutes. When the installation is complete, restart the PC, remove the disk or USB drive from Ubuntu and you will have the possibility to choose which of the two operating systems to start each time the PC is powered on.
If you want to install Linux instead of Windows, select the option Delete disk and install Ubuntu in the initial setup phase or, if you are quite knowledgeable about it, select the Other option to manually manage disk partitions (thus having the possibility to create new ones, delete or format existing ones).