So you have a Microsoft Windows computer. You finally realize that the reason you have no hair on your head is because you pulled it all out at your computer. It is full of viruses, malware, and a host of other programs attempting in vain to stop these from making their home on your machine. Also, you heard the news that Windows is fully compromised and that none of your data is safe so long as you are using a Windows machine.
You are ready for a change, but you don’t know what to do, or the person who suggested this to you is far away from you and unable to drop by your place to make it happen.
Don’t worry. That’s what this blog post is about.
Since you may need to be completely offline, or without a second computer to read this tutorial on, you may want to print this guide. The only part not available currently is the video in step 6.
>>PRINTABLE PDF VERSION OF THIS GUIDE-UPDATED-150117<<
1. Back up the files you don’t want to lose on an external drive
Before you begin, you will need to back up all your photos and other documents from the machine you are about to wipe. This process takes time so it is a good idea to start right away. It is strongly recommended that you purchase a USB drive of however many gigabytes you need to save all your documents. You will be surprised at how small your files are unless you have a lot of videos. For the average ‘simple user’ you can probably survive with an 8 gigabyte drive, but for people with a bunch of videos you will probably need to consider buying a huge external drive of a Terabyte or so. This is a great tool to have regardless because you will use it in the future to do back ups of your computer on. Also, the amount of money you are going to save on virus software when you switch to Ubuntu will pay for your drive many times over over the years! A quick checklist of files you might want to keep:
- emails (if you use an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird): if you have a scary webmail account like hotmail your emails will be sitting unsafely there so you won’t need to back them up
- word processing documents (resumes, letters, legal docs, etc)
- PDFs (ie. invoices, e-bills, etc)
- videos (ie. videos from your phone you dumped there, movies, etc)
2. Obtain a 2 gig+ usb drive
Great! All your files are saved safely on your external drive. Now you need a *second* and *dedicated* drive which will be used for the installation of Ubuntu. Yes, it’s possible also to use a DVD or CD rom but since you may need to adjust things after installing, we have found the USB drive to be the cheapest and most flexible tool over the long term. Plus, you end up with a second USB drive which you can use for transporting files around (one for you, one for the spouse, for example). So, stick with our suggestion ok? The great news is that as of today’s date, you can do this with a 2gig USB drive or less which is either free or *extremely* cheap. In fact, most people you know will have one lying around on their desk they will lend you. Advise them to wipe sensitive data off the drive before giving it to you, of course!
3. Download and install the program called Unetbootin
Go to this website (http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net) and download the appropriate (in the case of this tutorial Windows) version of the software. This software will be used to change your dedicated install drive into one that will boot when you turn your computer on (like a bootable CD rom). Here are two screenshots to make it more simple:
4. Install Unetbootin
Go find that file you just downloaded to your computer. Double click it. Follow all the instructions and give it all the power it needs to get installed. Windows may fight. You fight back!
5. Download the latest Ubuntu from the official Ubuntu.com website
Here is an illustrated step-by-step. Of course if you have money, I encourage you to give some money but it is not mandatory whatsoever. In this example I’m showing skipping straight to the download.
6. Create the Bootable USB Drive Using Unetbootin
So you have your 2gigabyte (or bigger) dedicated USB drive as described in step 2.
You’ve downloaded and installed Unetbootin in step 3 and 4
You’ve now got the ISO file on your harddrive from steps 5
Now you need to make your USB drive think that it is a bootable CD ROM (essentially). Instead of me sending you a bunch of screenshots, just watch this video that Lecture Snippets created because the flow is still exactly the same even though the numbers have changed. Just follow his instructions as he puts his own downloaded ISO image onto his USB drive.
NOTE! Make sure that ALL USB DRIVES EXCEPT YOUR DEDICATED UBUNTU 2GIG+ DRIVE ARE REMOVED FROM YOUR MACHINE. Just check. Trust us.
7. Reboot and make sure your computer BIOS is set to boot first from the USB drive
When Unetbootin is finished, it will give you the option of rebooting now. Likely you did it and didn’t know that you had to go in and change some BIOS settings. No problem. All you have to do is reboot your computer (again) and press the correct keyboard key for your particular computer. In many cases its F12 or F10, etc. Usually you can find this key displayed on the black screen right before your computer boots into your operating system. It only shows up for a few seconds so it may take you several reboots to read the keyboard key you need. What you are looking for is ‘Bios settings’ or ‘Change boot order’ or something like that. It might take you a few tries but you’ll get it. Online search engines will also likely have it if you know your computer mother board model number.
8. Choose the ‘Install Ubuntu’ option when you see the Unetbootin blue screen.
When you end up on the Unetbootin blue screen, this means ‘success’! This means you are so close to finished you can taste it. Great work so far! In this case we are going to wipe away that pesky Windows operating system forever so choose the ‘install Ubuntu’ option. It will start the installation process which is amazingly easy and clean. Just answer all the questions and make sure you have a hard-wired internet connection. If you don’t, you may have to find one. At some point you are going to need to update the operating system so you might as well do it at the same time as your install so you are starting on the right foot.
9. Watch this quick familiarization video
This is a nice quick familiarization tour of your new found joy. Give it a quick watch so you know some basic stuff to get around.
10. Get connected to a local Ubuntu Community!
In the Vancouver area here, there is a big Ubuntu Vancouver meetup group as well as an Ubuntu Delta group. This connection will help you greatly realize the full potential of the Ubuntu Project which is, please note, much more than just an operating system.