Ubuntu is one of the most popular free OS’s in the world. According to distrowatch.com, Ubuntu is ranked number 2 after Mint OS. Moreover, LifeHacker launched a poll in 2012 asking the community which was the most popular Linux distribution and based off over 400 nominations, Ubuntu prevailed victorious with over 51% of the votes (Mint OS was number 2).
There’ are several reasons for this.
First of all, Ubuntu is as mature as it is ubiquitous. With over 20 million users and over eight years of maturity under its belt, Ubuntu (which means ‘humanity towards others’ in the South African vernacular) has proven itself as a veritable competitor not only to other Linux distros but even Windows 8.
Secondly, Ubuntu is famous for almost unlimited personalization. Through Unity, the shell interface developed by Canonical Ltd for Ubuntu, users can completely supplant the shell with others such as Cinnamon or KDE. Basically, if you don’t like something in Ubuntu chances are you can change it.
The other nice thing is that Ubuntu comes bundled with an amalgamation of open-sourced apps such as Firefox and LibreOffice (which is compatible with Microsoft Office). In fact, the Ubuntu Software Center now has more than 40,000 apps; and yes, that’s not commensurate with Microsoft’s 100,000 apps but at the same time, I wouldn’t mistake quantity for quality. Just because you have lots of apps with Windows doesn’t mean all of them are better. Ubuntu gives you access to tons of the apps you’ll love such as Gimp for photo editing (which some people claim rivals Photoshop) to Banshee which manages all your songs and has been a perennial favorite by music lovers since 2008. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Banshee is 100% compatible with iPods and Droids so kiss iTunes goodbye.
That being said, perhaps you’re still a little apprehensive about completely supplanting your faithful Windows install with Ubuntu.
And hey, that’s totally fine – in fact, I still use Windows as my personal and primary OS but thanks to VirtualBox I’m also running Ubuntu as a guest OS.
Let me show you how easy it is to get started. Everything is free and setup is a cinch. All you need is about an hour to spare and you’ll start falling in love – Ubuntu style.
How to Install Ubuntu in Virtualbox
First, download and install VirtualBox. Just keep all the defaults and click your way through the wizard until you’re finished.
It should take no more than 5 minutes to complete but can vary depending on your network connection.
Next, download the latest stable Ubuntu ISO. I recommend the long-term support release over the latest bleed-edge ISO because the former has stood the test of time and is therefore more reliable.
I like reliability.
Alright now let’s put this tasty Ubuntu dish on the stove and crank up the temperature.
Fire up VirtualBox and click the blue New button to create a new VM. Give the VM a name, change the type to Linux and choose the Ubuntu version you downloaded. The 32 bit version is just called Ubuntu while the 64 bit version explicitly has the bit version in parenthesis after the name.
Leave the RAM at 512MB and click Next.
VirtualBox asks you if you want to create a Virtual Hard Drive now.
Yes, yes yes you do! So leave the recommend size alone, leave the defaults and click Create.
Leave the defaults set to Virtualbox Disk Image (VDI) and choose Next.
Okay, now you want your VM to be usable so change the storage method from Dynamically allocated to Fixed size.
Alright, we’re on the homestretch for the VirtualBox preliminaries… hang in there.
Keep the default setting and click Create.
Virtualbox assiduously creates the image and then after a few minutes, it took about 10 minutes on my computer, the progress bar hits 100% and quits.
When the VM creation thingy goes away, press Ctrl + s to open your VM settings.
Next, click Storage in the left pane and click the CD icon in the right pane to browse for the Ubuntu ISO you downloaded in the first steps.
Click OK to close Settings and then start your sparkling new Ubuntu VM by clicking the green Start arrow in the main VirtualBox window.
After a few seconds the Ubuntu welcome window happily shoots on the screen ready to install Ubuntu.
If you want – you can just run Ubuntu directly from a CD without installing it, sometimes this is known as running a Live CD; however, in this case you can click Install Ubuntu.
Ubuntu runs through a quick list to make sure you have the requisite hard drive space, that you’re plugged into a power source and that your network connection checks out.
I always check Download updates while installing because I want the most current stable release with all the fixes. You can join me and do the same.
I also check the MP3 plug-in option because I want to listen to songs on my Linux box.
Since this is a VM with an empty virtual hard drive it’s perfectly fine (and I recommend) that you click Erase disk and install Ubuntu. This won’t erase the hard drive of your Host OS (Ex: Windows 7) only the disk of the Virtual Hard Drive gets annihilated. There’s nothing on the virtual disk because we just created.
Leave the other options as is and choose Install Now.
Okay, we’re about half way through the Ubuntu installation wizard.
Choose your Time Zone then click Continue.
Pick your keyboard layout and keep marching through the install wizard…
Now we can create your system account. Put in your name, computer name and password and click Continue.
You can also Encrypt your Home Folder. This has the benefit of protecting all stuff in your Home folder without actually slowing the system down. Encryption happens autonomously in the background and silently protects all your data with very little impact on your computer. You can check it if you want but I’m going to leave it unchecked because I’m not planning to store any sensitive data on my Virtual Machine.
Alright, now Ubuntu is doing it’s thing. Sit back, relax and grab some green tea (I especially love Kirkland’s Signature Green Tea from Costco).
The install will merrily move ahead and eventually complete in a few minutes. It took about 30 minutes for me.
While the install is finishing up you can click the left and right arrows in the main area to see all the features you’re getting with Ubuntu.
Ubuntu is chock-full of open-source goodness so you’re bound to find the program you need to get going.
Congratulations! Let me take a moment to applaud you for your time and patience.
Good job on this – most people shy from Linux because it feels esoteric or too geeky, but not you – you did it.
Ubuntu is installed and almost ready for you.
After the computer reboots, select the username you created earlier and enter your password.
Success, you’re done!
Now dive in and have fun. There are lots of resources out there to learn about using Ubuntu. Here are my top three: