Installing (K)ubuntu - Full tutorial

Updated: July 15, 2007; November 30, 2008

Note: I have written a very extensive review on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, which was released on October 30, 2008. This article covers the following topics: Wireless, Bluetooth and webcam support in live session on several laptops, a short installation guide, overview of new features in the latest release including tabbed browsing, Private folders, Guest session, Service script, Network Manager, live streaming, Deskbar, creating bootable USB disks, multimedia support for MP3, Flash, Java, installation and use of popular software like Skype, Google Earth, Picasa, and much more. You should definitely check this one out.

Note: I've written a review of Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon and mainly shows the differences in ease of usability between older versions of Ubuntu and the 7.10 release, including a pair of movies demonstrating Compiz Fusion.

Note: This article has been updated with a number of changes suggested by various readers. All of the changes have been added into the article. Thanks andy1, rich.bradshaw for the suggestions.

Note: This guide was written in the summer of 2006, when Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake was the latest release. It still applies well for the more recent releases of Ubuntu, and will be periodically updated.

Still hesitant to try Linux? Maybe SUSE is not the right flavor for you. Perhaps, you will like Ubuntu more. If you want to skip some of the chapters, here's a short (not full) table of major contents for this tutorial.

  1. Page 1 - Booting into live CD session & beginning of installation
  2. Page 2 - Partitioning
  3. Page 3 - Completing installation
  4. Page 4 - Boot the first time
  5. Page 5 - Internet connection
  6. Page 5 - System updates
  7. Page 6 - New software installation
  8. Page 7 - Configuring system
  9. Page 7 - Graphic card drivers
  10. Page 7 - Sharing the Internet connection
  11. Page 7 - Other system configurations
  12. Page 7 - Transition from Windows to Linux
  13. Page 7 - Most common applications

Why Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is another highly popular distribution, based on Debian Linux, and aimed at the average PC user. It is supposed to be simple to master and easy to use, while offering a broad range of free programs and utilities. Ubuntu also has a very strong community. Since the release of Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake in June 2006, the distribution comes with 3 years of desktop support and 5 years of server support. For the mainstream computer guy, who lives and breathes Windows, Ubuntu might be the easiest way to experience the world of Linux.

Ubuntu offers a Live CD with Ubiquity install tool that allows you to install the product while logged in the live session, without restarting or changing disks. The Live CD offers you a chance to test Ubuntu before you install it; it is also a very convenient way of safely browsing the Internet (as well as a useful rescue tool, if needed).

Of course, Ubuntu is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit processors, Power PC, and ships on CDs and DVDs. The DVD offers a much greater variety of (Debian) packages as well as several desktop environments, although basically the core installation is the same for both CD and DVD.

I decided to try it out.

Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu?

Ubuntu comes to please every eye. The basic Ubuntu has a GNOME desktop, Kubuntu uses the KDE environment, while Xubuntu uses the Xfce environment. Naturally, I chose my favorite, KDE (although I promise one of my next Linux installs will be GNOME).

Although this guide will show how things are done in Kubuntu, there is very little difference between the projects. The operating system kernel is the same and thus all operations and commands will be identical for all three. There is a slight difference in cosmetics between the desktops and in some of the packages. For example, GNOME and KDE have different choices of web browsers and mail clients.

For a more detailed comparison between Kubuntu and Ubuntu (or rather KDE and GNOME), you can read a very interesting article at

To learn more about each project, please visit Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu for more information. You can also visit the official Ubuntu forums for detailed help about specific topics. You can also read about Ubuntu at Wikipedia.

One more thing you should pay attention are the names. Ubuntu version ship out with numbers as well as names. The numbers stand for the year and month of the release. For example, Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn was released in April 2007, and is the current distribution at the time this article was written (updated).

Previous distributions include 6.10 Edgy Eft, 6.06 Dapper Drake, 5.10 Breezy Badger, 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog and 4.10 Warty Warthog. So, if you hear someone refer to Edgy, Dapper, Breezy or Warty, you will be able to tell the difference.

Now that we know who the players are, let's install (K)ubuntu.

OK, so what do we need to install (K)ubuntu?

  1. Minimum requirements call for a PC with Pentium CPU, 32MB RAM and 2GB hard disk space; I warmly recommend at least a solid P3, 256MB RAM and 4-6GB hard disk space.
  2. (K)ubuntu CD (or DVD).
  3. Some patience and spare time.
  4. Optionally - a virtualization product like VMware Player or Server.

Ubuntu is available for download at the links above in the article. Download the relevant .iso file(s) and burn it / them to CD or DVD. Make sure the checksums are correct.

On the next pages, I will provide a step-by-step instructions how to install and properly configure Kubuntu Linux. If you decide to go for Ubuntu or Xubuntu, you should be aware that the core concepts and functions are identical. The only major difference you will experience with the three desktops is in the environmental parameters. Things are called differently and some of the packages will be different. Don't be afraid. Think Firefox and Opera. Think Microsoft Office and Sun Office. Different tools that serve the same purpose.

In this guide, I have used VMware Server as the installation platform. Indeed, if you are afraid to try Kubuntu for real, you can use either VMware Player or VMware Server virtualization products and install Kubuntu as a guest operating system without a risk of damage to your working machine. After you master the concepts, you can then proceed to install Kubuntu on physical rather than virtual hardware.

If you have difficulties getting started with VMware Player, you may want to read my article VMware Player - a great friend first. VMware Server is a more powerful product than the VMware Player and can also build virtual machines.

This article assumes that you are somewhat computer-literate and that you are capable of installing any operating system by yourself, like Windows 98 or Windows XP, for example. If you have doubts about how to proceed from here, you might want to read Installing Windows XP and Installing SUSE Linux articles first. These will give you a fair insight not only into the basic of installing an operating system using a visual and textual interface, but also the concepts of basic system installation procedures like partitioning, network configuration, users, language settings, and more.

Furthermore, Installing SUSE Linux will give you a solid introduction into the world of Linux, the terminology and, as well as give you a fair if somewhat rudimentary overview of the KDE desktop environment. I recommend you read or at least refer to this article for extra information.

In my setup, I will install Kubuntu 6.06 LTS Dapper Drake from a CD. I will install Kubuntu in English, and accordingly all reference to names of menus, functions or applications will be in English. The virtual machine will have 512MB RAM and 6GB hard disk.

So, if you are ready, go to the next page.

At the end of this multi-page article, hopefully, you will have learned:

  1. How to setup and install Kubuntu Linux operating system.
  2. How to configure your basic functionality in KDE desktop environment.
  3. How to configure graphic drivers and system update functions.
  4. How to share your Internet connection.
  5. Optionally, how to use VMware Player and / or Server.

And hopefully, you will have gained another notch of confidence into the familiarity and friendliness of Linux - one more reason why should definitely consider trying Linux.

Warning for the 56K dial-up users: For the purpose of better readability, I will use full-size images rather than thumbnails that link to images. This may cause some slowdown during the loading of the pages.

Again, you do not have to really do any of this. You could just read and practice the next time you really install from scratch. But I suggest you try to follow the instructions and do it for yourself. You will only benefit from it.


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