Linux for Windows users: Installing Ubuntu

David Robinson

In a February article, we gave a brief introduction to Linux and its history, showing why some Windows users might want to experiment with this open-source OS.

This follow-up story will tell you how to install and run one of the more popular Linux distributions — Ubuntu (pronounced, “oo-boon-too”).

To quickly recap the Feb. 19 Top Story, “An introduction to Linux for Windows users,” Linux has become an immensely important operating system, mostly for back-end services and standalone devices. On the consumer side of things, it’s the basis for Android phones and tablets, routers, network-attached hard drives, and many other devices. Linux might soon be the central operating system in your car.

In that previous article, I also noted that — contrary to what many Windows users believe — versions of Linux have intuitive and familiar graphical user interfaces. In fact, one of the more interesting aspects of Linux is the broad selection of desktop designs. And while Linux has fewer consumer and business applications than are available for Windows, you can find an app for almost any need.

As promised in the February introduction, this article will walk you through installing Ubuntu Linux, one of the most user-friendly distributions (distros) — and one that’s earned a reputation for innovative interface designs.

Linux rarely comes preinstalled on a newly purchased computer (an Ubuntu page has an official list of supported desktops and laptops). So users typically get lots of experience with the installation process. It’s essentially no more difficult than installing Microsoft Office from a CD. Many Linux users run the OS alongside Windows or OS X — and in some cases, both — using a multi-boot configuration. If you’re just getting started with Ubuntu, running it on a virtual computer system is another excellent option. Or, if you have a retired-but-still-functional PC sitting in a corner of your office, Linux is a great way to put the hardware back into service.

For help with setting up multi-boot and virtual configurations, see the following stories. They discuss other operating systems, but the information can be applied to installing Linux.

  • “How to safely test-drive Win10 — step by step” – Oct. 16, 2014, Top Story
  • “Two ways to put Windows 7 and 8 on the same PC” – April 4, 2013, Best Practices article (paid content)
  • “How to run Google’s Android OS on a Windows PC” – March 13, 2014, Top Story
  • “Setting up a Win7/Win8 dual-boot system” – April 11, 2013, Best Practices article (paid content)
  • “How to avoid Win7/Win8 dual-boot hassles” – Feb. 12 LangaList column (paid content)

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2015-04-09:

David Robinson

About David Robinson

David Robinson is a freelance technical writer and privacy activist in Seattle. He's worked as a Linux system administrator, programmer, and English professor. He's also a former Microsoft employee.