Choose Your Install Method
Once you've burned the Ubuntu ISO file to a disc, it's time to decide which installation method works best for you. Basically, you have three options:
- Use the Windows Ubuntu Installer (also known as Wubi) to install Ubuntu as a secondary OS on your PC. This is the best option for anyone trying Ubuntu for the first time, as it allows you to remove the entire Ubuntu installation from within the Windows uninstall tool. If you're not yet convinced that Ubuntu is for you, this method will give you the most peace of mind.
- Install Ubuntu as the primary OS on your PC, keeping Windows in a secondary partition. This is the default method of installation offered through the Ubuntu Live CD, and it works well for people who are committed to keeping Ubuntu. Your Windows partition will be shrunk down to about half its original size, and your Windows files will be accessible from within Ubuntu.
- Install Ubuntu as the only operating system on your PC. This method is best for people who are committed to giving Ubuntu the old college try, and who aren't likely to back out. Generally speaking, this is only recommended if you've tried Ubuntu before and liked it, or if you're installing the OS on a secondary machine.
Option 1: Windows-Based Installation
If you don't want to mess with hard-disk partitioning, but you'd still like to try out Ubuntu on your PC, you're in luck. Just insert the Ubuntu CD into your optical drive and choose Install inside Windows from the Ubuntu CD Menu. The Wubi installer puts Ubuntu into your existing Windows partition just as if it were a Windows application (albeit one that required 5GB of disk space). After installation, Ubuntu will appear as a menu option in your Windows boot menu (which you may now be seeing for the first time during boot-up). This is a nearly hands-free initial installation if you simply accept the default settings. And if you don't like the results, you can use the Wubi installer to remove all traces of it in a few clicks.
Option 2: Live CD Installation, Keeping Windows
To retain your existing Windows partition alongside your new Ubuntu partition, boot from the Ubuntu Live CD and double-click the Install icon on the desktop. Enter your time zone and location information when prompted to do so, and you'll find yourself at the 'Prepare disk space' screen. If Ubuntu detects a Windows partition, it will automatically set the partition method to Guided - resize.
By default, Ubuntu wants to set your Windows partition to a minimal size, but you can even out the distribution a little if you prefer. Just slide the divider bar between the Windows and Ubuntu partitions to a setting that you're happy with, and then click Forward. The rest of the installation process should be smooth sailing.
Option 3: Live CD Installation, Sans Windows
If you're not planning to keep Windows on your Ubuntu machine (or if Windows isn't installed there to begin with), this method of installation is pretty easy. Just select Guided - use entire disk at the 'Prepare disk space' screen, and the rest of the install process is the same as in the other two scenarios.