Installing Ubuntu Linux

Warning

Do not attempt these steps unless your machine passes the test using the VMware test program provided earlier. If needed, you may need to activate the “virtual extensions” in your BIOS. See me if that is needed.

This is a somewhat tedious process. I have provided images for each step, so just follow this guide and you should get a working system.

The Ubuntu Linux distribution is one of the most popular on the market today. You are free to use any version of Linux you like, but I am going to be using Ubuntu version 16.04 (LTS) for this class. The LTS stands for “long term support”, which means they intend to keep this version stable for at least five years.

To get started, we need to download an .iso file. You can burn this file to a DVD if you want to install Linux on a real machine using the DVD. However, we will just use the .iso file and mount it into a “virtual” DVD player in our virtual machine.

Here is the link I used for this install:

Note

The above link takes you to a page requesting a donation to support the project. You are free to do hat, but it is not necessary. Just look below the message for the “Not now, take me to the download” link.

This is a desktop version of Linux, and the resulting virtual machine will look like something you might see on real hardware.

Note

There is a non-graphical version available, called a server edition. I actually prefer to use that for most of my own work. However, we need the graphical environment for this class, so we will stick with the desktop version

Warning

This is a big file, on the order of 1.6GB. It will take a while to download. Go check your Facebook page while you wait! (Nah, study something useful!) YMMV!

Once the file is on your system, proceed as follows:

Start up VirtualBox

Launch VirtualBox using the program icon on your start menu.

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At the top left of this screen, you should see a “New” button. Click on that to create your first virtual machine

Create a New Machine

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Enter the name you want to use to refer to this new machine, and indicate what operating system you will be installing. I name the machine after the class it will be used for. We will install a 64-bit version of Ubuntu Linux.

Click on “Next” to continue.

Configure the basic Machine

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The first thing we need to do is allocate the memory this machine will use. This must be “available” on your real machine. I do not try to run virtual machines on any system with less than 4GB of physical RAM. Allocating 1GB, as shown here, leaves 3GB for your normal system use. That usually works fine.

Click on “Next” to continue

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On this screen, we will start creating a virtual hard disk for our new machine. This disk will actually be a single file on your system. Just click on “Create” here.

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There are several different formats for the disk image. We will use the default shown here. Click on “Next” to continue

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We will create a special file that holds the hard disk contents. This file is configured ts a “Dynamically Allocated” file that grows in size as needed (up to the limit we will set next).

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In this screen, we name the directory where the file will be created. Leave this setting alone, which will keep all virtual machine files in one place. The size you need depends on the operating system, and how much “stuff” you plan to install. Make sure you have enough space on your real hard drive for this. 20GB is enough for our work.

Click on “Create” to continue

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Our basic machine is now ready. However, it has no operating system on it, so we really cannot use it. The next series of steps will actually install the Ubuntu system.

Install the OS

Start off by clicking on the “Settings” button on the above screen.

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This panel let’s you fine tune your machine. There are many things we can configure, but we will keep this simple.

We need to “insert” the Ubuntu installation DVD, which is really our .iso file. Click on the “Storage” item on the left of this screen.

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Here we will “insert” our Ubuntu .ISO file in the virtual DVD. Click on the DVD image (where it says “Empty”, then on the DVD icon on the far right side. You will be able to browse to find the .iso file you downloaded earlier. Once you find that, click on “Open” in the search panel. Once that has been done, You are ready to launch your machine.

Click on “OK” to return to the main VirtualBox screen. Your machine is now ready to “Power Up”

Launch your Virtual Machine

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Now, just click on the green arrow labeled “Start” to start your machine up!

Note

When we launch this new machine, what happens is exactly what happens when you install an operating system on a new computer. The machine “boots” up and loads software from the DVD. In our case, the virtual machine will read the virtual DVD and do the same thing.

This is what you will see after a few moments:

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Our new machine is actually running now.

This screen is offering to let you try Ubuntu out without actually installing it.

Note

If you were running this on your real hardware (after “burning” the .iso file to a real DVD, you could play with Linux without really installing it. We will not do that here.

Click on the “Install Ubuntu” button to proceed.

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The installation may need files that are not on the .iso image, including any special drivers for your hardware. If your real machine is connected to the Internet, it is best to let this happen. Other wise, you can add missing stuff later. For now, just click “Continue”.

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Don’t let this warning scare you. The installation will happen on the virtual hard disk, not your real hard disk! Nothing bad is going to happen here!

Just click on “Install Now” to proceed.

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Another warning. Just click on “Continue” to continue.

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Now, we begin the actual installation. Here we decide where we live. Although this says “Chicago” that is correct for us, living in the same time zone. Click on “Continue” to proceed.

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Next , we indicate what kind of keyboard we are using. Just click on “Continue”

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On this screen we will create our user account. Linux actually has two users after we set things up. One is a normal user, the one we configure here. The other is a “Super User” who goes by the name of “root”. That user is special, and not to be used lightly. The “super user” has the power to really mess up the machine. In most modern Linux systems today, the first user created during installation is given the power to assume the “super” powers. We will see that later.

For now, just set things up any way you like. I am showing how I configure my virtual machines in this screen. When you are happy, click on “Continue”.

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The installation will proceed at this point. It will take a few minutes to complete, and there is nothing to do but watch.

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When the installation is completed, you will see this screen. There is no need to “uninstall” the DVD, just click on “Restart Now” and your machine will fire up for the first time as a full Linux system:

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Here, you enter the password you set up earlier. (You do remember it, right?)

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And now, you are running a real Linux system!. We have some tuning to do for our purposes, but you are actually running a complete second operating system as a program on your real computer at this point. This is not the same as “dual booting” which requires that you split your hard disk up into two partitions, one for each OS. We can actually create as many virtual machines as we like (assuming we have enough hard disk space) and run then as needed. I actually have about a dozen VM systems on my primary development MacBook!

The first thing you should do is clean up this desktop. Right-click on the icons on the left side and select “Unlock from Launcher” to remove the unneeded icons. We will not be buying stuff from Amazon, or using “Libre Office” in this course. When you are done, this is all we need:

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Now, click on the top icon on the left.

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This screen lets you search for a program. Enter “Term” in the search box, and press “Enter”. You should see the screen above.

Click on the “Terminal” application to launch it.

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After it is running, an icon for that program will appear on the left side. Right-click on that one, and select “Pin to Launcher” to make it always available.

Personally, I do not like white on black for my terminal window. That is hard to read when I project screen images, and uses up a lot of ink if I decide to print out a screen shot. So, I usually change my “preferences”. To do that, right-click on the terminal window.

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Select “Profiles”

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Click on the “Colors” tab in this screen.

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Uncheck the “Use colors from system theme”, then select a different theme. I am using “Solarized Light” for now.

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This is my new setup.

Install Guest Additions

One last step will make the system work much better for you. We need to install a package that tunes up your virtual machine for your operating system. To do this, click on the “Divices” menu item at the top of your VirtualBox window.

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Next, click on the bottom menu item to “insert” the virtual DVD. The system will offer to run this install for you. You will need to provide your password for it to work.

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Just enter your password here, and let it run. Close the terminal window when it completes.

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Once you get to this point, your virtual machine is ready to explore. It is not quite ready for course work, but take a break before continuing!