How to Install Ubuntu Desktop

Get your hands on a classic Linux flavor.
Ash Ash (362)
25 minutes

Ubuntu is one of the most popular flavors of Linux you'll find online. It's free, open-source, and has a huge community that's been thriving for well over a decade, which makes it easy to find help when you need it.

Ubuntu receives an update once every six months. For some, this is appealing. Updates are sparse, and applications are less likely to be throttled by an unexpected change from the update.

Ubuntu can be installed on really old, basic hardware as well as newer machines with modern specs. For example, if you have an old Windows XP machine, you are likely aware that XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. You can still make use of it by installing Ubuntu. You may even find that it runs faster!

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Ubuntu requires very little spec-wise to run. You will need:

  • 2 GHz dual-core processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 25 GB of storage (only 5 GB needed for minimal edition)
  • 1034 x 768 resolution screen

If you aren't sure whether or not your machine meets the minimum requirements, you can always test Ubuntu before installing it.

The latest Ubuntu installation package is available on the Ubuntu download page. Visit the website and download the installation file.

It can be used for creating an installation disk, flash drive, or even installation media for a VM.

To make an Ubuntu installation disk, the Ubuntu download file must be written to a DVD or flash drive (see next step). You can prepare the disk using Mac, Windows, or a Linux PC.

MacOS users can use Disk Utility to write the .iso file to a DVD as an installer disk.

Depending on your edition of Linux, the .iso file can be mounted using command line or the Disk Image Mounter for GNOME environment users.

Windows 10 users can right-click the .iso file and choose Mount. A window will appear to complete the process.

If you don't want to use a disk, an installation flash drive will work just fine. You can prepare the drive with a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC.

MacOS, Linux, and Windows users alike can use third-party imaging software to write the bootable drive. There are plenty of free tools online, we like to use the open-source application known as Etcher.

Just point the imaging application to your flash drive and Ubuntu installation file location.

Try Ubuntu

If you want to test Ubuntu without installing it, boot the computer with the installation disk inserted or flash drive connected. When the Ubuntu installer media loads, choose the option to try Ubuntu, rather than install it.

This will let you experiment with Ubuntu to see if you like it or if your hardware is up to spec for running the OS.

Install Ubuntu

Connect your installation flash drive or insert your installation disk into the machine on which you would like to install Ubuntu. Turn the machine on.

You will be greeted by a setup wizard. Choose Install Ubuntu and confirm your keyboard layout when prompted. Click Continue.

The wizard will ask you to choose the OS installation size. The minimal version of Ubuntu is basic and includes no additional software. It takes up only 5 GB of space. The normal edition comes with typical Linux goodies, utilities, games, and more. It takes up 25 GB of space.

There are boxes you can choose to enable on this screen regarding Ubuntu updates and third-party graphics software. It's up to you to determine whether or not you want to enable those features right now.

The last screen will ask if you want to install Ubuntu exclusively or alongside another OS as a partition.

Click Install Now to start the installation process. You will be asked to confirm your storage settings before proceeding.

Ubuntu Installation

It's not a PC without a personal profile! To finish the installation, you'll need to configure some information about the new default profile for the Ubuntu machine.

If your location isn't automatically detected, choose it from the map when prompted.

Enter your name, choose a computer name, and decide what username to use for the new profile. A password will need to be set and entered twice to confirm it. If it does not meet the minimum password requirements, you will receive a notice.

The Ubuntu installation will finish in the background. While it finishes, you can explore Ubuntu and its features from the live desktop.

When the installer is complete, you will see a pop-up window titled "Installation Complete." Click Restart Now to finish the installation.

When the machine boots, it will load into Ubuntu. You can now log in with your new profile.

Install Ubuntu on Virtual Machine

Ubuntu can also be installed on a virtual machine (VM). The OS installation steps tend to vary between different VM applications, but the process is usually straightforward.

Open your VM software, create a new machine, make sure it meets the minimum spec requirements listed above. Point the VM software to your Ubuntu download media and boot the virtual machine. Follow the installation prompts to complete the install process using the steps above.

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