About a month ago I decided to give Ubuntu ( a very popular distribution of Linux) a go and try it out to see what all the fuss is about. Since I am a big fan of virtualization I decided that I would use Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 to minimize the risk. I could then install it without any chance of messing up my main Windows machine. After a bit of work, I managed to create an Ubuntu Virtual PC and almost everything worked ok.

The main issue I had was that it wouldn’t recognise my sound card on my home pc which was pretty annoying since I couldn’t listen to music or watch a dvd etc. I was convinced that the issue was with Ubuntu so I spent a while reinstalling ALSA drivers and all of sorts of Linux commands but to no avail.

I also download a VMWare Ubuntu Image in order to test that but my sound card still was not detected. While I enjoyed working with Ubuntu I wasn’t completely happy with no sound so I investigated further. I ran the Ubuntu Live CD on my home pc and I was surprised to see that my sound card was actually recognised then. So, it turned out to be the virtualization technology that could not recognize my sound card and not Ubuntu. So this left me with only one solution, install Ubuntu on my PC and dual boot with Windows XP.

I didn’t want to take the chance with the full Ubuntu install while trying to protect my Windows XP setup. The thought of partitioning my drive and messing with boot loaders didn’t really inspire me with confidence. I had come across Wubi a while back on Lifehacker and I decided to give it a try. Wubi allows you to install Ubuntu from within Windows using a familiar Windows installer interface and if you ever want to remove Ubuntu you can just run the uninstaller from within Windows. Pretty neat.

Below I describe step by step how to install Ubuntu using Wubi:

1. Make a backup of any important files on your PC. (Just in case)

2. I recommend downloading the Ubuntu (Alternate) ISO file seperately, the Wubi installer will do this for you but that is just my preference. If you do download the ISO seperately, then just place it in the same folder as the Wubi installer and it will be detected automatically.
Note: Wubi uses the Alternate ISO, available at http://ftp.ussg.iu.edu/linux/ubuntu-releases/feisty/

3. Run the Wubi Installer, and you will see the following screen. (Don’t click Next yet)


4. Before you do anything, click on the Settings button and modify the settings based on your preferences. Since Wubi installs your Ubuntu system to a virtual disk file you can could which drive to install it on. Don’t worry it doesn’t do any partitioning or anything.


System Size: This will be size of your system disk where all Ubuntu applications will be installed to, if you plan of installing plenty of software then you will need to allow plenty of space for this drive.
Home Size: This is the size of your local folder where you personal preferences are stored.
Swap Size: This is the size that you wish to allocate to your swap file ( if you don’t know what this is then leave it at the default).
Installtion Drive: This is the drive where you want to intall the Ubuntu virtual disk drives to, it shows the space that you will have remaining on that drive based on your settings.
Keyboard: Your keyboard preference
Desktop Environment: Choose Ubuntu

Once you are happy with your settings, click the Next button.

5. Enter your preferred language, username and password and click Next

The installer will proceed to install the necessary support files prior to the Ubuntu installation.

6. When prompted to reboot, then choose Reboot Now and click Finish.


7. Once you PC reboots, the actual Ubuntu installation will begin.

8. Proceed with the installation selecting defaults where you are unsure of the selection.

9. When you boot up your computer from now onwards you will be given the option to choose either Windows XP or Ubuntu.

The installation went very smooth for me and now I am happily using Ubuntu for web browsing, watching DVDs, listening to music, blogging, etc.
There is the odd time that I have to boot into Windows to use some application for which I don’t have an equivalent in Ubuntu.

I plan to do a few more posts in the near future about Ubuntu v’s Windows XP (application by application) and also some posts about writing .NET code from within Ubuntu using the Mono Project.