Ubuntu, and nearly all versions of Linux are fairly easy to install aside from some terminology that Windows users may not be familiar with during the installation process. Of course, that is with a fresh install on a new hard drive…if you want to run Ubuntu on the same hard drive as your Windows installation there is always the possibility that you may mess up your existing Windows partition. A member in our forum, Chris, recently wanted to install Ubuntu but didn’t want to completely erase Windows from his hard drive.
He ended up using the Ubuntu Live CD to do the partitioning of his drive which fortunately worked well for him, but there is always the possibility that it could wreak havoc on your hard drive if it is not done correctly. Now it has been two-weeks since Chris successfully setup the dual-booting of Windows and Ubuntu…and I’m sure he wishes that this new solution was released a little sooner. Just last night he pointed out in the forum that it is now possible to complete the Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu installation in Windows!
I think it is pretty obvious why such a project (which appears to be named “install.exe?”) exists, but here is a quick summary that the homepage for the project provides:
The installation of ubuntu is a major barrier to its spread and use. This project aims to solve this problem by allowing installation from within Windows using an install.exe file, and eliminating the need to partition the hard drive or burn a CD to install. It will allow a faster and more user-friendly installation for Windows users, the ability to install without the risk of data loss through repartitioning, and the ability to install on ultra-portable laptops without CD drives.
Approximately 90% of desktop computers in the world, the target audience of ubuntu, run Microsoft Windows. Most Windows users are familiar with install.exe programs, and know how to use them. Few, however, know how to burn a CD from a .iso file, boot from a CD, shrink partitions, and install ubuntu. By providing Windows users with an installer they are more familiar with, we can ease their learning curve, and open ubuntu to the vast market of casual computer users.
The elimination of the need for partitioning, and thus the chance of data loss, will help ubuntu gain acceptance in the corporate world.
The elimination of the need for an installation CD will allow users without CD burners or spare CDs to try ubuntu, ease burdens on ShipIt, and allow installation on ultra-portable laptops with no CD drives.
There are also a ton of great screenshots available here.
With Ubuntu being this easy to install there is no doubt that it will continue to become more and more popular. According to the forum post on the new installer it currently offers these features:
- Simple and fast installation
- No-risk installation
- No repartitioning the hard disk
- No changing the Windows boot loader
- Easy uninstallation
- Doesn’t use a virtual machine
- Doesn’t significantly reduce performance of the resulting installation
- Resulting installation supports everything a normal install does.
However, it does still have it’s limitations at this point. Right now you can’t customize the various aspects of the installation (it’s pretty much restricted to basic stuff like choosing a username) and it doesn’t allow you to perform the installation on a secondary hard drive. For most people who will be using the installer this isn’t a big concern, but they will hopefully continue to develop it into something that both beginners and advanced users will want to use.
On a little bit of a sidenote, if you’re running an old machine that doesn’t meet the requirements of most operating systems you should checkout UbuntuLite. I came across it the other day when looking at OS’s that support legacy computer systems and it was one of the results. It’s nothing very extravagant because it focuses on providing a “lite” operating system that doesn’t include all of the “bloat” that will typically slow down your system and require more resources. Here are very reasonable requirements:
- CPU – Pentium or equivalent, 150 MHz or higher
- RAM – 32MB of RAM
- HDD – 2GB
- Display – VGA or higher
Now it is time to get ready for Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) which is just a few months away!