Ubuntu 8.10 installation
Some notes on making it all happen without problems.
1 Check the PC before starting
Check BIOS (typically F2 or 'Del' key during booting) to enable SMART
reporting for HDD, and to disable any anti‑virus style protection
against writing the Master Boot Record (MBR) during installation. You
might also want to check the boot sequence goes to your CD/DVD drive
first then to the HDD.
If setting up dual-boot machine with Windows, then boot in to Windows
and do a check of the disk by right-clicking on the C: drive in
Explorer, selecting the “Properties” option, then the Tools tab, then
click on the “Check Now” button and tick the “Automatically fix file
system errors” and (depending on your PC's age, patience and degree of
paranoia / experience) tick the option to “Scan for and attempt
recovery of bad sectors”. Then click on the “Start” button and it will
tell you it cannot be performed just now and do you want it scheduled
for next boot time. Click on the “Yes” button and then restart your PC.
When windows reboots, it will give you 10 seconds to cancel, then start
disk checking. The file-system check typically takes a few minutes, the
surface scan for bad sectors typically a few hours. Eventually it will
be done and have booted in to windows as usual. Then you can check for
the results of the activity by going to the control panel and then
“Administrative Tools” then “Event Viewer” and look in the log file for
Applications to find the output of chkdsk (possibly listed as
“Winlogon”). Usually there are some minor thing that needed
2 Get the Ubuntu CD and test it
Download the Ubuntu CD image (ISO file) from http://www.ubuntu.com/ and burn that
on to a CD using whatever program you have (e.g. Nero for windows),
ideally doing a verify after writing it. This allows you to boot as a
“Live CD” where you can try out the system before doing anything to the
Once you have the CD, boot up and when the CD starts select the option
to test the CD first. This is another ten minutes or so of largely
wasted time, but a wise precaution as you want to know the software you
are about to try/install is not corrupted!
Then boot to the option to run/try the software and see if your basic
PC hardware is supported OK (video, sound, wi-fi, network card, etc).
Generally the “win modem” dial-up cards won't work, maybe not some
types of USB modems, but if you have broadband with an Ethernet
connection it should be just fine.
Printer support is variable, check out http://www.linuxfoundation.org/en/OpenPrinting
for their database of which printers work and to what degree. If you
are lucky enough to have a PostScript printer (usually the better laser
printers) they normally work perfectly. I found the moderately priced
OKI colour laser C3600 worked perfectly for text and graphics, though
not terribly good colour rendering for photographic work (a common
issue for laser printers).
3 Proceeding to install Ubuntu
If all goes well, the Live CD allows you to install Ubuntu and gives
you the choice of using the whole disk (wiping windows and all other
data) or re-partitioning the disk to dual boot.
The dual-boot option is probably the
best until you are sure you are happy, and if you want to play
any games that need full windows access (rather than a virtual machine
running windows under Linux). Again, just allow this to go on and take
break as it will take an hour or more depending on the size of disk to
be re‑partitioned. When asked during installing, usually say 'no' the
testing the keyboard and just select a standard UK keyboard layout.
The user name you use for installing Ubuntu will become the first
account, and has administrative ('sudo') privileges. Once you are happy
with everything at the end you can create new accounts for other users.
By default they won't have admin rights so can't install most software,
which is a good idea for accounts to be used by children and any
"technically challenged" users.
When completed, you can boot into Ubuntu and then allow the update
manager to patch you system first. With 8.10 this is quite a lot of
stuff now, with 9.04 much less, but allow it to go on and do the lot.
You may also want to install the 'non-free' driver for your graphics
card (System → Administration → Graphics Drivers), this is needed for
best performance. Then probably restart the PC as the kernel and/or
graphics driver may be changed.
You might want to boot in to Windows at this point if you are doing a
dual-boot system as following a re-size of the NTFS partition that
Windows lives on it will be marked as 'dirty' and so Windows should be
allowed to do its disk check stuff again, then reboot (no doubt!) and
see if Windows has come up happy finally. Then reboot yet again and go
back to Ubuntu to continue configuring stuff...
4 Configuring Ubuntu for common stuff
Finally, you have the basic installation and can customise it with the
sensible options. First change the clock to use NTP by going to it
(System → Administration → Time and Date), unlocking and then change
the configuration to “Keep synchronised to internet servers”. This will
prompt the installation of the NTP package. Afterwards, go back to this
clock menu (now only showing NTP stuff) and use the option to add more
time servers. Add the following:
They won't actually be used until the next restart of the PC, or you
manually restart the NTP daemon. For more details on the NTP 'pool' try
You will probably want to install Adobe flash player in spite of its
poor security record, as such a number of web sites depend upon it to
be usable (such as YouTube). Best route is to enable the 3rd party
software in the package manager (System → Administration → Software
Sources, select third party) and then start the System → Administration
→ Synaptic Package Manager and find “adobe-flashplugin” and mark it
While there, consider marking the following for installation:
- adblock-plus (Reduces irritating web adverts, may prompt you to
confirm block list first time you run FireFox)
- K3b (CD writer, worked
better than Brasero in 8.10)
- gparted (disk partition
tool, on Live CD but not installed by default)
- ntfsprogs (tools for doing stuff with Windows
- filezilla (FTP client)
- thunderbird (email client I use, though if you
have no preference use Ubuntu's pre-installed Evolution)
- pan (newsgroup reader, much
better then thunderbird's news option, but see flaw below)
- stellarium (Cool star chart program)
Finally you can use the 'Apply' button in the package manager to
install this stuff.
For non-free codecs (such as de-css for playing commercial DVDs) and
mplayer install see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Medibuntu
Once all main installation done, you can edit this account's settings
(irritatingly has to be done for each account you create):
Start FireFox and set you preferences (Edit → Preferences) for home
page, etc. I install the UK English dictionary (also for Thunderbird).
I also change FireFox not to remember passwords, and to clear all
cookies on exit (Edit → Preferences → Privacy tab & Security tab).
Set the power button to shut the PC down (System → Preferences → Power
Management → General tab), maybe choose a screen saver you like (System
→ Preferences → Screensaver), and I prefer the visual effects turned
off (System → Preferences → Appearance 'visual effects' tab).
Disabled software autorun on LINUX (Places → Computer → Edit →
Preferences → Media)
If you plan on using the command prompt (Applications → Accessories →
Terminal) to any degree, then it is a good idea to make things a bit
safer by editing your home directory '.bashrc' file (start terminal and
enter gedit .bashrc) to add
the following aliases lower in that file:
alias rm='rm -i'
alias mv='mv -i'
alias cp='cp -i --preserve=timestamps'
alias l='ls -ho'
I did the same to the /root/.bashrc file so wide ranging super-user
actions are prompted as well.
If you have a floppy drive, 8.10 did not see this by default so you
would need to edit the file /etc/modules to add 'floppy' in to list.
Can use the
command gksudo gedit /etc/modules
as it is root owned.
I prefer the Opera web browser for a lot of things, but you have to
download the Debian package version of that from www.opera.com
then open the package with the package manager (typically double-click
on the transferred will do). After it is installed, I changed the
preferences (also a tedious per-account step) using Tools →
Preferences and then:
General tab (set home page)
Wand tab (un-tick the remember password option)
Search tab (select Google, Edit → Details change
google.com to google.co.uk)
Advanced tab (content → un-tick all but
As for FireFox, I prefer Opera to delete all advert/tracking cookies
each day I quit browsing, but for children's accounts it may be
preferable not to so you can set Google's "safe search" mode and it is
5 Special mount options
You might want to have an existing Windows partition mounted 'normally'
in LINUX, or maybe a network file share from a Windows or LINUX type of
PC or NAS. Some suggestions are:
First use the blkid program to
get the UUID (unique identifiers) of each partition. This is much more
reliable than using /dev/sda1 and so on!
Then edit the /etc/fstab file
and add something like this for a Windows mount:
# mount Windows C: drive as /mnt/c for paul
Here it is assumed I have already used mkdir to create /mnt/c for this, and that I want the
Windows drive to be read/write for myself (paul) but read-only for
others. If you want some others to have more access, change the
umask/dmask values to 113/002 and add those other chosen users to your
group (i.e. to 'paul' in this example). After adding this you can try
mounting it (all automatic mounts, in fact) with the command:
sudo mount -a
For an example added to fstab for using the NFS export of my Thecus
N5200 NAS box:
# Mount the Thecus on-request.
users,exec,noauto,nosuid 0 0
Here the parameters "users" and "noauto" means that it won't waste time
trying to automatically mount on booting (as the box may be switched
off), but that if I do want to use the Thecus N5200 I can mount and
un-mount it as a normal user (i.e. no need for sudo) with the command:
Finally an example using a CIFS (Windows SMB export) which is more
# Mount SWDEV as user 'psc'
This mounts the share 'sdv' from the macing 'wbox' as user 'paul' for
file permissions (at least what the LINUX users sees, the actual share
has its own user/permission stuff separate from here). The log-in
details are in the file /home/paul/.smbcredentials which must be
root-owned and readable only by root for security!
6 Security & Other Stuff
Check the router's DNS choice, UPnP settings, etc (usually on address http://192.168.1.1). You should set a
decent password so it can't be fiddled with from web page / flash
The pan newsreader has a known flaw, you can build a fixed version as
covered here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/pan/+bug/374097
If using XP (dual boot and/or is a virtual machine) suggest you
configure XP to disable autorun on all drives http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953252
GoogleEarth is less easy to install than most, they have it kind of
working. Here is some info:
It installs for one user only, and some video cards don't work well
and/or you have to disable atmosphere in GoogleEarth to get usable
speed. Sometimes its text on graphic display is broken.
If you disabled any BIOS protection for the MBR to install things, you
can re-enable it after installation is done.
(c) Paul Crawford, 6th October