How Do I Install Linux (A General Guide)

Today, I will try to answer one of the most common questions asked by the newcomer to Linux; “How do I install Linux” To answer this I have prepared a step-by-step guide of how to install Linux with the minimum of technobabble. So, I hope you will find it simple enough to follow.

This is a guest article by one Brickwizard, who describes himself as thus:

I am Brian the Brickwizard. My interest in modern computers goes back to the days of the 8-bit IBM compatible. As a hobby, I have been repairing, upgrading, and building from-scratch computers for friends and family. I have done so since the late 80s/ early 90s. I have been a Linux user for over 20 years! Brickwizard is an upstanding member of Linux.org. This is my first contribution to Linux Tips.

This is a guide to most distros, a generic guide that’s useful for the most popular distros that have handy GUI installers. This isn’t a guide to things like Arch, Slackware, or Gentoo! It will work for Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, MX-Linux, and many more!

This also serves as a place people can link to, rather than clutter the forum up with long posts that really don’t get much formatting options. This is meant to be a time-saver, among other things. As a living document, it is also subject to change.

How Do I Install Linux:

What do I need?

Depending on the age of your machine you will need an installation medium, this is usually a clean pen-drive of 4 GB minimum (try not to exceed 16 GB), make sure it is of good quality and formatted to FAT32 or exFAT.

On older machines that are not USB boot-able, you will need a clean new DVD-R. You will also need courage, patience, and time. This is just the start of your journey, the step where you learn how to install Linux.

Make your ISO installation medium [pen-drive or DVD-r]

  • Choose your distribution and go to the official download page.

     

  • On the download page you will find an SHA sum, make a note of it.

     

  • Download your chosen distribution.

     

  • Burn a bootable installation medium.

For a USB pen-drive to do this, we recommend Balena Etcher.
Or for optical disc, select “burn as ISO image” in your burning software.

  • Whichever you use, now is the time to check the SHA sum (if you are unsure how, then see this article). 

To Install:

For best results, ensure your computer is either hard-wired to your router, or has a Wi-Fi card installed.

  • Connect the computer to mains power.

     

  • Insert USB into drive (or optical disc into drive).

     

  • Switch the device on and open the temporary boot menu (method will depend on the make and model of your computer).

Look down the list and find USB (or Optical Drive) click on it and enter, after a few seconds (depending on your choice of distribution) it will load a “live” session to RAM.

NOTE: You actually do not need a hard-drive installed at this stage if you only wish to check to see if Linux will work on your machine

NOTE: If you are making a dual boot system with Windows 8, 10 or 11, disable the windows quick-start (in the BIOS) and re-boot before continuing.

For best results, ensure your computer is either hard-wired to your router, or has a Wi-Fi card installed.​

  • Connect the computer to mains power.

  • Insert USB into drive (or optical disc into drive).
  • When the live instance of your chosen distro has loaded, your desktop will appear. Now is the time to ensure everything works okay, such as Wi-Fi, sound, and graphics. The easiest way to do this is click on the wireless icon find your router and enter the password. When you’re connected, go to your favorite music video site and pick something you are familiar with. If the video plays okay, the picture looks good, and the sound works, you can then decide if you wish to continue the installation.

     

  • To start full installation, double-click the installation button on the desktop (this may vary based on the distribution). The installer will then check the components of your machine. This may take several seconds or a couple of minutes, depending on how fast your computer is. If all goes well, the installation will begin shortly, asking you to input certain information – such as your username and password. Watch it install. When it asks about partitioning, this is your final chance to decide if you want to dual boot with your existing system (select installation alongside) or wipe the system and just install Linux.

     

  • During install, most distributions will ask if you wish to install non-free/proprietary drivers, tick the box for yes and enter. Non-free does not mean it will cost money to use. It just means that it’s supplied by the manufacturer and not FOSS (Free Open-Source Software). You can choose to not install proprietary drivers, but that will make your life more difficult and is beyond the scope of this article.

     

  • You may need to continually enter information as it installs, so keep an eye on it. A typical Linux installation can take from 10 to 20 minutes.

     

  • When it has installed you will get a message do you wish to re-start now, accept and enter. When prompted, be sure to remove the installation media.

Sit back whilst it reboots, then it will take a couple more minutes to clean up the installation and get rid of the installation files. Then if all goes well we will have a working Linux box

When your system has rebooted to your new Linux system, open the update manager and run a full update.

NOTE: When you have successfully installed your Linux distribution, we strongly recommend you install and activate some backup software, such as Timeshift

Being new to Linux, there will be learning curve. As I often say, “Relax, kick off your shoes, grab a beer, and enjoy the ride.”

Closure:

There you have it, it’s another article – and this time it’s a great article from Brickwizard. This one will tell you how to install Linux. It’s a basic guide, which is fine, because it can always be more complex and this is just to get you started. If you have any questions, you can ask below or head over to the Linux.org forum and ask questions there. Even better, it stands as a static page that can be linked to, saving time, effort, and space.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Linux Installation USB Media Using Windows

This is a guest article by @captain-sensible, about Linux installation – specifically creating USB media using Windows. I trust him on this, and don’t feel qualified to do much in the way of editing as I know next to nothing about Windows. So, without further ado:

Preamble:

If you already have Linux as your OS, then an article about how to get a Linux .iso onto a USB stick is probably redundant. The other thing I can deduce is that if you want to have a go at trying to install Linux, that would mean you probably don’t have Linux OS nor access to programs that run on Linux.

You might think an article involving Windows is not a good fit for Linux tips? Well I disagree the tip to put it succinctly is this – “Linux and how to get it” I.e. you want Linux but you don’t have it, and so the article is about getting it using the only tool you probably have at your disposal, which is Windows. (That’s assuming you don’t have any avisée friends using Linux)

Therefore, I am going to go through how to use Windows and software tools to get a Linux OS iso file onto a USB from which you can boot. Maybe in part 2 I could mention use of ventoy on a Linux box and persistence for a live Linux OS on a usb .

Now there are a couple of tools you can try including:

https://www.balena.io/etcher/
https://rufus.ie/

But here we will have a look at Ventoy. Ventoy has a couple of useful features – you can put several Linux ISOs onto the same stick and boot from any of them via the Ventoy boot splash menu. Also via one of the Ventoy tools called CreatePersistentImg a file is created, inside the same directory that the script is run and can be configured to be used on the formatted stick with the ISOs so that the live OS can install software.

Our Agenda will be:

  • Download a Linux .iso file
  • Download Ventoy
  • use Ventoy to format a USB stick we have
  • Drag .iso file onto ventoy formated stick
  • Boot from USB stick

Create USB Media Using Windows:

Normally I use Linux with ventoy; for this exercise using Windows10, I downloaded linuxmint-20.2-cinnamon-64bit.iso from University of Kent Mirror.

See Linix Mint Cinnamon Mirrors

Now with a download you need to check the integrity of the download. You can get the sha256 sum from:

https://ftp.heanet.ie/mirrors/linuxmint.com/stable/20.2/sha256sum.txt

And the gpg from:

https://ftp.heanet.ie/mirrors/linuxmint.com/stable/20.2/sha256sum.txt.gpg

Instructions for verifying your download can be found at:

https://linuxmint-installation-guide.readthedocs.io/en/latest/verify.html

Next we need to download Ventoy:

Go to this URL:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/ventoy.mirror/files/v1.0.52/

Shimmy down to ventoy-1.0.52-windows.zip and mouse left click to download it to your PC. Right click and choose “extract”. You will probably get something like select a destination – go for Desktop if you can; at least you can find it easily.

Anyway that will unzip the zip file. I found once unzipped that the directory I wanted was inside another directory called ventoy-1.0.52-windows, the directory and its contents you want is the one labelled ventoy-1.0.52.

See image below:

That’s the one that contains the tools you need including Ventoy2Disk, an executable Windows file. Drag that directory from inside the outer directory to your desktop.

To fire up Ventoy, go inside the ventoy-1.0.52 directory and mouse left click twice on Ventoy2Disk. You should then see a dialogue box (see image below). Now from the image it tells you that it thinks Device E: SanDisk is the USB stick to be formatted. The main point being you need to insert a preferably virgin USB stick, a USB thumbdrive with nothing on it, into your PC before Ventoy2Disk can work on anything.

Now its always best to double check things. One way of doing that is to fire up a disk utility and see what’s listed. You will use common sense as well – A 16GB storage device is unlikely to be your PC internal hard drive. Lets have a look anyway.

One way of confirming is to use Disk management. To fire that up hit the key with Windows Icon on it and R, that should bring a dialogue box up with a text box . Into the text box type Diskmgmt.msc; you should then see Disk Management and entries – see image left.

Disk management and venoy dialogue

I think I can conclude with Ventoy that Spare E is the USB I want to use. One reason is that I formatted it and labelled it using GParted. So next with USB attached to PC, left click on the install button of the Ventoy dialogue box. Now when its finished, pull the USB out and re-insert it , that’s to make sure the PC is correctly recognizing, the USB which will now have a label – ventoy.

Drag iso from download location onto ventoy usb

If you look at the above image, a window is open with location of the ISO file and the other Window on the right is the newly labelled USB stick called ventoy opened. All you have to do is use your mouse and literally drag holding down left, on the mouse from the left window onto the right window. You might have to fiddle with Windows, I know I did with Windows 10 on the laptop I was using.

Once that’s been done its a case of now shutting down Windows and from a cold boot hit the key which will give you boot options. The laptop I was doing the operation was a H.P stream so for that laptop F9 is the boot option key and F10 is the bios. You have to hit the keys almost immediately after powering up.

I had a couple of glitches on powering up, getting the boot option and booting from the USB I got “image not authenticated “now what came to mind was checking the integrity of the download. No that wasn’t it.

boot glitch

One issue was expected in disabling secure boot and enabling legacy boot; the other one wasn’t. What is was is that although I had edited the BIOS, there was a “Operating System Boot Mode Change” notification.

I did as requested entered the number quoted, hit Enter (return key) and after that I was Ok. I then got Mint booted live! Finally – Windows doesn’t like to let go easily.

Moving On:

Now when you get to the stage of getting a Linux OS up live from a USB here are a view bits of advice:

On the Desktop of your live Linux OS you will see an icon saying install Linux, don’t rush in and do that. Play around for a week with the live OS, get to know it and try of launching a shell (terminal window). Learn to use, at least launch and have a look at tools such as GParted and screenshot. You can use apt-get or apt from a terminal to search for that.

Those sort of tools and your ability to use them will come in extremely handy if you have any issues and need help from a Linux forum. Users will want to see your partitions (use gParted) and see what some things look like (use screenshot) they will probably also want to see some output of commands on the shell (your ability to use basic commands needed).

The live Linux OS you have doesn’t have persistence, you can play with installing software and it should install but only in RAM. You can achieve persistence with the Ventoy approach, but thats perhaps for another time.

Closure:

There you have it, an article about creating Linux installation USB media using Windows. This one was written by a guest, now a registered user and author. So, kudos to them for stepping up and contributing!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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