You can download a complete version of Ubuntu Linux from the Ubuntu website. The ISO (or CD) image is around 700MB. Two versions of Ubuntu are supported: 6.06 and 7.04 - we're using 7.04 for this walkthrough. To follow suit, select Desktop Edition, Ubuntu 7.04.
Select a local source for the download, as this may speed up the transfer rate. Save the downloaded image somewhere on your hard drive rather than running the file immediately. This way, if you want to install Ubuntu on a second computer, you won't waste time downloading the file again.
Create a CD containing the downloaded image file. Although some computers are able to boot up from a CD image stored on a hard drive, more are able do so from a disc. Using CD-burning software, such as Nero Express, select the Disk Image option and browse to the file you saved in step 2. Click Next.
Restart your PC with the CD burned in step 3 in the drive. If it doesn't restart in Ubuntu, you'll need to enter the Bios (usually accessed by hitting Del during startup) and adjust the boot sequence so the CD drive is accessed first. Once the PC has booted successfully, select the first option from the onscreen menu.
Once the Ubuntu desktop has loaded, click the Install icon. This starts the hard disk installation of the OS (operating system). Select a language for the installation process from the list on the lefthand panel of the Welcome window. The installer uses English by default.
The next step is to select a city in your country and time zone, which for most of us will be London. Click the map to reduce the list of places to those in Europe. Strangely, both Jersey and Guernsey are mentioned explicitly, but no other places in the UK are listed. Once you've selected a country, click Forward.
Keyboard Layout is the next choice. Unless you use a Dvorak-style keyboard, you should use the default layout under United Kingdom. To check you've selected the correct layout, type into the box at the bottom of the window - hopefully the keys you press will produce the characters you expect.
Decide whether you want Ubuntu as the only OS on your PC or in a dual-boot configuration with Windows or another OS. For dual-boot, drag the slider to choose how much of your hard disk you want allocated to Ubuntu. For a solo installation, select ‘use entire disk' and choose the drive to install on.
This warning message indicates the changes you're about to make to the partitioning of your hard drive are timely and hard (not impossible) to undo. Check you've set everything up correctly before clicking Continue. In our installation the resize operation took less than 10 minutes, but it would take longer with a larger hard drive.
If you've chosen a dual-boot configuration for your Ubuntu installation, you can transfer documents and settings from another OS. Create a user account to import the details into (several people can use a single Ubuntu installation) in the same way as you would with Windows XP.
Ubuntu is very security-conscious. It will invite you to enter a login name and password - both of which are case-sensitive. Choose these carefully and note them down. You can also enter a network name for the computer when running under Ubuntu. When you've entered these details, click Forward.
You'll get a final chance to verify and approve your settings before proceeding with the installation. When you're happy, click Install. The Ubuntu installer copies all necessary files from the installation CD to the designated partition of your hard drive, then prompts you to restart the computer.
After installation, Ubuntu will probably suggest running the Update Manager to check for updates to the OS or the supplied applications. If it doesn't, you can run the routine from System, Administration. This process is automatic, although it may take a while to install all the updates on offer.
You have now successfully installed Ubuntu 7.04. There are a few settings you may need to adjust, however. Check the screen resolution from the System menu and that your sound card has proper drivers. Music files, particularly those protected by DRM (digital rights management), may need converting.
See also: Get down and dirty with Linux