Installing Xubuntu

When I installed Xubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon“, I could not resist the urge to create a walkthrough for installing Xubuntu. It took me a while to write it up, but here it is. (Note: I have also written a review of Xubuntu 7.10)

Since Xubuntu uses the same installer as Ubuntu and Edubuntu, Ubiquity, this guide also applies to them, and Kubuntu’s installer is basically the same, so it also gives you an overview of what Kubuntu’s installation looks like. Also, the installer has not changed since the previous version, 7.04 “Feisty Fawn“, so it applies to that version too.

To start the installation, you just click the Install icon on the desktop once it is booted. However, I wanted to configure my internet connection first, because that way I would immediately be able to install language packs and whatnot. Note, though, that you can also complete the installation without internet connection.

In order to configure my wireless connection, I click the NetworkManager icon in the top right-hand side. It then pops up a list of detected wireless networks and has an entry listing my wired card.

Simply clicking the network I want to connect with, it prompts me for the passphrase. I can then click Login to Network and I am connected! It couldn’t be easier 🙂

Now that my network connection is all set, I can start Ubiquity (the installation application, remember?). The first screen allows you to select a language and links to Ubuntu’s release notes.

Clicking Forward brings us in the timezone selection screen, where we are presented with a map of the world.

Clicking the area on the map where you live zooms in the map making it easy to select your location.

Clicking Forward again presents us with a screen to select your keyboard layout. It includes many options, including many Dvorak ones (note to self: get to learn to type using Dvorak). An input field allows you to test the selected layout.

Yet again clicking Forward, a dialog box pops up telling the partitioner is being started.

When it has finished loading, you are presented with three partitioning options:

  1. Guided, resizing your main hard drive using the freed up space to install Xubuntu.
  2. Guided – use entire disk to wipe a whole hard drive and install Xubuntu on it.
  3. Manual

I opted for Manual.

The reason for me to select Manual was because I wanted a separate partition for /home, which allows me to keep all documents and settings for all user accounts were I to reinstall Xubuntu (i.e. when a new version is released). Adding the required root (/) and swap partition I ended up with a total of three partitions.

Then we need to provide Xubuntu with some user information for the first user account.

And finally, just before the actual installation will start, you are presented with an overview of everything you have selected so you can check it.

However, before you commence the installation, be sure to click the Advanced button in the bottom right-hand side. It allows you to set the location of the boot loader if you wish to, and enables you to opt in for the “Package usage survey”. If you check the checkbox, Xubuntu will send anonymous application usage data to a central Ubuntu server, so they can generate statistics about which applications are most popular. Not only does this enable the developers to improve the distribution in general, it also influences e.g. the ratings of applications you see in Add/Remove…

It will then start the installation, which will take a while.

Meanwhile, and this is an awesome feature, you can continue to use the system! You can browse the web using Firefox, heck, you can even install new applications for use during that session, all while the installation is progressing!

After a while you will be notified that the installation has finished, and that you should restart the computer to use it.

When you have restarted, with your internet connection configured, you will mostly be notified that updates are available.

I was also notified that I had the option to enable a restricted driver. This driver is not open source, but as I would like to try out Compiz Fusion (more on that in a later post) I wanted to install the driver.

Enabling the driver was very easy – just check the box and it will start the installation.

Once the installation completed, I was notified that I had to restart.

Clicking the notification gave me the option of deferring the restart to a later time, or to restart immediately.

That restart was the last restart I had to do since 🙂

All in all, Xubuntu’s installation process is a breeze. The partitioning part might be a bit scary (but hey, we’ve got Wubi if it’s too scary) but overall, it’s very easy and even comfortable. Being able to use the system while it is installing is a feature that blows away every other operating system I’m aware of, apart from other Linux distributions 🙂

29 Responses to “Installing Xubuntu”

  1. 1 Philip 13 November 2007 at 2:23 am

    Great write up. I’ve not tried Xubuntu Gutsy yet but after reading this I think I’m going to give it a try. I’m downloading the torrent as I type 🙂

  2. 2 Tony 13 November 2007 at 10:03 am

    I was just going to request more reporting on Gutsy (the NET is still empty in this area IMHO), when you blazed it with a useful how-to install guide.


    I’m in the market for a new laptop and will follow it (especially the partitioning advice because I’m not so competent in that).


  3. 3 Vincent 13 November 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Philip, cool, let me know what you think 🙂

    Tony, of course, I always know what my readers want 😉

    Btw, have you considered buying a Linux laptop?

  4. 4 Tony 13 November 2007 at 5:37 pm

    I’ll be visiting the U.S. for the Christmas holidays and so will most likely get whatever Dell has to offer by then. (I hear they are updating the laptop configuration.)

    It makes sense since the reviews have so far been positive and the exchange rate currently is amazing (great time to spend European money on the other side of the Atlantic).

    It is kind of low end (no fancy graphics card available), but I’m not going to use it for gaming anyhow.

    I may as well have a look at the company you suggested, System76.

  5. 5 Zaine Ridling 14 November 2007 at 6:37 am

    Incredible post. Xubuntu installed in just 12 minutes on my system! Can anyone beat that time?

  6. 6 Tony 19 November 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I wonder if you can also say something about secure installing Gutsy (on encrypted drives; something like Apple’s FileVault).

    Or, perhaps, point to some guide on the web.

    Thank you

  7. 7 Vincent 19 November 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Tony, I’m sorry, I’ve no experience whatsoever conserning encryption, but a bit of Googling turned up this page… 😉

  8. 8 Alex 10 December 2007 at 12:41 am

    Hi, I am running Gutsy on one laptop, and I’d like to find out how to turn off nm-applet and have the network configuration loaded from a .conf file.

    The problem is that nm-applet asks for the keychain password after I log in – which is inconvenient. I only use one network, the settings are constant, so there is no need to have this process loaded all the time.

    Can you provide some instructions/basic troubleshooting tips?

  9. 9 Vincent 10 December 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Alex, you can just configure it the usual way by selecting “Manual configuration…” from nm-applet (or open Applications->System->Network, select your device, disable roaming mode ande configure your network). The file that will configure is /etc/network/interfaces.

  10. 10 Alex 10 December 2007 at 2:51 pm

    That’s what I did, but when I reboot the system – I am still asked to enter the keychain password.

    Actually, I don’t think that I managed to fully disable nm-applet. Previously I have edited /etc/network/interfaces and all the data were there. I assumed that would mean nm-applet would stop asking questions – but that is not what happened.

    I then went to ‘Sessions’ and unchecked ‘nm-applet’. After a restart, I could still see it with ps; so I went to /etc/rc.local.d (if I recall correctly) to look for other places that might be invoking nm-applet at start. I didn’t find anything suspicious.

    So I am confused.

  11. 11 Vincent 10 December 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Alex, have you tried opening Applications->System->Network, selecting your device’s properties and there uncheck “Enable roaming mode”?

  12. 12 Luis 16 December 2007 at 12:54 am


    This is my first time installing a Linux distro. I must say thank you for the walkthrough. However, as a complete noob, I had find out how to partion using Partition Magic – although I would’ve liked to use GParted but I don’t know how to yet. Good job at the walkthrough.

  13. 13 Vincent 16 December 2007 at 11:31 am

    Luis, as you can see in the guide, the installer includes its own partitioner. Though yes, Gparted would’ve done too but it would, of course, include a learning curve. However, you can be sure you will have to go through a learning curve with a new operating system 😉

    Have fun!

  14. 14 Lucas Krist 11 March 2008 at 6:13 pm

    cool! Thanks for the info. Now I know all about Xubuntu’s interface, and I think I might install it on a really slow computer which is currently running windows 2000. It takes 10 minutes to boot!!! How long does it take xubuntu to boot?

  15. 15 Vincent 11 March 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Lucas, that really depends on your computer. If the computer is really slow then Xubuntu might also not run that fast on it – however, it will probably be usable enough. You’d need to post system specifications in order for us to be able to make a correct guess (e.g. amount of RAM).

  16. 16 Lucas K 14 March 2008 at 2:31 pm

    The computer has a 400 megahertz processor, and I think 250 mb of ram. The HDD is 10 gb.

  17. 17 Vincent 15 March 2008 at 10:20 am

    Lucas, 250 MB RAM should be able to run Xubuntu, not blazingly fast, but tolerable enough 🙂
    (Not sure about the processor, I’m not too good at those)

  18. 19 Eric 4 April 2008 at 7:43 pm

    in regards to the older hardware post…

    I am currently installing gutsy gibbon on a 500mhz machine with 288mb and a 40 gb hard drive(after market.) it runs decently. i was pretty satisfied with the performance running from the live cd; i am crossing my fingers to get much better performance from the install.

    also, this is a great walk through. i was searching for something simple as a step by step(first time installing any linux distro) and i found this to be top notch. i had some troubles with the manual partitioning process. i just skipped it and went straight to the guided, which is fine.

    i dont think i will be installing a newer distro any time soon, but who knows, i may regret my hasty choice.

    thanks again. im definately bookmarking this blog.

  19. 20 Vincent 4 April 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Eric 🙂

  20. 21 anwar 1 January 2009 at 8:46 pm

    hi what does manual mean on stage 4

  21. 22 Vincent 2 January 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Anwar, “manual” means defining partitions manually, i.e. pick the sizes and locations yourself instead of letting Xubuntu do that. It’s what I did, as you can see in the two screenshots I used.

  22. 23 LiNic's 11 February 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Linux is the best thing ive used so far. to bad i have issues with the wireless transmitter. could i have a suggestion for the linksys v4

  23. 24 New2Linux 30 March 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Awesome step by step! + attached graphics.
    I’m new to Linux and have been encouraged because I’ve been hearing so much about it. I tried installing the new Xubuntu on an older laptop (AMD Athlon, 256mb RAM 40 gb HDD). I was really excited to see Xubuntu running via LiveCD. Unfortuntely, the excitement was cut short. When I decided to install the full version, I only made it to the first install window (to select the language of choice) and then the wondow closed. An error window opened saying the “Ubiquity” falied to load. After that, I couldn’t do anything on the desktop and had to reboot. I did this about 5x, same results. Any clue as to why this happened? I am really excited about migrating my old systems to Linux … if only I can install it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • 25 Vincent 31 March 2009 at 3:10 pm

      Hey, thanks 🙂

      Ubiquity is the installation application used by Ubuntu and its derivatives, and it sounds like you found a software bug :). Can you open a Terminal window (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and type ubiquity [Enter]? It should then run the installer and will perhaps display messages related to the crash in that window, if it crashes, which might help in finding the problem.

      Which version of Xubuntu are you trying to install?

  24. 26 New2Linux 6 April 2009 at 5:29 am

    Thanks. I actually got it going. I merely changed the BIOS to load from CD. Went directly to install. Didn’t encounter the errors I encountered when I ran the CD. I am now running Xubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex on one computer, and am now officially a Linux user. Woo-hoo!

    I like so far. Much so much to learn though.

    Thanks again and great website!

  1. 1 Sharing the love with BitTorrent « Xubuntu Blog Trackback on 1 May 2008 at 10:48 am
  2. 2 Xubuntu upgrade: from Heron to Ibex « Xubuntu Blog Trackback on 30 November 2008 at 7:12 pm

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