Ubuntu Dapper Drake – taking the plunge
June 4, 2006 5 Comments
This is it. Hopefully the start of a new and exciting journey and successful switch to Linux, something I had been contemplating for a long time. The time feels right, Ubuntu sounds right, the brand new release is out, so here goes…
Downloaded Dapper Drake yesterday and of course I couldn’t wait to install it on my company-given laptop. Throwing caution to the winds, I decided to actually resize the existing Windows XP partition on my IBM Thinkpad R51.
Steps I followed:
- Laptop has a measly 40GB hard disk. Decided to do away with the IBM PreDesktop Area to gain some space. This page was useful and I was able to “un-secure” the IBM PreDesktop area (set it to “Normal” from the BIOS).
- Backed up my data.
- Defragged the windows partition. Linux / Ubuntu enthusiasts say this is not necessary as a prerequisite to resizing an NTFS partition using the installer nowadays, but I did this anyway, hoping that it would make things easier for the mighty installer program :) and somehow reduce chances of zapping my Windows data.
- Okay, showtime. Put in the Ubuntu install CD and booted.
- I wanted to do the resize before the actual install, and verify that all my Windows data was OK before installing Ubuntu. So instead of running install, I went to System -> Administration -> Gnome Partition Editor (GParted). Went ahead resized the main partition from 32 to 25. (Remaining 7 or so is used by the IBM PreDesktop area). Took a deep breath and confirmed the operation. It took some time, and ended with a scary message saying something like the operation was performed on a device that was mounted and that I needed to reboot to continue. I thought I was basically screwed, but anyway I rebooted. It got even scarier because CHKDISK with the sinister blue screens ran at startup. But there were no errors, Windows booted and it all looked OK. I ran defrag again for good measure. *phew*
- Feeling a lot better now, reboot back to the Ubuntu installer CD.
- Insallation commences, some basic questions about date, locale and passwords at the start
- Chose to do the partitioning manually.
- Deleted the existing IBM PreDesktop area partition with slight pang of guilt. I hear that IBM support mails recovery CDs to you if you are under warranty. Anway there are a couple of colleagues in office with the same config.
- Decided to have an additional separate partition for /home – especially since one of the things I loathe about windows is its total incompetence in this area. (Obviously there is a nexus between MS and all those companies selling defrag and system optimization tools.) The Ubuntu default desktop install needs 2 GB minimum. I am really pressed for space so I allocate 4 GB for root ( / ), 2 GB for swap (I have 1 GB RAM) and the remaining 6 or so for /home. Root has to be a primary partition (bootable), created it first. Then created an extended partition with the remaining space and then sub-divided it into the /home and swap logical partitions. (I found this page useful when doing those pesky GB to MB conversion calculations)
- Okay, the partition stuff happens (GParted again under the covers)
- I initially wanted to not have GRUB on the MBR as explained in this nice how-to, but could not find a way to specify that root had to be ‘bootable’. Gave up. Maybe I should have had one more partition for /boot? Anyway, the Ubuntu installer assumed that I needed GRUB inserted into the very first partition and I realized this after the install completed – when I restarted.
- After the partition creating is over you choose what goes into the partitions for the install. The windows partition needs to be mounted as well (read-only), and this is helpfully selected on the screen by default. I made the other three selections a) / (root), b) /home and c) swap. Straightforward.
- After installation, reboot with the CD out of the drive, GRUB comes up at first with linux as the default selection
- *boot* It works! Hooray!
There appear to be a lot of old how-tos around related to getting linux to work on IBM laptops, but so far Ubuntu seems impressive, of course the things like USB mouse and network are working, a “hibernate” button appears on the shutdown menu which I haven’t tried yet. The volume control special buttons on the laptop work. Have yet to try wireless. The trackpad and IBM “stick” work. Firefox and OpenOffice.
The real test is the office environment. So many challenges ahead – DHCP, Windows Domain stuff, e-mail… And of course, setting up the java development environment, Subversion access…