Planning the Install

Before you actually begin the installation procedure, you'll want to make some decisions. The first decision you'll want to make is how to utilize your hard drive space. If you want a quick and easy install, then you can use one of the "Guided" options.

The "Guided--resize. . . " option only shows up if Ubuntu detects that another operating system is using the entire hard drive. The only thing that you have to decide with this option is how much space to allocate to each operating system. Ubuntu will resize the partition for the other operating system accordingly, and will then automatically add that operating system to your boot-up menu. That way, you'll have quickly and easily made a handy dual-boot system.

Note: If you're resizing a Windows partition, you'll need to boot your computer from a Windows installation or rescue CD and run a checkdisk utility before being able to access the partition.

The "Guided--Use entire disk" option does just what it says. It will automatically delete any existing partitions, and use the entire disk for Ubuntu.

If you choose to resize an existing partition, you'll be warned that the changes cannot be undone.


When you click on the "Next" button, the disk partitioning process will begin.



Using the manual option gives you more choices on how to partition your harddrive.



With the manual option, you can choose to delete existing partitions, and create new ones from the resultant free space. If you're using a brand-new hard drive, you can choose what size partition to create from all of the available free space. You can also choose where to place mount points, and which filesystem you want to use to format the new partition. (The default filesystem is ext3. With the manual option, you can choose from reiserfs, xfs, or jfs.)


You may have reason to create multiple partitions. Two decisions in this regard are already made; you must designate one partition as the "root" partition. (You'll usually see this partition symbolized by a "/".) You also need to designate one partition as the "swap" partition. Beyond that, you have a few options. If you're concerned about the safety of your data files, you can choose to have the "/home" directory on a separate partition. That way, if you ever have to reinstall the operating system, you can do so without wiping out your data files. You can also install more than one hard drive in your computer, and place different partitions on the separate drives. This can help increase performance if you place the most-accessed partitions on different drives. You'll then lessen the chance that one drive will be requested to access two different places at the same time.

As we said before, you can also choose to install more than one operating system on the same computer. At boot time, you'll be able to choose which operating system you want to run. This includes other distros of Linux, a BSD variant, or even that "off-brand" operating system from Washington state. Simply plan on how much drive space you want each operating system to occupy, and partition your drive accordingly.

If the installation program detects a Windows partition on your hard drive, you'll be presented with the option to re-size the partition in order to make room for Ubuntu.

There is one slight catch though, if you want to have Windows as one of your choices. That is, that Windows will have to be the first operating system you install. If you install Linux, and then install Windows, you won't be able to boot on Linux.

The installation program will install GRUB, the Grand Unified Boot Loader, toward the end of the installation process. GRUB will automatically detect other operating systems on your drive and add them to the boot-up menu. Then, when you boot your computer, you'll be presented with the different choices.