If you've always wanted to try out Linux but were afraid it would mess up your current Windows system, Wubi is a free, painless solution for installing Ubuntu Linux. Here's how...
The Wubi Ubuntu Installer
Installing Linux on an Windows-based computer used to be a big hassle. It meant burning a Linux CD, partitioning your hard drive, formatting, and tweaking your boot settings. Wubi changes all that, by allowing you to install Ubuntu Linux just like any other application on Windows. You don't even need a CD -- just download and run the installer, then provide a few keystrokes and a mouse click. Wubi will install Ubuntu Linux on your PC without affecting your existing Windows setup. And if you decide it's not for you, you can remove Ubuntu just like any other software package, using the Windows Control Panel.
Here's a step by step lesson on how to install Ubuntu Linux and give it a trial run via Wubi:
- Download the Wubi installer, which is part of Ubuntu 8.04 (aka Hardy Heron). Download time will vary, but in most cases will only take a few seconds.
- Wubi will pop up and ask you to choose an installation drive, installation size, language, and a username and password for Ubuntu. Most people will not need to change the default settings. Leave everything as is and just enter a password unless you're a Wizard.
- Optional: Click the Accessibility button if you want to select Visibility and/or Mobility aids for use with Ubuntu.
- Click Install, and Wubi will begin the hands-free Ubuntu Linux installation. After you wash down a few Snickers and Red Bulls, Ubuntu should be ready to roll.
NOTE: The minimum hard drive space requirement for Wubi is 5GB, so you might want to clean out some of your older programs, music, video or other files that now exist on your computer. See my article Clean Hard Drive for some tips on freeing up space on your hard drive. You'll also need at least 256MB of RAM memory and Windows 98/2000/XP/Vista.
There is also an option of setting Wubi up to a run in a dedicated partition or an external USB drive. Check out the Wubi FAQ and the Wubi Guide for more info on this and other advanced installation options.
What Will Wubi Do?
After you click the Install button, expect to wait several minutes while the installer is downloaded. You will then be asked to reboot. When the Boot Manager screen appears, select Ubuntu. The installation will continue for another 10-15 minutes (depending on the speed of your computer and Internet connection) and then your computer will reboot again.
At this point, the Ubuntu installation is complete, and you now have a dual boot system. If you do nothing at the Boot Manager screen, your computer will boot up into Windows as usual. If you select the Ubuntu option from the Boot Manager, your computer will start up Ubuntu Linux.
The important thing to understand is that Windows and Ubuntu are two distinct operating systems, and you can only run one at a time. Although you can access your Windows files in the /host and /media directories under Ubuntu, you will not be able to run your familiar Windows applications such as Word, Excel or Windows-based games.
But you may not even miss those Windows programs, because Ubuntu Linux provides you with a word processor, spreadsheet, web browser, email software, lots of games and other cool stuff. Linux also offers improved security, protection from viruses and spyware, and more efficient use of your computer's hardware. You'll notice that most things just seem to work better and faster. One of the best things about Ubuntu Linux is that the system itself has a new release every 6 months with all the latest applications. And it's completely free of charge.
Still a bit leery about trying it? Wubi has screenshots so that you can take a look at it beforehand. Change can be a good thing. Try Ubuntu 8.04 by downloading Wubi and if you find that you don't particularly like it, Wubi makes it easy to uninstall. Just boot up into Windows, go to the Control Panel and remove Ubuntu like any other program.
Trust me, it really is painless and will open your mind (and your computer) to new and advanced possibilities. Have you tried Wubi? Are you a Ubuntu user? Post a comment below and tell me how you like it...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Sep 2008
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Wanna Wubi? (Posted: 9 Sep 2008)
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Most recent comments on "Wanna Wubi?"
10 Sep 2008
I have been using Ubuntu for about two years now. The only problem that I have had _was_ document interoperability with MS Word users. But haha how things have changed. MS Word 2007 is not interoperable with earlier Word, and now OpenOffice reads regular Word just fine. So now Ubuntu is more interoperable than Windows users with Word 2007. Haha.
The only other problem is games: most Windows games do not run on Ubuntu. So if you play games, then write to the game devs and let them know that you want them to write games that run in Ubuntu or Wine (Windows compatibility layer).
14 Sep 2008
I hadn't seen Wubi before, so thanks Bob. I downloaded HH Ubuntu into my XP laptop - had a few problems with screen size & log-in page (log-in box way off the screen) but found a way round it. Bob, you write that Windows files can be accessed from /media or /host; but how? I tried entering it into Terminal but no go. Looking round the forums I find that it's incredibly complex, and couldn't get it to work anyway; or is it as simple as typing /host in somewhere? Also, I can't install Flash, and again all the forums (or Ubuntu's own help) are no help at all, none of the advice works for me (and also, there are 3 different Linux versions on the Adobe site & nowhere on the net can I find what they mean - eg.tar.gz, rpm etc.). I thought Linux was meant to be relatively straightforward with loads of help; but it's looking massively complicated. I'm used to Vista now on my PC, but hoped to add to my OS knowledge base with Linux, so I'd be really grateful for any advice. V. good site btw!
EDITOR'S NOTE: The "/host" and "/media" are directory (folder) names. You can navigate to them with a "cd /host" command in the Terminal, or use the Nautilus file manager for a graphic point & click approach.
10 Dec 2008
Bob, I've looked at Ubuntu and would LOVE to get into it; I hate Vista passionately. BUT, every time I get into looking at Linux, I come away sadly muttering that it is still just for Geeks. Maybe we need a SUPER SIMPLE forum for NEW users of Ubuntu. The Linux forum is still over my head.
12 Feb 2009
Bob 1st thanks for the help I have been able to clean from these pages in the past. We dont live in the UK anymore but use our pc to listen to BBCradio (old habits die hard), play music & videos, send & rcv emails, internet, & the wife likes her bit of ebaying. I run XP & didnt upgrade to vista as it always looked as if it was only a stepping stone to something else, so is Linux now for us? If so which one? I have "I fear Change" as a family motto.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're new to Linux, go with Ubuntu.
14 May 2009
I downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 to both my laptops, and two desktops. The desktops work fine with Ubuntu--I get internet access because the desktops have a wired connection to the router.
I have not been able to get Ubuntu to talk WIRELESSLY to my laptops. The UBUNTU helpfiles are not helpful! I'd really appreciate a step-by-step guide so that I can use Linux Ubuntu on all my machines.
25 May 2009
Thanks Bob, I have installed on my laptop Ubuntu 9.04 using Wubi and everything was OK, now I have a dual boot system with Vista and Ubuntu 9.04.
I want to know, What is the difference between a Wubi install vs. a real Ubuntu install?
I have read at the Wikipedia article about Wubi that we can install ubuntu using a USB drive using UNetbootin.
Does UNebootin provide a real Ubuntu install?
EDITOR'S NOTE: Both Wubi and UNebootin result in a "real" Ubuntu install. You'll be running Linux on your own hardware, with no emulation or virtual machine. The difference is just in the installation method.
11 Jun 2009
I read so much about ubuntu I wanted to give it a try. I installed wubi 9.04 on a Dell Inspiron 7500 w/512MB and 20GB drive running Windows XP.
Very bad experience- after rebooting, the splash screen came up, the progress bar went back and forth for a minute or two then stopped about a 1/4 the way up. I gave it an hour- still dead. My laptop would not accept CTRL-ALT-DEL. I had to power down to get it to reboot.
Tried one more time and got the same results. Went ahead and uninstalled wubi, but now I still get prompted on every boot to run either Ubuntu or XP.
Like everyone else, I’ve had my problems with XP too, but nothing like this. And this is not some DIY hardware I threw together to make a computer. This is a computer I bought from the world’s largest manufacturer of laptops. So, Ubuntu may be a cool thing to use, but IHMO it is far from ready for prime time if it can’t even boot out of the box.
08 Oct 2010
I use Linux but not Ubuntu I think its a little bit too brown and gnomish I use openSUSE 11.3 with KDE much more pretty.
EDITOR'S NOTE: LOL! I've heard plenty of reasons for not liking Linux, but "too brown and gnomish" is a first! :-)