Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Installing linux

  1. Jul 28, 2007 #1
    Hey everyone,

    A while back I started a thread asking what kind of laptop a 1st year cs student should get. I ended up purchasing a dell inspiron 1501 for $800. It came preinstalled with vista, however I know it is imperative that I learn to use Linux. After looking at the different distributions, I think I'm going to order Ubuntu. Now I've heard that all one needs to do is put the linux disk in, and it will take care of everything from there. Does this mean I don't have to format my hard drive or have a dual boot? What would you guys recommend I do to safely install linux on my windows machine (ive heard that dual boots done by noobs like myself can permanently damage a computer). Is it possible to just go to a local best buy or circuit city and have them do it for me?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    You can just insert the linux disk and it will install itself. The installer will suggest that you format your entire hard drive for the linux file system (ext3). You can partition your drive manually though, to make a double boot. You should then take care that you make a Windows partition first (NTFS), then a Linux and swap partition (ext3 and swap resp.). If you want to share data between the two OSes, you best make a FAT32 partition for that, as both Windows and Linux can read AND write that natively. Then proceed to install Ubuntu on the second (ext3) partition. After that, you can re-install windows on the first partition. Then all you might need to do is update the grub (boot loader) configuration file to include Windows in the start-up menu, so you are given a choice which OS you want to boot into on startup (it can do that automatically by some command, I think it was something like grub-update).

    This may sound complicated if you're doing it for the first time, but in practice it's not hard. Just observe the correct order (the Ubuntu install will partition your hard drive for you, so you should do that first; but Windows likes to be the first on the hard disk so make sure it's in the first partition). The unfortunate side-effect of installing BOTH is that you need to partition the drive one way or another, which will lose your Windows install (the up-side is that you can partition it any way you want right away).
    If you really look up to it, you can of course always try to find someone who will do it for you; but if you did this once or twice and get the hang of it there's really nothing to it.
  4. Jul 28, 2007 #3
  5. Oct 27, 2007 #4
    I'm running Ubuntu Gutsy on a Dell 1501 right now. :D

    Everything works pretty well. You should connect it with a network cable after booting and run the restricted drivers manager to install the wireless card driver. Pretty much everything else works right out of the box.

    There are a few things you should consider, though. On the newer linux kernel that's included in Gutsy, you will not be able to suspend or hibernate if you are using ATI's graphics driver. The only way to have 3D acceleration and suspend/resume is to use an older version of Ubunbu (easy solution), downgrade or recompile your linux kernel (hard solution) or wait for ATI to fix their buggy driver (lazy solution).

    As for the dual-boot worries, if you mess up the bootloader you can always reload it using the linux livecd and the "grub-install" command.

    Oh yeah, check out this guy's blog:
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2007
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook