Ubuntu Installation Guide for Guest OS (and Server)

Ubuntu Installation GuideUbuntu is a popular Linux distribution for both desktop and server use. It is one of the most widely used Linux distro. Whether you want to install Ubuntu as a server operating system or as a guest OS in a virtual machine (VMware Player, for instance), this guide would be of help. Just that for server, you have to skip the instructions specific for a virtual machine.

Installing Ubuntu as a guest operating system for experimenting with various blog software, theme or any script is a good idea because a virtual machine is independent of your host operating system. Even if you accidentally delete something, it will not affect the host machine you are running on.

Note: For people who are interested in installing Ubuntu as a virtual machine, there was a version of Ubuntu created specifically for virtual machine. Ubuntu JeOS (pronounced “Juice”) stands for Just enough Operating System. It is an efficient variant of Ubuntu server operating system, configured specifically for virtual appliances. The kernel, for instance, only contains the base elements needed to run within a virtualized environment. However, in Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, you may install a minimal virtual machine from the Ubuntu Server Edition Installation CD by pressing F4. Alternatively, you may also use Ubuntu’s vmbuilder. As of this writing, I’ve tested vmbuilder but it is just a bit too complex for average users at this stage. A simple test to generate a virtual machine for VMware Player ended in opening three bug reports. For that reason, this guide will show you how to install Ubuntu minimally instead of using vmbuilder.

Although for the sake of demonstration, this tutorial series will use Ubuntu, by no means VMware is limited to this Linux distro only. Note that I’ve been running RedHat, CentOS and even compile my own Linux distribution from scratch using VMware without any problem.

As VMware Player is available for both Windows and Linux platforms, you can follow along the tutorial as long as you run Windows and Linux as the host operating system. Mac users are out of luck, but they can still purchase VMware Fusion and install virtual machines.

Choosing Your Virtual Machine Installation Method

There are at least two ways to produce virtual machine optimized for Ubuntu installation:

  1. By acquiring (downloading) Ubuntu Server Edition ISO. Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy) has JEOS ISO image which is only about 100Mb with less than 300Mb installed footprint. However, if you want Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid), you must download full ISO, but pick minimal installation. Minimal Ubuntu Installation CD is available for Ubuntu too. If you have a fast Internet connection, you may download this version and let Ubuntu grab packages during installation.
  2. Using standard Ubuntu Server installation, but optimize it for virtualization with JeOSVMBuilder. The new vmbuilder is updated for Ubuntu 8.10, which is very close to the launch date as of this writing. vmbuilder sounds promising, I will test it again some time in the future.

Of course, if you want to install Ubuntu for a server, the first choice is the only viable option.

For this tutorial, I’m going to use Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex v8.10. Because the process also shows you how to install Linux Ubuntu, you should be able to adapt this tutorial even if you choose to install using JeOS ISO (v8.04).

It is recommended that you have an active, unlimited and fast Internet connection because after minimal installation, we will set Ubuntu to fetch various packages from the Internet.

For those who are interested to test various blog software, blog themes or blog plugins, you may proceed with the blog installation easily.

Acquiring Ubuntu Linux CD-ROM or ISO Image

ISO image is just raw CD-ROM data stored in a file. That means you can download a .iso image and write to CD or use it directly as a virtual CD-ROM.

VMware supports virtual device so you don’t have to write the data into a CD. As it is raw data, the size can be quite enormous. Ubuntu 8.10 Server Edition is about 600MB. After installation, if you want to install additional packages, you should be connected to the Internet to download the necessary packages.

Here is the download link for Ubuntu. Please choose a mirror near you for a better and faster download experience.

If Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, which is supported until 2013 sounds great for you, just for exercise, you may go ahead and install Ubuntu 8.04. The difference in installation — but not with the vmbuilder tool — should be minimal that you still could follow along very well.

If you have a quite decent machine, running a full Ubuntu distribution is not an entirely bad idea either. In all cases, the virtual machine will outperform a native Windows machine in performance, especially when installing a web server for experimenting with blog software.

After download, you need to change ide0:0.fileName in the configuration file (.vmx) to full path where the image file resides. This is necessary for the machine to boot the installation CD when you turn on the machine.

Installing Ubuntu Server Edition with VMware Player

Launch VMware Player either by running the program or double click on the VMware configuration file (.vmx).

The machine will start automatically. Because the virtual disk contains no operating system yet, VMware is smart enough to boot from the ISO image file during boot-up. There is no need to adjust the BIOS setting.

The first screen lists over 50 languages to choose from. I believe this has started to amaze you. Ubuntu is indeed a powerful operating system that I personally use for production environment. I’ve just read recently Wikipedia adopted Ubuntu for its server infrastructure.

Well, I digress but that’s how your customer will react if they love your product, I suppose…

After you choose the language, you will be able to see a menu like the following. You may check CD for defects, test memory, boot from first hard disk or even use this CD to rescue a broken system.

Ubuntu Server Installation - Welcome Screen

On this screen, it is important that you press F4 – Modes to only install a minimal system — which is the package selection equivalent to JeOS. In Ubuntu 8.10 release, you will be able to install minimal for virtual machine. Pick that if you install it in VMware Player.

Ubuntu Minimal System

Pick Install Ubuntu Server to start the installation process.

In the next screen, you will be asked again for a language. This one will be used for the installation process and as the default language for the final system.

If you choose English, which is what I do, you should be prompted to choose a country, territory or area. As always hit Enter to proceed with your selection.

Ubuntu installation process will then detect your keyboard layout through a series of questions. In this case, it successfully detects my keyword layout as “us,” so let’s Continue to the next step.

Type in the hostname for the system. A hostname is a single word that identifies your system to the network. ubuntu is not a bad name for identity, unless of course, you have multiple Ubuntu servers installed or running at a time. For server, you may use your domain name.

The process will continue by setting the clock based on a time server and let you pick a timezone. After that, it will detect various storage device (virtual hard drives) and prompt you to partition your disk.

For people who want more flexibility, Manual method is the way to go. For most people, Guided – use entire disk is a pretty safe answer. Using LVM (Linux Volume Manager) is out of the scope of this tutorial though.

The next screen warns you that all the data on the disk will be erased if you choose to proceed. Remember this is the blank disk image that you’ve downloaded or created before, so it is still blank. Now you are ready to format and load it with Ubuntu server.

If you confirm that, Ubuntu starts to divide your disk into two partitions. One partition is for the system files and the other is for swap files (extended memory on disk drives).

Ubuntu Partition

Proceed to the next step by choosing Yes to write changes to the disks.

Ubuntu installation process will now format your virtual hard disk and installing the base system into the newly created disk.

Ubuntu Install Base

The installation process may take some time, depends on your computer speed and other factors. When it finally finishes, you will be asked to set up users and passwords. Follow the instructions and create one account that you will use for login later.

Ubuntu lets you setup encrypted private directory to protect your files, but this is not necessary especially in a test environment, so pick No.

You could enter your HTTP proxy information if you use one to access the Internet. This is necessary to configure the package manager and install additional packages later. Leave this blank for none.

Based on your input, Ubuntu installation will go out, scan the mirror and configure package manager (apt) for you. Don’t worry though, Ubuntu won’t try to update anything unless you let it to. In the next screen, you will be able to choose if you want to install security updates automatically or other options.

You may also manage the system with Landscape, which is a web-based system management service by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. For this demonstration, I’ll pick No automatic updates.

The next screen allows you to tune the system to your needs. You may pick various software options to install. If you are going with Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, LAMP is an option for you to pick.

However, in this case you are going to install either LEMP (nginx) or LLMP (lighttpd). As I’ll show you how to do this from scratch, you can skip this step without picking a thing.

Ubuntu Choose Software to Install

Wait for the system to install software packages for you. When it is done, you have completed the installation process. Now it is not as difficult as you may think, isn’t it?

Ubuntu Installation Completed

Let the system reboot and start the newly installed system for you. If you are new to Linux, chances are most of the message on the screen look like gobbledygook. It doesn’t matter at all.

Once you’ve seen the login prompt, enter the user name and password you’ve created above to login.

Ubuntu Login Screen

Once you’re logged in, use the following command to check disk space.

df -h

Ubuntu Check Used Disk Space

A minimal system takes about 517M with no additional packages installed, which may seem like a lot to some users. However, even with 4GB virtual hard drive, you still have ample of room to play.

Note: If you pick the minimal for virtual machine mode during installation, the disk space used is only 300-400MB.

Let’s check for the amount of memory used by this system.

free -m

Ubuntu Check Free Memory

Ubuntu uses only about 39MB, including the buffers and cached data. Suddenly 256MB seems like a lot for this kind of setup, so depends on the final system you may adjust the memory allocate for your virtual machine.

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