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I am downloading Ubuntu 12.04.3-desktop. Is this the correct file to use for notebook computers? If yes, why not label it as such? If no, what version should I use for my notebook?

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The designation of "Desktop Edition" in this case isn't meant in contrast to "Laptop", but in contrast to "Server Edition".

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you can install desktop versions on laptops as well. I would use 12.04 LTS because of Long Term Support.

For extended support, choose Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS is a long-term support release. It has continuous hardware support improvements as well as guaranteed security and support updates until April 2017.

download here

The installation instruction here

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