I have never worked with Linux before. I always used Windows. But I'm considering installing Ubuntu on my machine.

I read installing Ubuntu should be very easy. But is there anything I need to keep in mind during the installation?

What are the first things I have to do when I've completed the installation?

  • 17
    if there's something every beginner should do after installing, and it's not done by default, that's a bug in Ubuntu ;) Jun 21, 2011 at 14:18
  • 2
    Your best bet is to take it step by step. Ubuntu is rather simple to install, and in my experience (having been in your shoes once), the best bet is to try to learn as you go - look around, try things, ask questions when you need to.
    – RolandiXor
    Jun 21, 2011 at 14:22
  • Install kubuntu-desktop ! :D
    – scottl
    Jun 27, 2011 at 3:54
  • VTR - Most of the computing world has used Windows and this question will attract much attention. 34k views so far. Some of the answers need revision such as "no Flash" because Flashplayer is built into Chrome and Firefox has a plug-in for it. Reopening might bring more attention to rid the misleading information. New answers might be added such as Difference between DOS command dir and Terminal command ls, etc. Aug 31, 2017 at 23:24
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix I think reopening this might work out, but only if we limit it to the few most common things users actually need to know. Many Windows users have never used dir or the Command Prompt, Ubuntu also has a dir command, and it's easy to find information on ls. If this will turn into a question about all the differences between Windows and Ubuntu that anyone might ever want to know about, then it is definitely too broad. The sort of answer I'd want added here would be what hardware to test with a live USB first and how. (That could just be its own question, though.) Sep 1, 2017 at 5:07

10 Answers 10


Before installing Ubuntu:

  • Most proprietary games by big companies do not work on Ubuntu, although many of them work just fine with PlayOnLinux and Wine. So if you are a gamer, check for compatibility of the games you play and if they don't work consider a dual boot system with Windows.

  • Some proprietary software (for example Photoshop) may not work properly on Ubuntu. So if you are dependent on very special software which is only available for Windows, consider setting up an Ubuntu virtual machine (for example VirtualBox) and test things there using Wine. Wine provides a Windows environment in Linux, so you can install and run Windows programs in Ubuntu itself.

    Testing/Trying things in a virtual machine first is a good idea in general. For example, if you want a more complex partition (with encryption and stuff).

  • For using Ubuntu (and GNU/Linux in general) you sometimes need a lot of discipline and will need to read about things. Some tasks are not very easily done. But we are here for you. The Ubuntu community is very active and helpful. Just be patient and provide as much information about your problem as possible.

After installing Ubuntu:

  • Installing Programs on Ubuntu is different from Windows. It uses a package management system. Packages can be programs but also libraries and other stuff. The package manager makes sure that all the software works well together. And that is not all - if you install a program that needs, for example, Java, the package management system knows that and installs Java automatically. Packages are in repositories. Most Linux distributions have their own repositories and that includes Ubuntu. You can find the software in these repositories in the Ubuntu Software Centre.

  • Ubuntu should set up all you need by itself. Maybe you need to install additional drivers but Ubuntu will usually tell you if you do. Ubuntu should recognize your WLAN and will ask you to log in (or just plug in your network cable).

  • Well, that is all for getting started. Now feel free to explore the community. Ubuntu has all the programs you basically need pre-installed (instant messenger, browser, mail client, word processing, media player, ...).


There are three points I can think of:

  1. Write down your internet connection settings. Ubuntu's support is heavily dependent on the internet. Ubuntu Software Centre is used for installing software that is in the online repositories. To install software manually on Ubuntu, you need to download deb packages and use the Ubuntu Software centre to install them. Ubuntu Software Centre uses APT which is automatically downloads and installs software dependencies, so without the internet Ubuntu is quite hard to use.
  2. Linux doesn't have partition "letters". Extra partitions are mounted in /media/, where / is the root of the file system, which in Windows terms is the "C:" drive. In the file browser you can find the partitions in computer:///.
  3. If you have a graphics card from a company like NVidia or AMD, you'll need proprietary drivers. Ubuntu should automatically ask you to download and install them. It should also do that automatically.

First of all, a beginner should know some major definitions :

Linux refers to the family of Unix-like computer operating systems using the Linux kernel. Linux can be installed on a wide variety of computer hardware, ranging from mobile phones, tablet computers, routers, and video game consoles, to mainframes and supercomputers.Linux is a leading server operating system, and runs the 10 fastest supercomputers in the world.

Ubuntu is a complete desktop Linux operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit.


I was in your situation not long ago: a longtime Windows user trying out Linux (I chose Ubuntu, too) for the first time.

My first suggestion is that you prepare to install Linux several times. That isn't a bad thing! Undoubtedly you will realize after a bit that you might have done some things differently and better, and there will be times when a reinstallation is the best option. It's easy enough and you'll learn quite a bit by doing it.

I took the recommendation and installed the 32-bit version, and it was only later that I learned that I could have installed the 64-bit version (even though my CPU is Intel and not AMD). I'm glad I did: it does seem to run somewhat faster. That was one of my reinstalls and one that you might avoid, but I don't regret it.

I first installed Ubuntu onto an external drive, not wanting to risk Windows and Ubuntu messing with each other. The external drive is USB, and it worked very nicely. However, a USB drive will usually be somewhat slower than an internal drive, especially during bootup, and so I then decided to put Ubuntu onto a partition of my internal hard drive, so there was another reinstall. Again, it was worth doing that way and I'm glad of it: I now have things where I want them, and I'm very aware of the performance differences between the two drives (not as much as I thought) and of the 32-bit vs the 64-bit versions.

I guess, therefore, I would say you should be willing to mess around, read online sites for ideas/software, but don't move everything to Ubuntu right away where it could complicate a reinstall. You don't want to lose your data! Fortunately, though, the install process will offer to copy your Documents and Settings from Windows, so if you choose to do that, even if you wipe out Ubuntu and reinstall you can rest easy that you still have all of your data safe in your Windows partition. (The one problem with this is that all of my music and pictures showed up twice; I figured out which folders to delete to correct that.)

Others have said a lot about getting software, and you'll want to do that. A lot. A couple that I found essential right away are the sound and video codecs (others mentioned those), and the Installer for Microsoft TrueType core fonts (under Fonts in the Software Center; and then whatever other fonts you might want). After that there are lots of other things: I really like Ubuntu Tweak and the Faenza icons (you'll need a PPA for both of these, easily done).

There are several lists online with titles like, "First Things to Do After Installing Natty," and some have good ideas but not are going to be to your liking (and a couple even messed some things up for me), so don't follow them as though every idea is good. Here are a couple (this site won't let me post more than two), and you can probably easily find more by searching a bit:



And remember that most mistakes can be undone pretty easily. Oh, and just so you know, I almost feel bad that I never boot into Windows anymore, but I really don't need it now. Ubuntu works great and does everything I need to do.


Packaging system

In my opinion, the most important thing for beginners to know when switching to a major Linux distribution is that the usual way of installing software is different on Linux.

Totally different.

The Windows approach is that the operating system comes with a bare minimum of included software, and for anything else, even somewhat "essential" things like office suites, you need to buy, download and install them separately, using separate installers.

On a Linux distribution, this is not how it goes. Virtually all the software you will ever need is provided by the operating system as part of their official update mechanism, which is run by their package manager.

This includes several office suites, several photo editors, several video editors, several browsers, several instant messengers, several text editors/IDEs, and so on. There are literally about thirty thousand software packages provided by Ubuntu, which you can install at any time from its own packaging system. It is very rare to have to install something that isn't provided by your distribution.

This is even more the case with Ubuntu, which even provides several closed-source applications such as Skype and Flash - which on some other Linux distributions would be exceptions to the general rule (Skype requires you to enable Ubuntu's "partner" repository). In Ubuntu, even these, and other closed-source applications like Adobe Reader, are available from its repositories.

In a major Linux distribution, installing software the "old fashioned" way is almost always a mistake, unless the software is rare enough not to exist in your distribution's software repositories.

If you find an online tutorial telling you to download PHP as a .tar.gz from php.net, that is the wrong way to do it. If you find an online tutorial telling you to download a .deb file from a website in order to install, say, Filezilla, you're doing it wrong.

If the software is provided by your distribution, which if it is open source software that is reasonably popular and useful it will be, then the right way to do it is via your package manager.

Users, especially beginners, should be especially cautious about installing any software that doesn't come from their distribution's packaging system. This includes, in Ubuntu, the use of PPAs. Unless you are doing something quite unusual, and you accept the responsibilities of having non-distribution-maintained software on your system, find the equivalent in your distribution's repositories and install that.

That is, in my opinion, the most important thing that newbies should understand when they are new to a Linux distribution.

  1. Directly after installation Ubuntu might not have all the codecs, flash, java and so on that you need. You can check the box during installation to install 3rd party software OR install the "restricted extras" package from Software Center.

  2. To install some applications and for other purposes, you might have to use Terminal, which is like Windows' Console, but much more powerful. You usually only need to type a few lines - nothing hard.

  3. There are LOTS of Linux distributions. Ubuntu might be the friendliest, but you might consider trying Linux Mint, which is like a modification of Ubuntu with a different display manager and look and some different packages (although it uses Ubuntu repositories). Mint is known as a comfortable switch for Windows users.


Since you are not just new to Ubuntu, but Linux, you will probably want to get familiar with the much-more-powerful command-line that will be available to you.

The following link gives an overview of the most common commands, and contains plenty of links to give more detail where you are interested: http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2010/11/50-linux-commands/

When you have finished that article, you will understand the basic uses of tar, grep, sed, awk, ls, xargs, find, and many more. And once you are comfortable with these tools, you will find Windows even more lacking.

As others have said, you will want to be aware that software should be installed using the Software Center (or apt-get from the command line). And expect that the software that you need should be available for free.


I recommend you have a friend who can help you out and make the change more enjoyable. One of the great strengths of free software is the community. The community loves to help people get started.

I've tried to put together a replacement homepage / default start page for Ubuntu beginners that includes many links to get involved with the community and find help. There is copy of it here: http://newbuntu.org/

I would also suggest looking up your local Linux Users Group (LUG) and/or Ubuntu Local Community (LOCO) group.


As other have said re-installs and trial and error is likely to be important to you in Ubuntu. Finding answers to your problems is really simple with a few online searches, and you can always ask for help here.

When you install Ubuntu, I recommend you make a separate /home partition as this will allow all your personal files and program settings to remain after a clean installation, and all you will have to do is re-install the programs.

Installing in Ubuntu is amazing by using the sudo apt-get install 'program-name' command and if you don't like that you can always use the Software Center. A program like aptoncd is good as it allows you to backup your downloaded programs in an iso files and if you want to re-install Ubuntu you don't need to re-download them because you already have them.

If you have more than 2GB RAM and your CPU allows it then I recommend you install the 64-bit version.

After reinstalling I usually run these commands to install useful programs

sudo apt-get update  
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak  
sudo apt-get install winff  
sudo apt-get install cheese  
sudo apt-get install camorama  
sudo apt-get install samba  
sudo apt-get install gnome-do  
sudo apt-get install p7zip-full
sudo apt-get install wine  
sudo apt-get install vlc  
sudo apt-get install openshot  
sudo apt-get install skype  
sudo apt-get install emesene  
sudo apt-get install gimp  
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras  
sudo apt-get install glipper ## clipboard  
sudo apt-get install furiusisomount  
sudo apt-get install avidemux  
sudo apt-get install audacity  
sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 ## for playing encrypted DVDs  

For Ubuntu 32-bit: To be able to watch videos and see Flash websites in your Firefox you need to install Adobe Flash plugin. Open Ubuntu Software Center and search for "flash"

sudo apt-get install build-essential checkinstall cdbs devscripts dh-make fakeroot libxml-parser-perl check avahi-daemon    
sudo apt-get install unace rar unrar zip unzip p7zip-rar sharutils uudeview mpack lha arj cabextract
sudo apt-get install gparted   

And remember don't be afraid to experiment. In Ubuntu you will be reading a lot every day and learning a lot more. But in the end it's worth it.

  • there are more qualifications necessary to install the 64bit version of ubuntu. i.e. a 64bit processor Sep 1, 2017 at 4:14

The Ubuntu-community has a pretty nice help-page for beginners: https://help.ubuntu.com/community

And a page with some practical differences between Ubuntu and Windows: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwitchingToUbuntu/FromWindows

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