How to install Ubuntu LTS Desktop

  • By Christopher Kielty, last updated May 22, 2018

In this guide we go over the installation of Ubuntu Desktop 14.04.1 LTS. LTS stands for Long Term Support. With this version, Ubuntu guarantees five years of security and maintenance updates. Ubuntu recommends this version for most users.

See also: How to change the keyboard map in Ubuntu to something like Dvorak or a different language

We’ll typically want to set this up on an x86 compatible desktop or laptop computers. Although it is possible to install Ubuntu on more exotic devices, that’s beyond the scope of this article. As the name implies, this version of Ubuntu is for desktop style setups.

If you’re interested in building a Ubuntu server, there’s a separate version of the OS for that, too. You can learn more about Ubuntu server on their website.

There are also versions of Ubuntu designed to run on tablets, phones, and other such devices. Although it is possible to install Ubuntu on certain Android phones and tablets, that’s intended more for developers.

Prepare the install media

Ok! Let’s get going. First, you’ll want to download the Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS ISO image from their website. You’ll likely want the 64 bit version, unless you’re using very old hardware. Anything much older than Intel Core 2 (introduced in 2006) is probably 32 bit.

Ubuntu download page

See also: How to make a bootable linux install disk

Once you have the ISO downloaded, it’s time to make a bootable USB thumb drive or CD. Nothing against CDs but because most computers these days lack an optical drive, it’s probably best to go the USB thumb drive route.

Make sure your data is backed up and safe

Please make sure you’ve backed up all of your data before proceeding. The installation process will wipe out all of the data from whatever drive we are installing to. If you have a separate computer you’re using for Ubuntu, that’s great. However, if this is your main computer we’re using, it might be better to dual boot. Another option would be to use an external drive, although this will likely be slower.

Restart and boot from the install disk

Once you have your installation media prepared, plug it in and restart the computer. When the computer restarts, we have to tell it to boot from the Ubuntu install disk we’ve made. This can be a little tricky because exactly how to do it varies from system to system.

Selecting the startup disk on a Mac

On a Mac, start up the computer, then hold down the option key. After a few moments, a menu will appear where you can select which device to boot from. Select the Ubuntu install disk and you’re good to go.

If you’re holding down the option key but your Mac is still booting into OS X, you might be pressing it too late. More recent Macs start up pretty darn fast, so the window of opportunity is small. Make sure to start holding the key down before the first Apple logo appears during startup (the one on the grey screen).

Selecting the startup disk on a PC

On a PC, we’ll likely want to open the BIOS setup utility. From there, we can switch the boot order to try to boot from a USB disk first. Getting into BIOS can be a little tricky if you’ve never done it before. It’s not complicated. It’s just a matter of knowing which key to press and when.

During the first few seconds of being powered on, or just after a restart, your PC does a power on self test (POST). During these precious few seconds, there will usually be a message near the bottom of the screen saying something to the effect of "Press Del to enter setup". Although Del is common, F2 and other such keys are sometimes used instead.

Some motherboards even employ a special utility designed specifically for selecting the boot disk. This kind of utility is usually accessed using the F12 key.

If all you see during the initial startup phase is some kind of graphic, try hitting esc or tab get out of it.

If you’re on a desktop PC with a wireless keyboard, you may need a wired keyboard to get this done. There are a variety of issues with using a wireless keyboard to do low level configuration. While it’s sometimes possible to do, you might try a good ol’ wired keyboard if you’re running into trouble.

Setting Ubuntu install options

After a few more moments, we should see the welcome screen. Select your language on the left (English is default) and hit Install Ubuntu.

Alternatively, you can press the Try Ubuntu button to give Ubuntu a try before installing. This option will launch what's known as a live system. It runs Ubuntu from RAM instead of actually installing it on a disk. When you restart, everything in RAM is erased. This is a pretty nifty feature that is pretty common among various Linux distributions.

Ubuntu installer welcome screen

On the next screen, the installer verifies we have at least 6.5 GB of free space and are connected to the internet. Having an active internet connection during the is important because it affords us some very convenient features.

To make sure we start with a system that has all the most recent updates, click the “Download updates while installing” checkbox. Also, click the “Install third-party software” checkbox to have the installer download proprietary software and drivers. This extra software helps make sure Ubuntu is able to use flash and mp3 files and that the video card has the correct driver.

Preparing to install Ubuntu

Now, confirm that this process will delete any files on the disk.

Ubuntu installation type

Several more screens will guide you through selecting your time zone, choosing a proper keyboard layout, then setting up your username and password. Once these are all complete, the Ubuntu installation begins.

Ubuntu installation progress

Complete the installation and boot into Ubuntu

Once the installation is complete, you will be prompted to restart the computer. Click Restart Now to boot into your fresh new Ubuntu system!

Remember, if you’ve set your computer to boot from a USB drive first, you’ll want to remove the USB drive that we used to install Ubuntu. Otherwise, it’ll just start the installation process again. Alternatively, you can go into BIOS again and change it back to boot from the hard drive first.

Ubuntu installer restart

Once the system boots, you’ll be prompted to login. Use the username and password you chose during setup.

Ubuntu login prompt

Congratulation! You now have a fresh new install of Ubuntu Desktop 14.04.1 LTS!