How to Install Linux on a Windows XP Computer


The world of computers is changing. Viruses, spyware and frequent crashes are encouraging some to explore new operating systems such as Linux. Linux comes in many distributions, but in 2010, the de-facto choice is Ubuntu Linux. With a little preparation, you can install Ubuntu alongside your Windows XP installation and explore Linux for yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP computer
  • Ubuntu Linux install disc
  • Clean out files on Windows XP to make sure there are several gigabytes of free space on the hard drive to use for Ubuntu Linux.

  • Back up all your files on Windows XP. As the old saying goes, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Run Disk Defragmenter on your Windows XP computer until most of your files are toward the front of your hard drive.

  • Insert your Ubuntu Linux CD into your optical drive. Make sure your computer is set to boot from the optical drive.

  • In Windows XP, go to Start, Shut Down, Restart. The computer will reboot.

  • Ubuntu Linux will present you with a menu. Select the option to start of Start Ubuntu. It can take several minutes to load drivers, but it will eventually present you with the desktop.

  • Play with the software available on the disc to make your decision to install Ubuntu Linux. Near the top left of the screen is a folder called Examples. Within it, you will find various files ranging from video to spreadsheets to help you test Ubuntu Linux.

  • Click the Install icon beneath the Examples folder to start the Ubiquity installer. The first screen will remind you about having a backup of your data. Click "Forward" to continue to the language screen.

  • Choose your language of preference and click "Continue." You will be taken to a location screen. To choose your location, you can click on the map or use a drop-down screen to select a city. Make your choice and click "Forward" to continue to the Keyboard screen.

  • Choose the keyboard type compatible with the keyboard you are using. Test the keyboard choice by typing in the box provided, and click "Forward" when you are finished.

  • Type your full name in the field labeled "What is your name?" Select a username for logging onto the system and choose a password. Choose a name for the computer. Click "Forward" to enter the partitioner.

  • Click the first option for automatically resizing the disk and click Forward. A warning will appear asking if you are ready to install, and will show the choices you have made. Verify that the choices are correct, read all warnings and click Install to continue. A status bar will inform you of progress as your disk is partitioned and Linux is installed. You can continue to explore the live CD while Ubuntu Linux installs.

  • Click "Reboot the computer" to eject the disc and finish the installation when the message appears. Remove the disc when it ejects and press <Enter> to reboot the system.

  • Press <Enter> on the first choice when the new Grub bootloader appears to boot your new Ubuntu Linux installation. To boot Windows XP, instead use the arrow keys to scroll to the Windows XP option and click <Enter>.

Tips & Warnings

  • This tutorial uses Ubuntu Linux 6.06. Other versions of Ubuntu Linux may have slight variations in the install process.
  • A good program for moving all of your Windows XP files to the front of the hard disk is JkDefrag, available for free download at There is an option available in the program to compress all of your files.
  • To install additional software, go to System, Administration, Synaptic Package Manager.
  • If you are curious about Linux and wish to try without installing, you can boot from an Ubuntu Linux CD and try it without making any changes to your computer. This is slower than if it were installed on your computer but still a wonderful way to take the operating system for a test drive.
  • To have a set of Ubuntu Linux discs shipped to you free of charge, visit You can also download the most recent version of Ubuntu Linux for free at
  • Ubuntu Forums are a place where you can not only meet other Ubuntu Linux users but receive help and support for transitioning to Ubuntu Linux. You can visit them at
  • There are some peripheral devices that are designed exclusively for Windows, like certain types of modems. Support for these items in Linux is spotty and may not exist for your particular device, despite the fact that Linux works with an large number of devices automatically.

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  • "Moving to Ubuntu Linux;" Marcel Gagné; 2006.
  • Ubuntu
  • Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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