How to Install Ubuntu on a Computer With No Operating System

by Al Bondigas
computer image by blaine stiger from

Although a computer needs an operating system to work, it may be cheaper to buy one that does not have an operating system already installed. Other than the potential cost difference, a PC with an empty hard drive gives you the chance to install your own operating system and customize your computer the way you want. If you have a new computer with no operating system installed, or a used one with the hard drive wiped clean, you can install Ubuntu from a live CD. When booting directly from a live Ubuntu CD, you are bypassing the hard drive and using the Ubuntu system on the CD-ROM instead.

Step 1

Download or order a live CD from the Ubuntu website. If you download Ubuntu, use another computer to burn the downloaded .iso file to a CD as an ISO image. Check under the Tools menu of your CD burner and use the command for "Burn CD image." You can also order a live CD through the Ubuntu website (see Resources).

Step 2

Insert the Ubuntu live CD into the CD-ROM bay and boot up the computer.

Step 3

Select "Try" or "Install" in the first dialog box, depending on whether you wish to test-drive Ubuntu. If you choose the latter, double-click on the "Install Ubuntu" when you are ready.

Step 4

Choose a language for your installation and Click on "Forward."

Step 5

Select your time zone and press "Forward."

Step 6

Choose a keyboard layout. The standard U.S. English QWERTY keyboard will be USA/USA. Click "Forward" when done.

Step 7

Choose your partitioning layout. If you are installing Ubuntu on a computer hard drive that has no operating system, select "Erase and use entire disk." Press "Forward" when done.

Step 8

Select "ext3" for a file system under the Use As dialog. Click in the checkbox by Format, and then choose "/" for the mount point.

Step 9

Type in your real name, then a username--the default is your first name in lowercase. Choose a password and type it into the two boxes provided.

Step 10

Click "Install" and wait for Ubuntu to install itself. This will take at least a half hour.

Click "Restart Now." The computer will reboot into your new Ubuntu installation.


  • If you're accustomed to using Windows, there may be a learning curve with using Ubuntu.


  • The installation process will take some time, particularly on an old system. If you're test-driving Ubuntu, shut down your other programs before installing.
  • Ubuntu will run much faster when installed to the hard drive than from the live CD.


Photo Credits

About the Author

Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.

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