Showing posts with label disk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disk. Show all posts

Friday, 21 January 2011

How to prepare your Windows disk for a Ubuntu installation

By default Ubuntu will install itself alongside your Windows partition and create a dual boot system, giving the ability to boot into Ubuntu or Windows. A dual boot setup is ideal for first time Ubuntu users.

In order to achieve this the Ubuntu installer will shrink your Windows partition and make space for its own partitions.

To help make this process run as smooth as possible it is recommended that you do the following steps,

1. Clean up your Windows installation
2. Defrag your hard disk

Below you will find guidance on how to perform these steps. *Based on Windows 7, Vista and XP may vary


If you are a Windows 7 or Vista user, you have the ability to shrink your Windows partition in Windows rather than relying on the Ubuntu installer. If you wish to do this instead please refer to the last section titled 'Shrinking your Windows partition' at the end.

Clean up your Windows installation (Windows 7 / Vista and XP users)

Click on Start > Computer

Right click on your (C:) drive and select properties.

Click on Disk Clean up

Click on Clean up system files

Click on the 'More Options' tab

If you have any programs you no longer use click on the 'Clean up' button in the 'Programs and Features' box. Also click on the 'Clean up' button in the 'System Restore and Shadow Copies' box to remove old and outdated restore points.

Now go back to the 'Disk Cleanup' tab

Tick all / the appropriate files to delete and click on the 'ok' button.

Defrag your hard disk (Windows 7 / Vista / XP users)

Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter

Select your (C:) drive and click on the 'Defragment disk' button

The time it takes to complete the defrag depends on the speed of your system and amount of disk space in use.

Shrinking your Windows partition (Windows 7 and Vista users only)

If you are using Windows 7 or Vista, you have the ability to shrink your Windows partition in Windows rather than relying on the Ubuntu installer.

In either case, I recommend creating a backup disk image of your Windows system before shrinking your Windows partition since this is more or less a permanent change.

Redo Backup and Recovery is a great free disk cloning program, see How to use Redo Backup and Recovery to clone your Windows disk for more details.

In the Windows start menu search for 'Computer Management'

Click on the 'Computer Management' program

Navigate to Storage > Disk Management in the left hand side plane

Right click your mouse button on the (C:) drive partition

This will bring up a context menu, select the 'Shrink Volume...' option

A dialogue resembling the above will appear, enter the amount of disk space you wish to shrink your (C:) drive partition by. As you can see I have entered 30000 MB (in other words 30GB).

If you are interested in the minimum amount you can use for a default Ubuntu install I would recommend not lower than 15GB. More space is obviously better as you can then install more programs and create / download more files.

When you have entered your amount click on the 'Shrink' button.

After a while, Windows will return to the main Computer Management interface and you should see a partition described as 'Unallocated' with the size you specified, in my case about 30GB.

You have now successfully created space for your Ubuntu installation. Please do not format this 'Unallocated' space, leave it as it is in its unformatted state.

Now proceed with your Ubuntu install.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

How to create your Linux installation CD / DVD in Windows

After downloading a Linux distribution of your choice the next major step is to create the installation CD or DVD.

You will more than likely have downloaded a disc image (*.iso) file which needs to be burnt to a CD or DVD and is a simple process.

However even the most simplest of tasks can have complications caused by a number of factors, for example a corrupted download, poor CD / DVD media, a rubbish DVD writer drive or poor burning software.

I have in the past encounted issues as a result of a poor DVD Writer I once had, an NEC ND-2510A which has to be the worse optical drive I have ever owned. It has created more frisbees than discs.

For the past fews years I have been using a Sony AW-G170A DVD Writer optical drive and it has been extremely reliable. I have yet to have a burn go wrong.

A very common cause of corrupted installation media is due to using very cheap unbranded poor quality discs. Good quality discs are cheap enough anyway, so stay away from these silver frisbees!

Verify your downloaded disc image before burning it

It is sometimes a good idea to verify your downloaded disc image before burning it to make sure it is not corrupt or modified.

You may notice an MD5 or SHA1 checksum is provided for your download.

If the MD5 / SHA1 checksum of the file you have downloaded does not match the MD5 / SHA1 checksum listed, it simply means you have a different file.

How to find the MD5 or SHA1 of a file?

I use this cool utility called HashTab, it is available from

Once installed, right click on the file you wish to check and select properties. Then click on the tab labelled 'File Hashes'

Note: The Hash Values in this picture are for illustrative purposes only!

Burning your Linux disc image

Use your favourite image burning software or if you do not have one here are two very good free programs that I would recommend.


Launch ImgBurn > write image file to disc > select the file > click on write


Launch CDBurnerXP > Burn ISO iamge > select your file > Burn disc

Disc Image burning FAQ's

Q. I created a disc but during installation it is reported as being corrupted and fails.

A. Try burning at a lower speed, for example if your disc media is rated at 16x try 8x. This will result in a better burn. Alternatively try a different brand disc or if using a RW use a R.

Q. My Optical writer has trouble reading / writing the majority of DVD-R and DVD+R discs.

A. Try updating your optical drive's firmware. If that fails, maybe its time for a newer drive.

Q. Should I use DVD-R or DVD+R?

A. Doesnt matter, but generally DVD-R is more widely used.

Q. Is it ok to use Re-Write (RW) discs instead of Write once (R) discs?

A. Yes but the write speed of most RW discs is significantly slower than R discs and you may also encounter further issues with RW discs, for example other optical drives apart from the original used to create the disc may have difficulty reading the disc you created.

Compatibility with RW discs is still an issue. Given the price, write speed and above issues, I would suggest to stick to R discs only for better reliability.

Q. I know my Optical drive and DVD media are good but the installation says the media is corrupt.

A. Try the some of the above recommendations and also verify the downloaded disc image by comparing the md5 checksum / SHA1 or GPG key.

Use a different burning program such as ImgBurn.  

Alternatively try a different Optical drive, get someone else to burn the disc. If it works, your "I know my Optical blabla bla works" could be nothing more than a bad assumption.