In Which I Reveal Another Side of Myself

On Sunday, I spent around 8 hours fighting with technology. I know everyone has a story like this. Sometimes, technology doesn’t play nice and we end up spending hours wrestling with it. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s torture. Sunday was torture until I succeeded. Then, the whole afternoon was coloured with the rosy twist of fun. Imagine that.

What did I do?

I put Linux on a computer.

Without the help of a CD ROM drive.

With only a wee little bit of computing knowledge and a lot of help from the Internet.

Because it was harder than I expected it to be, I decided a simple tutorial might help others in my position out. Because really, if I had actually known what I was doing and didn’t have to spend so much time wading through all the techy speak to find help I could actually understand, I would have had it done in an hour.

Then again, this is Linux we’re talking about. Why the heck did we decide to go Linux? We have a small computer – an Acer Aspire One – that we mainly use for browsing the Internet, blogging, you know, Cloud stuff. It’s not a powerful little computer and, over the years (only almost 3!) it’s slowed down, filled up with spyware, clogged with useless programs. It was time to fix it. We moved all our important files – photos, resumes, budgets, etc. – to our more powerful, full-sized laptop and, on Sunday night, we set to work, passing the laptop between us when one got too frustrated and ran out of ideas.

In the end, trying about five different things, and starting over six times, we successfully booted Linux, installed, and wiped Windows out. Our little computer is shiny clean and ready for another 2 years of Interneting.

I know, this post is a bit of a switch-up from the normal decorating and renovating one might find around here, but after the struggle that was aided greatly by a lot of research, I figured I could help contribute by translating the wealth of knowledge for us slightly less techy folk. Those interested, jump to the rest of the post for more details and a step by step. Those who know more about this stuff than I do, please, feel free to correct any mistakes I may have made!
The Problems We Ran Into

  1. The Acer has no CD ROM drive. We had a disk – given to us by a friend from church – but without a drive, it wasn’t a simple matter of popping it in and turning the computer on. We tried running it through the network from our other laptop, but after that failed, we resorted to simply downloading Ubuntu (a distribution of Linux) directly from their website. What to do with it from there? Well, that took another two hours.
  2. Upon booting, Windows was not checking to see what other operating systems we might want to use. We had a very narrow chance to hit F2 to see the system to setups and change the boot options. I was the queen of started and restarting by the end of it all.
  3. Eventually, we succeeded and installed Linux. But, Windows still existed. It had installed, but hadn’t reformatted. We went back to square one and finally, finally, all the pieces fell together.

How To Install Ubuntu on an Acer Aspire One.
For People Who Know Only A Little Bit About Computers

Step One

Go the the Ubuntu website and download Ubuntu Desktop. Make note of the location it goes to. It’s probably your Download folder which is found inside your Documents folder.

Step Two

Download the Pen Drive Linux’s USB Installer. Run it and follow the on-screen instructions. Note, if you don’t have a USB stick – as I do not – a camera card will work. And if you don’t feel like formatting the card before you do this, no worries – your photos will not be lost!

Voila. Your bootable USB stick is made.

Step Three


Restart your computer. You may need to do a hard restart; ie: hold down the power button for a count of 8 or so, then turn it back on. Why? Your computer may be set to do a quick reboot, which will mean it will skip right past the setup windows. This was one of the many problems we ran in to.

Step Four


On the very first screen, make note: Does it give you an option to hit F2 for setups and F12 for a boot menu? If so, hit F12. If not, Hit F2.

If you hit F2


Go to System and Enable the F12 boot menu. Save your changes and restart again. Hit F12 this time and the very first screen. (Seriously, be quick. It lasts about 2 seconds.)

Step Five


When you hit F12, the computer will display your boot menu. Use your arrow keys to select the USB stick or the Multi-Card-USB if you’re like me and using an SD card. Press Enter.

Step Six


Watch Ubuntu install! Eventually, it will open and the Ubuntu install utility will display. Follow the on-screen directions, but make sure you choose to install Ubuntu and remove the other operating systems.

And there you are. Ubuntu’d!

0 thoughts on “In Which I Reveal Another Side of Myself

  1. I did! About 5 years ago. My brother put Linux on my old laptop when the hard drive died and he replaced it for me. A couple months later I got frustrated with not knowing how to fix the wireless when it broke and went back to Windows.

    I am older and wiser now.

    I thought you might be. In truth, I totally wrote this post just for you. πŸ™‚

  2. isn't ubuntu awesome? this is pretty much what I do with all my old systems (which I then donate to my Mom). For people who are still tethered to the windows os, it is posible to partition the drive (from within windows) and install ubuntu on the new partition for a dual boot system.

  3. Yes!

    We may partition and install Ubuntu on the partition for our other laptop (a 2.5 year old Dell Inspiron). I discovered that Adobe Editions – which I use for my Kobo – does not have a Linux version. So, I need Windows somewhere to make sure all my eBooks are safe. Other than that, I'm pretty well ready to give up on Windows, especially since Linux has such a pretty price tag. πŸ™‚

    Glad I'm not the only occassionally geeky house blogger out there!

  4. I'm always pleased to see non-techie people taking a chance on Linux. Ubuntu is great, and has continued to get more user-friendly since the first time I installed it 8 years ago. It really prolongs the life of old machines, is more secure, and has fun options like the ability to easily apply themes.

    FYI you may want to check out Calibre for managing your eBooks. It supports most formats, and runs on Linux, Windows, and OS X. I've found that most of the time an alternative software can be found for Linux, although sometimes it's not worth the compromise (ie. Adobe Photoshop vs. GIMP).

  5. Thanks for the tip Kirsten! A coworker tipped me off to Calibre this morning after he read this. I've also learned that I can use a Windows emulator called Wine if all else fails… As it is, I still have two Windows machines (another home laptop and a work laptop) that I can do the ebook thing with if necessary.

  6. This is a agreat idea; I'm definitely going to save it. I have an old Asus that I barely used because it ran so slow with Windows. No cd drive, no Microsoft Office programs, etc, but I would like to get more use out of it!

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