Installing Ubuntu

What is Ubuntu and Which Version Do I Want?

Ubuntu is a free and open-source Linux based operating system. It is based on Debian, so it uses similar packaging systems.
Ubuntu has 2 main versions, the LTS (Long Term Support) and non-LTS versions.
The naming scheme Ubuntu uses is Year_of_Release.Month_of_Release for instance 16.04 means it was released April 2016.
The LTS versions are released every 2 years, and they're supported by Ubuntu for 5 years.
Packages are updated and maintained for that time, after that they're considered EOL (End of Life) and the repositories, which hold the packages are moved to a different location and you're required to upgrade to get updates.
The LTS versions are usually stable and well tested, however the software isn't very new.
As for the non-LTS versions, they're released every 6 months usually, and they're supported for 9 months.
For example,
Ubuntu 16.04 is an LTS version (Supported til April 2021)
Ubuntu 16.10 is a regular version (now EOL)
Ubuntu 17.04 is a regular version (now EOL)
Ubuntu 17.10 is a regular version (Supported til July 2018)
Ubuntu 18.04 when released will be an LTS version
You'll have to decide what's best for you, would you like a stable Ubuntu release, supported for many years, with slightly older software, or a newer Ubuntu release, that you'll have to upgrade every 9 months with newer software?

64 bit or 32 bit?

CPU's are usually 32 bit (called i386) or 64 bit (called amd64, for both intel and amd)
You'll have to check your PC's model and see if you have a 64 bit or 32 bit CPU and grab the appropriate Ubuntu version.
For what it's worth, 32 bit works for both CPU, however you won't have the ability to use more than 4GB of RAM.

Choosing the Desktop Environment

The DE (Desktop Environment) is the graphical software that Ubuntu will load after you login.
Ubuntu has a vast selection of Desktop Environments to choose from. It really comes down to what your PC can handle and personal preference.
The standard Ubuntu desktop is Unity, it's the prettiest of the bunch and the most polished, however after 16.04LTS Ubuntu is dropping support for it.
The newer standard desktop is going to be Gnome.
Other DE's include kubuntu (based on kde), xubuntu (based on xfce), and lubuntu (based on lxde).
If you have an older PC xubuntu might be a good choice. If that doesn't work, lubuntu is a light desktop and it's optimized for older hardware.

Getting the Installation Iso

The Ubuntu installer is available as a hybrid Iso file that works with USB's, DVD's, and CD's.
If you want the latest Ubuntu release click on https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop
If you want a more thorough list click on http://releases.ubuntu.com/16.04.4/
It is recommended to use the torrent download as it is usually faster.

Verifying the Iso Integrity

After downloading the Iso, it's good practice to do a checksum on it to validate it downloaded fully and it was not tampered with.
Head on over to https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuHashes
and choose your ubuntu release, then continue browsing til you find a file called MD5SUMS and open it.
It should have something similar to the below, the md5sum and the filename.
b47e23601d56533fb01a941ef1794e57 *ubuntu-16.04.4-desktop-amd64.iso

Go to https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HowToMD5SUM#MD5SUM_on_Mac_OS_X and download the md5sum tool for your operating system and use it with the iso file you downloaded. The md5sum it gives you should match the one you got earlier from the MD5SUMS file.

Making the Live USB

Ubuntu's installation iso allows you to boot the USB or DVD and try the desktop before installing without affecting your current operating system.
It's a very useful feature to see how Ubuntu will run on your hardware, as well as for troubleshooting problems later after installation or just general PC troubleshooting such as failed hard disks and retrieving data.

If you're using Windows click on https://www.linuxliveusb.com/en/download and install Linux Live USB Creator.
Follow the instructions on how to make a Live USB.
If you're using mac osx click on https://tutorials.ubuntu.com/tutorial/tutorial-create-a-usb-stick-on-macos#0

Preparing the Hard Disk

If you're installing Ubuntu with Windows, then you'll need to start the disk management program from the Control Panel in Windows, and shrink the Windows volume to make space for Ubuntu. Then reboot into Windows a couple times so it registers the changes.
If you can't shrink enough space then you might have to defragment the volume and try to shrink the space again.

Starting the Live USB

If you have Windows installed and you want to dual boot, if Windows is installed in UEFI mode, you'll also have to install Ubuntu in UEFI mode.
Also, if Windows is installed in legacy BIOS mode, then Ubuntu has to be installed in the same mode.
For more information on how to see which mode you're using and booting the installer in the proper mode click on Choosing UEFI or BIOS

Plug the Live USB into the PC and then turn it on.
If you aren't greeted with an Ubuntu screen showing "Try Ubuntu" or "Install Ubuntu" click on Troubleshooting Starting a Live USB.

Choose "Try Ubuntu" you should get a desktop after a few mins. If you're stuck at a black screen, click on Black Screen After Starting a Live USB.

After the desktop has loaded you can click on "Install Ubuntu" to start the installation, or you can use the program "Gparted" in order to make changes to your hard disk partitioning before installing.
If you have any issues or questions regarding the installation click on Ubuntu Installation Issues

RELATED TOPICS
Live USB, Ubuntu, Booting, Partition table, Partitions, BIOS, UEFI