James Selvakumar’s Blog

November 11, 2008

WUBI – A wonderful little gem that helps Windows users to try Ubuntu

Filed under: ubuntu,unix-linux — James @ 5:02 am
Tags: , , ,

Traditionally, windows users (including myself) are afraid of installing linux in their machine because of a fear that if something goes wrong, linux might spoil their machine or render it unusable. Not anymore.

I’m a long time windows user and in the past 2 years, linux has caught my attention.Thanks to VirtualBox, I have tried various linux distributions successfully, ranging from Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, PCLinuxOS and even Solaris, a great unix distro.

Using VirtualBox is definitely the easiest way to try linux without disturbing windows, from my experience. Otherwise as a new lad to the linux world, I couldn’t have installed, used, uninstalled so many linux distros.

But I had few problems:
1. The notebook I have is pretty old and not powerful enough. (1GB RAM, 1.6 GHz Intel Centrino Processor, 60 GB harddisk). As a result, I cannot boot one host OS and run a guest OS virtually on top of it.
2. I bought a new dell vostro notebook with good configuration but my better half is owning it now post marriage. :-)

I actually tried the above mentioned linux distros via virtualbox in my new notebook but not anymore. As a result, I was forced with 2 options (again):
1. Install linux in an usb drive (or an external harddisk)
2. Install linux directly in my (old) notebook with windows as my primary OS (Sorry buddy, but I MUST use windows in my office)

To be honest, I was luring the first option mentioned above as it would never ever disturb my primary OS (windows). I almost went ahead to implement that option but changed my mind after stumbling a review about WUBI. (Acutally, WUBI stands for Windows based UBuntu Installer)

Immediately, I downloaded wubi, whose size is roughly around 1 MB and ran it. It opened up a window with few options like where to install, installation size, ubuntu flavour etc..
I was really amazed at it’s simplicity. I never ever have installed a linux distro with such a few installation options. It was much like installing an application in windows.

I gave the following input to wubi to proceed with the installation:

1. “C” as the installation drive, simply because I had more disk space in it.
2. “8GB” as the installation size. Since I had good experience installing guest OS using virtualbox, I was able to make a quick decision here. However, this option depends on the amount of free disk space available in the drive you want to install. It is better to give atleast 8GB so that you can have fun playing around by installing some cool linux apps.
3. Ubuntu as the desktop environment since I’m comfortable with GNOME.
4. A username and password with which I can login into my new ubuntu.

What more can you expect from wubi? Installing linux had never been so simple.

Though the official wubi site declares “Just run the installer, enter a password for the new account, and click
“Install”, go grab a coffee, and when you are back, Ubuntu will be
ready for you
“, I knew it will take it’s own sweet time because it has to download a
“entire operating system” using my slow internet connection.

I would slightly rephrase it for the sake of people who have slower internet connection which is, “Just run the installer, enter a password for the new account, and click
“Install”, go have a good sleep, and when you woke up in the morning, Ubuntu will be
ready for you
“. Atleast this is what happened to me.

Yes when the installation completed, wubi asked me to reboot my system and when I did so, my system asked me whether I want to boot into windows or ubuntu. Sweet..!

And when I booted into ubuntu, it again took some time (this time you can just have coffee and come back) to configure certain things, but it never asked me to input anything.

So the second time when I booted into ubuntu, there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me. Yes, my ubuntu welcomed me with open hands into the new wonderland. It was fantastic! Even my screen resolution was set perfectly and I didn’t have anything to complain. From my experience, setting the appropriate screen resolution was really a painful task and I even wrote a blog entry about that. From the number of people reading that post, I could easily say that setting the screen resolution has been a pain point to many people out there. But not anymore..!

Luckily I stumbled upon a wonderful article called “10 things you should do immediately after installing Ubuntu 8.10“. I followed many, if not all the points mentioned in that article. Nowadays, I use windows at office and ubuntu at home always, all in one notebook, thanks to wubi.

Ubuntu 8.10 along with the wonderful little gem called Wubi makes the entire linux world proud for such a great achievement. Installing linux had never been so simple and easy. Hats off to Ubuntu and Wubi team! With this I wish to see two things:
1. Ubuntu will be installed in many if not all the windows based operating systems using wubi.
2. People will start playing with ubuntu more and more in their free time.
3. Eventually ubuntu will be preferred as the primary operating system and windows an optional one mainly to provide support for legacy things.

I hope the dream come true. So what are you waiting for? Go grab wubi and start exploring the wonderful world of linux and ubuntu and I can assure you that you will cherish the experience.

Added on November 14, 2008:

I actually didn’t like the way ubuntu rendered the fonts. Luckily I found this simple but excellent tip called “Enable Smooth Fonts on Ubuntu“. After I implemented the tip, my fonts now look really better. Go try it and enjoy with your ubuntu.

Added on November 24, 2008:

You might also find something interesting from the following posts:

- Getting better results with WUBI

- Customizing Ubuntu to provide stunning looks

- Good news for Google talk users on Linux

- Is Ubuntu for you?

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8 Comments »

  1. Thanks James for spreading the word about Wubi. I’m using a work laptop, so I must work with Windows. I get home too late to work with Linux on my home desktop, but thanks to Wubi, I can now use & learn Linux in my commute time. It certainly seems easier than constantly fiddling within VirtualBox. Thanks.

    Comment by Ryan — November 11, 2008 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks Ryan. Hope you have a nice time with Ubuntu. Did you attempt to customize your ubuntu? I’m actually trying various options to customize my ubuntu look and feel. I’ll share about that with you guys shortly..

    Comment by James — November 12, 2008 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  3. […] WUBI – A wonderful little gem that helps Windows users to try Ubuntu … WUBI (tags: WUBI Ubuntu on Windows) […]

    Pingback by links for 2008-11-16 « ashishtilak’s blog — November 17, 2008 @ 7:00 am | Reply

  4. Hi James,

    Thank you very much for your information. I would also like to install Ubuntu through Wubi on my home PC (Window Vista) to learn more about linux. However, I come across a problem after the installation.

    After Ubuntu is installed and the machine is rebooted, I get the login page. However, I cannot login due to the fact that my wireless keyboard and mouse do not seem to be recognised by Ubuntu. I try to use an USB mouse and the cursor moves. But I still cannot get the wireless keyboard to work. I don’t have any spare keyboard to test. I wonder if you know of any workaround or fix for my problem.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Comment by Tracy — November 17, 2008 @ 9:35 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Tracy,
    I don’t use wireless keyboard and as such didn’t run into the problem you mentioned.
    But when you run the wubi.exe, there is a button called “Accessibility”. Click that button and try the option “Onscreen Keyboard” under the section “Mobility Aids”.
    It would be better if you download the respective ubuntu iso image, otherwise wubi might take it’s own sweet time to download the necessary files again.
    The following links might help you:
    Wubi Guide
    Wubi Forum
    If nothing seems to work, try installing Ubuntu using the Live CD. It contains far more keyboard options during installation.
    I will come back to you if I find any other solution or fix to this issue.

    Comment by James — November 18, 2008 @ 1:28 am | Reply

  6. Thank you, James.

    Comment by Tracy — November 18, 2008 @ 4:12 pm | Reply

  7. I feel like a complete idiot. I paid no attention to “username” when I entered the ubuntu setup screen (as above). I remember my password but the username is a mystery. Can this be reset, or is it the default Windows username, or do I have advanced CRS disease? As my 52nd birthday is tomorrow I am leaning towards the latter….

    Comment by Richard — January 5, 2009 @ 10:43 pm | Reply

  8. […] try Ubuntu. If you are wondering what WUBI is all about, you may get some idea from my post “WUBI – A wonderful little gem that helps windows users to try Ubuntu“. Yes, with WUBI, installing Ubuntu is just like installing Firefox or Thunderbird on a […]

    Pingback by Getting better results with WUBI | SolitaryGeek — July 28, 2009 @ 4:27 pm | Reply


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