CoolTools - Ubuntu Operating System

Open source tools and websites tend to get better support on free operating systems. For this series, I've chosen to go with Ubuntu. No particular reason.
There are specific editions of Ubuntu for desktop, server, mobile, tablet, TV... You'd think I'd go for the server edition, but I won't. I'm not enough of a guru to do without some GUI backup :-)

Head over to the Ubuntu website and download the Desktop version. I've gone with 12.04 because that is an LTS, or Long-Time-Support release. Remember where you stored it, we'll need it in a minute.

Preparing your Virtual Machine

Start up VirtualBox, which we installed in the previous article. Create a new Virtual Machine (I've called mine UbuntuServer). Set the type to Linux and the version to Ubuntu
In the following screens, I’ve chosen 1024 MB ram, and a new virtual hard drive with standard settings (8GB HD dynamic).
Some more settings to change:
  • video memory -> 128 MB
  • 3D-acceleration & 2D video-acceleration (for what it’s worth - I'm not sure this does much)

Install Ubuntu

In VirtualBox, select your UbuntuServer and press start. It will ask for a start-up disk. Navigate to the location where you downloaded the Ubuntu image and select it. Then let it start.
After first start-up, Ubuntu will ask you to “Try Ubuntu” or “Install Ubuntu”. Install it. Check to allow downloading updates while installing. Let it Erase disk and install Ubuntu: it’s an empty virtual disk created specifically for this server, so no danger here.

During install, it will ask for some other settings. These should be rather obvious. I’ve also let it “Log in automatically”. Not sure if this is needed but I would rather not have to walk to the machine if there was an unexpected reset.
After install, let it reboot as it asks. If it blocks on asking you to press enter and close tray (I sure can’t press ENTER), just reset the machine (using the VirtualBox menu: Machine -> Reset).

After restart, you may get a warning: “The system is running in low-graphics mode”.
We get around that by pressing:
Which will allow you to switch to console. Just once, I promise, the rest is GUI. Ok, terminal, but still, from GUI ;-)
In console, enter your username (you picked it during install) and your password. Then you type:
sudo apt-get update
It will ask you for password again. Then type:
sudo apt-get upgrade
When it asks, confirm with Y. When it’s done, we reboot the machine, after which the screen should be OK:
sudo reboot
After reboot, you're done installing Ubuntu!

Mouse integration

An overall tip at this point: in the VirtualBox menu, do Machine -> disable mouse integration. This will capture the mouse fully when you’re using it within the Virtual Machine, with two results:
  • You won’t be able to move your mouse outside the Virtual Machine window. To release the mouse, tap your right CTRL key. 
  • Your mouse will be fully functional when inside the Virtual Machine window, including scrolling. Otherwise, no scrolling. You’ll want to be able to scroll. I sure do.

In the next article, we'll install our webserver and some other necessary software.