Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Wubi
by Peter Hawkins

Wubi is a Ubuntu Installer for Windows, although if you look at the letter order, you would probably say it as "Windows Ubuntu Installer". The first thing you are going to be asking yourself is whatever are they letting this guy tell us about an Ubuntu install when we already know the havoc he inflicts willingly on his own computer! Well, I do have an answer, and it's really pretty simple. Allow me to explain.

My friend Alan has been plying me with absolutely free live CDs of Ubuntu, beginning around 6.06 and then updating me with each new release. And each time I faithfully promise him that I will run the live CD and play with the program. And I have. Just a little bit. But enough to know that eventually I'm going to move to an Ubuntu desktop and laptop. However I have had some reservations about this commitment and have thus held back.

Before we go any further, however, the obligatory paragraph about risk/reward and so on has to be issued. Forthwith: I did this to my computer, it may not work as described on yours. The results I achieved may be entirely unattainable by anyone else, so you must assume the full risk of anything that you do. In other words, I am not responsible, I won't take any responsibility at all, and in fact I'll deny that I ever said it (We're writing this under an assumed name, aren't we?). Okay, enough, notwithstanding the foregoing, I'm now going to tell you what I did and how it turned out. If you are one of those people who have to read the end of the book before you are willing to read the whole book, okay, here is the ending:"And They all lived happily ever after!"

The problems with a live CD are that it runs in your optical drive, and will only transfer data from that drive at a rate which seems pretty darn slow. Linux is supposed to be fast and nimble, quick on its feet, but an optical drive really doesn't let it show its stuff. Just teases really. However, if I want to install it to my hard drive, then I have to have a dedicated partition for it. Wubi eliminates this problem. I won't need to repartition my drives, and in fact what it essentially does is set up a folder on a Windows drive just like any other Windows program I could install on my computer. That means if I am unhappy with it, I can un-install it by going to the Add/Remove programs menu and removing it. Let's get on with it.

First, go to
http://wubi-installer.org/index.php and click on the green "Download (Beta)" which you will find in the upper-right corner of the screen. Now you may want to look at other things on this page before you begin. I did, but that's just basically wasting time! That takes you to SourceForge.net page where you will see the heading "Wubi, the easiest way to Linux!" and the 6th tab "Download" is already highlighted. Click it to go to the next page where you will see a green highlighted "Download". When you click it the next page shows 2 files: Wubi-8.04-beta-rev-487.exe and Wubi-8.04-beta-rev487-src.tgz and I want the first one because I am working in Windows XP. If your version of IE stops the process by wanting you to confirm downloading the file, do so. You will be asked if you want to run or save the file, so I chose to save it to my hard drive in the partition where I intended to put Ubuntu. It's a file that is only 1.11 MB in size so it downloads quite quickly, even on my basic DSL connection. Then I double-clicked it in Windows Explorer so it would run. This is the screen I got;

Answer the easy questions, if in doubt, the down-arrow button shows the available choices. Pick the drive where you want it, give it 6 to 8 gigs of space, use English, easy to remember user name and password. That's it.

Sit back and wait, because you will need to download the whole ISO before it will install. On my system it took about 1 1/2 hours to do it all. Eventually I was rewarded with this screen:

so I hit Finish, and it did. You've got to remember that you're going to end up with a dual-boot screen so you can choose which OS you're going to run. Every time you want to change, you have to restart your computer. I'm thinking that the longer I play with this, the longer I'll stay in Ubuntu. I'm even thinking that now the Wine is at version 0.95 stable, I could run what few Windows apps I want without leaving Linux, but that has to be a topic for another day.

WOOPS.......WUBI UPDATE

When I originally wrote the piece about installing Ubuntu using the WUBI installer, I had a keyboard and mouse that had leads that attached at the back of my computer. They were "wired" in, in other words. Firmly attached by very short leashes to my desktop, and quite unlikely to stray. The install process went perfectly, without a single glitch. You would think I would have taken the "No news is good news" thing as a kind of warning. You would think that!

Naturally, I paid it no attention and continued on in blissful ignorance, booting into Ubuntu regularly to try it out, then re-booting into windows without a thought...UNTIL....I installed a wireless keyboard and mouse. The very next time I rebooted to try Ubuntu, the dual boot screen came up, just like it always did, and when it came time to choose, I hit the down-arrow key to change....and absolutely NOTHING happened. Well nothing but a countdown timer that eventually booted me into Windows. What had gone wrong? I tried it several more times, always with the expectation that THIS time the keyboard would let me choose Ubuntu, which, of course, it never did. Yes, I know that there is a word used to describe people who continue to perform the same action over and over expecting a different outcome, but I would very much appreciate if you would kindly refrain from even thinking it!

I finally realized that the drivers for the wireless keyboard and mouse loaded much later in the boot-up process and that I still needed the wired keyboard plugged in. This fixed my little problem right away. The wired keyboard sits quietly beside my computer case, out of the way, just waiting for the very few times in a week when it is briefly needed for one keystroke....the one very important keystroke that lets me choose to boot into Ubuntu as I slowly climb the learning curve towards Linux!

Bottom Line:

Wubi (Windows Ubuntu Installer)
(open-source)
http://wubi-installer.org/index.php


Click here to view the full OPCUG website with frames.

Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews do not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.

Send comments or suggestions to the .