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3 Ways to Install Linux on Windows or Mac

Wez Pyke 01-08-2008

3 Ways to Install Linux on Windows or Mac linux1Linux is for geeks right? And you gotta know command prompts and all that stuff yeah?


Not exactly, in fact that kind of image is starting to fade away somewhat as Linux distros such as Ubuntu gain traction and mind share with each new release.

OK so Linux still has a market share closer to 1.5%. However things are beginning to change. Linux has never before been so easy to try. Here’s three ways you can install Linux on your computer.

1. Linux on a ‘Live Disk’

Each distribution can now be downloaded as a ‘Live Disk Put your Linux Distro on a Live CD Recently, Live DVDs and Live USB have cropped up as well. These live systems are full versions of the operating system that run completely from the given medium. Read More ‘, a disk which will run Linux straight from the CD as if it were an installed operating system.

This is perhaps the best way you can try Linux for the first time as it allows you to play around with the OS without having to worry about your data, or partitioning or screwing something up.

The disadvantage is that the OS will run fairly slowly and you will not get much idea of the performance or flexibility of Linux.


Live disks are included with every Linux distribution, and are also provided on the cover of just about any computing and PC magazine. Looking over at my shelf I can see Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, gOS Rocket and Linux Mint on the cover disks of several magazines.

2. Run Linux using Virtual PC

Again, this is just another way to have a bit of a look and play around with Linux in a contained area Virtualization-Free In-Windows Linux Installation Read More with no danger of destroying your computer or anything. Microsoft provides Virtual PC 2007 as a free download and can run most distros, although you will perhaps need to find some fairly simple workaround’s for a few.

Again, the disadvantage is performance, both for the Virtual Machine and the host machine which has to lend system resources. The advantage I guess is that you will not have to burn an actual disk in order to try Linux out – the virtual machine can simply mount an ISO file.

3. Install Ubuntu using the Wubi installer

3 Ways to Install Linux on Windows or Mac image thumb5 Lastly you can try Linux, Ubuntu specifically, using a special installer called “˜Wubi’. Mackenzie covered Wubi in detail here Virtualization-Free In-Windows Linux Installation Read More . Blake also briefly mentioned it in his article here How To Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin We've already talked about Linux and why you should try it, but probably the hardest part of getting used to Linux is getting it in the first place. For Windows users, the simplest way is... Read More .


Wubi installs Ubuntu as a file on your Windows System. It can be uninstalled like any other program and runs as if you were using a separate system partition. The only disadvantage is that hibernation mode does not work.

The set-up is laughably simple; all you have to do is get Wubi from here and start it up. Wubi is actually included in Ubuntu as of version 8.04 and is an installation option when using a Live disk.

Here are the options you will be presented with:

3 Ways to Install Linux on Windows or Mac image thumb11


Pretty simple huh?

You can either download the Ubuntu file, or use a existing ISO image you have previously downloaded. To use a existing file simply place it in the same folder as the Wubi program.

After installing you will have to reset your computer. It’s crucial you reset “˜cleanly’, that means no turning the computer off impatiently, pulling the plug out the all etc. If you do, booting into Ubuntu may fail.

If all is successful you’ll be given a new option upon startup to choose either your previous OS, or Ubuntu:


3 Ways to Install Linux on Windows or Mac image thumb24

Booting into Ubuntu will complete the installation and prepare your hard drive for the OS. A final reboot and everything should be working fine, choosing Ubuntu from the boot screen should now load up the OS and you can play around to your heart’s content.

It’s totally risk free, the worst that can happen is that for some other reason the installation fails. I’m sorry but I can’t help you there, simply boot back into Windows and uninstall Wubi through the Add/Remove programs panel.

If this occurs try installing a couple of times. There is a chance it will succeed the second time.

Hopefully this will give you the incentive to try out Linux for yourself!

Related topics: Dual Boot, Live CD, Ubuntu, Virtualization.

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  1. devinder
    February 12, 2010 at 5:58 am

    i dont know how to install linux...
    will u please explain

  2. minicaso
    October 27, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    thanks you for the article

  3. ali
    August 7, 2009 at 11:45 am

    i m using windows xp my friend give me ubuntu cd i want to install it but how?///

    • Wez Pyke
      August 10, 2009 at 2:57 pm

      Put the CD in and boot from the CD holding F12 or F9. Then create a partition and install Ubuntu on it.

  4. Phaoloo
    July 1, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Thanks for great tips.
    Just find that some Linux distro can't run properly on VirtualPC. VirtualBox or VMWare are better alternatives.

  5. MOhamed
    May 16, 2009 at 9:09 am


  6. abdullah
    March 18, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Thanks for that great article!

    I can also advice the following website:
    Boot and run Linux from a USB flash memory stick

  7. Регистрация товарного знака
    August 4, 2008 at 6:04 am

    That’s essentially the same thing as a LiveCD. It just transfers the data over your flash drive and sets things up so you can boot from it. But a mention of it would’ve been nice…

  8. Ramesh | The Geek Stuff
    August 4, 2008 at 1:58 am

    For someone who has never used/installed Linux before, probably Live CD is the better option to get started and get a feel for it.


  9. mividaendigital
    August 2, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I've been trying with wubi and i get a problem always. i downloaded ubuntu twice and both times it failed me. maybe it was because it was version 8.04.1

    • mchlbk
      November 6, 2008 at 11:30 am

      Try burning the image slower than the default burning rate chosen by your burner.

      Also, make sure you don't just burn the iso file to the disk - the burner must create an image of the iso file.

      Feel free to ask your questions in the Ubuntu Forums. ( )

  10. andy
    August 2, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    You missed the best one for Windows, andLinux. It works terrifically, integrates really well with the Windows OS, and has better performance than VMs.

    • Mackenzie
      August 2, 2008 at 12:11 pm

      CoLinux as well.

  11. Aibek
    August 2, 2008 at 4:31 am

    What about UnetBootIn? Black covered only last week

    Install Linux with ease using UnetBootIn

    • Anonymous Coward
      August 2, 2008 at 8:27 am

      That's essentially the same thing as a LiveCD. It just transfers the data over your flash drive and sets things up so you can boot from it. But a mention of it would've been nice...

      • Blake Elias
        August 2, 2008 at 10:55 pm

        It's only the same as LiveCD when you use it for Ubuntu (and some of the other distros). If you use it for Puppy Linux, Slax, or a few of the smaller ones, it actually makes a full installation on your flash drive.

        But yeah for Ubuntu, it's a good alternative to the LiveCD.

  12. Rarst
    August 2, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 does not support Linux as far as I know. At least officially, last time I messed with it it wasn't Microsoft product. :)

    My choice of VM is VirtualBox.

    • Laurence
      August 2, 2008 at 11:13 am

      It does with a very simple workaround, give it a quick Google and you'll find it.

  13. Mackenzie
    August 1, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    /me whistles innocently and points to Wubi article -> //

    • nowsheer
      December 28, 2008 at 11:53 pm

      this nowsheer i installed linux on windows, when i am installing it won't showing windows partition,but i installed linux,after comletion my windows got can installed it .
      mail id