Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ubuntu Permanent Install - Finally!

I have finally (after several study sessions, stops & starts) completed the Ubuntu permanent install to make my switchover complete. For the most part, the process was painless. However, I did have two or three minor glitches.

Discussion of previous steps in my "Convert to Ubuntu" process can be found at these locations:
Linux Switch - Sources & Info
My Wubi Install Issues
Installing More RAM
Wubi Installed!
Ubuntu First Impressions
Playing Music Files in Ubuntu
Other Ubuntu Applications
Using GParted on External HD

Below the cut defragmentation/backing up windows, partitioning with Partition Manager and using LVPM.

I. Defragmenting & Backing Up Windows

This was my main hold-up in completely the install. Here’s the list of problems/applications:
1) Windows Default Fragmenter: Doesn’t allow me to exclude the Wubi (Ubuntu temp install) folders. So, not useful at all.

2) JkDefrag: Recommended by the Ubuntu forums, this sucker about gave me a heart attack the first time I tried it. The file linked in the forums is the graphical interface ONLY. I had to download a separate file which is the actual program. Unfortunately, JkDeFrag is automatic. When I opened the program to install the Graphical interface, it started to defragment without letting me exclude the “Wubi” folders. I got out quick and restarted to verify my Ubuntu install wasn’t messed up. So, never mind on that one. However, when all other attempts had failed, I found the linked page through wikipedia and downloaded a zip file which installed everything you need with the GUI right off. It allowed me to exclude the Wubi folders and defragmented no problem. The only downside to the program after I go it to work is there is a poor visualization of your hard drive (color-coded graphic showing you files). I went back to the Windows standard defragmenter & analyzed the disk just get clear feedback. It does allow you to save log-files of your defrag but the files didn't explicitly state which files had been defragmentated.

3) UltraDefrag: Through Wikipedia’s page on defragmentation, I found this program. However, while it works no problem, it has an automatic exclusion of System Volume files. These files happen to be my worst fragmented files. There’s supposedly an option to defrag system files during reboot but it doesn’t work for me. You get the program flag, an explanation that it’s defragging and a “Press Any Key To Exit” warning. After about ten seconds, it automatically exits and none of the files have been defragged. I am still glad I installed this: it helped during the partitioning phase (see Section II).

So, defragmenting was a bit more complicated than I expected. This is the one step in the process I had actually done before. But somehow, it was the most frustrating & time consuming out of all the steps. Honestly, would it have killed Microsoft to give you the option to exclude folders?!

Backing up my files involved opening the Maxtor software that came with my external hard drive and clicking "Back Up Now". It took 30 minutes (to copy everything). Very straightforward and no problems.

II. Partitioning with PartitionMagic

In the case of your internal drive, you cannot partition the hard drive using GParted. The drive has to be mounted in order to run the operating system. It has to be unmounted to allow partitioning. However, the guys who made Wubi provided a link to a really awesome tool called Partition Manager.

This application lets you access partitioning during boot-up and it basically runs a stripped down Ubuntu desktop. Included are GParted, screenshots, various system utilities and a file manager. It also lets you save you log-files from partitioning. This way even if there's a problem, you can save the files and post them to the help forums. I was really impressed with this tool.

My sole problem involved re-sizing the Windows partition. For some reason, it would only accept re-sizing down to a certain point and if I went beyond that, the operation failed. I even tried re-sizing in two steps (8-9 gigs the first time, another 5-6 the second). The first was OK, the second got the same error as before. I have no idea what's caused this. But, I made sure to make my ext3 partition next to my ntfs partition so that later I can re-size them easily.

Also, something else happened I don't understand completely. When I first re-booted after partitioning, I attempted to go into the Ubuntu install. That did not work. I began to panic. Next re-boot, I tried the Windows install. And the UltraDefrag program earned its keep. While I couldn't figure out how to defrag during boot, it told me my "volume was dirty" and ran some kind of "Check Disk" program. It ran a sequence verifying files, indexes and security descriptors. Next time I tried to boot into Ubuntu it worked fine.

All in all, partitioning was more straightforward than I expected. And the Partition Manager tool is fantastic. I highly recommend it. And UltraDefrag while oddly not useful to me for defragmenting, did clean things up after partitioning so I'm glad I had installed that.


Loop-mounted Virtual Partition Manager was incredibly easy. Probably the easiest major step in my Ubuntu transition process. The whole process from download to re-boot took me less than two hours. The program followed the screenshots and process outlined in the instructions with no deviations or problems what so ever. Honestly, this was the best part about the whole process.

IV. Conclusion

I'm so glad to get this finished. As I've used Ubuntu the last couple of months, I've developed a list of "Things I'll Try After I Finish The Install". Now I can jump into that.

All in all, I'm really very satisfied with the transfer process to Ubuntu using Wubi/LVPM. It did have its problems but they were all understandable and surmountable with a Ubuntu book and study of the help forums. This process has been a real education for me. I've been hyping Ubuntu to all my friends and I intend to continue doing so.

No comments: