30 Jan 2012

How to install Ubuntu the way you've never done it before.

I will tell you from the very start. This is neither my idea, nor my realisation. But I like it so much that I decided to share it with the wider public.
Have you ever installed any GNU/Linux distribution? Have you ever installed Windows, say, 98? Have you noticed the difference? I think you know what I am talking about: the choice you have of installed components .
While Windows installer allows you to choose the components you want to install, of course to a certain degree, I have not seen any Linux installers so far which give you the same level of choice. Unfortunately, most Linux installers only allow you to copy the contents of a distribution ISO image to the hard drive. Then you can do whatever you want: uninstall, re-install or add components.
The reader and commenter of my blog under the nickname Psychorat decided to change the approach and created... the script. Yes, this is a script which guides you through selection of different components for Ubuntu, and then installs them.
You could watch the development of the script as Psychorat commented under the Debian XFCE review.
And now the results are published to the wider public.
So, what do you need? Internet connection, CD or USB stick and some time.
Here are your further steps:
Grab a mini.iso image from official Ubuntu mirror and install a basic system without any extra packages.
After the reboot you have to login and run these 3 commands at the terminal (if you can't see the login press CTRL-ALT-F1) :
$ wget http://www.fileden.com/files/2012/1/23/3253730//rmc011.sh
$ sudo chmod +x rmc011.sh
$ ./rmc011.sh

Here is a short video showing one of the beta-versions of the script in action:

How much of resources does take Ubuntu after Psychorat's script?
Here are data measured without extra software installed:
VersionDisk sizeMemory usage

Psychorat also gives you some recommendations:
  • Enabling Sound : Unmute and raise the levels of the "Master" and "PCM" channels in your system audio mixer.
  • Chromium Browser : In "Preferences" > "Personal Stuff", change the "Appearance" option to "Use GTK+ Theme" to match your desktop theme.
And finally, here are some known issues:

  • I can't hear any sound.
Unmute and raise the levels of "Master" and "PCM" channels in your system audio mixer

  • Some programs are icon-less.
This might happen in some naked core installations.Please install more icon themes from the package manager or internet.

  • Gtk apps look ugly and not integrated to Kde theme.
You have to change the default gtk widget style to "oxygen-gtk" in > System settings > Application appearance > Gtk+ appearance.
  • Gtk theme settings have no effect on gtk applications.
Kde uses .gtkrc-2.0-kde4 file to store the gtk settings but the applications are looking for .gtkrc-2.0 so you have to link .gtkrc-2.0-kde4 to .gtkrc-2.0 after the first login with this command : ln ~/.gtkrc-2.0-kde4 ~/.gtkrc-2.0

  • Xfce panel Sound volume plugin.
You have to enter in the configuration at least once, in order to auto-set the alsa channel and work properly.

  • LXDM login manager problem : Annoying error message about wrong window manager.
You have to change the session to "Enlightenment" instead of "Default", at Lxdm login screen.

  • The Obconf extension for Lxappearance removed because does not show previews. You can always change your windows theme with the Openbox configuration manager.
  • The gnome-alsamixer replaced with alsamixergui because of a lubuntu related bug that make it crash on start.(i know that alsamixergui is not "fit" to desktop theme, but its better than nothin' :) The other alternatives are not working either).

And now my question to you: how do you like it? Is it the first step to the future of Linux installers?

EDITED 31.01.2012:
After some research I found the screenshot which proves my point about option to choose the components of installed Winsows Operating System. Unfortunately, the latest version I could find the screenshots for is Windows 98, but it still proves my point, doesn't it?


  1. Wow I can't believe I'm reading this crap. Obviously you have not installed that many Linux distributions. Please do your homework correctly before spreading false information cause this could not be farther than the truth! Most Linux distribution allow you to select packages at install.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I agree with Anonymous (2012-1-30;1240). This is utter BS and I cannot believe that this was mentioned on lxer...

  3. This is really narrow-minded opinion. Suse, OpenSuse, Fedora and many other distributions have very detailed component and package selection. With Fedora it is even too detailed. Even distributions like ArchLinux which is viewed as not very user friendly offer very detailed package component selection. It seems that the author of this article have never tried anything else than Ubuntu.

  4. The whole point of Ubuntu's install is to be as minimalistic as possible. But clearly you have not installed many, or any, other Linux distributions.

  5. Sorry, guys, have you read the text and watched the video?
    If yes, then please tell me which distribution allows you to select during installation the browser, the mail client and the productivity suit?

    All your objections are simply because you cannot and do not want to read or listen. You are too narrow-minded for this!

    I quit this conversation. I can't keep it any more.

    I hope the people who actually liked the work of Psychorat will appreciate and stop here for a quick "thank you"!

    1. DarkDuck you are immature, this can be better accomplished with the Ubuntu Alternate CD in Expert Mode. Choosing and installing packages at boot can be done with Fedora, CentOS, RedHat, Ubuntu and Slackware.

      This script isn't any better than what is the default in the other distributions.

    2. I've done more Fedora and RH installs than I can shake a stick at. As someone mentioned, the ability to customize is probably greater than it should be. Yes, I can customize the browser I use, the productivity suite, the desktop environment, and anything else I could ever want.

      If you're into Ubuntu, great. Just try out another distro or two before declaring that "nothing else" can do the same. It's ridiculous.

    3. Coincidentally, I'm installing OpenSUSE on a laptop while I read this post. OpenSUSE is the distro you've given poor reviews to before... including spamming the OpenSUSE forums and every other forum on the internet with links to your blog. Anyway, with the install DVD I had a choice of KDE, Gnome 3, LXDE, XFCE, minimal X, or minimal server (no X). I chose KDE but was able to deselect Amarok and add Banshee, GnuCash, calibre, viewnior, gthumb, sshfs and a few other programs during the install process. I was also able to disable Pulse Audio, make some changes to GRUB including the default OS timeout, and configure the firewall inside the installer. It can also perform updates after the install if you wish so that the user is only dropped into the most current, stable, bug-free version of the OS. The installer uses technology such that, if the kernel isn't updated during the update process, you can go from install, updates, configuration and into the running system without ever rebooting! In fact, I could save my configuration and program choices and even my partition setup if necessary into settings files that I could then use in the future along with the installer to recreate that setup automatically! One can even run a program on an existing desktop and generate these setup files to help clone that system, or upload those setup files to SUSE Studio and make a live CD, flash drive image or virtual machine from them!

      OpenSUSE has, overall, the most attractive and powerful install I've encountered of any OS I've ever installed. To dismiss it (and other great installers that come close) was quite short-sighted and unfair, but then to throw a fit rather than listen to those who took the time to comment was very unprofessional.

      I also just checked in a virtual machine, and yes, I was able to replace Firefox with reKonq, KMail with Thunderbird, and LibreOffice with KOffice during an install of OpenSUSE 12.1.

  6. I didn't see anything there that I wasn't used to in Mandrake or Red Hat in 2000. Meh

  7. You miss the point. It's not that your mate has done this great thing that makes the Ubuntu install non Minimalistic, for those that want it, it's that you seem to assume Linux distributions in general are all exactly like Ubuntu to install, or maybe it's that you appear to be saying Linux == Ubuntu

    1. I installed Debian, Mageia, Fedora, Pardus Corporate, Salix, Mint XFCE and multiple versions of (K-,X-)Ubuntu on my hard disk. None of them offer you the options which are mentioned in the Psychorat's installer.

      I perfectly understand that you could see those options in RedHat or Mandriva in 2000, but today's installers are not that functional.

      Psychorat is not my friend. At least, yet. But I appreciate and value his work.

    2. How about: Arch, RHEL, CentOS, Scientific Linux, openSUSE, Slackware, Gentoo, Funtoo, Sorcerer, Crux, Lunar, Source Mage, GoboLinux? All of those distributions allow the user to customize the package selection during install. ALL OF THEM. You do need to do your homework. Very badly. Also, tell me where, in Windows 7, that the user has the ability to customize the default package selection during install. I know this is mildly possible in Windows Server 2008 R2, but it is not possible in a normal Windows 7 Home, Pro, or Ult.

    3. Let me make it clear that I don't want to insult anyone, and that I appreciate the effort that Psychorat put into this. However, I can't agree with the basic premise outlined at the start of the article.

      I haven't installed Mageia or Fedora recently. Pardus, Salix, Mint XFCE and most Ubuntu based distributions are designed to make it so you don't have make the kind of decisions you are talking about during installation. They are trying to hold your hand.

      However, both Ubuntu itself and Debian offer options to do a minimal install and only put what you want on afterward. That's not precisely the same as letting you choose options during the install, but its not the approach you describe either.

      Arch Linux makes you install things piece by piece to a certain extent, as does Gentoo.

      I know that Slackware lets you pick exactly the components that you want during the installation, though even if you install everything you end up with a system that's light on resources unless you actually tell it to load a lot of services on startup.

      I'm sure that there are a lot of other distributions that I haven't installed recently that still let you pick components during install.

      On the other hand, Windows doesn't let you pick much of anything during install. If you happen to live in the EU, then you get to pick a browser. If you don't live there, then you get Internet Explorer (though you essentially get it anyway because its basic functionality exists in the Windows explorer shell). Windows doesn't come with much outside the operating system, so there aren't a lot of choices that they can offer. That's just all the more reason to ask, why cite Windows as something that allows you to make those kinds of choices?

  8. Once you set your partitions and before you run the installation openSuse 12.1 the installer stops on a page to show you what it is going to do. This page lets you customize everything!

    The time it takes to get a distro exactly the way I want it is pretty much the same whether I do it during the install, or let it do the default and make my changes after. The most time spent is selecting or unselecting individual packages, so I prefer to get a working install done first.

    And if you really want a fully customizable distro look at Slackware.

  9. This script let you :

    - Install these environments with custom application sets and extras.

    Classic Kde4
    Gnome shell (Classic or Mint version)
    Clasic Xfce
    Lxde classic

    More to add:

    - Use the easy mode that shows recommended applications to avoid mix libraries from other desktop environments.
    - Adds the needed repositories and apply keys for third party software.
    - Save/Load installation profiles

    Applications list : http://www.fileden.com/files/2012/1/23/3253730//All_apps.txt


    GENERIC: Fixed dialog error on start.
    MINT-MATE-BASIC: Gnumeric installs without recommends because it removes the mate metapackage.
    UNITY-BASIC: Added Ask Ubuntu Lens.
    UNITY-BASIC: Fixed some missing repositories for extra unity Lens

    please update the commands with these to always get the latest version.

    $ wget http://www.fileden.com/files/2012/1/23/3253730//rmc.sh
    $ sudo chmod +x rmc.sh
    $ ./rmc.sh

  10. Thanks for your comments, you see i start to write this script because of the need i had to create some lightweight ubuntu based distros with different environments that serves different purposes. I decide to share it as it can help some people to create exactly the environment they want without installing a full distro and then uninstalling and reinstalling stuff. Its just a post installer GUI that saves a little time.

  11. psychorat

    I see what you want to do, but I can not see the benefits.
    I find it easier to install the full distro, then simply uninstall what I don't want and then add my favorites.

    Also, you are taking a chance with dependencies.

    The basic idea is OK, but that was available 10 years ago, and every-one abandoned it for a good reason.
    OK, if this way suits you personally, by all means, use it.

    But it is not suitable for mainstream. Period.

    1. I see a definite benefit that you don't download stuff which you are going to remove later. And don't take a chance to get some libraries which are not required after removal. (yes, I know about the apt purge, but still...)
      As for dependencies, let aptitude take care of them.

  12. Haven't tried the script but it doesn't seem like a bad idea for the stated purpose. A more practical (GUI) approach would be to use a small LiveCD and launch the script from that.

    I wrote a kickstart script for Ubuntu that is launched through a PXE netboot off of a tftp server. It only loads Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) with the standard Gnome but adds a bunch of packages my clients need along with several utils I wrote and fixes many bugs.

    1. "A more practical (GUI) approach would be to use a small LiveCD and launch the script from that."

      This is definitely my top TODO, but i still trying to find a way to embed the script in a modified iso and start it automatically after the installation.
      I was thinking also to make a bare LiveCD and start it via a desktop shortcut, but i still experiment on this. Please if you have more information about it, let me know.

    2. Autostarting a GUI application can be performed through XDG menu entries in /etc/xdg/autostart but I think a manually-started script would be just as good.

      You might be able to use a non-Ubuntu LiveCD like Parted Magic and use it to perform the installation, either by chainbooting the ISO or using virtual machine.

  13. This was realized in Mandrake and Mandriva at very early versions.

    1. And then abandoned? It is not in latest versions, at least of Mageia.

  14. psychorat, this is a very good effort, refine it more and please continue.

    thanks and good luck,

    A Linux learner.

  15. Hey, hey, hey! I also do not find the idea beneficial, but lets not be rude. No need to call anyone an idiot.

  16. Hey, DarkDick!
    This is not the first lame post from you in my LinuxToday rss!
    I'm gonna unsubscribe from it because of you!
    I'm thinkin' that you are just walk out from a cave or from M$ hq.

    1. I can't stop you from doing this. That's your own right.
      The same for me: I have my own opinion and right to express it.
      LinuxToday is quite picky and they don't publish something which they don't find appropriate.
      Make your own conclusion. Either LT's editors or yourself are responsible for not getting the sense of the article.

    2. there is a huge difference between expressing one's opinion and making false statements and being blind to the facts... where there are facts available, opinions are not needed for the knowledgeable... "opinions" not agreeing with facts are called delusions...

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Sorry, but I just couldn't get past the statement "While Windows installer allows you to choose the components you want to install..." Maybe I'm using a different Windows version than you are, but my experience in installing Windows is that I don't have any more control over what get's installed. Unless of course you're talking about all the device drivers that don't get installed, requiring me to dig up disks or go to 3rd-party websites to download drivers to get my Windows box working...

  18. Try Arch, you might like it.

  19. you haven't installed Slackware, Arch, Gentoo have you?
    The thing is, a lot of non-geeks were complaining how difficult it was to install a Linux distribution (manual partitioning with cfdisk, package selection, service selection etc.) so the distributions started to make it as idiot proof as possible (credits should go to SuSe, Mandrake, Fedora and later on Ubuntu who really took it to the next level of idiot-proofness), they've even made different iso images for each desktop environment used because they thought it was too hard for the user to select the DE from the installer. But was this enough? Of course not, what if the user downloads the wrong image? So, what do? Oh yeah, why not use a DIFFERENT NAME for distributions that differ only by the default desktop used?!?!?! Welcome Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu.

  20. I like the proposed approach !!

    I would like to see it taken further:
    A. Minimal utility runs, scans the hardware, analyzes, makes recommendations about configuration
    B. Asks questions about intended uses for the target workstation
    making recommendations about application "bundles"
    C. Applications require certain services
    D. Services delivered by the kernel and libraries based on available hardware and intended use.
    E: I've been a geek for decades and still hate picking among the dozens of 'diff' tools.

    Some observations:
    1. I don't pay attention to anything from a nony mouse.

    2. Remember the onion: hardware--drivers--kernel--services--libraries--applications.

    3. One major hurdle is too many package descriptions use the package name in the "definition" as in "... package 'foo" implements the 'foo' feature set ..."

    4. Too many package names are cryptic, albeit maybe fun, terms so it is hard to decide do I want this or not

    5. There are multiple packages that deliver similar end-user benefits with often hard to distinguish differences making it hard to decide.

  21. Jeez... what's with all the angry comments? I've done a minimal install, but it takes a while to select each package you'll need. This seems convenient and it's just one more option for users.

  22. Wow, just Wow !
    Though the intention is pretty good, this articel has its facts completely mixed up. Probably, the author is a recent linux convert (last 3-4 years max)

    Here are the facts:

    Till 3-4 years back ALL linux distributions used to come up options to select applications during install. With even different types of bundles selectable as well as individual apps.

    Then we shifted to this - live CD - copying the root fs - type of install which is very quick and unattended as its an improvement with multiple advantages.

    Subsequently, even MS shifted to this type of install from Win 7.

    The main advantage of this type of install is that its much much faster (just copying the entire filesystem/drive image and then installing boot loader) usually 5 min vs 1-2 hours earlier for linux or windows, its also completely unattended, you can start it and go get a coffee and do all customizations after the system reboots with your new distro, its very very easy to create an install image, the install image can be customized to extreme degrees for individual user accounts etc.

    The earlier type of install was required when hardware detection was not so advanced.

    But anyway, good work. Unless someone has experienced the pain of earlier installs you can't really expect them to know about these things. *sigh*

  23. Author, shame on you. When you publish an article you have to do your research. I think since the beginning Linux is the most flexible operating system.
    And if you really want to do it all by yourself you should have a look at LFS (Linux From Scratch). With LFS you can do it all you own way.

    1. You probably have not noticed a distribution name in the post title. But I have noticed it. Because I wrote the post. And this post is neither about LFS, not Slackware, not Arch. It is mainly about Ubuntu installation.

    2. And what about this "Have you ever installed any GNU/Linux distribution?...I have not seen any Linux installers so far which give you the same level of choice" ?

    3. Yes, and I have listed the ones I used in comments above. Still, the article is about script which works atop of Ubuntu.

  24. I'm sorry to read so many angry comments toward 1-Darkduck, who took the time to share something he thought was useful and had value, and 2-Psychorat, who took the time to share something he felt made his needs more readily achievable. I don't know either of these folks, but I certainly appreciate the effort they made, and hope they will not be deterred from continuing in the future. One of the tremendous virtues of free software lie in the fact that there are many different ways to accomplish what you need (or want) to do, The aforementioned work completely supports that tradition. and provides a different approach that I welcome, in the long-standing tradition of free software that likely precedes many commenters' involvement with the topic. I might also note that it might be a little more productive if you could provide useful input in a less combative form

    Thanks again, Darkduck and Psychorat, and please continue! TJW

  25. I don't wish to be rude to anybody, but I really have to agree with much of the criticism of this article. It's clearly wrong to imply that many of today's linux installers don't allow package choice during installation. I've been using Ubuntu for some years exclusively, so I didn't know that, but I would have checked before writing a whole public article centred on that very point. Darkduck, I fully concede that some of the comments aimed at you have been needlessly rude, but not all have, and I think you should just admit you did not research properly and were wrong. No shame in that.

    And the counterpoint? Windows 98?? Who on earth has installed W98 in the last 10 years or so???

    As for the central issue, if Psychorat felt there was a problem he wanted to solve and went about solving it, then great, more strength to him or her, and kudos for being willing to share it.

    I, however, really can't see the point. I do remember when I was installing Redhat ( in the days before Fedora was forked ) and it would sometimes take 2-3 hours (!) to carefully go through all the packages deciding which ones I wanted and which ones I needed. Just have a look at the names of some of the programs you run now, as if you were a new user, and imagine trying to guess whether you might need it. Firefox? What on earth is that? Thunderbird? What does that do? Xorg? Better grab that if I want some pornography ... and so on.

    It may have made some sense when modems ran at tens of kilobytes per second, and hard drive capacities were measured in tens of megabytes, but really, now, it just doesn't matter. It's orders of magnitude easier just to install the default system. The newbie has a runnable system, and the more experienced user has an idea of what to delete and what to add.

    Just my 10c worth.

  26. On the one hand, "meh". On the other, geez some of you guys are rude!

  27. Why not put point 2 and 3 together?

    . ./rmc011.sh

    It is important to have a space between the two points!

  28. You should really learn that there is a difference between an install from a distribution CD/DVD and an "Install to Disk" from a LiveCD/DVD.

    The former lets you select anything you want during installation. The later only copies the pre-selected system to your hard drive.

    Next time, please do some research before making over-arching statements about what Linux installers are capable of.

  29. just tried this out in virtualbox and i think this is a quite good script for people who want a bit more control over there ubuntu install. and its fast :-)

  30. Mandrake (now Mandriva) used to do this (does it still?), you could select different PC "Roles" server/workstation/desktop and then select between various "Packages" development/office/games/graphics and then still select individual applications.
    Loved it but it just didn't like my Tobisha laptop :(

  31. I have installed quite a few different Linux OSes such as openSuSe, Fedora, CentOS, and Ubuntu. In my experience when I got a distro that launched into it's live environment it is pretty locked down as to how you can customize it from that point. But if you boot to the installer like CentOS it goes through an installer very similar to the Windows install process. The majority of my Linux boxes are actually GUI-less servers that I am using.

  32. hey thanks for post you save my day. Looking this for long time. I am a opensource lover and the information here is really useful.
    Regards How to install linux

  33. Give this guy a break.
    He only became interested in Linux "closely" since autumn 2010.

    As for me, I've used Linux since 1994, during v0.9x era. And I could understand him he camped too long in Microsoft camp. In this stage, full recovery takes very long time if it's possible.

    1. Just LOLLLL, god, that was good

  34. get yer basic install-off-the-web cd. it's sweet. choose your apps and software at download. duh.

  35. will be nice to admit that statment about other GNU/Linux distributions is wrong...
    will be nice from author to just say thanks i dont know that..(nobody knows all..)
    and..in my personal opinion Ubuntu is not distribution for people who like take it from scrach,or peace by peace..its aimed to beginners...
    if someone not like it,change it,there are so many different aproach to archive that..
    well ,if someone find that script usefull ok,if not also ok..nice is to share,thats is way to improve things..
    but to put statments and publish it ,and after you get arguments that some statment is false or wrong ,its basic principle to evaluate again,and re-edit statments.

  36. The screen shot of Windows 98 doesn't really prove the point. I have Windows 98SE, Windows XP, and Windows 7, and Windows 98SE is the only one of those that offered some choice in what to install. If you even wanted to not install the annoying Windows Messenger in XP you had to remaster the disk with a 3rd party program (nlite)... there was no ability to customize the install from within the XP install, at least for non-corporate customers. Windows 7 Ultimate essentially has no options AT ALL, and isn't even very clear about what it's doing during the install. I attempted an install to a second drive and the installer kept failing with a message that there wasn't sufficient room on the drive (there was). I did some research and figured out what was going on. Windows 7 saw that the drive I wanted to install to wasn't the boot drive, so without asking it was attempting to create a primary boot partition on the main drive! I specifically did not want to touch that drive because of an existing XP install. If it wasn't for the fact that there were already the maximum number of primary partitions on that drive, Win7 would have created a partition and overwritten the boot sector on a drive I never told it it could touch without even letting me know it was going to do it. It was exactly this experience, installing Windows 7 right after installing the amazing OpenSUSE, that convinced me to give OpenSUSE a try as my XP replacement rather than 7, and that was 1.5 years ago. Please don't hold up the Windows installer as a superior product to Linux installers; Linux was outshining Windows for me before the OS was even installed. And yes, OpenSUSE let me choose where to put my boot partition. It also told me it didn't think my choices would give me a bootable system but GAVE ME THE CHOICE OF DOING WHAT I WANTED ANYWAY. That was my first taste of the difference between Linux and Windows.

  37. OK, I've never tied to install Ubuntu, but here's the moment I must do it! So, thanks a lot for this tutorial, I hope it's going to work for me, cuz I'm not too good at everything connected with computing! I'll try this approach right now;)

    1. If you've never tried to install Ubuntu, I'd recommend to start from stock version, not the variant described here.

      This option is OK for people who tried the installation at least once and know what is inside of this OS in order to select necessary components.

  38. I have notice that on a lot of forums (mainly technical) some people descend into rudeness and anger when they read something they disagree with. I suspect these people are already frustrated and angry about something else totally unrelated, and have a minuscule irritation threshold. Like a child throwing a tantrum because something is not quite as they would like it. These are immature, maybe also socially challenged types who need to GROW UP and learn to become a reasonable adult (raise their mental age).

  39. Wow...SMH...I just cannot believe all the rudeness in the comments here. Y'all, even if you disagree vehemently with something someone says, there is NEVER an excuse for rudeness. DarkDuck, thanks for what you've posted here -- I may very well try it out sometimes.

    And yes, believe it or not, I have installed Windows 98 in the past 10 years, back in 2004.

    And DarkDuck, as someone who's been using Linux for the past 7½ years, I always love reading your posts.