Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions, and for good reason. It is versatile, easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to maintain. The server version of the distribution, Ubuntu Server, is no exception. It is by far one of the easiest server distros to set up for application development. In this multi-part post I will go over how to install the Ubuntu server edition, update it, install the server software, and get your files on it. In this part I will cover the installation of Ubuntu Server.
The first step is to get the install disc at the Ubuntu website. If your computer is no more than a couple years old you should be able to use the 64-bit version, but if you are unsure you can always grab the 32-bit server. For the purposes of this guide either one will work. When this guide was written Ubuntu 10.10 was the newest version – I will create new versions of this post as the install process changes.
The first few steps I won’t cover in depth, since they vary so greatly depending on your setup. If you are installing it in vmware or other virtualization software you won’t need to burn the install image to a disc, but if you are installing it on a live server you will need to burn the iso image, set your computer to boot from the cd, etc.
Once you boot you will be greeted with a screen to select your language. Simply use the arrow keys to select it and hit enter.
On the next screen just hit enter to load the installer.
Depending on the speed of your machine it could take a few seconds for the installer to load. When it is done a blue screen will appear. I’ve found that selecting “No” and manually selecting your keyboard layout is the easiest way to set your keyboard type – I personally hate the auto keyboard detection. To each their own, however.
The installer will then load a few drivers, this could take a few seconds.
Once the drivers are loaded you will need to enter a hostname. I just used “devsrv”, but any name (even the default) will do. You might need a specific hostname, however, depending how your network is set up.
The next screen is for selecting your time zone. Usually it is pretty good at guessing it – but if it is wrong just hit no and select the correct zone from the list.
Now the fun part – disk partitioning. Depending on your setup, this can vary greatly. If you are putting ubuntu on its own drive (or in a virtual machine) it is safe to use a guided option. If you are sharing the drive with another system you may need to manually set up the partitions. For this guide I’ll assume Ubuntu will be on its own drive – I suggest choosing the second option as it makes any future disk management a bit easier, but the first will also do the trick.
Just select the drive you want to use… hmm decisions decisions… drive 1 or… drive 1?
Confirm the changes to the disk (double check everything!), then hit Yes
And now the base system will install. This is just the kernel, libc, basic command line utilities, and other goodies. This could take a minute or two.
Once the base system is finished, set up your user information. Once your account is set up it will ask you for proxy information. Leave this blank unless you need to use a proxy… this depends on your setup.
Since this is a development server I’d recommend choosing no automatic updates – since it makes it easier later on to test certain upgrades to make sure they don’t kill any of your applications. You can always manually do the updates once a month or every few months if you’re worried about security flaws.
Now some additional software will install. This could take a few minutes.
Well now this is interesting… you can either take the lazy route and select what you need here (dns, linux/apache/mysql/php, openssh, etc) or you can ignore this screen and do things manually (which we will cover in part 2 of this guide). I would highly recommend just ignoring this screen – since knowing how to install applications and updates is a useful skill and you’ll need to learn how to do it eventually.
GRUB, which is the Linux bootloader, is used with nearly every Linux installation out there. The easiest way to install it is on the Master Boot Record, or MBR. Ubuntu is fairly good about detecting any other operating systems which may be installed and adding them to the GRUB configuration file.
Hooray, the install is done!
Just take out the CD and let the system reboot into Ubuntu. It could take a few minutes since this is the first boot – once it is done you’ll be greeted with the classic Linux login screen. Just enter your username & password you set up during the install to log in.
Now that you are logged in it is time to do an initial update of the system – since there are updates even for a new system. Enter the following command to update the apt repository information. You will need to enter your password again to run the command:
sudo apt-get update
Now upgrade the system:
sudo apt-get upgrade
A list of packages that need to be upgraded will show up, along with the required disk space. Just hit Y to run it, and find something to do for a few minutes. The two commands you just entered are how you will do any future updates to your ubuntu system.
Now thus concludes part 1 of How To Set Up An Ubuntu Development Server. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to leave a comment. Part 2 will be coming in the next few days…