Setting up Ubuntu/Windows Dual-Boot

IMPORTANT: You can skip this lesson.

Read this entire section before starting

Dual-booting provides two operating systems on your computer that you can switch between with a simple reboot. One OS will not modify the other unless you explicitly tell it to do so. Before you continue, be sure to back up any important data and to have a way to ask for help. If you get lost, scared, or stuck, we’re here to help in the Slack forum.

Step 1: Download Ubuntu

First, you need to download the version of Ubuntu you want to install on your computer. Ubuntu comes in different versions ("flavors"), but we suggest the standard Ubuntu. If you’re using an older computer, we recommend Xubuntu. Be sure to download the 64-bit version of Ubuntu or Xubuntu.

Step 2: Create a Bootable Flash Drive

Next, follow this guide to create a bootable flash drive so that you can install Ubuntu on your hard drive. If you don’t have a flash drive, you can also use a CD or DVD.

Note: You can use this method to try out different flavors of Ubuntu if you’d like. These images allow you to try out different flavors without committing to an installation. Be aware that running the OS from a flash drive will cause the OS to be slow and can decrease the life of your flash drive.

Step 3: Install Ubuntu

Step 3.1: Boot from the Flash Drive

First, you need to boot Ubuntu from your flash drive. The exact steps may vary, but in general, you will need to do the following:

  • Insert the flash drive into the computer.
  • Reboot the computer.
  • Select the flash drive as the bootable device instead of the hard drive.

For example, on a Dell computer, you would need to plug in the flash drive, reboot the computer, and press the F12 key while the computer is first booting up to bring up the boot menu. From there, you can select to boot from the flash drive. Your computer may not be exactly the same, but Google can help you figure it out.

Step 3.2: Install Ubuntu

If you would like to test out the version of Ubuntu on the flash drive, click ‘Try me’. When you have found a flavor of Ubuntu you like, click ‘Install’ and continue to the next step.

Installing Ubuntu is where the real changes start happening on your computer. The default settings are mostly perfect, but be sure to "Install Ubuntu alongside Windows" and change the allocated disk space allowed for Ubuntu to 30 GB (or more if you can).

For step-by-step instructions, please follow this installation guide from the creators of Ubuntu.

A note to those who are wondering why they’re being asked to install an entire new operating system

Why is everyone ‘forced’ to switch to Linux or macOS for development? Are there no web developers out there who use Windows as their main operating system?

The answer to that question is: well, not that many. One of the reasons is that Ruby (on Rails) and Node.js, popular backend technologies taught by The Odin Project and widely used in the larger web development community, are open source projects that explicitly expect to run on an open-source (UNIX-based) platform. And while Apple’s operating systems have all included the XNU kernel, originally based on the FreeBSD flavor of UNIX since the transition from System 9 to Mac OS X in 2001, Microsoft has only recently commited to embracing open source and providing more support for the way people approach web development today.

One of the biggest features added in Windows 10 was the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which is a Linux command line within Windows. Setting up a development environment inside WSL is not beginner friendly, though, which is why we choose not to recommend and/or support this approach. All instructions you encounter here will assume you’re running either MacOS or Linux. Using WSL with these instructions may cause problems we are not able to help you resolve.

We do have great support for Linux/MacOS if you get stuck, so please give it a shot!

UPDATED: 21.12.2020