README before anything else!


The Linux InstallFest is a guided session where UoB students from AFNOM and CSS help other students install Linux on their personal computers. A few key points.

  • After the in-person InstallFest, a Discord channel will be shared for troubleshooting / asking followup questions.

  • InstallFest is a way of introducing people to Linux, and as such we aim not to overwhelm people with information as that would do them a disservice. To that end, this is a very streamlined process which is by nature overly simplified. If you want to explore further on your own you're more than welcome to!

  • Choosing a Distribution: Much ink (eg here and here) has been spilled on how to choose the right Linux distribution. Linux is extremely customizable and different distributions offer different combinations of software versions, update schedules, startup mechanisms, security features, graphical environments etc etc. In particular, the graphical environment might actually be more important than the distribution in terms of how you interact with the OS. However, per the prior point, we strongly recommend using Ubuntu Linux for the InstallFest, especially if you've never used Linux before or are a beginner.


There are many different Linux distributions and graphical environments to try; we certainly don't discourage people from exploring what's out there. But for the purposes of helping the most people in parallel, we're only going to include instructions for Ubuntu in this document.

Install Modes

A key choice to be made is how to install Linux; briefly:

  • As a Virtual Machine (VM)
    • Your Linux installation runs alongside / on top of your existing operating system.
    • This is the least disruptive to the system but often has bad performance and experience.
  • Replacing the existing OS entirely
    • Get rid of Windows and run Linux exclusively.
  • Set to 'dual boot' with your existing OS
    • Choose at startup whether to boot into Windows or Linux.
    • A nice compromise between the first two options.

More information is available about these choices in the install methods section.

Depending on which you choose, you'll want to follow slightly different parts of the guide. Note also that there's a special section for Apple Silicon Macs.


Our recommendation (for PCs) is to go for dual boot or full install over setting up a VM:

  • A slow clunky VM doesn't paint any OS in a good light
  • VMs yield an inferior Linux experience (but with better safety)
  • Based on last year, setting up a VM seems just as complicated as setting up dual boot!
  • Having to boot into Linux will help force you to get accustomed to it

Preinstall Checklist

Regardless of which method you choose, you'll want to do the following time consuming steps before the InstallFest. In previous years, people have not done these steps ahead of time and then spent most of the InstallFest doing this prep work!

  • Skim the guide you'll be following
  • Download the installation media for Ubuntu
  • If you are installing Linux as a replacement OS or via dualboot
    • You will also need a USB drive of at least 4 GB
    • A drive imager. The Raspberry Pi foundation keeps an up-to-date list of imagers for Windows, however, we'd recommend Etcher.
    • If needed, decrypt your boot volume (Bitlocker) before the InstallFest starts
  • Backup your data! Yes, really!
    • Warning! Please make sure you have a backup of any data you do not want to lose. We are providing the instructions as they are, and we are not responsible for any data loss that might occur. By using them you agree you are assuming your own risk.
    • This is less important but still a good idea for the VM approach.