Ubuntu: An African word meaning "Brain dead white guy"

I’ve experimented with Linux before. Really, I have. I installed a distro or two of Red Hat (5.2 and 6.1 - I’ve still got the boxes) on a PC several years ago, and actually made it work. I also installed Yellow Dog on my Mac, and made it work as well. So I apparently have the mental capacity to use Linux, even though I didn’t stick with it (it didn’t do anything I couldn’t do more easily with Mac OS or Windows).

So now I want to fool around with Ubuntu. I’m told that I can allegedly run Ubuntu directly from the CD without actually going to the trouble of installing it on my hard drive, and see if I like it before installing it for real. I’ve been led to believe that I can do this from within Mac OS X (i.e. Ubuntu will launch as if it was an application within Mac OS X.)

Trouble is I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how to do this. I’ve downloaded the CD image to my Mac. I’ve burned the CD. Now I’ve got a CD with a bunch of files that appear not unlike the assortment of Unix files I find when I dig into Mac OS X’s underpinnings.

What I can’t find is instructions on how to “boot” Ubuntu from this CD. The “documentation” on the Ubuntu Web site starts out assuming I’ve already got it running and wants to teach me how to use a mouse. If that’s not backwards, I don’t know what is, since I doubt that somebody who doesn’t yet know how to use a mouse is going to be successfully installing Ubuntu.

So help me out here. What do I do to make this work? I’m clearly missing something - just not seeing it on the Ubuntu site. I’m really not this dense.

I’m trying to do this on a PowerMac G4 (PPC) running Mac OS X 10.4.10, if it makes any difference.

This might be an incredibly stupid question, but:

Does your CD contain an image file? You have to actually download the image and burn it onto the CD using image-burning software, not just copy the files.

I ask because this is the mistake I made at first.

When I ran Ubuntu, I ran the CD from the startup screen menu and it worked fine.*

*On a PC, not a Mac. I know nothing about Macs.

BTW, Ubuntu is pretty sweet–would have stuck with it for longer than three months, if I had known anything about computer programming. In my experience, nothing ever really just ‘‘works’’ with Linux–you have to hack at it.

Have you asked this question in the support forums yet?


Generally pretty helpful.

No, you have to boot it from the CD, not run it as an app in OS X. Power PC FAQ says that if you hold down ‘C’ it will boot from the CD.

The download itself is an image file (.iso extension). I tried to burn it as an image, and my burning software started out by “verifying” the image. I gave up on that when it was still “verifying” 30 minutes later. So yeah, that appears to be my error.

I should note that I’ve downloaded the latest version twice in the last couple days, and both times I’ve gotten a warning that the image is damaged in some way, so that may be part of the problem as well. I’m not sure if it’s actually damaged or if Mac OS X simply doesn’t recognize the format.

If you can afford to wait, you can get them to ship you a free CD.

I’ve had broken download problems before (on a Windows PC) - and it turned out that every time I subsequently tried to download the file, my browser was saying ‘Aha! I have this in the cache!’ - and serving me up the broken version again. Clearing the browser cache and trying to download again the next day, from a different mirror, did the trick.

It’s worth mentioning that the bootable live CD version of Ubuntu might not give you a fair representation of what it would be like to run the OS installed from the hard drive - I’ve installed Ubuntu on quite a number of older machines and the live CD version always seems like wading through treacle, whereas a full install* on the same hardware is usually smooth and fast.

*I don’t even bother installing from the bootable CD any more - I download the ‘alternative’ CD and do a text-based install (it’s still a step-by-step install wizard), but I appreciate that’s not what you’re trying to do here, yet.

I’m about to do something similar on a spare PC at home - waiting, though, until I get a wireless card to go in the thing.

I don’t want to scare you off, but my experience with Ubuntu is that getting wireless to work is harder than it needs to be.

How is it that ubuntu is supposed to be able to run within Mac OS X? In some kind of virtual machine?

Generally with these Live CD’s (the ones where you don’t have to install to the HD) you run it directly off the CD, i.e., boot from the CD. It then has complete control of your hardware (unlike in the virtual machine case).

If you see a bunch of unix-y files on the CD after burning it, you did it correctly. If you burned the image as a file by mistake, all you would see is the one big iso file on the CD. Not sure about your possibly corrupted download tho. I guess that’s why they include those MD5 signatures (not sure if you’re interested in pursuing the verification of your download this way).

Concur. Apparently some wireless chipsets are supported out-of-the-box in Ubuntu, trouble is - try buying a wireless adaptor, using chipset type as the main criterion - it’s damn near impossible.

I know they’re working hard on Wireless though - so I think we’ll see some fairly rapid progress on that front.

Meanwhile, this might be of some help.

For what it’s worth, I have indeed run Ubuntu inside a VM (from Parallels) in OS X. Got a neat little distribution made by a guy who optimized everything for the Macbook. Whole thing was just a Parallels disk image, so it was just a matter of telling Parallels to use that image as the hard drive image to boot.

It may indeed!

I think I’ll do that.

Beats me. I probably just misinterpreted something I read on another site.

Using my Disk Utility software to verify the disk image, I get a message saying that “there was no checksum data to verify”. So yeah, my download was corrupted.

Well, the way it works is the checksum data is separate from the download itself (in the case of Ubuntu, they list all the hashes here). Then, you use an md5 utility to verify the download against the known hash. Not sure exactly what your Disk Utility does, but the fact that it said it didn’t have checksum data probably only meant that it didn’t know what to verify the download against, not necessarily that the download was definitely corrupt.

In fact, that you managed to burn a CD that had separate unix-like files in it, leaves me to believe that it did in fact download and burn correctly. A corrupted ISO doesn’t usually make it that far (not sure if it ever can). Did you try just booting off the CD or using Parallels?

I didn’t try booting from this CD. I did try, unsuccessfully, with the previous release of Ubuntu. I’ll give it another try.

Well hot damn! Using the Mac OS X built-in Disk Utility, I burned a new copy of the .iso image (doing it correctly this time). This new CD is bootable, and I am in fact posting this via Firefox in Ubuntu.

I see immediate improvements over my prior Linux experiences:

  1. I didn’t have to fiddle around for hours with monitor resolution issues.

  2. Ubuntu automatically detected my network settings, and connected me to the Internet as soon as I typed “http://boards.straightdope.com

I may go ahead and install this on my second hard drive.

Thanks for the help!

Congratulations (I’m posting this reply from Firefox in Ubuntu on my dual-boot machine at home).

I hope it works out OK for you - I can certainly empathise with your previous experiences - I’ve had a lot of abortive attempts at using Linux, but Ubuntu really has broken the mould - unfortunately though, the kind of perceptions that we had from our previous attempts are prevailing in the mind of the public, even though they aren’t entirely accurate anymore.

One other quick question: Things seemed a bit sluggish (most notably, booting took a very long time). I imagine it’s safe to say that things will speed up considerably once I’m running it from the hard drive instead of the CD?

Yes, very much so.

Yes. I’ve always found booting from CD to be unbearably sluggish.

I’ve just installed it to the hard drive of an old PC (Pentium 3, 500MHz) and it works just fine - a little bit tardy on a few intensive tasks, but very responsive in general terms. Boots to the login screen in about a minute (nearly half of which is BIOS stuff) Loads Firefox in two seconds.

I’m not sure what it’s going to be like on Mac hardware, but on a PC, the user experience is nearly always faster and more perky and responsive than a fresh Windows install on the same machine.

Yay to that! Also, it gets faster while Windows gets slower.