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How To Install Linux Operating System Step By Step

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In this ‘how to install linux operating system step by step’ guide,  we will focus on installing just two variants of the linux operating sytem and that is centos and ubuntu.

For us to learn the linux operating system, we need to install linux first. To make this easy, we will not be installing linux to a physical machine instead, we will use a bit of virtualization technology and install linux to it.

There are a lot of virtual technologies we can look at like:

  • Oracle VirtualBox
  • Hyper V
  • VMware
  • KVM

Some of these tools have a free version while others and paid and better still open sourced. For our learning purpose we will be using virtualbox to install linux.


  1. A desktop or laptop with 4GB RAM or preferably higher. We are assuming that for the present, we will be installing just 2 virtual machines.
  2. Harddrive capacity of 80GB and higher.
  3. A virtualbox executable file for windows. You could also get the virtualbox files for linux, macos and solaris respectively. Please visit https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads to download virtualbox for your operating system of choice. Like you know, I will download virtualbox for windows.
  4. A centos/arch linux/opensuse iso file and a ubuntu/debian iso file. To learn linux properly, we will need to know and understand the installation, configuration principles and commands behind the rpm based linux systems and the deb based linux system. Even many linux certifications require you know both package styles. For this guide, we will download and install centos and ubuntu. Please find download location for two major rpm and deb systems.     
  1. Centos:              https://www.centos.org/download/

  2. Ubuntu:              https://ubuntu.com/#download


Go to https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads to download the latest version of virtualbox for your operating system.

Install the executable file, accepting the defaults and clicking next all the way untill the installation is complete. Now start up virtual box and you are greated with the interface shown below.

virtualbox interface

To create a new virtual machine, click on New. Give the machine a name. In our case, we named it centos simply because we want to install a centos linux machine.

Please give your machine a name that corresponds to the naming scheme your organization uses like ABJ-hp-02 or whatever. Next, select Linux from the dropdown since what we are interested in installing is a linux machine and not a windows machine. In the version, please select linux 2.6/3.x 64 bit if your computer supports 64 bits or 32 bits if your system runs on 32 bit architecture and then click next.

create new virtual machine

Choose the amount of memory or ram you will like to allocate to this virtual machine. In our case, we are giving it 1GB of RAM and then click next.

allocate memory to virtual machine

On the next screen, tick create virtual hard disk now and click next. In the hard disk file type, select VDI(virtual disk image). Also tick dynamically allocated and click next. The dynamically allocated means virtualbox will dynamically allocate hard disk size on a per need basis. Lets say you created a VM with hard disk size of 40GB. But at the moment you currently use 5GB.

Virtualbox will assign the 5G ot you as against the 40GB you selected and as you require more space and install more packages to your harddrive, virtualbox will automatically increase your harddisk without your intervention upto the 40GB specified. Now click next. Select your size of harddisk to allocate to the virtual machine and click create. It is now time to install linux onto our virtual machine.


At this point, you should have your centos iso file downloaded from their website.

Right click on your virtual machine(centos) and click settings.

Click storage. Then click on empty. The empty shows that there is no iso file to boot to from the hard drive. Once you click on empty, click on the disk sign at the top right to locate your downloaded centos iso file .

insert iso file to harddisk


The circles in red in the diagram above, are the steps to take to get to your iso file and insert into your hard drive. Now click on ok.

Now you could right click on your centos virtual machine and click on start or just double click on the centos virtual machine to start it.

install centos

Click on enter to begin the installation process. Select your desired language and click next.

I usually install my centos as a minimal install, thereby using only the command line and no graphical user interface. But for your convenience, I will install a gnome desktop. If your installation has a minimal install at the softwar selection field, simply click on it and tick gnome desktop as shown in the diagram below.

software install centosgnome desktop for centos

Then click on done! Click continue installation. While your system is installing, take  a little time to create a root password. A root password is a password that has full rights on the system. Please use this password sparingly or you could cause grave damage to your organization. Also create a user for the system with the details required and then click done.

add user to centos

The installation may take a long while. Allow it run its course after which you click finish installation.

Accept the licence agreement and configure the network if neccessary, then click finish configuration. The login screen with your name will now appear.



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