Installing Linux Ubuntu as a Windows Application with Wubi

With the latest release of the popular Linux-based operating system, Ubuntu Hardy Heron, the installation process just got easier for Windows users who wish to try out an alternative to Vista or XP.  Even .NET developers who are looking out on trying the Mono project (the .NET platform for Linux-based operating systems) can benefit from it.  All this is possible thanks to a little Windows utility called Wubi, which is an installer for Ubuntu.

As described by Wikipedia’s definition on the tool:

Wubi adds an entry to the Windows boot menu which allows you to run Linux. Ubuntu is installed within a file in the Windows file system (c:\wubi\disks\system.virtual.disk), as opposed to being installed within its own partition. This file is seen by Linux as a real hard disk.

According to Wubi’s official site, Wubi is an officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click.  Wubi allows you to install and uninstall Ubuntu as any other Windows application, in a simple and safe way.

The beauty of Wubi is that:

  • You don’t need to burn a CD. Just run the installer, enter a password for the new account, and click “Install”, go grab a coffee, and when your are back, Ubuntu will be ready for you.
  • You keep Windows as it is, Wubi only adds an extra option to boot into Ubuntu. Wubi does not require you to modify the partitions of your PC, or to use a different bootloader, and does not install special drivers. It works just like any other application. Wubi is spyware and malware free, and being open source, anyone can verify that.
  • Wubi keeps most of the files in one folder, and if you do not like it, you can simply uninstall it as any other application.
  • It’s free!

The following screenshot, which was taken from Wubi’s official site, shows you how easy it is to configure Ubuntu’s installation as a Windows application.

Remember that you don’t have to create a new partition to install Ubuntu with Wubi.  In fact, it will install the Linux-based operating system in the same partition that Windows is installed (just like a standard application).  You can choose whether to boot in Windows or Ubuntu whenever you reboot your computer.

There are some things to consider with this installation model:

  1. The performance is identical to a standard installation, except for hard-disk access which is slightly slower than an installation to a dedicated partition. If your hard disk is very fragmented the performance will degenerate.
  2. Hibernation is not supported under Wubi, moreover Wubi filesystem is more vulnerable to hard-reboots (turning off the power) and power outages than a normal filesystem, so try to avoid unplugging the power. An Ubuntu installation to a dedicated partition provides a filesystem that is more robust and can better tolerate such events.

For more information, I suggest you to skim through Wubi’s FAQ page

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