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Replacing Windows 10 with Ubuntu 18.04

faryalzuberi profile image faryalzuberi ・4 min read

This blog covers a step by step guide on how to install Ubuntu on your system using a bootable USB drive. This is one of the easiest ways of replacing the existing Windows OS on your laptop with a Linux distro.

In order to proceed, you will need a USB pen-drive with at least 4 GB storage space and an external hard drive to create a backup of important data.

Step 1 Download Ubuntu Disk Image

Download your desired Ubuntu LTS version from here. This will be downloaded as an ISO file, approximately 2GB in size.

LTS simply refers to Long Term Support and it guarantees that your OS will receive security updates, bug fixes as well as hardware support improvements for 3 to 5 years from the time of its release. It is suitable to use LTS versions instead of interim releases which would require more frequent upgrades, typically within 9 months or less. You can read more about the Ubuntu release cycle here.

For the installation, please ensure that the selected LTS version is supported by the hardware machine that will be running the OS. You can refer to the Ubuntu certifications to verify this.

Currently there are three LTS versions to choose from: LTS 16.04, LTS 18.04, and LTS 20.04. For my Dell Inspiron 3593 laptop, I opted for the Bionic Beaver LTS 18.04.

Download Bionic Beaver

Step 2 Create Bootable USB drive

The next step is to create the bootable USB drive by extracting files from the Ubuntu disk image using the Universal USB Installer software. Alternatively, Rufus can also be used.

Insert the USB drive into either a 2.0 or 3.0 USB port, though connecting to a 2.0 port will impact the speed of the boot. Any data on the USB will be lost so ensure that it has been copied safely to a different external storage device.

Next, download the latest version of Universal USB Installer from here.

Running this executable will prompt the following:

For Step 1, select Ubuntu from the list of Linux distributions.
For Step 2, browse the path of the downloaded Ubuntu disk image from the previous step.
For Step 3 select the inserted USB drive and check the Will FAT32 Format checkbox.

UUI Prompt

Upon pressing create, a warning will appear which can be safely acknowledged by pressing yes as long as all data on the USB has been backed up. All data on the USB drive will be removed since we are formatting with the FAT32 file system.

UUI warning

The UUI program will then begin extracting files from the disk image to the USB drive. You can run this task in the background if desired.

UUI extractionUUI extraction

Once complete, the resulting Bootable USB drive file structure will look as follows.

Live USB

Your USB drive is now ready!

Before proceeding, ensure that you have backed up important data from your system to the external hard drive that you wish to restore data from.

Step 3 Boot Ubuntu from USB at Start Up

Restart your computer and once the loading screen appears, press F12 several times (this may be different depending on your manufacturer) to enter BIOS settings.

I was installing on the Dell Inspiron 3000 series that has replaced BIOS with the more advanced UEFI Boot. If this is also the case for you, simply select the UEFI Generic Mass Storage (it could be another interchangeable name for your USB drive) from boot devices.

UEFI settings

If your system supports BIOS settings, it will have a different User Interface. In this case, locate the Boot Order option and select the USB device to be the first item in the boot order.

After you have changed the boot order, save and restart. The system will now boot from the Live USB drive.

If there is no option to boot from USB Disk, your computer may not be able to boot from USB. See here for a tool to test if your computer is compatible for USB boot.

The GNU GRUB menu will appear with several options including Install Ubuntu and try Ubuntu without installing. Opting for the latter will allow to explore the downloaded OS before proceeding with the install.

Ubuntu loading

Install Ubuntu

Selecting Install Ubuntu will prompt for several configurations before proceeding with the set up.

Select system language

Ubuntu Config 1

Select keyboard

Ubuntu Config 2

Add and connect to WiFi network (or skip)

Ubuntu Config 3

Updates and other software - proceed with normal installation

Ubuntu Config 4

Proceeding with installation type will prompt whether to remove Windows Boot Manager completely or install Ubuntu with dual boot. We wish to use Ubuntu as our sole OS so I opted for that.

Ubuntu Config 5

Select timezone

Ubuntu Config 6

Create System User Account

Ubuntu Config 7

And voila, your system is up and running with Ubuntu!

Welcome to Ubuntu

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faryalzuberi profile



I spend most of my time programming so that my laptop is never unattended for my cat to abuse at will


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Love it! Would it be possible to do a follow-up with setting up your dev environment? I set mine up a year ago, and remember the first three months was a struggle since I didn't know what like .bashrc was, what sudo meant, etc. Would be super helpful for those moving from win10 as well!


Thank you!! I will definitely try and put together a Linux walk through 😊


The instructions are on point and very simple to follow. Greatt stuff!!! 🤟


Certainly! but to ensure my machine’s hardware compatibility I found it a safe bet to verify Ubuntu’s certification for it which is understandably not available for LTS 20.04 as yet certification.ubuntu.com/desktop


And viola, your system is up and running with Ubuntu!

I think you mean 'voilà'... 🎻


Haha indeed I did, thank you! 😊


I don't intend to do this because WSL and remote servers serve me enough. But for the sake of those considering to, may I ask:

What happens to the OEM Windows 10 installation. Is it lost? Is the license lost too?


License is tied to your hardware. If you completely remove and reinstall windows 10, it will get activated automatically without entering any key


That's great. I dint know this. Thanks!


Just going to mention Balena Etcher. Creates bootable flash drives and is available for all operating systems.


I'd suggest that anyone wanting to start playing around with Ubuntu (or any other Linux distribution) who is used to working with Windows, should do so in a virtual machine first.

For those who are going to go the whole hog, make sure files are backed up first. And make sure you have the Windows recovery media available in case it doesn't work out for you.


What motivated you to move from Windows to Ubuntu. How you are panning to use Ubuntu?


I have been using Ubuntu for quite some time actually, I recently acquired a new machine that was running Windows 10 and thought of having a go at installing it myself!


You explained this so clearly! Great work 😊


Thank you so much ☺️


Nice Ms Zuberi.
Here is another two way. Give it a try:
1) Persistent USB . Google it .
2) Install Ubuntu 20.04 LTS server. Now use tasksel to try different flavors.


I really appreciate the work you've done but I'm very curious to know that how can I still save my files without formatting the data in storage.



If you have a separate data drive/partition formatted by Windows as NTFS ..., you can keep it and setup read/write access to it from Linux later. Just tell the installer not to use that partition as part of the manual disk drive configuration dialog. However, Linux itself has its own file systems and needs to be installed on at least one partition reformatted to use one of them (usually ext4, but there are other choices) and that reformatting will erase all preexisting data on that partition.


Could this process work for installing onto a raspberry pi?


Great tutorial. You should also try WSL2 which is far better than running Ubuntu from USB.


Why did you use 18.04 when 20.04 also LTS version?


The postfix.04 present for the LTS version. 20.04 is newer than 18.04 so I think that some libraries will NOT support or work on 20 versions.


I tried the same way....but didn't work, the installation was taking huge time like more than 1 hour but still not getting installed properly, so I installed 18.04 instead