What exactly is Ubuntu Minimal? You can think of it as a minimal Linux distribution, which installs the minimum necessary to run the operating system.
In fact, the system to be installed comes in the form of an ISO image of a few MB (usually less than 50 MB, depending on the release).
You can find the image to download in the Ubuntu wiki guides for the minimal versions.
In the wikis you will also find some important information about burning the ISO image to a CD or USB stick, and also some tips on how to get started.
It will also be possible to get information about installing on UEFI-based systems.
If you are sure of your knowledge of Linux and want to install a customizable system yourself, an installation of this type is perfect because you can optimize the installation, downloading only with the chosen software.
However, during the installation there will be the possibility to add additional packages, downloaded from the Internet.
Unlike Linux distributions like Arch, in Ubuntu minimal there is an installer that guides the user step by step through the process.
With Linux distros like Arch and Gentoo, you would have to perform each of the following steps using the command line tools. But fortunately this is not the case with Ubuntu Mini.
Let’s start installing Ubuntu Minimal
First, download the minimal ISO of Ubuntu 18.04 from the wiki page.
If you are going to install on a virtual machine, of course, you can skip burning the ISO to a physical medium.
So, open your virtual machine’s management software and create a VM if you haven’t prepared one yet.
Make sure that the ISO and the hard disk you are installing from are connected to the VM.
OK, let’s initialize the machine and start the image.
Select the “Install” option in the boot menu.
This will load the installer which will ask you the usual questions about language, country, time zone and keyboard.
1. Configuring the keyboard
There is a function that detects the type of keyboard layout you have. This will display a series of screens with a list of characters to type in. In each screen, you can type a character you have on your keyboard. He will then ask you a few questions about the characters you have on your keyboard. It will ask if a character is present on the keyboard or not. After the quiz, the system should detect precisely the type of keyboard you are using.
If you know exactly what keyboard layout you are using, simply select it from the list.
2. Network configuration
After selecting the keyboard, the installer will then try to find an Internet connection. The connection is required for the installation, as the additional packages must be downloaded.
When finished, you will be asked to provide the host name (the name you want to give your computer).
3. Configuring mirrors
After choosing the host name, a list of mirrors will be displayed.
The mirrors contain the Ubuntu packages that we will download. Remember, just because the mirror is geographically close to you doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the fastest.
4. Configuring the proxy server
If you need to enter a proxy server, you can do so now. Leave the field blank if you are not using a proxy server (if you are using a home connection, normally this field should be left blank).
Now the installer can start downloading the packages needed to proceed with the installation.
5. User configuration
Once the packages have been downloaded, the system will ask you to provide a username and password for the user.
6. Partitioning your hard drive
The next step in installing a Ubuntu Minimal is disk partitioning.
Since this is a new VM with an empty virtual disk, we can simply use the wizard option.
It will organize the partitions as appropriate.
If you wish, you can manually set up partitions.
For those who want to use the manual option, we select “Manual”.
We can see a menu where there is the unit on which we want to install the system (usually marked with the words “VBOX HARDDISK”).
After selecting it, you will be presented with the option to create a partition table because it is a new image of your hard drive.
After creating the partition table, we will be able to see the structure of the disk.
Let’s take an example, defining three partitions:
- The ‘/boot’ partition
- The partition ‘/’
- Swap space
Separating the directory / boot in your partition is not really necessary, but it is strongly recommended to do so.
You will only have to assign about 120 – 160 MB to this partition.
Next, we’ll create a 5GB swap partition.
Then we create the root partition (‘/’).
Observe the structure before making changes to the unit.
The system will ask us if we are sure we want to make changes as they could destroy the data.
Once partitioning is complete, the installer will start downloading packages to install the system.
7. Options for software updates
After the basic Ubuntu Minimal system has been installed, the user interface will ask you how you want to manage the updates.
Personally, I always choose to automatically install the security updates, and I recommend that you do the same to keep your operating system safe from any malicious intent.
8. Installing add-on packages
At this point a menu will appear to choose the list of programs and packages you want to install on your new system.
You can make your Linux installation minimalist, or full of applications, as you like.
After that, the system will install the selected packages.
9. Installing GRUB
Next, we will install GRUB on the unit.
Since this is a new drive, we can safely install GRUB on the master boot record (MBR).
10. Time Zone Configuration
You will be asked if your system clock is set to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
For systems with only one operating system, it’s okay to say yes.
If the system has another operating system (e.g. Windows), it is better to say no.
11. Restarting the system
Now we are ready to restart, and when the system is restarted I suggest you update the package list using the command
sudo apt update
If you want to add applications you can use the command
sudo apt install <package name>
to easily install anything you want.
In this way you can install any program you want, customizing the system according to your needs.
What to do after installation?
Now you can use your new Linux operating system and install new programs as you please.
You can make it a music studio, a complete desktop system, a server or whatever else you want.