back to article Ubuntu, Kubuntu, openSUSE to get better installation

Installation remains a pain point for many Linux distros, but everyone is working hard on it. Some of those efforts are bearing fruit… but not all of them. Ubuntu's next LTS version, 24.04, is taking shape. As we mentioned back in October, it is codenamed Noble Numbat. This release will have the new installer, "Subiquity," …

  1. I am David Jones Silver badge

    What’s better about Subiquity then? Why is installation less painful?

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Possibly this from OA?

      " Linux specialist Phoronix reports that the latest Noble daily builds now supports GNOME's accessibility tools within the installer."

      PS Anyone heard from shadowsystems who used to post here?

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        >PS Anyone heard from shadowsystems who used to post here?

        I asked that same question a few weeks ago, and the consensus response was that he's not been heard from in a couple of years.

        I do hope he's OK - his comments were always coherent and incisive and put many of us fully-able-bodied commentards to shame :(

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      I didn't know that installer was maintained. Subiquity for 23.10 just crashes for me.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not mentioned....but should be......

    I have not done a bare metal install of Fedora since F32.

    Every upgrade has been done online, no physical media needed at all....

    (1) sudo dnf upgrade --refresh

    (2) sudo dnf system-upgrade download --releasever=39 // 33, 34, 35, 36........

    (3) sudo dnf system-upgrade reboot

    After reading this article, wondering if I will still be using this 30 minute process for F40 or F41 or F42........

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Not mentioned....but should be......

      Likewise in Debian land, run any updates due on the current version, switch the distro name in /etc/apt, run another upgrade and reboot. I'd hope that this is now expected across Linux distros. Perhaps, to appease the "Oh, it's the command line" mouth-foamers perhaps there should be a GUI version (maybe there is somewhere but as CLI is often the far slicker way to do things I stick to that).

      However there's always the need to install on new H/W or to replace Windows. And on the matter of Windows, which Liam raised in the article, I think there's a need for an installer that starts out from a PoV of "Oh dear, I see you've got Windows. Let's make space, install something better but let you keep your old data available." and automate that. If, as I suggested earlier, it could use Wine or virtualisation to run any installed Windows applications that weren't going to be replaced with Linux ones, so much the better.

      Having said that SWMBO's laptop threw a H/W wobbly so I dragged out an old one of mine, W7 vintage, only to discover that the resident version of Debian was so old that its repositories were "archived" as were at least the next two succeeding ones. So that did involve a reinstall of Devuan.

    2. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Not mentioned....but should be......

      True dat; most of us would avoid a bare-metal reinstall if it was humanly possible. Liam did say in TFA though, that an easier/more-intuitive installer might be a benefit for people looking to continue using Windows <11 spec. hardware (whose numbers are expected to be rising) by switching to Ubuntu. That's forced to be a bare-metal installation the first time, even if sudo apt full-upgrade suffices after that.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Not mentioned....but should be......

      That's not installation, that's upgrading. The article is about installation methods.

      1. karlkarl Silver badge

        Re: Not mentioned....but should be......

        To be fair, I use almost identical commands to install Fedora from the livecd:

        # dnf install --installroot=/mnt ...

        Installers are obviously great but I wish they were *much* more transparent about what random commands they are running on your machine, as well as any needless cruft being generated.

    4. AdamWill

      Re: Not mentioned....but should be......

      Sure you can. Whether or not we change to the new installer interface in any given release, it has no impact on upgrades, you will be able to upgrade just the same way you have been doing all along. Glad to hear it's been working well for you.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Installation remains a pain point for many Linux distros"

    I think the pain point is largely that it asks the installer to make choices about partitioning. This is not an issue for an OS that just tramples anything on the boot drive even if the partitioning it sets up becomes a problem for later updates.

    1. RedGreen925 Bronze badge

      "This is not an issue for an OS that just tramples anything on the boot drive even if the partitioning it sets up becomes a problem for later updates."

      The Debian and by using it Ubuntu installer too has no problem trampling over the EFI partition on the first drive in the system no matter what drive you tell it to install to installing its files there. Been that way for years I get rather disgusted with every install I do, mpstly testing ones on spare machine, with having to mount the EFI partition on drive installed to for the OS then copy over the files to its EFI partition to have the damn files where I told it to put them in the first place. Oh and you need to edit the /etc/fstab to put the proper new UUID in there for it to be used when you boot from it as well.

    2. AdamWill

      Yes. This is *absolutely* the hardest part.

      I think everyone working on installers for every distribution would agree there is no good partitioning interface. Partitioning is a nightmare and nobody knows what the hell a biosboot partition is. All you can do is try to mitigate the pain a bit (or, yes, turn it into a "PICK A DRIVE FOR ME TO EAT WHOLE" operation).

  4. TVU Silver badge

    I just wanted to thank Liam regarding those people with disabilities and those with lower incomes who would find it very difficult to buy a new desktop PC or laptop just so that they can get a supported Windows 11 computer.

    Given that we're meant to be taking more care of the environment, Microsoft's unnecessary specific hardware requirements for Windows 11 are going in the wrong direction.

    1. Mike 125

      Yep. Everyone I know is now desperate to kick the Windows habit. It's becoming a f'king nightmare.

      I support 'old' but totally robust and perfectly functioning machines for many people, and me.

      We want good advice on routes out, and how to handle cold turkey!

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Windows

        "We want good advice on routes out"

        I'd suggest making a list of the applications your people use (Web browser plus.... office? Graphics? Music players? Video editors? Sound production &c) and researching available alternatives in Linux land. If someone has a strong need for a proprietary application e.g. knitting pattern generator or something really specialised they may struggle to find an alternative.

        I'd also suggest trying a live ISO by booting from a usb stick without altering the hard drive. Mint Linux, Mageia Linux et al, there are loads of different ones. Try using the live session for a day or several and see what you think.

  5. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

    Non-issue

    Installation was solved by Caldera in the 1990s, and most other distributions (SuSe, Ubuntu Fedora) followed in the next decade or so. Even Debian is now trivial to install. Ditto Raspberry Pi. Why are people still whingeing about this?

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Non-issue

      Agreed, so long as you are doing a straight 'click through', say 'Yes' to everything install, but anyone unfamiliar with the concept and practicalities of partitioning is likely to lose heart at that point. Straightforward if you've done it before, or just know what you are doing, not so much fun otherwise.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Non-issue

        And also providing there was nothing on the machine that you wanted to keep when you clicked "Use entire disk".

        1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

          Re: Non-issue

          Just curious, does the Windoze installer have the ability to preserve existing data and OSs on the installation disc (like Linux does)? I haven't tried it since W2k (which did not - at that time Linux was a "cancer") so I wouldn't know . . .

          1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

            Re: Non-issue

            Windows still does not like to share. I believe it will offer to keep data from an older Windows install but you still lose the ability to actually boot into the older Windows, essentially an in-place upgrade. If you want to resize a partition to make room for Windows and keep your old OSs intact, it may be possible from the command line, depending on the filesystem, and then you will still need to add/restore/configure grub or some other bootloader to access the older OS installs, as Windows will almost certainly wipe out any bootloader that was there previously. I'm not 100% on this, as I've never actually done it. I always advise to install Windows first on the entire drive, then add linux distros after. Things just go so much smoother if you don't give Microsoft the chance to muck things up.

          2. djnapkin

            Re: Non-issue

            Yes, the Windows installer defaulted to preserving the existing data and saving the current OS as Windows.Old when I installed one the other day.

            When choosing the 'clean slate' choice, it shows the existing partitions, which I delete one-by-one.

            Once they are all deleted, the installation looks after creating whatever partitions it deems necessary.

            1. m4r35n357 Bronze badge

              Re: Non-issue

              So, nice to itself, then!

            2. druck Silver badge

              Re: Non-issue

              And after 10 days it deletes Windows.old out of spite.

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Non-issue

        Is it any worse than the partitioning section of the Windows installer? I don’t think so.

    2. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Re: Non-issue

      I agree. It never occurred to me that anyone finds installation an issue. As for partitioning confusing people, don’t almost all Linuxes have a “use default” option which would suffice for the vast majority of people that would consider selecting it?

      I have heard and read a lot of things over the years about why Linux is a problem to use (and I’m not saying any of them are right or wrong) but I thought installation was done and dusted

      1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

        Re: Non-issue

        I don't think it's an issue for anyone who trolls the comments here on El Reg, but just the first steps of creating a bootable USB drive to install from and then getting the PC to boot from USB is way more than the majority of users are comfortable with.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: Non-issue

          Would those people be able to install Windows?

          My experience is, from downloading the ISO, to getting a useable desktop, Debian is a bit better because it has more out of the box driver support.

          1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

            Re: Non-issue

            "Would those people be able to install Windows?"

            From an ISO? No, but maybe from a recovery partition.

            Most users buy a PC with a preinstalled OS, and can usually manage to install feature updates just fine, but for anything requiring a fresh install, they won't even know that that is the best course of action, let alone how to do it. They will either call their nerdiest friend or family member, or just junk it and buy a new computer.

            1. ldo

              Re: Windiws? No, but maybe from a recovery partition.

              What happens if the recovery partition gets zapped?

              1. Yankee Doodle Doofus Bronze badge

                Re: Windiws? No, but maybe from a recovery partition.

                I believe I covered that with my last sentence. They will either get help, or junk the pc.

      2. AdamWill

        Re: Non-issue

        "Vast majority" is probably a bit of an overstatement. If you have a clean blank drive to use (or one you don't mind getting wiped), great. (really, I mean that: great. This is absolutely how you should install any OS if you possibly can.) Anything else starts to get a bit more complex. Lots of people want to install alongside Windows, or another Linux distribution. Some people have strong opinions about what partition layout they want (imagine that, El Reg readers - people with strong opinions!)

    3. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

      Re: Non-issue

      I mean, I would like to get more options actually. Btrfs compression yes/no? Btrfs snapshots yes/no? Which packages to install, which ones to skip? AppArmor or SELinux? Firewall yes/no? `sudo` yes/no? Flatpak or Snap yes/no?

      That's why I love the current openSUSE installer, which is an absolute gem, and I hope the new one won't drop any features.

  6. Jotrav

    Have you tried Linuxint? That seems to play nicely when it finds a Windows installation, and asks if you want to install LM alongside Windows, or replace it.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > Have you tried Linuxint?

      Never heard of that one; nor has Google.

      Is that a typo?

      You can't mean Mint, surely. As one of the most-used distros around, the Reg, and I, cover Mint all the time:

      https://search.theregister.com/?q=%22linux+mint%22+%22liam+proven%22

  7. ldo

    Installation Remains A Pain Point ...

    Yeah, it’s a real pain having to reboot half a dozen times during an OS install.

    ... Oh, wait, wrong OS.

  8. jake Silver badge

    I've been using slackpkg since 2003.

    Doesn't seem to be in need of an upgrade as far as I'm concerned.

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