Install Ubuntu Server in less than 30 minutes

For years, Ubuntu Server has been my go-to server operating system. Not only is it one of the most widely used server operating systems in the world (especially when you add cloud deployments to the mix), it’s also one of the most user-friendly server platforms out there. To make Ubuntu Server even more attractive, you can download it for free and install it on as many machines as you want.

Ubuntu Server can be installed on bare metal (in other words, on a physical machine), as a virtual machine, or as a virtual environment on a remote cloud host (such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud). With Ubuntu Server, there is no end to the number of applications and services (such as WordPress, Nextcloud, Invoice Plane, email servers, web servers, database servers and many, many more).

I’m going to walk you through the installation of Ubuntu Server, a process so simple it will blow your mind. I will demonstrate using the VirtualBox virtual machine tool, which can be installed on Linux, macOS, and Windows. Aside from the process of creating the virtual machine, installing Ubuntu Server is the same no matter how you do it.

Let’s walk through this.

Also: How To Install Ubuntu Linux (It’s Easy!)

Requirements

Besides having a machine to install Ubuntu Server on, you need to download the ISO image from the official Ubuntu Server download page† After you save that ISO image, what you do next will depend on the type of hardware you plan to use. If you are going to install Ubuntu Server as a virtual machine, all you need to do is create the virtual machine using your tool of choice (such as VirtualBox or VMware). If you are going to install Ubuntu Server on a physical machine, you will need to burn that ISO image to a USB flash drive.

When I say “burn” the ISO image, I don’t mean just copy it. What you need to do is create a bootable image using a tool like UnetbootinpopsicleRufusWindows USB/DVD Download Tool, RMPrepUSBYumiUUByte ISO Burneror Wintoflash† Each of these tools works differently, so find one for your desktop OS of choice and you should find it quite easy to install and create a bootable USB drive from the downloaded Ubuntu Server ISO image.

And now, to the installation.

Install Ubuntu Server

1. Configure the language and update the installer

Start your virtual machine or insert your USB drive into your machine and boot it up. In the first window (Figure 1), select (use the up/down arrows on your keyboard) Try or install Ubuntu Server and press Enter on your keyboard.

The first screen in the Ubuntu Server installation.

The first installation screen for Ubuntu Server.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the next window (Figure 2), we select the language for the installation.

Language selection for Ubuntu Server.

Select a language for Ubuntu Server installation.

Image: Jack Wallen

Use your arrow keys to select the language of your choice and press Enter on your keyboard.

In the resulting window (figure 3), use your arrow keys to select Update to the new installer and press Enter on your keyboard.

The Ubuntu Server installer updater.

Image: Jack Wallen

2. Configure your keyboard

On the next screen (Figure 4), you will be prompted to configure your keyboard. Select both the format and the variant.

The keyboard selection window for Ubuntu Server.

Setting the keyboard layout and variant for Ubuntu Server.

Image: Jack Wallen

When you’re done, select Done (using your arrow keys) and press Enter on your keyboard.

3. Choose the type of installation

Next, we select the base for installation. Here (Figure 5), you want to select Ubuntu Server (to install most tools by default) and continue.

Basic installation selection for Ubuntu Server.

Select the base installation for Ubuntu Server.

Image: Jack Wallen

4. Configure the network

Here (Figure 6) you have two choices. You can choose the default DHCP or configure a static IP address. I prefer configuring static IP addresses as this ensures that the server is always reachable through a specific IP address.

Choose between DHPC or static IP addresses.

Choose the type of network configuration for Ubuntu Server.

Image: Jack Wallen

To set a static IP address, use your arrow keys to select the network connection (in my case it’s enp0s3) and press Enter on your keyboard. In the resulting popup, select Edit IPv4 and then press Enter to switch from Automatic to Manual (Figure 7

Selecting the manual IP address configuration for Ubuntu Server.

Configure a static IP address for Ubuntu Server.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the resulting window (Figure 8) configure the static network address according to your needs.

The static IP address configuration window.

Edit enp0s3 as a static IP address.

Image: Jack Wallen

For example, you can enter the following information for the static IP address:

  • Subnet: 192.168.1.0/16
  • Address: 192.168.1.33
  • Gateway: 192.168.1.1
  • Name servers: 1.0.0.1,1.1.1.1

Once you’ve set up the configuration, go to Done and press Enter on your keyboard. You can then skip the proxy configuration by pressing Enter again. The last step in the network configuration is to select the mirror address to use. The Mirror address tells your Ubuntu Server instance where you want to install applications from. It’s best to use the default by simply pressing Enter again on your keyboard.

5. Configure Storage

We’re going to use our entire drive for the installation (which is the default), so leave everything as it is (Figure 9), tab to Done and press Enter on your keyboard.

The disk selection screen in the Ubuntu Server installation.

Select our drive for installation.

Image: Jack Wallen

Review the layout (everything should be fine) and press Enter again to accept the configuration. You will then be prompted to verify the destructive action (Figure 10), so select Continue with your arrow keys and press Enter on your keyboard.

Accept the action to be the installation.

Accepting the destructive action that will initiate the installation process.

Image: Jack Wallen

6. Create a user

You will now be prompted to create a user for the installation (Figure 11† Type the required details, tab to Done and press Enter on your keyboard.

The user creation screen for Ubuntu Server.

Create a new user on Ubuntu Server.

Image: Jack Wallen

7. SSH Setup and Software Installation

You obviously want to enable secure shell access to the server (so you can access it remotely). In the resulting window (Figure 12), enable the OpenSSH server installation by pressing the spacebar on your keyboard and then tap Done.

Install OpenSSH on Ubuntu Server.

Enable installation of OpenSSH.

Image: Jack Wallen

In the next screen (Figure 13), scroll through the list of available software to install (select the desired software with the spacebar).

The package selection screen for Ubuntu Server.

Marking software for installation.

Image: Jack Wallen

After you’ve made your selections, go to Done and press Enter on your keyboard.

At this point, the installation will begin and take 5-10 minutes to complete. When it’s done, select Restart now, remove your USB device and sign in with the user you created during the installation.

Congratulations, you now have a working instance of Ubuntu Server that you can use however you like. This process should take no more than 15-30 minutes.

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