end users should not have to access BIOS whatsoever to install Ubuntu

Bug #57379 reported by Subharo Bhikkhu on 2006-08-23
10
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Baltix
Undecided
Unassigned
Ubuntu
Wishlist
Henrik Nilsen Omma
Declined for Feisty by Colin Watson

Bug Description

Virtually all PCs now come from the factory having default BIOS settings to NOT boot from CD before hard drive (which is super-annoying). So if a user boots their machine with an Ubuntu CD in the drive, the CD will not boot (until they go into their BIOS to change the boot order).

Consider the implications of these unfortunate-for-Ubuntu circumstances:
-The special key (eg. F1, delete, etc.) one needs to press to enter the BIOS is usually only shown when you tap Escape right at boot time. And you're not invited to press Escape. You just magically need to know to press it. Therefore the BIOS is effectively completely hidden from most users. This makes it really tough for novice users to learn about the existence of the BIOS, much less get inside it.
-Most users have no idea what a BIOS is or how to access it. And they DO NOT want to learn. It is too nebulous, technical, risky, and uninteresting.
-Of those who vaguely do know what a BIOS is, most are intimidated by the BIOS and don't want to go in there whatsoever.
-And even if users are brave enough to go into the BIOS, it's impossible to give specific, procedural instructions in the Ubuntu documentation as to how to modify the boot order, since all BIOS's have different menus and controls. All you can do is vaguely suggest "search for a menu called something like Boot Order", and hope for the best (ie. that the user doesn't give up on Ubuntu)

So the BIOS presents a considerable technical roadblock to installing Ubuntu for your average novice user (who is probably installing an Operating System of any kind for the first time). In fact, the BIOS is probably the single most technically complex part of the average Ubuntu install (by far), since the BIOS is such an ugly, text-based, poorly-documented hell hole. Therefore it must be "smoothed over" at all costs! No novice user should have to go in there.

Instlux can do this "smoothing over". It's a Windows program that kicks off an Ubuntu install right from within Windows very easily, without the need to change the BIOS.

The Ubuntu install CD must include instlux in the DiscTree menu (that automatically launches when an Ubuntu CD is loaded while running within windows). This will greatly help all Windows users to more easily install Ubuntu.

Instlux is available here, and has an LGPL license:
http://instlux.sourceforge.net/

I think it's a no-brainer to include instlux on Ubuntu CD's, because it considerably simplifies the Ubuntu install process for novice computer users, who may give up on Ubuntu the second things get technically complex.

description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
Carthik Sharma (carthik) wrote :

Thank you for your suggestion Dustin. I am sure someone from the packaging/cd-image team will look into this possibility.

Jason Spiro (jasonspiro) wrote :

I am taking the liberty of reassigning this to ubuntu-cdimage, since they are the ones who can take care of this if they so choose.

Colin Watson (cjwatson) wrote :

Looking into this is on the agenda for our developer summit in Seville in May. At this point (not being somebody who knows much about Windows) I don't want to just slap something in without discussion.

From a quick glance, instlux looks like a reasonable solution; there's also win32-loader in the debian-installer Subversion repository that takes a similar approach. I haven't yet looked into the differences between them.

Matt Zimmerman (mdz) wrote :

Please do not assign bugs to others without their request; in particular, this is an idea with several possible solutions which are being considered, and further discussion and experimentation is necessary before deciding on the feasibility of such a project and creating and implementation plan.

2007/3/6, Matt Zimmerman <email address hidden>:
> Please do not assign bugs to others without their request

I apologize.

> in particular, this is an idea with several possible solutions which are
> being considered

I am curious: what are some of the other solutions you're considering?

Subharo Bhikkhu (subharo) wrote :

I also am curious: could any of the multiple solutions be
complimentary to each other? Like could more than one solution be
used? Rather than spending lots of time and effort reaching a
consensus on picking one solution, why not just go ahead with the
first and easiest one, and if a better solution comes later, maybe it
can also be used (if it is complimentary)?

More roads leading to Ubuntu is a good thing, IMHO, plus I also feel
Ubuntu needs to act fast to compete with Vista.

Right as you read this, many tens of millions of computer users are
wondering what they are going to do about their Windows 2000 boxen not
being officially supported by Microsoft anymore (now that Vista is
out, and Windows 2000 reaches its end-of-life), so now is the perfect
time for Ubuntu to swoop in with a super-easy alternative solution to
buying Vista, ie. an Ubuntu which is very, very easy to install
because a novice user needn't care what a BIOS is whatsoever, much
less configure it.

This feature alone could gain many millions of new Ubuntu users! Think about it.

Cheers,
Dustin.

On 3/6/07, Jason Spiro <email address hidden> wrote:
> 2007/3/6, Matt Zimmerman <email address hidden>:
> > Please do not assign bugs to others without their request
>
> I apologize.
>
> > in particular, this is an idea with several possible solutions which are
> > being considered
>
> I am curious: what are some of the other solutions you're considering?
>
> --
> end users should not have to access BIOS whatsoever to install Ubuntu
> https://launchpad.net/bugs/57379
>

--
Dustin Harriman

My Blog: http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/dustinharriman
RSS Feed: http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/rss-RkGSoVA1brWtXrVH9Gr5CzgVujwwGg--?cq=1

"Freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the
capacity to make intelligent choices" -Francis Moore Lappé

Matt Zimmerman (mdz) wrote :

On Wed, Mar 07, 2007 at 05:26:41PM -0000, Dustin wrote:
> I also am curious: could any of the multiple solutions be
> complimentary to each other? Like could more than one solution be
> used? Rather than spending lots of time and effort reaching a
> consensus on picking one solution, why not just go ahead with the
> first and easiest one, and if a better solution comes later, maybe it
> can also be used (if it is complimentary)?

It is well worth the investment in thinking through the problem before
deploying a solution. The availability of a proof of concept implementation
of one idea is useful and we will look at it, but it would not be wise to
rush a new feature in, especially one which modifies the boot process of an
installed Windows system. Anything we do in this respect must be carefully
considered and thoroughly tested before being released.

We're well into feature freeze for Ubuntu 7.04 (the beta release is just a
few weeks away now), and we plan to discuss this topic at the Developer
Summit in early May, after the release.

> More roads leading to Ubuntu is a good thing, IMHO, plus I also feel
> Ubuntu needs to act fast to compete with Vista.

This is good reason to be creative, but not to be reckless.

--
 - mdz

Subharo Bhikkhu (subharo) wrote :

Fair enough. I give you guys big kudos for respecting the Windows
install (that a new Ubuntu install would either live alongside or wipe
out). It is interesting to note that Microsoft **does not** pay that
same courtesy back to Ubuntu. Witness what happens when you have a
system with Ubuntu only installed, then you install Windows.

In this situation, Windows by default wants to wipe out Ubuntu, not
clearly explaining the meaning or implications of this. And Windows
will surely wipe out GRUB such that Windows will boot ONLY, no choice
is given like GRUB provides to also boot to Ubuntu.

I salute your "maturity" and respect you show towards your
competition, namely Microsoft.

Cheers,
Dustin.

On 3/7/07, Matt Zimmerman <email address hidden> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 07, 2007 at 05:26:41PM -0000, Dustin wrote:
> > I also am curious: could any of the multiple solutions be
> > complimentary to each other? Like could more than one solution be
> > used? Rather than spending lots of time and effort reaching a
> > consensus on picking one solution, why not just go ahead with the
> > first and easiest one, and if a better solution comes later, maybe it
> > can also be used (if it is complimentary)?
>
> It is well worth the investment in thinking through the problem before
> deploying a solution. The availability of a proof of concept implementation
> of one idea is useful and we will look at it, but it would not be wise to
> rush a new feature in, especially one which modifies the boot process of an
> installed Windows system. Anything we do in this respect must be carefully
> considered and thoroughly tested before being released.
>
> We're well into feature freeze for Ubuntu 7.04 (the beta release is just a
> few weeks away now), and we plan to discuss this topic at the Developer
> Summit in early May, after the release.
>
> > More roads leading to Ubuntu is a good thing, IMHO, plus I also feel
> > Ubuntu needs to act fast to compete with Vista.
>
> This is good reason to be creative, but not to be reckless.
>
> --
> - mdz
>
> --
> end users should not have to access BIOS whatsoever to install Ubuntu
> https://launchpad.net/bugs/57379
>

--
Dustin Harriman

My Blog: http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/dustinharriman
RSS Feed: http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/rss-RkGSoVA1brWtXrVH9Gr5CzgVujwwGg--?cq=1

"Freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the
capacity to make intelligent choices" -Francis Moore Lappé

Henrik Nilsen Omma (henrik) wrote :

Assigning this to myself. I've charted the main options and written a summary here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/InstallerForWindows We'll discuss this at UDS.

Subharo Bhikkhu (subharo) wrote :

Hello Henrik,

Glad to hear you're on the case, and there is momentum behind this issue.

I have another possibility for you to add to
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/InstallerForWindows

"Smart Boot Manager"
http://btmgr.sourceforge.net/about.html
Summary: "Smart Boot Manager (SBM) is an OS independent and
full-featured boot manager with an easy-to-use user interface. SBM
now supports booting from CD-ROM."

It's GPL'ed too!

Perhaps SBM could be installable from the menu that pops up when you
insert the Ubuntu CD while in Windows. SBM could be installed to the
MBR allowing the default booting to CD (and optionally Windows, just
in case). After SBM is installed to the MBR, then ask the user to
simply reboot with the Ubuntu CD still in the drive. Then SBM could
be used (from the MBR) to chainload boot to their Ubuntu CD, **thereby
bypassing the need to change the BIOS settings**. The Ubuntu install
process would then overwrite SBM in the MBR as it installs grub.
Which is fine, as the purpose of installing Ubuntu is served.

Note: Future booting from CD (say, to use a rescue CD later on) could
still be made possible in this convenient fashion by the Ubuntu
install process making a grub menu entry to boot SBM not from the MBR,
but from the root filesystem of Ubuntu, much like memtest86 is done.
Here is info on how to do that:
"GRUB/Chainloaded CD-ROM"
http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Chainloading_a_bootable_CD-ROM_from_GRUB

Cheers,
Dustin.

On 4/26/07, Henrik Nilsen Omma <email address hidden> wrote:
> Assigning this to myself. I've charted the main options and written a
> summary here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/InstallerForWindows We'll discuss
> this at UDS.

Cheers,
Dustin Harriman

My Blog: http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/dustinharriman
RSS Feed: http://ca.blog.360.yahoo.com/rss-RkGSoVA1brWtXrVH9Gr5CzgVujwwGg--?cq=1

"Freedom is not the capacity to do whatever we please; freedom is the
capacity to make intelligent choices" -Francis Moore Lappé

Jason Spiro (jasonspiro) wrote :

2007/5/6, DustinHarriman <email address hidden>:
> Hello Henrik,
>
> Glad to hear you're on the case, and there is momentum behind this
> issue.

I too am glad. The project is already approved in Launchpad, and at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubi_(Linux_distribution)#_ref-0 it says
"There are currently plans to officially include Wubi or a similar
tool in Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon.[3][4]" It's excellent!

> I have another possibility for you to add to
> https://wiki.ubuntu.com/InstallerForWindows
>
> "Smart Boot Manager"
> http://btmgr.sourceforge.net/about.html
> Summary: "Smart Boot Manager (SBM) is an OS independent and
> full-featured boot manager with an easy-to-use user interface. SBM
> now supports booting from CD-ROM."
>
> It's GPL'ed too!
>
> Perhaps SBM could be installable from the menu that pops up when you
> insert the Ubuntu CD while in Windows. SBM could be installed to the
> MBR allowing the default booting to CD (and optionally Windows, just
> in case). After SBM is installed to the MBR, then ask the user to
> simply reboot with the Ubuntu CD still in the drive. Then SBM could
> be used (from the MBR) to chainload boot to their Ubuntu CD, **thereby
> bypassing the need to change the BIOS settings**. The Ubuntu install
> process would then overwrite SBM in the MBR as it installs grub.
> Which is fine, as the purpose of installing Ubuntu is served.
>
> Note: Future booting from CD (say, to use a rescue CD later on) could
> still be made possible in this convenient fashion by the Ubuntu
> install process making a grub menu entry to boot SBM not from the MBR,
> but from the root filesystem of Ubuntu, much like memtest86 is done.
> Here is info on how to do that:
> "GRUB/Chainloaded CD-ROM"
> http://gentoo-wiki.com/TIP_Chainloading_a_bootable_CD-ROM_from_GRUB
>

Hmm, it sounds like you want to allow the Ubuntu liveCD's Windows
portion to install SBM so that users can boot from CD without changing
the boot order in their BIOS. Interesting idea. Dustin, I will
forward your message to the ubuntu-devel list right now.

--
Jason Spiro: Linux consultant, web developer, Windows corporate trainer.
No job too big or too small, whether two hours or two months.
Contact me for info; to see my resume, send email with subject line "resume".
+1 (416) 781-5938 / Email: <email address hidden> / MSN: <email address hidden>

Subharo Bhikkhu (subharo) wrote :

After looking at Wubi, I think my idea is a bit "cleaner". I say this because when you use Wubi, the Ubuntu living inside a file in NTFS will in time loose performance as it falls prey to that NTFS partition becoming more fragmented.

Having said that, Wubi would probably be an easier solution to implement (than SBM), since Wubi already has simple and gorgeous GUI. My idea to use SBM would take more effort because it would require the creation of a nice-looking GUI. SBM already seems to have a DOS-based installer for Windows (which might be a possible starting point in the implementation of my idea):
http://btmgr.sourceforge.net/3.7/sbminst.exe

Has UNetbootin http://lubi.sourceforge.net/unetbootin.html been considered for accomplishing this (basically similar to instlux, only it's better maintained and supports more distros, including the latest Ubuntu, which instlux does not, as well as Vista support and installation via .deb or .rpm packages)?

For something like this (as well as the no-CD-installation issue) something like Wubi seems like overkill in terms of complexity; not to mention that users don't necessarily want to install to a file in their NTFS partition (especially now that Vista can resize its own partitions, basically eliminating the partitioning issue which was the very reasoning for using loopmounted filesystems); and maintaining loop-mounting patches for each release of Ubuntu seems much more difficult than simply re-using the unmodified netboot initrds in UNetbootin builds (not to mention yet-to-be-discovered support issues if the loopmounted-filesystem approach becomes a more common installation medium).

Of course, UNetbootin isn't perfect either; perhaps adding a nice GUI to the netboot installer interface, by adding a gtk-fb interface to d-i, like in Debian Etch, or including an Ubiquity interface in the netboot and ftp-install builds will make it more appealing to new users unfamiliar with the CLI .

Also, perhaps switching to a pre-download-packages and pre-partition-disks via Vista's partition manager approach, thus allowing for a faster and more reliable hd-media style install (albeit this approach would work only on Vista and newer since only they can resize their own partitions while running, though the netboot version can be used as a fallback on older Windows versions), would be a more sound solution, since it allows for a proper, not loopmounted, installation, while still not introducing the risks of manual repartitioning (since resizing can be automated via Vista's built-in drive-management utilities), and still not requiring a CD (like CD-chainloading via SBM or GRLDR) or on-the-go downloading of packages like in UNetbootin, instlux, and debian-w32loader

Henrik Nilsen Omma (henrik) wrote :

We now ship wubi which solves this.

Subharo Bhikkhu (subharo) wrote :

I want to say a big THANK YOU to all who have made this possible. I feel great knowing my contribution helped out.

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