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How to Upgrade Windows 7 and Install Ubuntu MATE

Updated: 07-Feb-2020

Why you should upgrade Windows 7 to Ubuntu MATE

Windows 7 has reached the end of its life. It will no longer receive security updates and Microsoft's technical support will stop. Running an out-of-date OS can have serious potential risks, and if you're one of more than 750,000 people using Windows exposed to the internet, you may have a problem. Fortunately, there are two simple solutions: 1. Buy a new computer with Ubuntu MATE pre-installed from Entroware and other computer providers, or 2. Install Linux on any computer you like.

Our article provides instructions on how to replace Windows 7 with Ubuntu MATE. This article by the Ubuntu MATE community talks about option 2 above, specifically why to install Ubuntu MATE.

Ubuntu MATE's Redmond Layout

Installing Ubuntu MATE


Back up any important data to another storage device before you start to install in case something goes horribly wrong! Save all of your important files and folders to an external USB drive or a 2nd hard drive. DO NOT save anything to the same drive you intend to use for Ubuntu MATE. Once you have started the replacement process, there is no going back! Here is an article with some considerations around backups: Backup Strategies For Your Computer

Get the installation file

You can download everything you need to install Ubuntu MATE in a single file.

  1. You'll find the file by going to the Download page on the Ubuntu MATE website https://ubuntu-mate.org/download/.
  2. Select 64-bit (or 32-bit if your hardware is very old).
  3. Select the most recent release. At the end of April 2020, that will be release 20.04 LTS (Focal)
  4. Scroll down the web page to the section labeled Via Direct Download.
  5. Click on the link for the file name that ends in ".iso".
  6. Select a location on your hard drive for your downloaded file, if prompted, and click Save to begin your download.
Create Installation Media

The .iso file you downloaded using the instructions in the previous section doesn't do you much good on its own. You need to put that file in a form that will allow you to install it on your computer. You'll need a 4GB or larger USB stick/flash drive and Rufus, a free and open source USB stick writing tool. Download Rufus and install it on your Windows 7 machine.

Follow the instructions provided here on the Ubuntu site: Create a USB Stick On Windows.

Install Ubuntu MATE

Now that you've created the installation media, you've done your backup, and you've planned for recovery (You DID do all that right?) you are ready to install or just try Ubuntu MATE. For most relatively modern computer, the installation process will take well under an hour to complete. Stay connected to the Internet to install all available updates. Plug your device into a power source if it is running on battery power.

  1. Completely shut down your computer.
  2. Insert the USB stick.
  3. Start the computer and watch the screen to determine which function key to press to change the boot device.

    The message flashes by quickly, right at the bottom edge of the screen, but the most frequently used keys are F12, F4, F2, F1, and the Del key. It depends on your computer's manufacturer. If your computer boots up normally and you don't see Ubuntu MATE startup, shut down and try again.
  4. When you get to the screen that lets you change the boot device, select the menu entry that represents the Ubuntu MATE live USB stick. Press the key that lets you boot using the USB stick. That's usually the Enter or F10 key. If you need help, try the article from the How-To Geek website, How to Boot Your Computer From a Disc or USB Drive.
  5. Once the computer has started loading Ubuntu MATE, you will be given some options. Select the option: Try Ubuntu MATE.
    Try Ubuntu MATE dialog box

    NOTES: Once Ubuntu MATE has booted successfully, you will be able to use the computer as though Ubuntu MATE were installed. It's not. It is running from the USB stick. The live session provides an opportunity to test Ubuntu MATE without modifying your computer, allowing you to test that all of your peripherals are working as intended before committing to installing it on your machine.

    You don't need to connect to the Internet to complete the installation of Ubuntu MATE, but if you want to use the web browser or if you want to install additional updates during the installation, you should connect your network cable, or connect to Wi-Fi. Click the Network Manager icon in the upper right corner of the screen (near the clock) and select your SSID for your wireless network. If prompted, enter the passcode, click the Connect button and you will be connected.
  6. To begin the installation, double-click the Install Ubuntu MATE icon on the desktop.
  7. Install Ubuntu MATE desktop icon

  8. Select your language. Press the Continue button.
  9. If you have an Internet connection, choose the option to download updates while installing. For first-time Ubuntu MATE users, you should also choose the option to install third-party software to ensure a smooth transition to your new operating system. Press the Continue button.
  10. If you are sure that you want to completely erase every trace of your previous operating system, choose the option: Erase disk and install Ubuntu MATE.
  11. Press the Install Now button.
  12. Read the message on the screen to confirm your choices, then press the Continue button to start the installation.
  13. Press the Continue button after each of these steps.
    a. Select your location.
    b. Choose your preferred keyboard layout.
    c. Enter your full name, a name for your computer, a username, and a password. You will use the username and password when you log into your computer.
  14. Now wait just a few minutes while the installation completes, and updates are downloaded and installed.
  15. Press the Continue Testing button if you wish to continue to use the live environment, or press the Restart Now button to reboot and log into your new installation of Ubuntu MATE!
  16. When prompted, remove the installation medium, then press Enter. Your computer will restart (if that's what you selected) and you will be prompted for your password to complete the log in process.

What's next?

Now that you have installed Ubuntu MATE, you can make it look a little more like what you are used to seeing on Windows 7. Change the panel layout, using MATE Tweak, to the Redmond Layout. The article Personalizing Your Ubuntu MATE Desktop explains more.

Also, maybe you want to have a written guide to help you understand how to use Ubuntu MATE to get things done. I happen to have written a book for just this purpose. You can get the printed paperback or an e-book from Amazon.

Ubuntu MATE: Upgrading from Windows or macOS

Ubuntu MATE 2nd edition book on Amazon
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