In my last post I planned what I needed to transform my old laptop into a something useful for astrophotography. Now comes the fun bit, putting everything together. The first part of this is installing an operating system on the laptop.

We’ll need a few things to make this happen:

  1. Laptop (he says, stating the bleeding obvious)
  2. Linux image file
  3. USB thumb drive
  4. Software to put the Linux image on the thumbdrive

The image file for the operating system I downloaded from the Lubuntu download page. There are three different versions listed on the download page, but there’s also an archive page with 13 versions available. I chose to simply download the latest version, 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish.

In order to be able to boot from the thumb drive it’s necessary to use particular software to copy the data from the image file to the drive. I’ve used a few different packages in the past, and my current software of choice is Rufus. I’ve also used Balena Etcher, which has a cleaner user interface. Another option, particularly if you want to boot Red Hat or Fedora, is Fedora Media Writer. Fedora Media Writer doesn’t just do Fedora, though, you can make a bootable USB drive from any OS install image.

Using Rufus, the process is as simple as selecting the USB drive to install to (the first red box), then clicking “Select” to choose the image file (second red box). All the default settings should be fine, so clicking “Start” will, like it says on the tine, start the imaging process.

Using Rufus to make a bootable USB drive

Once the imaging process is finished it’s time to install Lubuntu on hte MacBook Pro. It’s right about now that I’m glad I opted to use an old Mac, since booting from USB is as simple as plugging in the drive and holding down the option key when it starts up. Don’t get me started on trying to convince a non-Apple laptop to boot from USB, I always end up mashing the function keys, hoping one of them is the right one to get me into the boot options menu.

So, back to the set up process, with the USB drive selected for boot the installation process is as simple as waiting for the computer to boot from the Live USB drive, and then double clicking the installation icon on the desktop (no screenshots because I forgot). In the install process you get the option to choose how to partition the computer’s HD, and I just selected the option to erase and install from scratch. Once all that’s finished it’s simply a matter of creating a user account, and you have a shiny new Linux install.

Well, you should have a shiny new install, but there’s bound to be some updates to install. I plugged in my Airport Express base station so I had Internet access to download any updates. Roughly half an hour later all updates had been downloaded and installed and I had a laptop ready for software. Installing and testing Entangle will be part 2.