Thursday, October 7, 2021

Installing Ubuntu Core onto 64-bit Bare Metal

I have a re-purposed AMD64 laptop motherboard, ready to become an experimental Ubuntu Core server.

It's in fine condition. You can see that it boots an Ubuntu LiveUSB's "Try Ubuntu" environment just fine. Attached to the motherboard is a new 60GB SSD for testing. The real server will use a 1TB HDD.

But Ubuntu Core doesn't install on bare metal from a Live USB. It's still easy, though.

1. Boot a "Try Ubuntu" Environment on the target system.

  • Test your network connection. The picture shows a wireless connection. This particular laptop has a wireless chip that is recognized out-of-the box, so I didn't need to get out the long network cable.
  • Test that your storage device works. You can see in the picture that Gnome Disks can see the storage device.

2. Terminal: sudo fdisk -l. Locate the storage device that you want to install Ubuntu Core onto.

  • The entire storage device will be erased.
  • My storage device is at /dev/sda today. It might be different next boot. Yours might be different.

3. Open the web browser and download Ubuntu Core.

4. Write Ubuntu Core to the storage device.

  • Warning: This command will erase your entire storage device. If there is anything valuable on your storage device, then you have skipped too many steps!
    xzcat Downloads/<.img.xz file> | sudo dd of=/dev/<target_storage_device> bs=32M status=progress; sync
  • So mine was
    xzcat Downloads/ubuntu-core-20-amd64.img.xz | sudo dd of=/dev/sda bs=32M status=progress; sync
  • Source:

5. Reboot into Ubuntu Core.

  • When prompted by the "Try Ubuntu" environment, remove the LiveUSB so you are booting from your newly-written storage device.
  • Be patient. My first boot into Ubuntu Core led to a black screen for nearly a minute before the system acknowledged that it actually has been working the entire time.
  • After 3-4 minutes of non-interactive setup alternating between blank screens and scrolling setup output, Ubuntu Core finally asked me two questions:  Which network to connect to, and my Ubuntu SSO e-mail address.
  • Finally, the system rebooted again. This time it didn't ask any question - just displayed the new Ubuntu Core system's IP address.

6. Log into Ubuntu Core.

    On my Desktop:
    me@Desktop:~$ ssh me@192.168.1.x
    Welcome to Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS (GNU/Linux 5.4.0-77-generic x86_64)
Success: A working Ubuntu Core on bare metal.

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