I have had several people ask how to install Ubuntu and use it to run additional virus checks from outside of Windows, and so I am including the instructions here.
This procedure will enable to you install Ubuntu alongside Windows, providing the following benefits from a ‘safety’ standpoint:
- Some viruses are great at hiding from Windows programs so I periodically boot into Linux and run a virus scan of the entire disk from there. It is not uncommon for the Ubuntu scan to find programs that Windows scanners have missed.
- Should the Windows system become unusable, I can still boot into Ubuntu, access my files, and run a virus scanner from outside of Windows.
- Some viruses are smart and protect themselves – e.g. they will install multiple versions that check each other and, should one die, immediately reinstate it. They can’t do that if they never start in the first place.
Note: The instructions below enable you to set up your machine as a dual boot device. However if the unthinkable has already happened and your Windows PC is already infected then a simpler option is to create a bootable Linux virus scanner. AVG kindly provides the necessary disk image which can be found here and will allow you to create either a bootable CD or USB drive. As with the dual-boot option below, this runs in a Linux environment and should therefore be immune to whatever nasty things have infected your Windows environment.
Ubuntu? What’s that?
For those not familiar with it, Ubuntu is the most popular version of Linux available today. It comes in several varieties (desktop, notebook, and server being the primary ones). Ubuntu has a very ‘windows like’ graphical interface (except server), comes pre-packaged with software such as LibreOffice (which is Microsoft office compatible complete office suite) and is, of course, completely free.
Part 1 – Installing Ubuntu
There are several ways to install Ubuntu. I am going to assume that most people have Windows and would like to install it alongside their current windows operating system with the choice of which operating system to run appearing at boot time. I have personally installed it alongside Windows 7 and windows Vista, and I’m told it will happily work with Windows XP.
Important note: Before you start, please take a backup of your system and make sure that you have Windows boot disk available. I have not seen it wreck anything yet, but I would hate someone to send me an email describing how they lost everything.
There are instructions on the Ubuntu web site for installing Ubuntu alongside Windows, including the necessary download links to Wubi (the windows Ubuntu installer).
Note: as of writing there is a bug in the current version of Wubi and, sometimes, it will tell you that a disk is missing and give you the option to Try Again, Cancel or Continue. Apparently this is something to do with extra disks (e.g. USB drives) being attached and is very annoying because it won’t go away. However the solution is very simple – just hit continue many, many times (about 30 or so) and the program will continue and work fine (sic).
If presented with the option to do a Demo and full installation or Install inside Windows, select the Install inside Windows option.
You should then be asked which drive to install to (assuming C:) how much disk space to allocate (you should select at least 5gb), and you will need to select a user id and a password. Passwords are used a lot in Ubuntu for admin functions, so make sure it is something you can easily remember and do not leave it blank.
The install will start and, after a while, you will be asked to reboot. Once you reboot you should be given the option to boot into Windows (which will occur automatically if you do nothing) or Ubuntu. Select Ubuntu and the installation of Ubuntu will continue. Once complete you will be able to boot into either operating system.
– If you are using a laptop and Ubuntu doesn’t have a driver for your wi-fi card then try connecting to a wired LAN and running a system update (System –> Administration –> Update Manager). That sometimes solves the issue. If not then you will have to install a program called ndiswrapper and use that to install your driver (quite easy to do).
– I always run the update mentioned above anyway to make sure that I have the most up to date software.
Part 2 – Running your virus scan.
To run a full virus scan from Ubuntu you will need to boot into Ubuntu and install two programs. By default Ubuntu does not come with any Virus scanning software installed (which I think personally smacks of hubris). To do this do the following.
– System –> Administration –> Synaptic Package Manager
– Search for ClamAV and mark that for installation by checking the box. It will automatically add other software needed to support that. ClamAV is the virus scanning software.
– Search for ClamTK and mark that for installation by checking the box. It will automatically add other software needed to support that. ClamTK is the Graphical User Interface for the scanning software.
– Click on the Apply button and wait for the software to install.
To run the scan:
Applications –> Virus Scanner
The first time you run it, it will probably tell you that the virus definitions are out of date. Let it sit for a while, close the program and then open it again and you should find they are OK now (it updates when you run it).
Scan –> Recursive scan
Select the File System disk and click OK. The scan will start but it will take several minutes for any information to be displayed in the scanner software.
The full scan will take a long time, depending on the size of your disk. If any viruses are found they will be displayed at the end as a list and you can right-click on each file to choose an action.