This is a follow-up to the thread posted in the non-beginner section of Part1 v2.
Some of you may have a desktop Windows PC at home with an Nvidia GPU because you need it to
frag opponents in Overwatch or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds edit family pictures.
If you have a recent Nvidia GPU (not an AMD Radeon), then maybe you’d like to start using your PC to as a “DL rig”, aka a Deep Learning Workstation.
The first step is to verify that your Nvidia GPU is capable of running CUDA (an Nvidia platform using your GPU for computation). You can check it here.
Most likely, you have a GTX card so check the GeForce Products tab.
The second step is to check that you both have decent RAM (8Gb is a really strict minimum, 16Gb is fine) and at least 100Gb available on your hard-drive: you want 20Gb to install Ubuntu, 32Gb as a Swap file (it extends your RAM) and 50Gb to install specific libraries/software + data files.
If at this stage, you don’t feel comfortable already, I suggest you don’t go any further because there’s always a risk that your system will crash and need a full Windows re-install.
Now if you’re used to installing new RAM bars, adding hard-drives, switching GPUs from Nvidia to Radeon and vice-versa, and re-installing Windows on your PC every second year because it became a sluggish snail due to bloatware/patches, then getting your PC into dual-boot Ubuntu/Windows is really a piece of cake: you’ve seen worse before
The third step is to make sure (1) you have two USB drives/keys (with 8Gb capacity), to play it safe: one is for Ubuntu install package, and one is for -your current version of- Windows install package;
and (2) either a secondary PC like a notebook or an Android/iOS tablet connected to your home WiFi network.
Because when you dual-install Ubuntu on your PC, it will impact your Windows Boot Manager (as in “hijack it”: you now start with an purple Ubuntu loading screen asking to choose Ubuntu or Windows).
As a result, if something goes wrong with Ubuntu (it can), you may end-up with an error message when starting your PC saying something like “Windows can’t find the Boot Manager”.
That’s not a problem if you have the USB drive with the Windows install package AND can use your notebook/tablet on WiFi to search for “repair Windows Boot Manager”: the procedure is super simple, you’ll just need to reboot with the USB drive and use the Repair option.
It will take 2 mins max to go from “cant’ find Boot Manager” to “Enter your Windows password” and restore your Windows PC as before. But having a tablet handy to search and read the procedure = peace of mind.
The fourth step is to use this guide.
It was written for Windows 8 and Ubuntu 14.04 in 2016.
Today in 2017 you probably use Windows 10 and want to install Ubuntu 16.04 (NOT version 17.04, too cutting-edge: many libraries used in Deep Learning are not compatible yet => stick to 16.04).
So read this guide first, keep in mind “replace 8 by 10, 14.04 by 16.04”.
Edit: updated guide for Windows 10
Once you’re comfortable, give it a try. There’s really nothing dramatic/insane about getting your PC into dual-boot.
Last tip: always back-up your important files (documents, pictures etc.) before doing this, just like you would when changing/upgrading your PC.
Next-step: getting your Ubuntu PC into a DL rig by installing the Python/CUDA/CudNN/TensorFlow/PyTorch combo.
@ekami is the boss there
Edit: if you need to buy an Nvidia GPU, here’s a very popular post which explains the basics and more, plus has a TL;DR section focused on the current cards. Tim updates it regularly since its v1 in 2015.