Install Ubuntu server 19.10 on a Pi 4.

I got most of the following information from the following Youtube video   Give it a listen because it is quite accurate in the part it covers.  The only missing piece was how to configure a network on the Pi4 that has virtually no network tools installed. 

This procedure will be self contained with outside references where necessary for clarity or additional reading.

The procedure consists of 7 sections:

  1. download the Pi 4 iso image
  2. install the iso image on your sim card (32Gig) with modifications
  3. after successful boot on the Pi 4 configure your Pi 4 networking – the Pi 4 has no networking tools supplied with the image, i.e., no “ifconfig”, “iwlist”, etc.  This makes configuring the network a bit more difficult.
  4. updating and upgrading your Pi 4 once connected to the network/internet
  5. installing a desktop manager
  6. installing a second desktop – ubuntu desktop gnome3
  7. logging in with the desktop manager and configuring your wifi network.

Now for the details on how to do this:

  1. Download the Pi 4 iso image from here.  Get the 64 bit version.
  2. Install the iso image on your sim card.  I use the tool called balenaEtcher.  Its quite simple to use but you may use what ever you are used to.  After the image has successfully transferred to your sim card those of you with the 4 GB Pi 4 need to do the following:  using the file manager on your ubuntu laptop find “system-boot” and click it.  This will reveal all the files/directories in this filesystem.  Now do the following:  edit the file called usercfg.txt on the sdc card and add the following two lines:  total_mem=3072 and dtparam=audio=on.  These two lines should be left justified in this file.  Do not forget to save this file on the sdc card.  Without these two lines a Pi 4 will boot to login and as you reach for the keyboard the login will scroll off the screen and you are done no matter how many times you boot/try again.  The login/password pair is ubuntu/ubuntu.  Once logged in you will be asked to reset the passwd for ubuntu user.
  3. Networking – these steps are covered below.
  4. Updating and Upgrading your Pi4 – also covered below.

There is no gui at this point in the installation to configure the network.  What follows is what I did from the Pi 4 command line and was successful.

      1. login to the pi
      2. ip addr –> this will show your network interfaces.  my wifi was wlan0 your could be something like ws1pS0.  It does not matter.  Also note your ethernet interface, most likely eth0.
      3. connect ethernet cable to Pi 4 – yes this is how we will connect to the internet.  trying to configure the wifi at this point was too hard.
      4. sudo ip link set dev eth0 down
      5. sudo dhclient eth0
      6. now this step is a test and it must work or you need to fix why you are not connected to the network
          1. sudo apt install net-tools – this will install the net-tools package.  if it can do this then you are successfully connected to the internet and may continue with step 7.  If not you need to get network connectivity because many of the commands that follow require connecting to the Ubuntu site.
      7. sudo apt update
      8. sudo apt upgrade
      9. sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop – this is a one hour install
      10.  when the desktop completes choose xdm (lightdm is another choice but I have not tried it).  This too is a long install.
      11. sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop – this desktop will fix wifi errors that I saw but just remain a bad memory for me.
      12. disconnect the ethernet cable
      13. sudo shutdown -Fr now
      14. you will now be presented with an ubuntu gnome 3 desktop.  login:  ubuntu/your new password
      15. now set up wifi.
        1. at the very top of the screen you will see a couple of icons.  There might be a network icon so click on it.  I there is no network icon click in that region and it will show you a wifi network icon.  click on it and begin to configure your wifi network, i.e., its name and password, dhcp, etc.  The network icon may now have a “?” mark in it so reboot.  This should fix the question mark issue and you will now have a Pi4 running Ubuntu 19.10.
        2. open Firefox and if you can surf then your networking is good.
        3. click on network manager and see if you can list available networks
        4. let the screen saver/power saver kick in then wake the system.  See if you can list available networks in network manager and if you can surf with Firefox.

Note: 


  1. if you continue to have a “?” mark over the network icon go to settings ->privacy and set connectivity settings to “off”

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