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The Perfect Desktop – Fedora 10 (GNOME)


This tutorial shows how you can set up a Fedora 10 desktop (GNOME) that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Fedora 10 desktop to have the following software installed:

Graphics:

  • The GIMP – free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot – full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa – application for organizing and editing digital photos

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 9
  • FileZilla – multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird – email and news client
  • Evolution – combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule – P2P file sharing application
  • Azureus/Vuze – Java Bittorrent client
  • Transmission BitTorrent client
  • Pidgin– multi-platform instant messaging client (formerly known as Gaim)
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC – IRC client

Office:

  • OpenOffice Writer – replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice Calc – replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash – double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus – open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok – audio player
  • Audacity – free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee – audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer – media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • Rhythmbox Music Player – audio player, similar to Apple’s iTunes, with support for iPods
  • gtkPod – software similar to Apple’s iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS – audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip – full featured DVD copy program
  • Kino – free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor – CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player – media player (video/audio)
  • Real Player
  • Totem – media player (video/audio)
  • Xine – media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero – CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B – CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:

  • Kompozer – WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Bluefish – text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Quanta Plus – web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor

Other:

  • VMware Server – lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don’t have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

You might notice that I’m installing lots of similar applications here (e.g. two browsers and two email clients, multiple audio players, etc.) – this is just a choice. Of course you are free to install just the apps that you really need – just leave out the other ones.

I will use the GNOME desktop in rhis article.

I will use the username falko in this tutorial, and I will download all necessary files to falko‘s download which is equivalent to the directory /home/falko/Download. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace falko with your own username. So when I use a command like

cd /home/falko/Download

you must replace falko.

 

2 Installing The Base System

Download the Fedora 10 Live GNOME iso image from http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora (e.g. http://download.fedoraproject.org/pub/fedora/linux/releases/10/Live/i686/F10-i686-Live.iso), burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. It will boot into a live Fedora 10 desktop that you can use to test how Fedora 10 works on your system. At the login prompt, select Automatic Login:

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This is how the live desktop looks. You can now play around with it if you like. If you are sure that you want to install Fedora 10 on your hard drive, click on Install to Hard Drive:

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The Fedora Installer starts. Click on Next:

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Select your keyboard layout:

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You can leave the hostname as is and click on Next:

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Select your time zone:

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Type in a root password (twice to verify it):

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Select Yes when asked Would you like to initialize this drive, erasing ALL DATA?:

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The default partitioning is ok, so you can hit Next:

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Confirm by clicking on Write changes to disk:

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The installation starts. This can take a few minutes:

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The installation is complete. Click on Close

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… and reboot the system – go to System > Shut Down…

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… and select Restart. Don’t forget to remove the Live CD from the CD drive before the system boots again!

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If the system is booting for the first time, the first boot wizard comes up. Click on Forward

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… and accept the license

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Then add a regular user account to the system (I’m creating the user falko here):

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Set your date and time, then click on the Network Time Protocol tab. With the network time protocol (NTP) your computer can fetch the current time from a time server over the Internet, so you don’t have to adjust the system clock every few weeks. Select Enable Network Time Protocol and click on Forward:

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On the next screen you can send details about your hardware to the Fedora project to help them develop the software. It’s up to you whether you want to submit these details or not:

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Now that we are finished with the first boot wizard, we can log into our new desktop with the user we’ve just created:

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This is how your new Fedora 10 desktop looks:

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3 Update The System

Now it’s time to check for updates. Go to System > Administration > Update System:

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The Update System wizard comes up and checks for the latest updates:

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If it finds any, click on the Update System button to start the update:

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Type in the root password:

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Afterwards the updates are being downloaded and installed:

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Click on Close to finish the update:

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Your system is now up to date.

 

4 Disable SELinux

SELinux is a security extension of Fedora that should provide extended security. In my opinion you don’t need it to configure a secure system, and it usually causes more problems than advantages (think of it after you have done a week of trouble-shooting because some service wasn’t working as expected, and then you find out that everything was ok, only SELinux was causing the problem). Therefore I choose disable it, although you might prefer to go with it. I haven’t tested this setup with SELinux enabled – it might well be that it works without problems, but if it does not, you can try to turn SELinux off and see if the problem is gone.

To disable SELinux, go to System > Administration > SELinux Management:

31a

Select Disabled for System Default Enforcing Mode and close the window.

31b

To make the change effective, we must reboot the system (System > Shut down…):

31c

5 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus under Applications to see which of our needed applications are already installed:

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You should find the following situation ([x] marks an application that is already installed, where [ ] is an application that is missing). NTFS read/write support is enabled by default on Fedora 10.

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[ ] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[ ] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[ ] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Pidgin
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[ ] Xchat IRC

Office:
[ ] OpenOffice Writer
[ ] OpenOffice Calc
[ ] Adobe Reader
[ ] GnuCash
[ ] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[ ] Amarok
[ ] Audacity
[ ] Banshee
[ ] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[ ] gtkPod
[ ] XMMS
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[ ] VLC Media Player
[ ] Real Player
[x] Totem
[ ] Xine
[ ] Brasero
[ ] K3B
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[ ] Kompozer
[ ] Bluefish
[ ] Quanta Plus

Other:
[ ] VMware Server
[ ] TrueType Fonts
[ ] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

So some applications are already on the system…

6 Adding Software Repositories

The official Fedora repositories don’t provide all the software we need. Fortunately there are also third-party repositories for Fedora 10 that have what we need, and we can make our system use these repositories.

To do this, open a terminal window (under Applications > System Tools > Terminal)…

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… and type in

su

to become root.

Then run

rpm -Uvh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm

This adds the RPM Fusion repository (a merger or Dribble, Freshrpms, and rpm.livna.org) to our package manager.

Unfortunately the RPM Fusion repository doesn’t have libdvdcss in its repository, therefore we also add the livna repository (which contains only that package):

rpm -Uvh http://livna-dl.reloumirrors.net/fedora/10/i386/livna-release-9-2.noarch.rpm

Next we add the Adobe repository which provides the Flash player and the Adobe Reader:

rpm -Uvh http://linuxdownload.adobe.com/adobe-release/adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm

Finally we add the Skype repository – as there is no rpm, we have to do it manually:

gedit /etc/yum.repos.d/skype.repo

[skype]
name=Skype Repository
baseurl=http://download.skype.com/linux/repos/fedora/updates/i586/
gpgkey=http://www.skype.com/products/skype/linux/rpm-public-key.asc
enabled=1
gpgcheck=0

 

7 Installing Additional Software

Now that we have added additional repositories, a lot more packages are available in our package manager for installation, especially a big deal of our needed packages. To install them, go to System > Administration > Add/Remove Software:

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The Package Manager opens:

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Use the search field and select the following packages for installation (* is a wildcard; e.g. mplayer* means all packages that start with mplayer) and click on Apply afterwards:

  • f-spot
  • flash-plugin
  • filezilla
  • thunderbird
  • amule
  • azureus
  • skype
  • xchat-gnome
  • openoffice.org*
  • AdobeReader_enu
  • gnucash
  • scribus
  • amarok
  • audacity
  • banshee
  • mplayer
  • mplayer-gui
  • gtkpod
  • xmms*
  • DVDRipOMatic
  • kino
  • vlc
  • mozilla-vlc
  • xine*
  • brasero
  • k3b
  • bluefish
  • kdewebdev
  • java
  • compat-libstdc++-33 (needed by RealPlayer)
  • ffmpeg
  • lame
  • libdvdcss
  • libXp
  • mjpegtools
  • kernel-devel (needed by VMware)
  • xinetd (needed by VMware)
  • gcc (needed by VMware)
  • gcc-c++ (needed by VMware)
  • perl-devel (needed by VMware)
  • perl-ExtUtils-Embed (needed by VMware)
  • wget

Afterwards, the selected packages will be installed. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient.

8 Inventory (II)

Now let’s check again what we have so far by browsing the menus again:

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Our inventory should now look like this:

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Pidgin
[x] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[x] Adobe Reader
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[ ] Real Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] Brasero
[x] K3B
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[ ] Kompozer
[x] Bluefish
[x] Quanta Plus

Other:
[ ] VMware Server
[ ] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

 

9 Flash Player

To see if the Flash plugin (which we installed before) is working, start Firefox. Then type about:plugins in the address bar. Firefox will then list all installed plugins, and it should list the Flash Player (version 10.0r12 which is the newest one at the time of this writing) among them:

49

10 TrueType Fonts

To install Windows TrueType fonts, open a terminal and become root again:

su

Then run:

cd /tmp/
wget http://corefonts.sourceforge.net/msttcorefonts-2.0-1.spec
yum -y install rpm-build cabextract ttmkfdir

rpmbuild -bb msttcorefonts-2.0-1.spec
rpm -ivh /root/rpmbuild/RPMS/noarch/msttcorefonts-2.0-1.noarch.rpm –nodeps

To check if the TrueType fonts have been installed correctly, open a word processor like OpenOffice. You should now find your new Windows fonts there:

53

11 Win32-Codecs

To install Win32-codecs, open a terminal again, become root…

su

… and run the following commands:

cd /tmp/
wget http://www.mplayerhq.hu/MPlayer/releases/codecs/all-20071007.tar.bz2
tar xfvj all-20071007.tar.bz2
mkdir /usr/lib/codecs/
cp all-20071007/* /usr/lib/codecs/
ln -s /usr/lib/codecs/ /usr/lib/win32

 

12 RealPlayer

To install RealPlayer, visit http://www.real.com/linux/ in Firefox and download the RPM package (don’t hit the big yellow Download RealPlayer button, but use the small link RPM Package below it instead):

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Select Open with Package Installer (default) in the Firefox download dialogue:

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The Package Installer will then come up and guide you through the installation.

 

13 Opera

Go to http://www.opera.com/download/ in your browser and select Fedora as distribution, then Fedora Core 5, Core 6, 7, 8. Click on the Download Opera button…

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… and select Open with Package Installer (default):

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The Package Installer will then come up and guide you through the installation.

 

14 Google Earth

To install Google Earth, open a terminal and become root:

su

Then run

cd /home/falko/Download
wget http://dl.google.com/earth/client/current/GoogleEarthLinux.bin
sh GoogleEarthLinux.bin

This will download Google Earth and start the installation. Click on Begin Install:

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After the installation, you can click on Quit or on Start, if you want to start Google Earth now:

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Afterwards, we delete the Google Earth installer:

rm -f GoogleEarthLinux.bin

 

15 Google Picasa

Open Firefox and go to http://picasa.google.com/linux/download.html#picasa30. Click on the rpm, for Red Hat/Fedora/Suse/Mandriva i386 or x86_64 link (http://dl.google.com/linux/rpm/testing/i386/picasa-3.0-current.i386.rpm) and select Open with Package Installer (default) in the Firefox download dialogue:

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The Package Installer will then come up and guide you through the installation.

 

16 Kompozer

Go to http://kompozer.net/download.php and click on the kompozer-0.7.10-i386.rpm link:

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This will bring you to SourceForge, and after a few seconds the Firefox download dialogue should pop up (if it does not, click on direct link) where you select Open with Package Installer (default), as usual:

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17 Inventory (III)

This is what we have now:

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] F-Spot
[x] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Pidgin
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[x] Adobe Reader
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] Real Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] Brasero
[x] K3B
[x] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[x] Kompozer
[x] Bluefish
[x] Quanta Plus

Other:
[ ] VMware Server
[x] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

So everything is installed except for VMware Server…

18 VMware Server

With VMware Server you can let your old Windows desktop (that you previously converted into a VMware virtual machine with VMware Converter, as described in this tutorial: http://www.Kreationnext.com/vmware_converter_windows_linux) run under your Fedora desktop. This can be useful if you depend on some applications that exist for Windows only, or if you want to switch to Linux slowly.

Open a terminal and become root again:

su

Then install the prerequisites for VMware Server as follows (you might have installed them in chapter 7 already):

yum install kernel-devel-`uname -r` xinetd gcc gcc-c++ perl-devel perl-ExtUtils-Embed

To download VMware Server, go to http://www.vmware.com/products/server/ and click on Download:

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On the next page, log in with your existing VMware account or create a new one:

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Follow the on-screen instructions. At the end, you should receive an email with a link to your download page. On the download page, you should see two license numbers, one for Windows and one for Linux. Write down or save the one for Linux and scroll down.

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Then download the VMware Server for Linux TAR image (not the RPM image!) to your hard drive (e.g. to /home/falko/Download):

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In the terminal (you must still be root), go to the location where you saved the VMware Server .tar.gz file, e.g. /home/falko/Download (replace falko with your own username!):

cd /home/falko/Download/

Unpack the VMware Server .tar.gz file and run the installer:

tar xvfz VMware-server-*.tar.gz
cd vmware-server-distrib
./vmware-install.pl

The installer will ask you a lot of questions. You can always accept the default values simply by hitting <ENTER>.

When the installer asks you

In which directory do you want to keep your virtual machine files?
[/var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machines]

you can either accept the default value or specify a location that has enough free space to store your virtual machines.

At the end of the installation, you will be asked to enter a serial number:

Please enter your 20-character serial number.

Type XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX or ‘Enter’ to cancel:

Fill in your serial number for VMware Server.

After the successful installation, you can delete the VMware Server download file and the installation directory:

cd /home/falko/Download
rm -f VMware-server*
rm -fr vmware-server-distrib/

VMware Server 2 does not have a desktop application for managing virtual machines – this is now done through a browser (e.g. Firefox). You can access the management interface over HTTPS (https://<IP ADDRESS>:8333) or HTTP (http://<IP ADDRESS>:8222); the management interface can be accessed locally and also remotely. If you want to access it from the same machine, type https://127.0.0.1:8333 or http://127.0.0.1:8222 into the browser’s address bar.

If you’re using Firefox 3 and use HTTPS, Firefox will complain about the self-signed certificate, therefore you must tell Firefox to accept the certificate – to do this, click on the Or you can add an exception… link:

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Click on Add Exception…:

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The Add Security Exception window opens. In that window, click on the Get Certificate button first and then on the Confirm Security Exception button:

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Afterwards, you will see the VMware Server login form. Type in root and your root password:

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This is how the VMware Server web interface looks. The structure is similar to the old VMware Server 1 desktop application, so the usage of the web interface is pretty straightforward.

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19 Inventory (IV)

We have now all wanted applications installed:

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] F-Spot
[x] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Pidgin
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[x] Adobe Reader
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] Real Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] Brasero
[x] K3B
[x] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[x] Kompozer
[x] Bluefish
[x] Quanta Plus

Other:
[x] VMware Server
[x] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

 

  • Fedora: http://fedoraproject.org

 

 

 

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