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The Perfect Desktop – Fedora 16 i686 (GNOME)


This tutorial shows how you can set up a Fedora 16 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 16 desktop to have the following software installed:

Graphics:

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

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Google Chrome – Google’s browser
  • Flash Player
  • 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
  • Empathy IM Client – multi-platform instant messaging client (formerly known as Gaim)
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC – IRC client
  • Gwibber Social Client – open-source microblogging client (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Office:

  • LibreOffice Writer – replacement for Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice 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
  • 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:

  • VirtualBox OSE – 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

As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, for example there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don’t need to install the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera, Chrome).

I will use the GNOME desktop in this article.

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

cd /home/Kreationnext/Downloads

you must replace Kreationnext.

 

2 Installing The Base System

Download the Fedora 16 Live GNOME iso image from http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora (e.g. http://download.fedoraproject.org/pub/fedora/linux/releases/16/Live/i686/Fedora-16-i686-Live-Desktop.iso), burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. It will boot into a live Fedora 16 desktop that you can use to test how Fedora 16 works on your system. Fedora uses the GNOME 3 desktop by default, so if your hardware is not compatible with it, you will get following message:

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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 16 on your hard drive, go to Applications > System Tools > Install to Hard Drive:

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The Fedora Installer starts. Select your keyboard layout:

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I assume that you use a locally attached hard drive, so you should select Basic Storage Devices here:

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If you see the following message (The storage device below may contain data.), please click on Yes, discard any data because we want to install a fresh system:

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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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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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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. Select Synchronize date and time over the network and click on Forward (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):

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Then add a regular user account to the system (I will create the user Kreationnext here):

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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 16 desktop looks:

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3 Update The System

Now it’s time to check for updates. Go to Applications > System Tools > Software Update:

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The Software Update wizard comes up and checks for the latest updates. Click on Install Updates to install them:

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Afterwards the updates are being downloaded and installed:

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Your computer is now up to date (in some cases, e.g. if a new kernel got installed, you might have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect – if this is necessary, the Software Update wizard will tell you to do so).

 

4 Grant Your Account sudo Rights

Fedora 16 is not able to call documents with gedit while you are logged in as root user by having typed su into a terminal. Therefore, we enable our current account to use sudo. Log in as root first:

su

Then open your /etc/sudoers config by entering

visudo

Look out for following part of the file, copy the line that grants root rights to root and paste it beneath with your username in it instead of root:

[...]

#Allow root to run any commands anywhere

root	ALL=(ALL)	ALL

Kreationnext ALL=(ALL)	ALL

[...]

Save and close the file afterwards.

 

5 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, open a terminal (Applications > System Tools > Terminal).

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Open /etc/sysconfig/selinux as root (if you were logged in by having typed sudo, you must log out first by entering

exit

) …

sudo gedit /etc/sysconfig/selinux

… and set SELINUX to disabled:

# This file controls the state of SELinux on the system.
# SELINUX= can take one of these three values:
#       enforcing - SELinux security policy is enforced.
#       permissive - SELinux prints warnings instead of enforcing.
#       disabled - SELinux is fully disabled.
SELINUX=disabled
# SELINUXTYPE= type of policy in use. Possible values are:
#       targeted - Only targeted network daemons are protected.
#       strict - Full SELinux protection.
SELINUXTYPE=targeted

To make the change effective, we must reboot the system:

reboot

 

6 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 16.

Graphics:
[ ] Gimp
[x] Shotwell Photo Manager
[ ] Picasa

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

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

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

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

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

So some applications are already on the system…

 

7 Adding Software Repositories

The official Fedora repositories don’t provide all the software we need. Fortunately there are also third-party repositories for Fedora 16 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.

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

Then we add the Skype repository – as there is no rpm, we have to do it manually. Type

exit

to log out as root and enter following afterwards:

sudo 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

Finally we add the Google repository (which contains Picasa and Google Earth):

sudo gedit /etc/yum.repos.d/google.repo

[Google]
name=Google - i386
baseurl=http://dl.google.com/linux/rpm/stable/i386
enabled=1
gpgcheck=0

[GoogleTesting]
name=Google Testing - i386
baseurl=http://dl.google.com/linux/rpm/testing/i386
enabled=1
gpgcheck=0

[google-earth]
name=google-earth
baseurl=http://dl.google.com/linux/earth/rpm/stable/$basearch
enabled=1
gpgcheck=0
gpgkey=https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub

Next we import the GPG keys for software packages:

sudo rpm –import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY*

8 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 Applications > System Tools > 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. xmms2* means all packages that start with xmms2) and click on Apply afterwards:

  • picasa
  • google-chrome-stable
  • flash-plugin
  • icedtea-web.i686
  • filezilla
  • thunderbird
  • gimp
  • amule
  • azureus
  • skype
  • xchat-gnome
  • gwibber
  • libreoffice*
  • AdobeReader_enu
  • gnucash
  • scribus
  • amarok
  • audacity
  • banshee
  • mplayer
  • mplayer-gui
  • gtkpod
  • xmms2*
  • DVDRipOMatic
  • dvdrip
  • vlc
  • xine*
  • k3b
  • bluefish
  • kdewebdev
  • java
  • compat-libstdc++-33 (needed by RealPlayer)
  • ffmpeg
  • lame
  • libXp
  • mjpegtools
  • wget
  • VirtualBox-OSE
  • dkms
  • gstreamer-*
  • redhat-lsb
  • redhat-lsb-graphics
  • redhat-lsb-printing
  • google-earth-stable

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

 

9 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] Shotwell Photo Manager
[x] Picasa

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

Office:
[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice 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] 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:
[x] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

 

10 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 11.0 r1 which is the newest one at the time of this writing) and the Java plugin (IcedTea) among them:

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11 TrueType Fonts

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

su

Then run:

yum -y install rpm-build cabextract ttmkfdir

rpm -ivh http://easylinux.info/uploads/msttcorefonts-1.3-4.noarch.rpm –nodeps

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

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12 libdvdcss2

To install libdvdcss2, open a terminal again, become root…

su

… and run the following command:

rpm -ivh http://dl.atrpms.net/f16-i386/atrpms/stable/libdvdcss2-1.2.10-5.fc16.i686.rpm

(If the download location doesn’t exist anymore because there’s a newer libdvdcss2 package, you can find that package on http://dl.atrpms.net/f16-i386/atrpms/stable/ for i686 systems and on http://dl.atrpms.net/f16-x86_64/atrpms/stable/ for x86_64 systems.)

13 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

14 RealPlayer

To install RealPlayer, visit http://uk.real.com/realplayer/other-versions in Firefox and download the appropriate  RPM package (click on the .rpm link):

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Select Open with Software Install (default) in the Firefox download dialogue:

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The Software Install program will then come up and guide you through the installation.

 

15 Opera

Go to http://www.opera.com/browser/download/ in your browser and select Fedora as distribution. Click on the Download Opera button…

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… and select Open with Software Install (default):

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The Software Install program 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 is available here link:

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Select the kompozer-0.7.10-i386.rpm package:

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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 Software Install (default), as usual:

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17 Inventory (III)

We have now all wanted applications installed:

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] Shotwell Photo Manager
[x] Picasa

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

Office:
[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice 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] 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] VirtualBox
[x] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

 

  • Fedora: http://fedoraproject.org/

 

 

 

 

 

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