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The Perfect Desktop – Fedora 18 XFCE


This tutorial shows how you can set up a Fedora 18 desktop (with the XFCE desktop environment) 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.

The software I propose as default is the one I found easiest to use and best in their functionality – this won’t necessarily be true for your needs, thus you are welcome to try out the applications listed as alternatives.

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 desktop to have the following software installed:

Graphics:

    • Pinta – open source drawing application modeled after Paint.NET
  • KolourPaint – paint application with elemental functions
  • MyPaint – paint application with a large variety of brushes
  • The GIMP – free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • Shotwell Photo Manager – full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop

Internet:

    • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Chromium – Google’s open-source browser
    • Thunderbird – email and news client
  • Evolution – combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
    • Transmission BitTorrent Client – Bittorrent client
  • Deluge – free cross-platform BitTorrent client
  • Vuze – Java BitTorrent client
  • qBittorrent – free alternative to µtorrent
    • Marble – desktop globe similar to google earth
  • GoogleEarth – Google’s desktop globe
  • Flash Player
  • FileZilla – multithreaded FTP client
  • Pidgin IM Client – multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Dropbox Client – cloud storage
  • Gwibber Social Client – open-source microblogging client (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Office:

    • ePDFViewer – PDF reader
  • Evince – document viewer
  • Okular – document viewer
  • LibreOffice Writer – replacement for Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice Calc – replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • GnuCash – double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus – open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

    • Banshee – audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • Amarok – audio player
  • 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
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor – CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • Nightingale – audio player similar to Winamp, but not yet as feature rich (Songbird fork)
  • XMMS – audio player similar to Winamp
  • Clementine – Amarok 1.4 fork
  • Exaile – audio player
    • VLC Media Player – media player, plays all kinds of videos (video/audio)
  • Totem – media player (video/audio)
  • Xine – media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
    • Winff – free video converter
  • SoundConverter – free audio converter
    • Xfburn – CD/DVD burning program
  • Brasero – CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B – CD/DVD burning program
  • Audacity – free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • dvd::rip – full featured DVD copy 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
  • Eclipse Extensible Tool Platform and Java IDE

Other:

  • VirtualBox – 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
  • leafpad – simple text editor

Part of our desired applications are available in the Fedora repositories, and some of these applications have been contributed by the community. Many have to be downloaded from their homepages.

The software provided in the above list covers most of the basic tasks one may need to do on their desktop computers, sometimes there are multiple choices for same functionality. If you know which one you like best, you obviously don’t need to install and test the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install more than one.

I will use the username falko in this tutorial. Please replace it with your own username.

 

2 Installing The Base System

The installation of the base system is easy as 1-2-3 because the Fedora installer doesn’t offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Fedora 18 XFCE Spin iso image from http://fedoraproject.org/en/get-fedora-options, burn it onto a disk, and boot your computer from it:

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Install by clicking Install to Hard Drive:

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Select your language:

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Before we start the installation, we must check (and maybe adjust) a few settings. Click on DATE & TIME if you wish to choose another timezone than the one that is shown:

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Select the correct timezone and click on Done (in the upper left corner):

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Next you may wish to change the keyboard layout – to do so, click on KEYBOARD:

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Click on the + button and select a new keyboard layout:

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To make sure the system really uses the correct keyboard layout, you should remove any keyboard layout from the list (by clicking the button) that you don’t need:

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Click on Done afterwards:

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Now we come to the partitioning. Click on INSTALLATION DESTINATION:

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Select your hard drive and click on Continue:

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

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Back on the INSTALLATION SUMMARY screen, click on Begin Installation:

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The installation starts. Click on ROOT PASSWORD to set a password for the root account:

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Type in a root password (twice to verify it) and click on Done:

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Installation continues:

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The installation is complete. Click on Quit:

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Now log out of the live desktop…

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… and select Restart (don’t forget to remove the Live CD from the disk drive before the system boots again):

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This is the boot menu of your Fedora 18 system:

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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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Read the License information and proceed:

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

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Set date and time. If you have internet access, it’s a good idea to synchronize them over the network. Check the appropriate box if you want to do that and proceed:

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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. The name that will be shown to you is not the username but the one you entered in the Full Name field:

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After the first login, choose Use default config:

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This is what your new Fedora 18 XFCE desktop looks like:

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3 Update The System

Now it’s time to check for updates and install them. This is done using YUM Extender (Administration > YUM Extender):

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Type in the root password:

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Make sure that the Updates radio box is selected. After YUM has updated its package list, it will show you all available updates. Click on Select All to install all updates, then click on Apply:

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YUM Extender will now download the updates:

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Click on OK to start the update:

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Afterwards, leave YUM Extender:

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The 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, open a terminal (System > Terminal).

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Open /etc/sysconfig/selinux as root:

su

leafpad /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

5 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus 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, whereas [ ] is an application that is missing):

Graphics:
[ ] The GIMP
[ ] Shotwell Photo Manager

[ ] Pinta

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Flash
[ ] FileZilla
[ ] Thunderbird
[x] Transmission
[ ] Skype
[ ] Marble

[x] Pidgin

[ ] Dropbox

[ ] Gwibber Social Client

Office:
[ ] LibreOffice Writer
[ ] LibreOffice Calc
[x] ePDFViewer
[ ] GnuCash
[ ] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[ ] Audacity
[ ] Banshee
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] VLC Media Player
[x] Xfburn
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

[ ] Winff

Programming:
[ ] KompoZer
[ ] Eclipse

Other:
[ ] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

[x] leafpad

So some applications are already on the system. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on Fedora 18.

Java is already installed, as you can see in Firefox (type about:plugins in the address bar, and you should see the IcedTea-Web plugin):

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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 18 that have what we need, and we can make our system use these repositories.

To do this, open a terminal window again.

Run

su -c ‘yum localinstall –nogpgcheck 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:

For 32-bit systems:

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

For 64-bit systems:

su -c ‘rpm -ivh http://linuxdownload.adobe.com/adobe-release/adobe-release-x86_64-1.0-1.noarch.rpm’

Then we add the Skype repository – as there is no rpm, we have to do it manually (this repo is for 32- and 64-bit systems although it reads i586 in the file – Skype is 32-bit only):

su -c ‘leafpad /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 Google Earth and Chrome):

su -c ‘leafpad /etc/yum.repos.d/google.repo’

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

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

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

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

Next we import the GPG keys for software packages:

su -c ‘rpm –import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY*’

Refresh the package index afterwards:

su -c ‘yum check-update’

Install wget:

su -c ‘yum install wget’

Install development tools:

su -c ‘yum groupinstall “Development Tools” ‘

 

7 Install Additional Software

To install additional applications, open the package manager (Administration > YUM Extender):

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Type in the root password:

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In YUM Extender, select Available (instead of Updates). Yum will now update its package list:

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You can now use the search bar to find the packages you are after. Tick the checkbox next to them to mark them for installation.

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The following packages need to be installed if you want the applications of the above primary choice (* is a wildcard; e.g. xmms2* means all packages that start with xmms2):

pinta

gimp
shotwell
thunderbird
marble
flash-plugin
filezilla
gwibber
skype
libreoffice
gnucash
scribus
banshee
vlc
audacity
dvdrip
mjpegtools
lame
dkms
eclipse*
virtualbox
redhat-lsb
redhat-lsb-desktop
redhat-lsb-printing

These are the packages for all the other possible alternative applications (you don’t need to install them if you are happy with the above selection):

kolourpaint
mypaint
google-chrome-stable
deluge
azureus
google-earth-stable
okular
amarok
mplayer
smplayer
gtkpod
xmms2*
clementine
exaile
xine-ui
xine-plugin
soundconverter
bluefish
brasero
k3b

After you’ve selected the desired packages, click on the Apply button.

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Click on OK to start the installation:

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8 Inventory (II)

Now let’s check again what we have so far. Our inventory should now look like this:

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[x] Shotwell Photo Manager

[x] Pinta

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Flash
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Transmission
[x] Skype
[x] Marble

[x] Pidgin

[ ] Dropbox

[x] Gwibber Social Client

Office:
[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice Calc
[x] ePDFViewer
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] dvd::rip
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] Xfburn
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

[ ] Winff

Programming:
[ ] KompoZer
[x] Eclipse

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

[x] leafpad

9 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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10 libdvdcss2

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

su

… and run the following command:

For 32-bit systems:

rpm -ivh http://dl.atrpms.net/f18-i386/atrpms/stable/libdvdcss2-1.2.11-6.fc18.i686.rpm

For 64-bit systems:

rpm -ivh http://dl.atrpms.net/f18-x86_64/atrpms/stable/libdvdcss2-1.2.11-6.fc18.x86_64.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/f18-i386/atrpms/stable/ for i686 systems and on http://dl.atrpms.net/f18-x86_64/atrpms/stable/ for x86_64 systems.)

 

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-20110131.tar.bz2
tar xfvj all-20110131.tar.bz2
mkdir /usr/lib/codecs/
cp all-20110131/* /usr/lib/codecs/
ln -s /usr/lib/codecs/ /usr/lib/win32

 

12 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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YUM Extender will then come up and guide you through the installation.

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13 Dropbox

To integrate Dropbox into the Thunar file explorer (default file explorer for XFCE), we do the following:

su -c ‘yum install thunarx-python Thunar-devel’

cd ~ && wget -O – “http://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86” | tar xzf –
cd ~ && wget -O – “http://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64” | tar xzf –
cd ~ && wget -O – “http://softwarebakery.com/maato/files/thunar-dropbox/thunar-dropbox-0.2.0.tar.bz2” | tar xjf –

cd thunar-dropbox-0.2.0
./waf configure –prefix=/usr
./waf build
su -c ‘./waf install’

Start the Dropbox daemon:

~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd &

To make Dropbox start automatically when you login, go to Settings > Session and Startup and open the Application Autostart tab where you click on the Add button:

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Create a new entry as follows:

Name: Dropbox
Description: Online file storage and sharing
Command: /home/falko/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd (make sure you use the correct username)

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Then create Send To actions for Thunar as follows:

mkdir -p ~/.local/share/Thunar/sendto
leafpad ~/.local/share/Thunar/sendto/dropbox_folder.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Version=1.0
Exec=cp -dr %F /home/your_username_here/Dropbox/%F
Icon=dropbox
Name=Dropbox

leafpad ~/.local/share/Thunar/sendto/dropbox_public_folder.desktop

[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Version=1.0
Exec=cp -dr %F /home/your_username_here/Dropbox/Public/%F
Icon=dropbox
Name=Dropbox Public

That’s it – you can now use Dropbox from Thunar:

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14 Winff

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

su

… and run the following commands:

For 32-bit systems:

rpm -ivh –force http://winff.googlecode.com/files/winff-1.2.0-1%7Eppa1l.i386.rpm

For 64-bit systems:

rpm -ivh –force http://winff.googlecode.com/files/winff-1.2.0-1%7Eppa1l.x86_64.rpm

 

15 Kompozer

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

su

… and run the following commands:

For 32-bit systems:

rpm -ivh http://olea.org/paquetes-rpm/fedora-13/kompozer-0.8-0.5.b3.fc13.i586.rpm

For 64-bit systems:

rpm -ivh http://olea.org/paquetes-rpm/fedora-13/kompozer-0.8-0.5.b3.fc13.x86_64.rpm

 

16 Nightingale

Nightingale has to be downloaded from their website at http://getnightingale.com. Click on the great download button and open the downloaded archive with the archive manager. The application doesn’t need to be installed since it can be started directly from the downloaded directory.

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17 Inventory (III)

You should now have installed everything you might need on your desktop:

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[x] Shotwell Photo Manager

[x] Pinta

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Flash
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Transmission
[x] Skype
[x] Marble

[x] Pidgin

[x] Dropbox

[x] Gwibber Social Client

Office:
[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice Calc
[x] ePDFViewer
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] dvd::rip
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] Xfburn
[x] Multimedia-Codecs

[x] Winff

Programming:
[x] KompoZer
[x] Eclipse

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[x] TrueType fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

[x] leafpad

 

You are welcome to leave recommendations for software in the comments for the next issues!

 

 

 

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