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The Perfect Desktop – gOS Rocket G 2.0 (GNOME)


This tutorial shows how you can set up a gOS Rocket G 2.0 (GNOME) desktop 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. gOS is a lightweight Linux distribution, based on Ubuntu 7.10, that comes with Google Apps and some other Web 2.0 applications; gOS Rocket G 2.0 uses the GNOME desktop.

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 gOS 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
  • BitTornado – Bittorrent client
  • Azureus – Java Bittorrent client
  • Pidgin – multi-platform instant messaging client
  • 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)
  • Helix Player – media player, similar to the Real Player
  • Totem – media player (video/audio)
  • Xine – media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • GnomeBaker – 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

Lots of our desired applications are available in the Ubuntu repositories, and some of these applications have been contributed by the Ubuntu community.

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 gOS installer doesn’t offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the gOS Rocket G 2.0 iso image from http://dev.thinkgos.com/downloads/gos-rocketG, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. At the boot prompt, select Start or install gOS:

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The system boots and starts a desktop that is run entirely in the RAM of your system (the gOS installation CD is also a Live-CD) without changing anything on your hard disk. This has the advantage that you can test how gOS works on your hardware before you finally install it.

Double-click the Install icon on the desktop to start the installation to the hard drive:

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The installer starts. First, select your language:

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Then choose your time zone:

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Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

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Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Guided – use entire disk is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you’re doing. Use entire disk will create one big / partition for us:

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Type in your real name, your desired username along with a password, and click on Forward:

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The next screen shows us a summary of the installation settings. Click on Install to start the installation:

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The hard drive is being partitioned:

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Afterwards, the gOS system is being installed. This can take a few minutes, so be patient:

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After the installation is complete, we must reboot the system to use it. Click on Restart now:

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The Live-CD desktop shuts down. At the end (when you see the blue rectangle with white text at the bottom of this screen), the gOS CD is ejected. Remove it from the CD drive and hit the <ENTER> key to boot into your new gOS desktop:

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Your new gOS system starts. Log in to the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

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This is how your new desktop looks:

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Now the base system is ready to be used.

3 Update The System

When you log in for the first time, you will most likely see a green software update icon in the upper right corner (there should also be a pop-up originating from that icon saying that software updates are available) which means that updates for the installed software are available. To install the updates, click on that green icon:

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The Update Manager tells you which updates are available. Click on Install Updates to install them:

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Type in your password:

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The updates are being downloaded and installed (this can take a few minutes):

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When the update is complete, click on Close:

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Then close the Update Manager:

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The green software update icon is now gone. The system is up-to-date.

 

4 Adding A Second Panel At The Bottom Of The Desktop

You might have noticed that the gOS GNOME comes with only one panel at the top (whereas other GNOME dekstops comes with two panels, one at the top and one at the bottom of the desktop). The problem with having just one panel is that if you minimize a window, it disappears completely, and you can’t work with it anymore. To fix this, we add a second panel at the bottom which holds a list of our open windows, so that we can bring up a window from the bottom panel again after we’ve minimized it.

Right-click on an empty area in the top panel; from the menu that comes up, select New Panel:

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A new panel should appear at the bottom of the desktop. Right-click on it and select Add to Panel… from the menu that comes up:

23b

The Add to Panel window opens. Go to the Desktop & Windows section and select Window List:

23c

From now on all your open windows should be listed on the bottom panel.

 

5 Flash Player

gOS Rocket G 2.0 installs the Macromedia Flash Player by default. To see if the Flash plugin 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 9.0r124 which is the newest one at the time of this writing) among them:

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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):

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[x] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[ ] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[ ] BitTornado
[ ] Azureus
[x] Pidgin
[x] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[ ] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] 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
[ ] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[ ] Xine
[ ] GnomeBaker
[ ] 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. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on gOS Rocket G 2.0.

7 Configure Additional Repositories

Some packages like the Adobe Reader are not available in the standard Ubuntu repositories. The easiest way to make such packages available to your system is to add the Medibuntu repository.

First we open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal):

32

First off, we edit /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

… and disable the download.tuxfamily.org repository:

#deb http://download.tuxfamily.org/syzygy42 gutsy avant-window-navigator
#deb-src http://download.tuxfamily.org/syzygy42 gutsy avant-window-navigator
[...]

Further down in the same file, please enable the gutsy partner repository (because some packages such as Opera are available only in that repository):

[...]
## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical's
## 'partner' repository. This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is
## offered by Canonical and the respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu
## users.
deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu gutsy partner
deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu gutsy partner
[...]

Then save the file.

To enable the Medibuntu repository, please do the following:

Import the repository:

sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/gutsy.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Import the gpg-key and update your package-list:

wget -q http://packages.medibuntu.org/medibuntu-key.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add – && sudo apt-get update

After you have done that, it is possible the the green software update icon appears again:

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If so, start the Update Manager again and update your system:

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In my case, I had some problems with updating Skype, so if you’re seeing update errors regarding Skype, go to your terminal again and run:

sudo apt-get install skype skype-common

Afterwards, the system should be up-to-date again.

 

8 Install Additional Software

To install additional applications, open the Synaptic Package Manager (Applications > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager):

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Select the following packages for installation (* is a wildcard; e.g. gstreamer* means all packages that start with gstreamer):

  • amarok
  • amule
  • audacity
  • azureus
  • banshee*
  • bluefish
  • dvdrip
  • filezilla
  • msttcorefonts
  • gnucash
  • gstreamer*
  • gtkpod*++
  • j2re1.4
  • j2re1.4-mozilla-plugin
  • k3b
  • gnomebaker
  • kino
  • mplayer
  • mozilla-mplayer
  • quanta
  • kompozer
  • scribus
  • sun-java6* (except sun-java6-doc)
  • vlc*
  • xchat-gnome
  • xmms*
  • bittornado
  • bittornado-gui
  • googleearth
  • acroread*
  • mozilla-acroread
  • sound-juicer
  • helix-player
  • mozilla-helix-player
  • non-free-codecs
  • opera
  • xine-ui
  • xine-plugin

There are also lots of other applications available that you can install as well if you like.

You can use the search function to search for the desired packages:

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To select a package, click on the checkbox left of it and select Mark for Installation from the menu:

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If a package has dependencies, click on Mark to install them as well:

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After you’ve selected all wanted packages, click on the Apply button:

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Confirm your selection by clicking on Apply again:

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Afterwards all selected packages are being downloaded and installed:

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Some packages require that you accept their licenses (for example j2re1.4):

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47

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After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

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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] The GIMP
[x] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] BitTornado
[x] Azureus
[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] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] GnomeBaker
[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

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:

51

10 Google Picasa

Open Firefox and go to http://picasa.google.com/linux/thanks-deb.html. A download dialogue should come up automatically. Select Open with GDebi Package Installer (default):

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A Package Installer window comes up. Click on the Install Package button to install Picasa:

54

You must provide your password to start the installation:

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The installation begins:

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Afterwards, you can close the Package Installer window:

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11 Inventory (III)

Browse the Applications menu again and check what you’ve got installed so far.

Your list should look like this now:

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[x] F-Spot
[x] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] BitTornado
[x] Azureus
[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] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] GnomeBaker
[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

12 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 gOS 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.

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

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Accept the license agreement by clicking on Yes:

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Then download the VMware Server for Linux .tar.gz file (not the rpm file!) to your desktop (e.g. to /home/falko/Desktop):

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To get the serial number you need to run VMware Server, go to http://register.vmware.com/content/registration.html. Fill in your personal details. Afterwards you will get a page with a serial number for VMware Server. Write it down or print it out:

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Then open a terminal again.

Run the following command to install some necessary packages:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential xinetd

Then go to the location where you saved the VMware Server .tar.gz file, e.g. /home/falko/Desktop (replace falko with your own username!):

cd /home/falko/Desktop

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

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

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

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 ../
rm -fr vmware-server-distrib/
rm -f VMware-server*.tar.gz

You will now find VMware Server under Applications > System Tools > VMware Server Console:

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When you start it, select Local host:

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Afterwards, you can create virtual machines (or import your virtual Windows machine that you created with VMware Converter):

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13 Inventory (IV)

We have now all wanted applications installed:

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[x] F-Spot
[x] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] BitTornado
[x] Azureus
[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] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] GnomeBaker
[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

 

  • gOS: http://dev.thinkgos.com

 

 

 

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