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The Perfect Desktop – Kubuntu 11.04


This tutorial shows how you can set up a Kubuntu 11.04 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. Kubuntu 11.04 is derived from Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) and uses the KDE desktop instead of 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 Kubuntu 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
  • Google Picasa – application for organizing and editing digital photos

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Chromium – Google’s open-source browser
  • Flash Player 10
  • 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
  • KTorrent – Bittorrent client
  • Vuze – Java Bittorrent client
  • Kopete – multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Quassel 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
  • Kino – free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor – CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player – media player (video/audio)
  • RealPlayer – media player (available for i386 systems only)
  • 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

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

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, Chromium).

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

Download the Kubuntu 11.04 Desktop iso image from http://www.kubuntu.org/getkubuntu (this link offers torrent downloads only; if you want to download the iso image directly, you can use one of the mirrors listed on https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+cdmirrors), burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. Select Start Kubuntu:

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The system boots:

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Select your language and click on the Install Kubuntu button to start the installation:

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On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Kubuntu 11.04 installation (the system should have at least 3.9GB available drive space, should be plugged into a power source (to make sure that the system doesn’t shut down during installation because of an empty battery), and should be connected to the Internet). Please check the Download updates while installing and Install this third-party software (this will install the software necessary to process Flash, MP3, and other media files) checkboxes and click on Forward:

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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. Guided – use entire disk will create one big / partition for us:

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Then choose your time zone:

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Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

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

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

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After the installation, you will be asked to reboot the system. Click on Restart Now:

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At the end of the shutdown process, you are asked to remove the Kubuntu installation CD from the CD drive. Please do this now and press ENTER:

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Your new Kubuntu 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

Before we go on, we should check if there are any updates available for our system. Start the KPackageKit package manager (System > Software Management):

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Click on Software Updates. This will show you a list of available updates. Mark the checkboxes of all updates that you want to install (it is recommended to install all updates) and click on Apply:

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Type in your password:

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Afterwards the updates are being downloaded and installed:

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When the update is complete, you can leave KPackageKit (if a new kernel was amongst the updates, a system restart is required to make the changes effective. If this is necessary, you will see a Restart button. Click on that button to restart the system.).

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The system is now up-to-date.

 

4 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus to see which of our wanted 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:
[ ] The GIMP
[ ] Shotwell Photo Manager
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[ ] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Chromium
[ ] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[ ] Thunderbird
[ ] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[x] KTorrent
[ ] Vuze
[x] Kopete
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[x] Quassel IRC
[ ] Gwibber Social Client

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

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[ ] Audacity
[ ] Banshee
[ ] MPlayer
[ ] Rhythmbox Music Player
[ ] gtkPod
[ ] XMMS
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] Kino
[ ] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[ ] VLC Media Player
[ ] RealPlayer
[ ] Totem
[ ] Xine
[ ] Brasero
[x] 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. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on Kubuntu 11.04.

 

5 Configure Additional Repositories

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

First we open a terminal (System > Terminal):

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

sudo kate /etc/apt/sources.list

… and enable the natty partner and Ubuntu Extras repositories (if they are not already enabled):

[...]
## 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 natty partner
deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu natty partner

## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by third-party
## developers who want to ship their latest software.
deb http://extras.ubuntu.com/ubuntu natty main
deb-src http://extras.ubuntu.com/ubuntu natty main
[...]

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/$(lsb_release -cs).list –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

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

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

 

6 Installing The Synaptic Package Manager

I prefer the Synaptic Package Manager over Kubuntu’s built-in package manager, therefore I install it as follows (still in the terminal):

sudo apt-get install synaptic

Then run

sudo update-apt-xapian-index

to make Synaptic display packages from third-party repositories.

7 Install Additional Software

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

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Type in your password:

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In the Synaptic Package Manager, we can install additional software. You can use the Quick filter field to find packages. To select a package for installation, click on the checkbox in front of it and select Mark for Installation from the menu that comes up:

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If a package has a dependency that needs to be satisfied, a window will pop up. Accept the dependencies by clicking on Mark:

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

  • firefox
  • gimp
  • shotwell
  • chromium-browser
  • gwibber
  • evolution
  • flashplugin-installer (necessary only if you didn’t check the Install this third-party software checkbox during installation)
  • amule
  • audacity
  • vuze
  • banshee
  • bluefish
  • dvdrip
  • filezilla
  • ttf-mscorefonts-installer
  • gnucash
  • gstreamer*
  • gtkpod
  • brasero
  • kino
  • mplayer
  • smplayer
  • quanta
  • kompozer
  • scribus
  • totem
  • vlc*
  • mozilla-plugin-vlc
  • xmms2*
  • sound-juicer
  • acroread
  • non-free-codecs
  • ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • kubuntu-restricted-extras
  • libdvdcss2
  • xine-ui
  • xine-plugin
  • thunderbird
  • virtualbox-ose
  • rhythmbox
  • googleearth-package
  • skype

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

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Confirm your selection by clicking on Apply:

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The packages are now being downloaded from the repositories and installed. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient:

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You might be asked to accept a few licenses:

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After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

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8 Flash Player And Java

To check if the Flash Player and Java are installed on the system, open Firefox and type about:plugins in the address bar. Firefox will then list all installed plugins, and it should list the Flash Player (version 10.2 r159)…

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… and the IcedTea (Java) plugins among them:

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9 TrueType Fonts

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 Google Earth

In chapter 7, we have installed the package googleearth-package which is a utility to automatically build a .deb package of Google Earth. This means, Google Earth is not yet installed; we have to first build a .deb package of it with the help of googleearth-package, and then install the .deb package.

Open a terminal (System > Terminal) and become root:

sudo su

Now you can build the Google Earth .deb package as follows:

make-googleearth-package –force

[…]
Package: googleearth
Version: 6.0.2.2074+0.6.0-1
Section: non-free/science
Priority: optional
Maintainer:  <root@falko-virtual-machine>
Architecture: amd64
Depends: ttf-dejavu | ttf-bitstream-vera | msttcorefonts, lsb-core, libqtcore4, libgl1-mesa-glx, ia32-libs (>= 20080808),
lib32gcc1 (>= 1:4.1.1), lib32stdc++6 (>= 4.1.1), lib32z1 (>= 1:1.1.4), libc6-i386 (>= 2.0),
libc6-i386 (>= 2.1.3), libc6-i386 (>= 2.2), libc6-i386 (>= 2.3), libc6-i386 (>= 2.3.2),
libc6-i386 (>= 2.4) , ia32-libs-gtk
Suggests: nvidia-glx-ia32
Description: Google Earth, a 3D map/planet viewer
Package built with googleearth-package.
dpkg-deb: building package `googleearth’ in `./googleearth_6.0.2.2074+0.6.0-1_amd64.deb’.
Success!
You can now install the package with e.g. sudo dpkg -i <package>.deb
root@falko-virtual-machine:/home/falko#

If you don’t see any errors, then you should find the Google Earth .deb package in the current directory:

ls -l

root@falko-virtual-machine:/home/falko# ls -l
total 34308
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Desktop
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Documents
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Downloads
-rw-r–r– 1 root  root  35087830 2011-05-10 21:52 googleearth_6.0.2.2074+0.6.0-1_amd64.deb
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Music
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Public
-rw-r–r– 1 falko falko     2481 2011-05-10 21:27 setup.txt
-rw-r–r– 1 falko falko     2349 2011-05-10 21:27 setup.txt~
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Templates
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-10 20:26 Videos
root@falko-virtual-machine:/home/falko#

Now you can install Google Earth as follows:

gdebi googleearth_6.0.2.2074+0.6.0-1_amd64.deb

 

11 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] Shotwell Photo Manager
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[x] Chromium
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] KTorrent
[x] Vuze
[x] Kopete
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Quassel 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] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[ ] RealPlayer
[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

12 Opera

Open a browser and go to http://www.opera.com/browser/download/; select Ubuntu as the distribution and then default package and click on the Download Opera button:

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A download dialogue should come up automatically. Select Open with and then select Browse… from the drop-down menu:

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Select /usr/bin/gdebi-kde from the Choose Helper Application window:

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In the Firefox download dialogue, you should now see Open with gdebi-kde – select that option and click on OK:

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

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Type in your password:

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Opera is now being installed. Afterwards, you can close the Package Installer window:

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13 Google Picasa

Open Firefox and go to http://picasa.google.com/linux/download.html#picasa30 and select the right .deb package for your architecture (i386 or amd64):

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A download dialogue should come up. Select Open with gdebi-kde:

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Then install the package exactly as shown for Opera.

 

14 RealPlayer (For i386 Systems Only)

(RealPlayer is available for i386 systems only. If you are on an x86_64 system, please skip this chapter.)

Open Firefox and go to http://www.real.com/realplayer/linux. Click on the Download the DEB Installer link:

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A download dialogue should come up. Select Open with gdebi-kde:

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Then install the package exactly as shown for Opera.

 

15 Inventory (III)

We have now all wanted applications installed:

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

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Chromium
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] KTorrent
[x] Vuze
[x] Kopete
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Quassel 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] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] RealPlayer
[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

 

  • Kubuntu: http://www.kubuntu.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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