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The Perfect Desktop – Linux Mint 13 (Maya)


This tutorial shows how you can set up a Linux Mint 13 (Maya) 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.

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.

Linux Mint 13 is available in two flavors – one with the Cinnamon desktop and one with the MATE desktop. I will download and use the Cinnamon version (if you change your mind about what flavor you want to use after some time, you can still download the packages of the other one, install it and select it on the login screen).

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Mint 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

 

    • Deluge – free cross-platform BitTorrent client

 

  • Transmission BitTorrent Client – 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 11
  • 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:

    • Adobe 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
  • Soundkonverter – free audio converter
  • XFCA – free video/audio converter and ripper

 

    • K3B – CD/DVD burning program

 

  • Brasero – CD/DVD burning program

 

  • Audacity – free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Kino – free digital video 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 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
  • gedit – simple text editor
  • gdebi – package installer taking care of dependencies

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

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

Download the Mint 13 DVD iso image from http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php, burn it onto a DVD, and boot your computer from it (four options are given in 32 bit and 64 bit versions – they differ in their desktop environment and in the packages that come preinstalled. I will use the Cinnamon 64 bit DVD with codecs, which is slightly larger than the one without. If you choose to get an image without codecs, you can later upgrade the system by installing the missing packages from the welcome screen):

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You will boot directly into the live environment where you can either test Linux Mint or install it. Install by double-clicking Install Linux Mint:

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Select your language and click the Continue button to start the installation:

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On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Mint 13 installation (the system should have at least 5.3 GB available drive space and should be connected to the Internet). Click on Continue:

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Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Erase disk and install Linux Mint is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you’re doing. Erase disk and install Linux Mint will create one big / partition for us (all installed operating system and all other files present on the disk will be deleted if you proceed):

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Select the hard drive that you want to use for the Linux Mint installation:

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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 Continue:

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Afterwards, Linux Mint 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 Linux Mint installation DVD from the drive. Please do this now and press ENTER:

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Your new Linux Mint system starts. Log into the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

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This is how your new Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop looks like (on this welcome screen you can choose to Upgrade to the DVD Edition or to Add Multimedia Codecs if you have installed one of the versions without codecs. If you disabled the welcome screen, it is still available under Menu > Preferences > Welcome Screen):

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Now the base system is ready to be used.

3 Update The System

Now it’s time to check for updates and install them. This is done using the Update Manager. Start it from Menu > Administration > Update Manager:

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Type in your password to gain authorization:

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The Update Manager tells you which updates are available (you can click on the Refresh button to refresh the list). Click on Install Updates to install them:

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When the update is complete, click on Close (if a new kernel was amongst the updates, a system restart is required to make the changes effective).

The system is now up-to-date.

 

4 Flash Player And Java

Flash Player and Java should already be installed on the system.

To check this, 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 11.0 r1) plugins among them. This is not the newest version, that’s why we will update it in a few steps.

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When the update is complete, click on Close (if a new kernel was amongst the updates, a system restart is required to make the changes effective).

The system is now up-to-date.

 

4 Flash Player And Java

Flash Player and Java should already be installed on the system.

To check this, 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 11.0 r1) plugins among them. This is not the newest version, that’s why we will update it in a few steps.

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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:
[x] The GIMP
[ ] Shotwell Photo Manager

[ ] Pinta

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[ ] Deluge
[ ] Skype
[ ] Marble

[x] Pidgin

[ ] Dropbox

[ ] Gwibber Social Client

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

Sound & Video:
[ ] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] Kino
[x] VLC Media Player
[ ] K3B
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

[ ] Winff

Programming:
[ ] KompoZer
[ ] Eclipse

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

[x] gdebi

[x] Synaptic Package Manager

[x] gedit

So some applications are already on the system. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on Mint 13.

 

6 Install Additional Software

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

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Type in your password:

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In 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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The following packages need to be installed if you want the applications of the above primary choice (* is a wildcard; e.g. openjdk-6* means all packages that start with openjdk-6):

  • flashplugin-installer
  • audacity
  • dvdrip
  • filezilla
  • ttf-mscorefonts-installer
  • gnucash
  • k3b
  • kino
  • eclipse
  • kompozer
  • scribus
  • mozilla-plugin-vlc
  • acroread
  • non-free-codecs
  • ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • virtualbox-ose
  • skype (32 bit version only, leave it out for 64 bit)
  • shotwell
  • pinta
  • deluge
  • dropbox
  • marble
  • libreoffice
  • winff
  • openjdk-6*

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):

  • chromium-browser
  • opera
  • amarok
  • vuze
  • bluefish
  • gtkpod
  • mplayer
  • smplayer
  • xmms2*
  • sound-juicer
  • rhythmbox
  • xine-plugin
  • evolution
  • googleearth
  • soundconverter
  • soundkonverter
  • kolourpaint4
  • mypaint
  • qbittorrent
  • okular
  • xcfa
  • clementine
  • exaile

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

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Confirm your selection by again 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 have to answer a few questions. Accept the licenses and proceed:

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After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

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7 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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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] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Deluge
[ ] Skype
[x] Marble

[x] Pidgin

[x] Dropbox

[x] Gwibber Social Client

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

Sound & Video:
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Kino
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] K3B
[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] gdebi

[x] Synaptic Package Manager

[x] gedit

 

9 Skype for 64 bit Systems

While Skype is only available for 32 bit systems in the Ubuntu repository, you can download it for 64 bit systems on their homepage. Therefore go on http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/linux/ and select the right version to download:

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The package will be saved in your default download folder, which is the Downloads folder in your personal folder. Open a terminal and install it from there as follows (replace my username with yours and the version of Skype with the one you downloaded, if it has changed since this writing):

cd /home/Kreationnext/Downloads/
gdebi skype-ubuntu_2.2.0.35-1_amd64.deb

 

10 Nightingale

Nightingale is not available in the Ubuntu repositories and 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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  • Linux Mint: http://www.linuxmint.com/

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

 

 

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