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The Perfect Desktop – PCLinuxOS 2009.1


This tutorial shows how you can set up a PCLinuxOS 2009.1 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.

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 PCLinuxOS 2009.1 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 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
  • Azureus – Java Bittorrent client
  • Kopete – 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
  • Banshee – audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer – media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • 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)
  • 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:

  • 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

PCLinuxOS 2009.1 installs KDE (K Desktop Environment) by default.

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, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera).

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

cd /home/falko/Desktop

you must replace falko.

 

2 Installing The Base System

Download the PCLinuxOS 2009.1 CD iso image from http://www.pclinuxos.com/index.php?option=com_ionfiles&Itemid=28, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. At the boot prompt, select LiveCD:

1

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

Select your keyboard layout:

2

Next the login screen of our LiveCD desktop comes up. There are two logins:

  • User root with the password root
  • User guest with the password guest

We log in as guest:

3

This is how the LiveCD desktop looks. Click on Install PCLinuxOS to start the installation to the hard disk:

4

To start the installation, we must type in the root password (which is root):

5

You might see this screen if the installer has detected graphic card drivers which are not needed on your system (like ATI or Nvidia drivers). Click on REMOVE DRIVER NOW! if you want to remove them or on Cancel if you want to keep them (it doesn’t hurt to keep them, therefore I chose Cancel here):

6

The installation wizard starts. Click on Next:

7

The PCLinuxOS default partitioning scheme is ok for our purposes, so you can select Use free space.

8

The hard drive is partitioned, and the installation begins. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient:

9

Afterwards we have to configure the bootloader. The default settings are ok, so we can click on Next:

10

The default boot menu entries are ok as well, so we click on Finish:

11

Click on Finish to complete the installation:

12

To use our new installation, we must reboot and remove the PCLinuxOS CD from our CD drive. Log out of the current desktop session by clicking on the PC icon in the lower left corner, then select Log out from the upcoming menu:

12a

Click on End Current Session:

13

We are now taken back to the login screen. Click on System Menu and select Shutdown from the upcoming menu:

13a

Then click on Restart Computer:

14

The system shuts down. Remove the PCLinuxOS CD and press <ENTER>:

15

Afterwards, select Boot PCLinuxOS from the bootloader menu (or wait a few seconds):

16

After the first boot, we have to specify the root password and create a normal user account. Click on Next

17

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This is how your new desktop looks:

19

Now the base system is ready to be used.

3 Flash Player

PCLinuxOS 2009.1 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 10.0r15) among them:

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4 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus to see which of our needed applications are already installed (of course, the Flash plugin isn’t listed in the menus because it’s a browser plugin – that’s why we checked for its existence in the previous chapter). 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
[ ] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

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

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

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

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

Other:
[ ] VMware Server
[ ] True Type fonts
[x] 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 PCLinuxOS 2009.1, and JAVA is also installed by default.

 

5 Configure Online Software Repositories

Now we configure the online software repositories that our PCLinuxOS 2009.1 system will use to install further software. Click on the Synaptic Package Manager icon in the panel:

21

We need root privileges to run Synaptic, so we must type in the root password:

22

After Synaptic has started, we go to Settings > Repositories:

23

The Repositories window comes up. Select one repository that is close to you. Click on OK afterwards:

24

A message comes up telling us that we need to click on the Reload button because we have changed the repositories:

25

That’s what we do now: we click on the Reload button in Synaptic:

26

Our packages database gets updated:

27

6 Update The System

Now, still in Synaptic, we can check for the latest updates. Click on the Mark All Upgrades button. If there are updates available, you can then click on the Apply button to install them (if there are no updates available, the Apply button is greyed out).

7 Installing Additional Software

Now, still in Synaptic, we can install additional software. We are going to install the following packages:

  • f-spot
  • picasa
  • opera
  • filezilla
  • evolution
  • amule
  • azureus
  • skype
  • googleearth
  • gnucash
  • gnucash-ofx
  • scribus
  • AdobeReader_enu
  • banshee
  • banshee-ipod
  • gtkpod
  • xmms*
  • dvdrip
  • kino
  • sound-juicer
  • vlc*
  • RealPlayer
  • RealPlayer-rpnp
  • win32-codecs-all
  • totem*
  • xine-ui
  • brasero
  • kompozer
  • bluefish
  • kdewebdev-suite
  • webcore-fonts

You can use Synaptic’s Search function to search for the packages:

28

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:

30

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

31

Confirm your selection by clicking on Apply:

32

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

33

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Afterwards, you can close the Synaptic Package Manager.

 

8 TrueType Fonts

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:

35

 

9 Inventory (II)

Now let’s check again what we have so far by browsing the menus again:

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] KTorrent
[x] Azureus
[x] Kopete
[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] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Kino
[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:
[ ] VMware Server
[x] True Type fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS partitions

So everything is installed except for VMware Server…

10 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 PCLinuxOS 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.

Before we go on, it’s a good idea to find out about your kernel version because we need to install the package kernel-devel which is needed by VMware Server. There might be multiple kernel-devel packages available, and to select the right one you need to know your kernel version.

To find out about your kernel version, open a terminal and run

uname -r

The output should look like this:

[root@localhost falko]# uname -r
2.6.26.8.tex3
[root@localhost falko]#

which means you have kernel 2.6.26.8.tex3 installed.

Next open Synaptic and install the following packages:

  • kernel-devel (pick the package that suits your installed kernel)
  • xinetd
  • perl-devel
  • gcc
  • gcc-c++

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

36

On the next page, log in with your existing VMware account or create a new one:

37

Follow the on-screen instructions. At the end, you should receive an email with a link to your download page. On the download page, you should see two license numbers, one for Windows and one for Linux. Write down or save the one for Linux and scroll down.

38

Then download the VMware Server for Linux TAR image (not the RPM image!) to your desktop (e.g. to /home/falko/Desktop):

39

40

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Open a terminal and become root:

su

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
./vmware-install.pl

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

When the installer asks you

In which directory do you want to keep your virtual machine files?
[/var/lib/vmware/Virtual Machines]

you can either accept the default value or specify a location that has enough free space to store your virtual machines.

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 /home/falko/Desktop
rm -f VMware-server*
rm -fr vmware-server-distrib/

VMware Server 2 does not have a desktop application for managing virtual machines – this is now done through a browser (e.g. Firefox). You can access the management interface over HTTPS (https://<IP ADDRESS>:8333) or HTTP (http://<IP ADDRESS>:8222); the management interface can be accessed locally and also remotely. If you want to access it from the same machine, type https://127.0.0.1:8333 or http://127.0.0.1:8222 into the browser’s address bar.

If you’re using Firefox 3 and use HTTPS, Firefox will complain about the self-signed certificate, therefore you must tell Firefox to accept the certificate – to do this, click on the Or you can add an exception… link:

42

Click on Add Exception…:

43

The Add Security Exception window opens. In that window, click on the Get Certificate button first and then on the Confirm Security Exception button:

44

Afterwards, you will see the VMware Server login form. Type in root and your root password:

45

This is how the VMware Server web interface looks. The structure is similar to the old VMware Server 1 desktop application, so the usage of the web interface is pretty straightforward.

46

11 Inventory (III)

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] KTorrent
[x] Azureus
[x] Kopete
[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] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Kino
[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] VMware Server
[x] True Type fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS partitions

 

  • PCLinuxOS: http://www.pclinuxos.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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