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The Perfect Desktop – PCLinuxOS 2010 (KDE)


This tutorial shows how you can set up a PCLinuxOS 2010 desktop (with KDE) 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 2010 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/Vuze – 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
  • Banshee – audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer – media player (video/audio), supports WMA. The MPlayer frontend is named SMPlayer on PCLinuxOS 2010.
  • 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

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

I use the KDE version of PCLinuxOS 2010 in this tutorial.

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. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace falko with your own username.

 

2 Installing The Base System

Download the PCLinuxOS 2010 KDE CD iso image (the full version, not the MiniMe version!) from http://www.pclinuxos.com/?page_id=180, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. At the boot prompt, select LiveCD:

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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:

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

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

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The installation wizard starts. Click Next:

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

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

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

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

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Click Finish to complete the installation:

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To use our new installation, we must reboot and remove the PCLinuxOS CD from our CD drive. Go to Leave > Restart Computer

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Then click Restart Computer:

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

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Afterwards, select Boot PCLinuxOS 2010 from the bootloader menu (or wait a few seconds):

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After the first boot, we have to specify the root password…

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… and create a normal user account (falko in this example). Click Next

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… and log in with the regular user account you’ve just created::

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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 Flash Player

PCLinuxOS 2010 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 10.0r45) 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):

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

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

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

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

Programming:
[ ] Kompozer
[ ] Bluefish

Other:
[ ] VirtualBox
[ ] 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 2010, and JAVA is also installed by default. The MPlayer frontend is named SMPlayer on PCLinuxOS 2010.

 

5 Configure Online Software Repositories

Now we configure the online software repositories that our PCLinuxOS 2010 system will use to install further software. Go to Software Center > Synaptic Package Manager:

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

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

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

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

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

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Our packages database gets updated:

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6 Update The System

Now, still in Synaptic, we can check for the latest updates. Click the Mark All Upgrades button. If there are updates available, you can then click 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
  • vuze
  • skype_static
  • googleearth
  • gnucash
  • gnucash-ofx
  • scribus
  • AdobeReader_enu
  • AdobeReader-plugin
  • banshee
  • banshee-ipod
  • gtkpod
  • xmms*
  • dvdrip
  • kino
  • sound-juicer
  • vlc*
  • RealPlayer
  • RealPlayer-rpnp
  • win32-codecs-all
  • totem*
  • xine-ui
  • brasero
  • kompozer
  • bluefish
  • kdewebdev4
  • kdevplatform4
  • virtualbox
  • webcore-fonts

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

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To select a package for installation, click 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 Mark:

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

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Confirm your selection by clicking 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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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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Afterwards, you can close the Synaptic Package Manager.

 

8 Inventory (II)

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

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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] Vuze
[x] Pidgin
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

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

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[x] Banshee
[x] MPlayer (SMPlayer)
[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

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[x] True Type fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS partitions

So everything is installed except for OpenOffice…

9 OpenOffice

OpenOffice cannot be installed through Synaptic on PCLinuxOS – instead, PCLinuxOS provides a script which downloads and installs OpenOffice. To install OpenOffice, go to Office > Get OpenOffice:

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Type in the root password:

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Select your language:

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Click OK (the message tells us that Synaptic is set to delete all cached RPM packages, but during OpenOffice installation, this setting will be changed so that the OpenOffice RPM packages will be temporarily cached in /var/cache/apt/archives):

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The script downloads and installs OpenOffice:

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Click Yes to reset the Synaptic cache settings (so that all cached RPM packages will be deleted again, as it was before the OpenOffice installation):

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Click OK to finish the installation:

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You can now find OpenOffice in the Office submenu:

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10 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:

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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] Vuze
[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] Banshee
[x] MPlayer (SMPlayer)
[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

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[x] True Type fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS partitions

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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