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The Perfect Desktop – Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) (With The Ubuntu Classic Desktop)


This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) 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.

Ubuntu 11.04 will by default start the new Unity desktop which requires that your hardware supports 3D acceleration. If your hardware does not or you don’t like Unity, you can still use the Ubuntu Classic GNOME desktop. I will use the Ubuntu Classic GNOME desktop in this tutorial.

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 Ubuntu 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 for the GNOME desktop
  • 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
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client – Bittorrent client
  • Vuze – Java Bittorrent client
  • Empathy IM Client – multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat 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 Ubuntu installer doesn’t offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Ubuntu 11.04 desktop edition iso image from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

1

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

2

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Ubuntu 11.04 installation (the system should have at least 4.6GB 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:

3

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

4

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

5

Then choose your time zone:

6

Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

From the bottom panel, you can choose your desktop environment. By default, Unity will be started. If you want to use Ubuntu Classic (like I do in this tutorial), please select it (the system will remember your choice, so the next time you log in, Ubuntu Classic will be started unless you make another selection) and press the Login button (please note that if you want to use Unity, but your hardware doesn’t support it, you will see the following error message: It seems that you do not have the hardware required to run Unity. Please choose Ubuntu Classic at the login screen and you will be using the traditional environment.):

15

This is how your new Ubuntu Classic desktop looks:

16

Now the base system is ready to be used.

3 Update The System

Now it’s time to check for updates and install them. You can start the Update Manager by going to System > Administration > Update Manager:

17

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

18

Type in your password:

19

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

20

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. If this is necessary, you will see a Restart Now button. Click on that button to restart the system.).

21

The system is now up-to-date.

 

4 Flash Player And Java

If you have checked the Install this third-party software checkbox during installation, the 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 10.2 r159)…

22

… and the IcedTea (Java) plugins among them:

23

5 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus to see which of our needed applications are already installed:

24

You should find the following situation ([x] marks an application that is already installed, whereas [ ] is an application that is missing):

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

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Chromium
[x] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[ ] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[ ] Vuze
[x] Empathy IM Client
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[ ] Xchat IRC
[x] Gwibber Social Client

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

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

Programming:
[ ] KompoZer
[ ] Bluefish
[ ] Quanta Plus

Other:
[ ] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType 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 Ubuntu 11.04.

6 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):

25

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

sudo gedit /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

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 > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager):

26

Type in your password:

27

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:

28

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

29

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

  • amarok
  • gimp
  • flashplugin-installer (necessary only if you didn’t check the Install this third-party software checkbox during installation)
  • amule
  • audacity
  • rhythmbox
  • vuze
  • bluefish
  • dvdrip
  • filezilla
  • ttf-mscorefonts-installer
  • gnucash
  • gstreamer* (necessary only if you didn’t check the Install this third-party software checkbox during installation)
  • gtkpod
  • k3b
  • kino
  • mplayer
  • smplayer
  • quanta
  • kompozer
  • scribus
  • vlc*
  • mozilla-plugin-vlc
  • xchat-gnome
  • xmms2*
  • sound-juicer
  • acroread
  • non-free-codecs
  • ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • libdvdcss2
  • xine-ui
  • xine-plugin
  • thunderbird
  • virtualbox-ose
  • chromium-browser
  • googleearth-package
  • skype

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

30

Confirm your selection by clicking on Apply:

31

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

32

33

You might have to answer a few questions:

34

36

After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

37

8 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:

38

9 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 (Applications > Accessories > 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 34316
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Desktop
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Documents
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Downloads
-rw-r–r– 1 falko falko      179 2011-05-03 14:29 examples.desktop
-rw-r–r– 1 root  root  35098480 2011-05-03 15:54 googleearth_6.0.2.2074+0.6.0-1_amd64.deb
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Music
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Public
-rw-r–r– 1 falko falko     2631 2011-05-03 15:48 setup.txt
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Templates
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2011-05-03 14:37 Videos
root@falko-virtual-machine:/home/falko#

I want to install the .deb package using gdebi which takes care of all dependencies. We have to install gdebi first:

apt-get install gdebi gdebi-core

Now you can install Google Earth as follows:

gdebi googleearth_6.0.2.2074+0.6.0-1_amd64.deb

 

10 Inventory (II)

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

39

 

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] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Vuze
[x] Empathy IM Client
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat 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

11 Google Picasa

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

47

A download dialogue should come up. If it offers the option Open with Ubuntu Software Center (default), choose that one and follow the installation wizard. If you just see Open with and a Browse… button, select that option and click on the Browse… button:

48

Select /usr/bin/gdebi-gtk (you need to have the package gdebi and gdebi-core installed, as shown in chapter 9) from the Choose Helper Application window and click on Open:

49

You should now see Open with gdebi-gtk in the Firefox download dialogue. Make sure that this option is selected and click on OK:

50

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

51

Type in your password:

52

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

53

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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:

60

A download dialogue should come up. If it offers the option Open with Ubuntu Software Center (default), choose that one and follow the installation wizard. If you just see Open with and a Browse… button, select that option and click on the Browse… button:

61

Select gdebi-gtk and install the package exactly as shown for Picasa:

62

13 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 DEB Installer link:

63

A download dialogue should come up. If it offers the option Open with Ubuntu Software Center (default), choose that one and follow the installation wizard. If you just see Open with and a Browse… button, select that option and click on the Browse… button:

64

Select gdebi-gtk and install the package exactly as shown for Picasa:

 

14 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] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Vuze
[x] Empathy IM Client
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat 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

 

  • Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.com/

 

 

 

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