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The Perfect Desktop – Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin)


This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) 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 12.04 will by default start the new Unity desktop which requires that your hardware supports 3D acceleration, however you can also switch to Ubuntu 2D mode in the log on screen. If your hardware does not support 3D acceleration or you don’t like Unity, you can still switch back to 2D version or download one of the countless alternatives.

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

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Chromium – Google’s open-source browser
  • Flash Player 11
  • 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
  • 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
  • Synaptic Package Manager
  • gdebi Package Installer

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

Download the Ubuntu 12.04 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 12.04 installation (the system should have at least 4.5 GB available drive space 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 Continue:

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 Continue:

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 cog wheel icon, you can choose your desktop environment. By default, Unity 3D (Ubuntu) will be started. If you want to use Ubuntu 2D, please select it (the system will remember your choice, so the next time you log in, Ubuntu 2D will be started unless you make another selection) and login (If Ubuntu is selected, but you hardware does not support 3D acceleration, your desktop will have no effects).

13

This is how your new Ubuntu Unity desktop looks:

14

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 opening the Dash, typing in Update Manager into the search bar and clicking on the icon:

15

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:

16

If there are any updates available you can install them by clicking on Install Updates and entering your password confirm administrative rights. 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.). 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 Flash Player should already be installed on the system but Java has to be installed manually.

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 11.2 r202) plugins among them.

We will install Java a few steps below.

 

5 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus to see which of our needed applications are already installed (open Dash and click on the second icon at its bottom – The label Installed displays all application already on your system):

22

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

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Chromium
[x] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[ ] 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
[ ] Banshee
[ ] MPlayer
[x] 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
[ ] Eclipse

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

[ ] gdebi

[ ] Synaptic Package Manager

So some applications are already on the system. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on Ubuntu 12.04.

 

6 Install Synaptic and Configure Additional Repositories

Before you install any additional packages it’s best to first install the Synaptic Package Manager since it easily lets you download multiple packages at a time. Open a terminal (Dash > Terminal) and enter

sudo apt-get install synaptic

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.

Again, open a terminal and edit /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

…, enable the precise partner and Ubuntu Extras repositories (if they are not already enabled) and add the Mint Lisa repository while you are at it:

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

deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ lisa main upstream import
[...]

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. To make sure you don’t get errors concerning the Mint repository, install its keyring next:

sudo apt-get install linuxmint-keyring

7 Install Additional Software

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

23

Type in your password:

24

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:

25

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

26

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
  • 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
  • eclipse
  • kompozer
  • scribus
  • vlc*
  • mozilla-plugin-vlc
  • xchat-gnome
  • xmms2*
  • sound-juicer
  • acroread
  • non-free-codecs
  • ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • libdvdcss2
  • xine-ui
  • xine-plugin
  • evolution
  • virtualbox-ose
  • chromium-browser
  • googleearth-package
  • skype (32 bit version only, leave it out for 64 bit)
  • banshee
  • transmission
  • icedtea-plugin
  • gdebi

After you’ve selected the desired packages, click on the Apply button. Confirm your selection by again clicking on Apply:

27

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

28

You might have to answer a few questions. Accept the licenses and proceed:

29

After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

30

 

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:

31

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 (Dash > Terminal) and become root:

sudo su

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

make-googleearth-package –force

[…]
Package: googleearth
Version: 6.0.3.2197+0.7.0-1
Section: non-free/science
Priority: optional
Maintainer:  <root@Kreationnext-System-Product-Name>
Architecture: amd64
Depends: ttf-dejavu | ttf-bitstream-vera | msttcorefonts, libfreeimage3, lsb-core, libqtcore4, libgl1-mesa-glx , ia32-libs-gtk , msttcorefonts
Suggests: lib32nss-mdns, libgl1-nvidia-glx-ia32
Description: Google Earth, a 3D map/planet viewer
Package built with googleearth-package.
dpkg-deb: building package `googleearth’ in `./googleearth_6.0.3.2197+0.7.0-1_amd64.deb’.
Success!
You can now install the package with e.g. sudo dpkg -i <package>.deb
root@Kreationnext-System-Product-Name:

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

ls -l

root@Kreationnext-System-Product-Name: ls -l
total 67236
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Desktop
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Documents
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Downloads
-rw-r–r– 1 Kreationnext Kreationnext     8445 Apr 26 15:17 examples.desktop
-rw-r–r– 1 root       root       35096276 Apr 27 11:23 googleearth_6.0.3.2197+0.7.0-1_amd64.deb
-rw-r–r– 1 root       root       33688483 May 19  2011 GoogleEarthLinux.bin
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Music
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Public
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 27 11:21 Screens
-rw-rw-r– 1 Kreationnext Kreationnext     2408 Apr 27 11:23 setup
-rw-rw-r– 1 Kreationnext Kreationnext      873 Apr 27 09:29 setup~
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Templates
drwxrwxr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 27 09:16 the_perfect_desktop_ubuntu_studio_10.10
drwxr-xr-x 2 Kreationnext Kreationnext     4096 Apr 26 15:35 Videos
root@Kreationnext-System-Product-Name:

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

gdebi googleearth_6.0.3.2197+0.7.0-1_amd64.deb

 

10 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

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
[ ] 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] Eclipse

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

[x] gdebi

[x] Synaptic Package Manager

11 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:

32

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. Select gdebi-gtk (/usr/bin/gdebi-gtk):

33

On the apperearing window, select Install Package:

34

12 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://uk.real.com/realplayer/other-versions. Click on the appropriate .deb link for you:

37

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:

39

Select gdebi-gtk and install the package exactly as shown for Opera.

 

13 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:

38

Proceed with the download by using the exact same steps as for Opera and Realplayer.

 

14 Inventory (III)

We have now all wanted applications installed:

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

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] Eclipse

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

[x] Synaptic Package Manager

[x] gdebi Package Installer

 

  • Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.com/

 

 

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