Perfect Linux Desktop Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal: Post Install Guide

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Ubuntu 11.04 presents a completely fresh new approach to Linux with a completely refurbished Unity desktop environment. After we put the new environments through its paces, we were extremely pleased with the innovations brought in by Canonical. Read the review here, although the beta 2 was quite buggy, the final release seems to have addressed most critical bugs and one is ready to rock with Natty Narwhal.

I am assuming that you have already installed Ubuntu 11.04 on your PC, it is a breeze anyway. If you haven’t take a look here for a basic installation guide for Ubuntu 10.10, which is practically identical to that of 11.04.

Now that you have installed Ubuntu 11.04, lets go about installing all the additional packages that would obviate the use of Windows or proprietary paid softwares. Free software ROCKS! Goal is to setup a desktop system which would be self sufficient, without the need to reboot in Windows.

First step is to open sources.list file located in /etc/apt folder by doing this at a terminal (you can open a terminal by going to Applications > Accessories > Terminal) :

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

now uncomment the following two lines by deleting # in front on them.

# deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu natty partner

# deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu natty partner

replace them with

deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu natty partner

deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu natty partner

Save the file and now you can install all the software you want to. Fire up Synaptic, the package manager for Ubuntu from the System> Administration > Synaptics Package Manager

Enter the password that you use to login, when prompted. You should see a screen like this

Before we begin click on the Reload button to refresh the list of packages.

Below is the list of applications that we are going to install, using Synaptic or via command line (see details below for installing everything in one shot), to take care of our daily computer needs. Some of these applications are already installed but have been listed for your information. The names of the application packages are listed below followed by its description and status. To install any package, search for the application name in the Quick search box in the Synaptics Package Manager, once it shows up in the search result, √ (tick) the box in front of it by right clicking on the application name and then selecting Mark for Installation. Click on Mark on the pop-up window asking for permission to install additional packages required to be installed. Some of these applications would have to be installed separately and as such can’t be installed through Synaptics, they have been marked in red. If you would rather install packages from command line, then go to the end of this post and you would find a single command to install all packages listed below. you can remove those you don’t want to install.

Internet:

  • flashplugin-installer: Adobe Flash Player: installed already if you chose third party package option
  • Firefox: web browser: already installed
  • Chrome: web browser by Google: to be installed separately
  • Opera: web browser: to be installed separately
  • thunderbird: An email and news client: to be installed
  • Evolution: e-mail/calendar – Outlook style application: already installed, look in to Application > Office menu.
  • transmission: A BitTorrent Client: Bittorrent client: to be installed
  • Empathy IM Client: multi-platform instant messaging client: already installed
  • skype: VOIP software: to be installed
  • Google Earth: Map software by Google: to be installed separately

Graphics:

  • gimp: replacement for Adobe Photoshop: already installed
  • f-spot: feature rich personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop: to be installed
  • Google Picasa: application for organizing and editing digital photos: to be installed separately

Office:

  • LibreOffice Writer: replacement for Microsoft Word: already installed
  • LibreOffice Calc: replacement for Microsoft Excel: already installed
  • acroread: Adobe Reader: to be installed
  • scribus: open source desktop publishing (DTP) application: to be installed

Sound & Video:

  • audacity: free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor: to be installed
  • audacious: Winamp like music player: to be installed
  • banshee: media management and playback and synchronize music with Apple iPods: to be installed
  • gnome-mplayer: media player (video/audio), supports practically all formats: to be installed
  • vlc: media player (video/audio), supports practically all formats: to be installed
  • Rhythmbox Music Player: audio player, similar to Apple’s iTunes, with support for iPods: already installed
  • gtkPod: iPod manager, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini: to be installed
  • dvdrip: full featured DVD copy program: to be installed
  • dvd95: dvd shrink like program to convert DVD9 to DVD5: to be installed
  • kino: digital video editor: to be installed
  • sound-juicer: CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs: to be installed
  • Totem – media player (video/audio): already installed
  • xine-console: media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs: to be installed
  • Brasero: CD/DVD burning program: already installed
  • k3b: CD/DVD burning program: to be installed

Programming:

  • emacs: Feature rich extensible self-documenting text editor: to be installed
  • vim: Terminal based power text editor: to be installed
  • kompozer WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver: to be installed
  • bluefish: HTML editor: to be installed
  • quanta: web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor: to be installed

Other:

  • virtualbox-ose: run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don’t have to entirely abandon Windows: to be installed
  • VMware-Player: Similar capabilities as Virtual box: to be installed separately
  • ttf-mscorefonts-installer: TrueType fonts available on Windows: to be installed
  • sun-java6-bin: Sun Java Platform Standard Edition Runtime Environment: to be installed
  • wallpapers: Additional wallpapers: Just search for this string and select as many packages as you want
  • screensavers: Additional screensavers: Just search for this string and select as many packages as you want
  • ffmpeg: Useful video conversion application

Home Theater (HTPC):

  • mythtv: State-of-art Home Theater and Personal Video Recorder (PVR) application.
  • xbmc: Awesome easy to use Home Theater (HTPC) application for playing videos, music, photo slide show etc., no PVR though!

Once you have selected all the packages marked in blue or at least the ones that you are interested in, hit the Apply button on Synaptics to start the installation process, followed by another click on Apply on the pop-up window. Let the installation finish, you might be asked to accept a license agreement if you chose to install Sun Java and Acrobat Reader. Exit Synaptics.

Alternatively you can install all packages in one shot with a single command, use it with caution (it would take a while to install it all). The command to install all the applications listed in bold font in one go (except Mythtv and XBMC, which might not be relevant for many people) is given below. To install XBMC you can look here and for MythTV here, although these instructions are for Ubuntu 10.10, they are applicable to Ubuntu 10.10 as well).

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg sun-java6-bin ttf-mscorefonts-installer virtualbox-ose quanta bluefish kompozer vim emacs k3b xine-ui vlc sound-juicer dvdrip dvd95 kino gtkpod banshee audacious audacity acroread scribus chromium-browser skype f-spot empathy evolution transmission gnome-mplayer

Now you should have all the essential core Ubuntu applications installed on your machine. Lets install the third party applications now. You should download .deb files (32 bit or amd 64 bit depending on the version of Ubuntu you installed).

Download Google Chrome from here.

Download Google Picasa from here.

Download Google Earth from here.

Download Opera from here.

All the packages above are .deb except that for Google Earth, and can be simply installed simply by double clicking on the downloaded file. To install Google Earth, open a terminal and cd to the directory you download the Google Earth file (by default it would be Downloads):

cd Downloads
chmod a+x GoogleEarthLinux.bin
./GoogleEarthLinux.bin

This would launch the installer, click on Begin installation to install Google Earth. Thats it, you have installed all programs that one would need for day to day work. I would put my recommendations for specific tasks in another post soon. Remember for program like GoogleEarth to work you would need to have drivers for your video card installed, if you haven’t then you can do that by launching System > Hardware Drivers and then enabling the appropriate driver.

To download VMware Player you would have to register at their website, registration as well as download is free. Installation process is identical to that for GoogleEarth discussed above.

Some additional tools / configurations that might interest you:

  1. Enable encrypted DVD playback
  2. Install MythTV: sudo apt-get install mythtv

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About the Author

has written 346 posts on this blog.

Meditating towards his "nerdvana", lifehacker is a teacher by the day and a nerdy blogger by the night. He lives to learn and yearns to learn living.

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