Perfect Desktop Using Linux Mint 11 “Katya”

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If you love green then you ought to like Linux Mint which is Ubuntu spinoff. It is certainly one of the nicest looking Linux distros out there and being an Ubuntu spin-offs makes it reasonably stable and reliable too. Specially with Ubuntu Unity raking up a huge debate among *nix users regarding Unity’s usability for non netbook users, rewriting OS with only netbooks in mind seems to be a mistake on Canonical’s part. Unity looks outright ugly on high resolution screen (Gnome 3 looks far more elegant) and is less usable than standard good old Gnome coupled with Compiz etc. This make Mint Linux more relevant as you get good eye candy and there is more to Mint than merely the eyecandy part. It sports the best Start Menu among most *nix distros, with Windows 7 style search features. Linux Mint also comes pre-installed with flash and various other goodies like mp3 and video codecs. Also the default package list is more exhaustive and to me appears like a better selection, also the canonical and several other package repositories are already enabled by default. Installation is standard Ubuntu type installation, if you need any help with dual-booting. You can look at this post, which describes how to dual-boot Ubuntu Natty with Windows 7.

Now that you have Linux Mint up and running, its time to install 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. It is recommended that you update your fresh installation before installing the additional packages (helps reduce re-downloading of package and saves your time).

I am going to list out the most essential packages that one would be typically needing for the day to day needs. All the package names of applications not yet installed on a default Mint installation has been labeled in bold. You can install them one by one by searching from them in Synaptic Package Manager (can be found in the Administration menu) and installing them one by one, or by installing them from command line by doing

sudo apt-get install package_name

At the end of this guide, I have listed out all the packages in a single command, so if you don’t have the patience to do the selection just use it to install all the typical application in one go and go green… :P

Internet:

  • flashplugin-installer: Adobe Flash Player: already installed
  • Firefox: web browser: already installed
  • chromium-browser: web browser by Google: to be installed
  • opera: web browser: to be installed
  • thunderbird: An email and news client: already installed
  • evolution: e-mail/calendar – Outlook style application: to be installed
  • transmission: A BitTorrent Client: Bittorrent client: installed already
  • empathy IM Client: multi-platform instant messaging client: to be installed
  • skype: VOIP software: to be installed
  • googleearth: Map software by Google: to be installed

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

Office:

  • Libreoffice.org Writer: replacement for Microsoft Word: already installed
  • Libreoffice.org Calc: replacement for Microsoft Excel: already installed
  • Libreoffice.org Impress: replacement for Microsoft Powerpoint: 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:already installed
  • gnome-mplayer: media player (video/audio), supports practically all formats: already installed
  • vlc: media player (video/audio), supports practically all formats: already 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-ui: 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: already installed
  • 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., PVR is experimental!

Command to install all the applications listed in bold font in one go (except Mythtv and XBMC, which might not be relevant for most people, XBMC repository for natty is not yet available, would be coming out soon!)

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg ttf-mscorefonts-installer virtualbox-ose quanta bluefish kompozer vim emacs k3b xine-ui sound-juicer dvdrip dvd95 kino gtkpod audacious audacity acroread scribus picasa chromium-browser googleearth skype f-spot empathy opera evolution transmission

Feel free to remove the package names that you don’t want to install. Beware: running the above command would take a while to download over 500MB of data, so start it only when you have enough time at your hands. :)

Feel free to suggest any important package which I might have missed. Thanks!


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About the Author

has written 1314 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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