Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Things to do after installing Ubuntu

These "things to do after installing distro of your choice" lists were one of the most useful things I found when I was starting to use Linux. Heck, it still is a great reference when installing Ubuntu or any other distro into one of my laptops! After some time, though, the usual happens: One starts to use his/her list based on one´s own set of preferences or needs, and so did I.

So I thought I would share what I am using now, hopefully helping others in the process! Note these examples are specific to Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala!

NOTE: Most of the install/uninstall examples in this article can be run from a GUI application such as Synaptic or the Ubuntu Software Center. Having said so, I still think it is faster, quicker and easier to do it from the command line, so I will stick to that approach. If you haven´t tried running these commands from the command line, I would encourage you to. Not only it is very simple after overcoming the initial fears, but it is also a good way to get to know the shell!

INSTALL THE ESSENTIAL COMPILATION SOFTWARE

Even if you are not interested in developing, you may need these packages in order to install applications by compiling source code. Run the following:

sudo apt-get build-essential

INSTALL UBUNTU RESTRICTED REPOSITORIES

This will install some pieces of software that are not part of the standard Ubuntu installation. Among these, you may find certain Microsoft propietary fonts, various codecs, etc.

sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extra

INSTALL DVD SUPPORT & MEDIA CODECS

Unfortunately, some of the codecs required to read DVDs are propietary software, therefore not included in Ubuntu out of the box. In order to get your DVDs to play smoothly, do as follows:

Add the Medibuntu repository to your list:

sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/karmic.list --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Now let´s add the repository key:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

And now we are ready to install the DVD libraries:

sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 libdvdread4

As for the codecs:

sudo apt-get install w32codecs

These are also interesting:

sudo apt-get install non-free-codecs

INSTALL SUPPORT FOR JAVA APPLICATIONS

Pretty self explanatory:

sudo aptitude install sun-java6-fonts sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin

INSTALL WINE (Windows emulation layer)

If you are struggling because you can´t find a Linux equivalent to your most favorite Windows app, give WINE a try! This emulation layer makes it possible for many Windows applications to run in Linux. In fact, Wine has been deeply integrated into Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, so you will see your Windows applications listed in the Applications menu just as any other.

sudo apt-get install wine

My thoughts about WINE:

Please, understand that WINE is an emulator. While lots of applications have been proved to run
thanks to it, many still don´t, or require some know how. In addition, adding Windows apps into a Linux machine is not the greatest idea, and should only be done in very specific cases. If you really find no substitute for a specific application, I would recommend a dual setup, keeping windows for that specific application. You could also set up a virtual machine in Linux using VirtualBox and run Windows on it. This second option is not recommended for performance demanding applications.

INSTALL IM CLIENTS

This will really vary depending on your preferences. Here are some examples I use:

Install Pidgin

sudo apt-get install pidgin

Install aMsn (Windows MSN client clone)

sudo apt-get install amsn

Install emesene (Windows MSN client clone)

sudo apt-get install emesene

Uninstall empathy (should you not like it, as is the case for me)

sudo apt-get uninstall empathy

INSTALL DROID FONTS

This is probably one of the best addons you can get into Ubuntu, specifically in terms of look and feel. Both GNOME and KDE look a lot better when running Droid fonts in my opinion.

sudo apt-get install ttf-droid

INSTALL CHROMIUM BROWSER

If you like Google Chrome, I recommend you use Chromium instead. It is essentially the same code and functionality minus the PRIVACY ISSUES. Here´s how to install it:

Open your sources.list document...

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

... and add the following lines at the end:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/chromium-daily/ppa/ubuntu karmic main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/chromium-daily/ppa/ubuntu karmic main

Then save and close, update and install:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

INSTALL ALTERNATIVE VIDEO PLAYERS

If you don´t like the preinstalled Totem, or want to try other video players, here are a couple of suggestions:

Install VLC player

sudo apt-get install vlc

Install Mplayer

sudo apt-get install smplayer

OTHERS

There are some applications that may benefit from downloading them straight from their websites. Main reason for that is that there is quite a rapid development going on, and certain distros won´t include an update until the next release is out. If you don´t want to wait 6 months, nor like to use development versions, you may like downloading your application from the official application site. Here are some examples of applications I install this way:

Songbird

As already posted in a previous blog entry, I love this music application. It looks awesome and plays great, and even if it is a bit slow, I think it is worth it. You can get it from their official SITE. In this case, you don´t even need an installation!

Skype


Once again, I think you may benefit from using the latest version, specially if your webcam was not detected in previous versions under Linux. Download it from their SITE.

Tweetdeck

My favorite twitter client. I have tried some community supported ones, like Gwibber or Qwit, but nothing like Tweetdeck. The downside is having to install Adobe AIR technology, but I think it is worth it, and there are some very interesting apps out there using this technology which you may also enjoy. Download it from their SITE

Cairo Dock bar

In my opinion, the best dock bar available for Linux. They have recently moved to Launchpad, so you can download it from there SITE. Keep in mind you will need to download the plugins package as well!

Compiz Desktop Effects

Compiz is a strange case for me, as I rather install it from the GUI, not sure why!! ;-)

Simply find Compiz and the compiz manager in Synaptic or the Software Center and install them!

SUMMARY

As you can see, this is by no means an exhaustive list. If anything, I am trying the opposite, as most of those lists try to show you everything available to install, so starters may end up with lots of software they do not even use or like in their computers!

I have tried to list here what I install to get a new machine going. I think it is more than enough for a standard user, and if you want something fancier, you probably know your way to get it!

Enjoy!

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