I’ve been thinking for a while that I should write down the things I do after a fresh install of Kubuntu to get it ready for general day to day use. I’m writing this article based on what I have done with my Kubuntu 9.04 installation.
Updates are released regularly for Kubuntu. At the time I write this, there are no updates immediately available after installation, but as a little bit of time passes from the release date, it is very likely that as soon as the installation is finished, you will probably be prompted to apply updates. Go ahead and allow the system to download and install all available updates before proceeding.
After finishing the installation, there are a number of software packages that I install to prepare my system for normal everyday use. I prefer to use the apt-get command from the command line to install packages. I find it to be much easier than trying to use the GUI based package manager. The beauty of the package management system, called “apt”, in Kubuntu (and any of the ‘buntu’s for that mater) is that it handles dependencies for you. Each package contains information for the system that tells it what other packages (if any) need to also be installed in order for it to function. The system checks, and will download and install the appropriate packages if necessary. Linux has come a long way. This entire process was totally manual when I started using Slackware Linux in 1997. The general term for it: “dependency hell”. If you’re just getting into Linux now, be very thankful for apt.
Software packages are stored in repositories. These repositories are hosted on the servers that apt connects to to download software. There is a file called “sources.list” that apt uses to keep track of what repositories are available for it to download packages from. There are a few repositories that I like to add right off the bat. They will be needed to install the various packages that I will list later. I usually edit sources.list directly, but for this post, I’ll provide instructions for using the graphical interface.
Click the K menu (similar to the start button in Windows), and select “system settings” from the favorites group. Choose the option to “add or remove software”. Choose “settings” and then “edit software sources”. In the 3rd Party tab, check mark the check box for “http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu jaunty partner” to enable the partner repository.
We also need to add the Medibuntu repository. It contains lots of goodies! Click “Add” and paste the following line into the box:
deb http://packages.medibuntu.org/ jaunty free non-free
Click OK and allow the system to update its package lists. Go ahead and close the software sources dialog box and select the “software management” item.
You can type the names of packages into the search box to easily find packages to install. The first package that we want to install is the medibuntu-keyring. Installing this keyring will allow your system to trust packages from the Medibuntu repository. Type “medibuntu-keyring” into the search field and press enter. The system should find the package and show it in the box below the search field. Click the plus sign at the right side of the package information box and then click the apply button at the bottom right hand corner of the window. Although my system did not prompt me, i want to mention that you may be asked to accept this package even though it cannot be authenticated. This is normal, and exactly the reason that we need to install the keyring!
You can install multiple packages with the GUI installer by searching for each one, clicking the plus sign, and then continuing to search for more packages. Pressing the apply button will install all of the newly selected packages.
I prefer to use the command line to install packages. For me, it is faster than trying to navigate through the GUI. I can understand how opening a terminal window and typing seemingly cryptic comands at the command prompt can seem a little daunting for computer users who have never used anything but a graphical user interface. It really isn’t too bad though.
Click the K menu, and select the Applications group. In the applications group, select the system menu item, and then scroll down to the icon for the terminal. To add the terminal to your favorites group, right click on it and choose to add it to your favorites.
When you launch the terminal, you’ll be presented with a black box where you can type your commands. A good first package to install is the Mozilla Firefox web browser. Type or paste the following command at the command prompt and press enter:
sudo apt-get install firefox
To a first timer, that probably doesn’t make much sense, but it really is pretty simple. The first part of the command, “sudo” tells the system to run the command (in this case apt-get) as the administrator user. Installing new programs requires administrator privelages.
The next part is the actual command that you’re executing: apt-get. The apt-get command tells the Apt package management system to get a package. Pretty easy to remember. Apt-get has a few options though, and needs to know what we want it to do. Here, we have told it to install a package, and then specified which package we want installed.
The system will check the repositories for lists of packages, and find the one with the matching name, firefox. The first time you use sudo in a terminal session, you will be prompted for your password. Enter your password. Next, apt will report the additional disk space required to install the requested package. Type the letter “y” for yes, and press enter. Apt will now download and install firefox. When it is done, you can find firefox in the Internet menu in the Applications group.
There are many other packages that I install. The most notible are:
- xchat – My IRC client of choise
- Adobe Flash-Plugin for Firefox
- VLC – A great media player that will play almost anything
- K Screensavers
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- GIMP (A graphics editing program)
- A core set of TrueType fonts found in Microsoft Windows
- Various multimedia codecs for video and audio files
One of the nice things about apt-get is that you can instruct it to get more than one package at a time in a single command. When installing lots of packages, it’s much easier to use the command line instead of searching for each individual package using the graphical interface.
To make it easy on you, I have included the command here so that it simply needs to be copied and pasted into your command prompt.
sudo apt-get install xchat firefox adobe-flashplugin libk3b3-extracodecs libtunepimp5-mp3 libxine1-ffmpeg libdvdcss2 msttcorefonts sun-java6-fonts sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin unrar w32codecs gimp skype vlc mozilla-plugin-vlc acroread
There you have it! Copy and paste that line into your fresh Kubuntu 9.04 install and let it Apt work its magic! This command will not work for the 64-bit version of Kubuntu because some of the package names are different or do not exist.