The Perfect Desktop - Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) (With The Ubuntu Classic Desktop)

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Submitted by falko (Contact Author) (Forums) on Tue, 2011-05-03 18:21. :: Ubuntu | Desktop

The Perfect Desktop - Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) (With The Ubuntu Classic Desktop)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme <ft [at] falkotimme [dot] com>
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Last edited 05/03/2011

This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) 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 11.04 will by default start the new Unity desktop which requires that your hardware supports 3D acceleration. If your hardware does not or you don't like Unity, you can still use the Ubuntu Classic GNOME desktop. I will use the Ubuntu Classic GNOME desktop in this tutorial.

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
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Chromium - Google's open-source browser
  • Flash Player 10
  • 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
  • Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor

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

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 falko 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 11.04 desktop edition iso image from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

Select your language and click on the Install Ubuntu button to start the installation:

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Ubuntu 11.04 installation (the system should have at least 4.6GB available drive space, should be plugged into a power source (to make sure that the system doesn't shut down during installation because of an empty battery), 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 Forward:

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:

Select the hard drive that you want to use for the Ubuntu installation:

Then choose your time zone:

Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

Type in your real name, your desired username along with a password, and click on Forward:

Afterwards, Ubuntu is being installed. This can take a few minutes, so be patient:

After the installation, you will be asked to reboot the system. Click on Restart Now:

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:

Your new Ubuntu system starts. Log into the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

From the bottom panel, you can choose your desktop environment. By default, Unity will be started. If you want to use Ubuntu Classic (like I do in this tutorial), please select it (the system will remember your choice, so the next time you log in, Ubuntu Classic will be started unless you make another selection) and press the Login button (please note that if you want to use Unity, but your hardware doesn't support it, you will see the following error message: It seems that you do not have the hardware required to run Unity. Please choose Ubuntu Classic at the login screen and you will be using the traditional environment.):

This is how your new Ubuntu Classic desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.


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Submitted by Randy (not registered) on Thu, 2011-05-05 18:45.
Pinguy and Zeven are already configured out of the box for this, Zeven even has pre-configured settings to look like Windows. Picasa may need to be added, otherwise all codecs are included.
Submitted by JohnP (not registered) on Wed, 2011-05-04 14:18.
Unity-2D is an option for the graphics impaired systems. It also works inside virtual machines. 11.04 required. $ sudo apt-get install unity-2d In my testing, almost everything works the same as in the 3D version of Unity, just without all the 3D accel "cheese." If you are on 10.10, there is a PPA for this too. I've not tried that.