There is a new version of this tutorial available for Debian 6 (Squeeze).

The Perfect Desktop - Debian Lenny - Page 2

3 Update The System

Now it's time to check for updates and install them. This is done using the Update Manager. If you see a notification in the taskbar that new updates are available, you can start the Update Manager by clicking on the update icon; otherwise you can start the Update Manager by going to System > Administration > Update Manager:

If new updates are available, the Update Manager will tell you so (you can click on the Check button to refresh the list), and you can click on the Install Updates button to install them. In my case, no updates were available:


4 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let's browse all menus to see which of our needed applications are already installed:

You should find the following situation ([x] marks an application that is already installed, where [ ] is an application that is missing):

[x] The GIMP
[ ] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

[x] Firefox/Iceweasel
[ ] Opera
[ ] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[ ] Thunderbird/Icedove
[x] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[ ] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Pidgin
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[ ] Xchat IRC

[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[ ] Adobe Reader
[ ] GnuCash
[ ] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[ ] Amarok
[ ] Audacity
[ ] Banshee
[ ] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[ ] gtkPod
[ ] XMMS
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] Kino
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[ ] VLC Media Player
[ ] Real Player
[x] Totem
[ ] Xine
[ ] Brasero
[ ] K3B
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

[ ] KompoZer
[ ] Bluefish
[ ] Quanta Plus

[ ] VMware Server
[ ] TrueType fonts
[ ] Java
[x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

So some applications are already on the system. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on Debian Lenny.


5 Configure Additional Repositories

Some packages like the Adobe Reader are not available in the standard Debian repositories. The easiest way to make such packages available to your system is to add the Debian-Multimedia repository.

First we open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal):

Become root...


... and edit /etc/apt/sources.list:

gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Add contrib and non-free to the official Lenny repositories that are already in the file, e.g. as follows...

deb lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny main contrib non-free

deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny/updates main contrib non-free

... and add the Debian-Multimedia repository (you can find a mirror close to you here), e.g. like this:

deb stable main
deb-src stable main

Then download the debian-multimedia-keyring package and install it:

dpkg -i debian-multimedia-keyring_2008.10.16_all.deb

Finally update your package-list:

apt-get update


6 Install Additional Software

To install additional applications, open the Synaptic Package Manager (Applications > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager):

In the Synaptic Package Manager, we can install additional software. You can use the Search field to find packages:

Select the following packages for installation (* is a wildcard; e.g. gstreamer0.10* means all packages that start with gstreamer0.10):

  • f-spot
  • flashplayer-mozilla
  • filezilla
  • icedove
  • icedove-beagle
  • icedove-gnome-support
  • nautilus-sendto
  • amule
  • amule-utils-gui
  • vuze
  • xchat
  • xchat-gnome
  • acroread*
  • mozilla-acroread
  • gnucash
  • scribus
  • scribus-template
  • amarok
  • audacity
  • banshee
  • mplayer
  • mozilla-mplayer
  • w32codecs
  • gtkpod-aac
  • xmms2*
  • dvdrip
  • libdvdcss2
  • kino
  • mozilla-plugin-vlc
  • vlc*
  • realplayer
  • gxine
  • gxineplugin
  • xineplugin
  • brasero
  • k3b
  • gstreamer0.10*
  • bluefish
  • quanta
  • msttcorefonts
  • gdeb
  • gdebi
  • libasound2
  • libc6
  • libgcc1
  • libqt4-core
  • libqt4-gui
  • libsigc++-2.0-0c2a
  • libstdc++6 libx11-6
  • libqtcore4
  • libqt4-network
  • libqt4-script
  • libqt4-xml
  • libqt4-dbus
  • libqt4-test
  • libqtgui4
  • libqt4-svg
  • libqt4-opengl
  • libqt4-designer
  • libqt4-assistant
  • openjdk-6*
  • icedtea-gcjwebplugin

There are also lots of other applications available that you can install as well if you like.

To select a package for installation, click on the checkbox in front of it and select Mark for Installation from the menu that comes up:

If a package has a dependency that needs to be satisfied, a window will pop up. Accept the dependencies by clicking on Mark:

After you've selected the desired packages, click on the Apply button:

Confirm your selection by clicking on Apply:

The packages are now being downloaded from the repositories and installed. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient:

After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

You can leave the Synaptic Package Manager afterwards.

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3 Comment(s)

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By: Narcarsiss

I would highly recomend to install aptoncd "apt on cd" which will provide a easy and simply way of having a backup of all the files installed and downloaded...

and look for some themes as well to make the desktop look pretty

By: Pax

This is my frist debian instal, i am a ubuntu user, now i like change to tray debia, i download debian lenny 5.0, in oficcial mirror, i install all u recomend bud i cant instal mplayer and others...


this is my source.list

# deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux 5.0.0 _Lenny_ - Official i386 CD Binary-1 20090214-16:29]/ lenny main

# deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux 5.0.0 _Lenny_ - Official i386 CD Binary-1 20090214-16:29]/ lenny main

deb lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny main contrib non-free

deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny/updates main contrib non-free

deb stable main
deb-src stable main


u can telme what is worng? why i cant instal mplayer to down... 


The following issues (some of which occurred because I believe this HowTo is actually for the 32-bit version of Debian, but that's ok, virtually all of the HowTo still works!) were encountered while trying to install Debian 5.02 (AMD-64) on a real world (Intel WG965DH moboard, 8GB mem, 4x500GB HDD, CD-RW, and DVD-RW):

** Warning on duplicate entries in the source list when doing apt-get as above (didn't seem to matter--pressed on)
** w32codecs not available in Synaptic, presuming for AMD-64 need w64codecs, installed instead
** realplayer was not available in Synaptic (likely because it is a 32-bit app) -- see below
** Presumed xine-plugin was correct, vice xineplugin
** Do not select acroread-fonts-jpn--will be installed with acroread-fonts-kor

To install RealPlayer (fair warning - you're on your own, I haven't yet tested whether RealPlayer actually works, only that it installs!)

** Retrive RealPlayer from
** Click Download RealPlayer (downloads a bin file).
** Close the browser when the download completes.
** The download is in your home folder -- it MUST be executed from there.
** Open a terminal as root.
** Execute chmod +x RealPlayer11GOLD.bin
** Execute ./RealPlayer11GOLD.bin (the installer runs--accepting the defaults at all prompts works).
** When the installer finishes close the terminal (RealPlayer 11 is now on the Sound and Video menu).

After finishing Step 6 is where I installed the nVidia drivers - the Debian way. Worked like a charm. Detailed instructions are at Follow the directions explicitly and precisely and you will enjoy.

Enabling TwinView after that is easy (I have two monitors). In a console, execute apt-get install nvidia-settings. Then run nvidia-settings. I ran as root (as I was in that state from installing the drivers)--not sure whether that is really needed or not (suspect it is, though). The nVidia configuration window appears. Configure the monitor(s) as you desire, apply, and save the new xorg.conf file. What could be easier? Enjoy TwinView!