There is a new version of this tutorial available for Kubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal).

The Perfect Desktop - Kubuntu 11.04

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
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This tutorial shows how you can set up a Kubuntu 11.04 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. Kubuntu 11.04 is derived from Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) and uses the KDE desktop instead of the GNOME desktop.

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 Kubuntu desktop to have the following software installed:


  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • Shotwell Photo Manager - full-featured personal photo management application
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos


  • 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
  • KTorrent - Bittorrent client
  • Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Kopete - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Quassel IRC - IRC client
  • Gwibber Social Client - open-source microblogging client (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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 Kubuntu installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Kubuntu 11.04 Desktop iso image from (this link offers torrent downloads only; if you want to download the iso image directly, you can use one of the mirrors listed on, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. Select Start Kubuntu:

The system boots:

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

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Kubuntu 11.04 installation (the system should have at least 3.9GB 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 Guided - use entire disk is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Guided - use entire disk will create one big / partition for us:

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, Kubuntu 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 Kubuntu installation CD from the CD drive. Please do this now and press ENTER:

Your new Kubuntu system starts. Log in to the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

This is how your new desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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11 Comment(s)

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By: Anonymous

Do you by any chance have a Nvidia graphics card. Because I had the same problem and after replacing it with a less powerful ATI card KDE started to work just perfectly fine. So it looks like there is something very wrong with NVidia drivers.

By: Ray

I'm using Kubuntu since I dumped that Ubuntu/Unity disaster and I love. The look is great and the apps are all better than alternatives in Ubuntu. And I love it how much more configurable KDE is. Really awesome. Too bad I didn't try this even sooner.

By: Bartron

I was in the exact same position when Unity came along.  I gave it an honest go, but it wasn't for me.  I landed in Kubuntu a couple days after, and have been using it since.  It takes a little more customization to get your desktop exactly how you like it, but once you get it's pretty decent.

The only couple of gripes I have is how Dolphin doesn't automount SMB shares like Nautilus does.  (can't play videos directly from SMB share)

By: geetee

2. To stop KDE disabling the effects each time you log in:

Select the Disable functionality checks checkbox on the Advanced tab inside Desktop Effects settings.


By: Anonymous

Nice writeup on a great distro.

Just one thing. Never use sudo with a gui application.

It should be kdesudo.


sudo kate /etc/apt/sources.list


kdesudo kate /etc/apt/sources.list




By: Chris

Quote:  "This tutorial shows how you can set up a Kubuntu 11.04 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop"

 Wrong, wrong, wrong.  When will people stop making asinine statements like that?  I'm a moderator on a Linux forum and one of the problems we have is where someone read something to that effect on a website and now they're crying because 1. open source software doesn't work the way their Windows proprietary equivalents do or 2. They want to run Windows .exe programs and a statement like that makes them think they might actually be able to do it.

The truth is, Linux distributions are NOT replacements for Windows.  Can you find some software that will do the equivalent of some of the things you can do in Windows?  Yes.  Is it the same?  No.  And Wine, though it works for a lot of software, doesn't work for a lot of software either.  Or it works but not well enough.

Stop telling people that Linux can replace Windows, because it can't.  It can be an alternative to Windows but not a true replacement.

By: Anonymous

As someone who HAS replaced Windows with Linux in both personal and professional capacities, I have to say the asinine statement here was not made by the author.  Linux CAN replace Windows, and he listed the applications that will make it cover all the bases.  Is it exactly like Windows with all the same apps?  No.  Is Mac?  No.  Yet you can replace Windows with Mac exactly the same way. 

If you need to run Windows apps, you run Windows.  If you need to run Mac apps, you run Mac OS.   And you can't run ALL Windows apps with Wine, but you can run a surprising and ever increasing amount.  The issue here is productivity and functionality, and you most certainly CAN replace Windows with Linux without losing either.

By: Anonymous

I really don't know how did u get this idea, that people who will read this article will try to execute windows .exe on linux.

 "they want to run Windows .exe programs and a statement like that makes them think they might actually be able to do it."

The author mentions Linux as  "Windows replacement"  in terms of applications like browser, media players, dvd burning software

"not the windows .exe files executor"

No where in the article author claims that you can run all the windows apps in linux. It does not mislead people in anyway, author is just explaining and showing how the linux installation and configuration can be done. There is no intention of selling anything or any kind of advert.

People who do not the have the basic understanding that linux and windows are two different things should not be installing linux in the first place. I believe so much information is already available on the internet that most people understand the basic concepts of OS and can research such issues before installing linux.


By: darkduck

To start with.... I love KDE. Kubuntu is the my favourite OS. I use it more often than any other of 4 OSes installed on my laptop.

 But since upgrade to 11.04 I have permanent issues which I cannot resolve:

 1) network drives (cifs) are not unmounted before wifi card is switched off, hence it takes 5 minutes to shutdown the laptop (or use power button)

 2) Some issue with desktop effects - they are automatically switched off during each boot. I need to switch them on back manually, but then they can auto-disable themselves again sometimes. I don't know the reasons.

 I have not decided yet, but some thoughts are in my head to replace Kubuntu 11.04 with something else KDE-based. Debian? Or maybe Slackware?

By: Dan

I really like the look of Kubuntu. I think KDE has really come a long way in that regard. But I can't use it. Every time I click on anything, whether it's the K on the bottom left or a program to open, there is a half-second to full second pause before KDE reacts. It's very frustrating. It does not happen with Gnome, Enlightenment, or XFCE, just Kubuntu.

By: Rodislav

I have ATI card, with proprietary drivers.. everything is very slow, same was in ubuntu (now I use kde) so the problems seems to be in proprietary drivers or some compiz settings. With opensource drivers interface is working ok, but computer is overheating and battery is dying much faster.. dont know what to do..