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

The Perfect Desktop - Kubuntu 9.10

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
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This tutorial shows how you can set up a Kubuntu 9.10 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 9.10 is derived from Ubuntu 9.10 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
  • F-Spot - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos


  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • 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
  • Azureus/Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Kopete - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Quassel IRC - IRC client


  • OpenOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice 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)
  • Helix Player - media player, similar to the Real Player
  • 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).

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 9.10 Desktop iso image from, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. Select your language:

Then choose Try Kubuntu without any change to your computer - this boots the Live system so that you can see if Kubuntu works on your hardware. We can then install Kubuntu from the Live system. If you know that your hardware is supported, you can pick Install Kubuntu instead:

After the Live desktop has started, click on the Install Kubuntu 9.10 icon on the desktop to start the installation to the hard drive:

The installer starts. First, select your language:

Then choose your time zone:

Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Erase and use the entire disk is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Erase and use the entire disk will create one big / partition for us:

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

The next screen shows us a summary of the installation settings. Click on Install to start the installation:

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:

The Live-CD desktop shuts down. At the end, the Kubuntu CD is ejected. Remove it from the CD drive and hit the <ENTER> key to boot into your new Kubuntu desktop:

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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9 Comment(s)

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By: Allen

Guys, the article is called "The Perfect Kubuntu 9.10 Desktop". He does this just about every time a new Linux Desktop comes out and he's already done it with Ubuntu and Gnome 2.28. Do you honestly have to start flaming his whole reason for writing the article, are you that bored with nothing else to do? Some people prefer Gnome, others prefer KDE. Some GTK apps work a little better. Some QT apps work just a little bit better. I happen to use a mix of both depending on what I feel like at the moment. That's one of the great things about Ubuntu and Linux in general. You can install both desktops and switch back and forth at the display manager depending on what you feel like that session. Sometimes I feel like KDE. Sometimes I feel like Gnome. Sometimes I like to try something different like E-17 or LXDE.

Leave the dude alone. He's just trying to help people set up a full replacement for Windows. The newbie reading this doesn't need to be confused and turned off by people flaming the other's Linux Desktop, otherwise he'll go back to Windows thinking this whole thing is too confusing and you will have lost a potential 'nix convert.Work towards the common goal and against a common enemy. Eyes on the prize and not on beating each other up from the inside.

By the way, KDE 4.3 is a great desktop. It's much better than the previous KDE 4 releases and most of the accompanying software is pretty stable now, more than usable, and feature rich really catering to make the computer as user friendly as possible. And it definitely does rings around Windows 7 or any incarnation of Windows. That's the comparison which needs to be made and understood. 

By: Yonah

While the selection of programs is pretty good, using Linux still means losing a lot of great Windows applications I love and some I absolutely need.  For example, I'm in China so I must use QQ.  The Linux version of QQ?  Outdated and unstable, it crashes within 5 minutes and disappears without a single error message (a chronic problem on Linux).  Empathy?  Won't connect to QQ, not sure why.  Pidgin works, but kicks me off ever 12 hours, doesn't support the voice, video, images, or file transfers.

Next there is Weather Pulse, a great program for collecting weather data.  I've used it for years.  Awesome program.  There is no Linux version.  Under Wine it crashes instantly.

Sorry, but no.  A Windows desktop replacement that can't seamlessly run Windows programs is anything a perfect desktop.  Linux is about making lots of compromises.  I don't want to compromise.  I want to use the programs that I want to use, not a collection of "wanna be" programs that you think are better.

By: Steve

"A Windows desktop replacement that can't seamlessly run Windows programs is anything a perfect desktop."

Don't you understand the meaning of the word replacement?

By: Anonymous

It is not a problem having a preference of one desktop over another but since you are writing a tutorial for KDE, a knowledge of KDE is required for the job, as it is a will to help people who want KDE, to use that desktop environment and it's applications ( unless there is a Gnome one which is vastly superior). As other comments pointed out,  you have basically taken the Ubuntu HOWTO, cut and paste and off you go with  Kubuntu instead,  not too mention that you are ignoring native KDE applications which are as good as (if not better) than the one you have mentioned. All in all, not a good job, please take this off  and (if  you want to provide a perfect Kubuntu desktop howto) do your homework and re post a real tutorial.

By: Anonymous

Have to agree with the comments and if you really want to use KDE why not use a distro with real KDE integration like Mandriva or Opensuse

By: Steve

I'm quite confused why you would choose Kubuntu over Ubuntu to do your customization with- if the vast majority of your desired apps are Gnome apps or desktop-independent, why aren't you going with a Gnome-based solution?

By: Anonymous

If you want ubuntu instead, then see the ubuntu article (this is the Kubuntu one for those folks that like KDE - however, earlier post about picking appropriate apps for KDE vs gnome is well placed)

By: Roland

That transparent "window" you see at upper left is called "folder view". It's a big improvement over KDE3.5. It isn't limited to ~/Desktop. You can delete it, and recreate it via drag-n-drop from dolphin or whatever. But it falls down because it isn't a real window. You can't limit it to one workspace. You can't minimize it. You can't move/resize it by standard methods--you have to use those krazy slider things. Why not just make it a real window?

By: Anonymous

F-Spot. Digikam is wayyy better than this mono-infested application. Why would you recommend this?

 Thunderbird and Evolution don't do anything that Kmail does not. Besides Kontact is very nicely integrated into the KDE desktop, thank you. Just the threading feature of Kmail beats both thunderbird and evolution.

 Sorry, your choice of applications reeks of GNOME-ism to me! Let there be a flame-war. Basically KDE applications are better than GNOME ones. 

 Some key examples:

 Amarok, K3b, Kontact/Kmail, Digikam, . . .

 Also, for me at least, Chromium has replacted Firefox due to its blazing fast speed!