The Perfect Desktop - Linux Mint 17.1 (Rebecca)

This tutorial shows how you can set up a Linux Mint 17.1 (Rebecca) 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 securesystem without DRM restrictions that work even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge. Linux Mint 17.1 is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that has lots of packages in its repositories (like multimedia codecs, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Skype,Google Earth, etc.) that are relatively hard to install on other distributions; it therefore, provides a user-friendly desktop experience even for Linux newbies.

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.

 

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Linux Mint 17.1 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
  • 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
  • Pidgin - 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)
  • 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:

  • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Eclipse - Extensible Tool Platform and Java IDE

Other:

  • VirtualBox - lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don't have to entirelyabandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read-/Write support for NTFS partitions

All desired applications are available in the Linux Mint repositories.

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 howtoforge 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 theLinux Mint installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Linux Mint 17.1 DVD iso image from http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php, burn it onto a DVD, and boot your computer from it (please note that Iused the DVD iso image instead of the CD iso image; the DVD comes with some additional software such as Java or VLC that get installed by default, whereas they are missing if you install from the CD; if you use the CD, you must install these applications from the Synaptic Package Manager):

The system boots and starts a desktop that is run entirely in the RAM of your system (the Linux Mint installation DVD is also a Live-DVD) without changing anything on your hard disk. This has the advantage that you can test how Linux Mint works on your hardware before you finally install it.

This is how the Linux Mint desktop looks. Double-click the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop to start the installation to the hard drive:

The installer starts. First, select your language:

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Linux Mint 17.1 installation (the system should have at least 9.2 GB available drive space and should be connected to the Internet). Click on Continue:

Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Erase disk and install Linux Mint is a good choice unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Erase disk and install Linux Mint will create one big / partition for us. If you already had another operating system installed on your hard drive, the option Replace ... with Linux Mint, which does the same as above:



Press Continue:

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 Continue:

Afterwards, Linux Mint 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 Linux Mint installation DVD from the DVD drive. Please do this now and press ENTER: Your new Linux Mint system starts. Log in to the desktop with the username and password you provided during installation:

When you log in for the first time, you will see the following help window. Click on Close:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

 

3 Update The System

When you log in for the first time, you will most likely see a notification icon in the upper right corner which means that updates for the installed software are available:



Type in your password:







They are now being downloaded and installed:

When the update is complete, the Update Manager window will close. The icon in the upper right corner should now look like this which indicates that the system is up-to-date:

 

4 Flash Player And Java

Linux Mint 17.1 installs the Macromedia Flash Player by default. To see if the Flash plugin is working, start Firefox (Applications > Internet > Firefox Web Browser). Then type about:plugins in the address bar. Firefox will then list all installed plugins, and it should list the Flash Player (version 11.2 r202) among them:

5 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):

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[ ] Shotwell Photo Manager
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Chromium
[x] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[ ] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[ ] Vuze
[x] Pidgin
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC
[ ] Gwibber Social Client

Office:
[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice Calc
[ ] Adobe Reader
[ ] GnuCash
[ ] Scribus

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

Programming:

[ ] Bluefish
[ ] Eclipse

Other:
[ ] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType fonts
[x] 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 Linux Mint 17.1.

 

6 Install Additional Software

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

Type in your password:

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



Select the following packages for installation :

  • filezilla
  • shotwell
  • chromium-browser
  • picasa
  • opera
  • evolution
  • amule
  • vuze
  • skype
  • google-earth-stable
  • acroread
  • gnucash
  • scribus
  • amarok
  • audacity
  • rhythmbox
  • sound-juicer
  • gtkpod
  • xmms2*
  • dvdrip
  • kino
  • vlc*
  • xine-ui
  • xine-plugin
  • k3b
  • normalize-audio
  • sox
  • vcdimager
  • bluefish
  • eclipse
  • ttf-mscorefonts-installer
  • gwibber
  • virtualbox

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:

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

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

You might have to accept some licenses. Click on Forward to continue the installation:

After all packages have been installed, click on Close:

You can leave the Synaptic Package Manager afterwards.

7 Acrobat reader

As Adobe have stopped supporting Linux platform, so I will be installing it in a tricky way.

Run the Commands as follows in terminal.

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ precise partner"
sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install acroread

 

Select Yes and we are done with the installation.

9 Google Earth

Open a terminal and become root:

sudo su

Now you can build the Google Earth .deb package as follows:

make-googleearth-package --force

If you don't see any errors, then you should find the Google Earth .deb package in the current directory:

ls -l

howtoforge-VirtualBox howtoforge # ls -l
total 56652
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Desktop
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Documents
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Downloads
-rw-r--r-- 1 howtoforge howtoforge 24288724 Nov 28 13:54 googleearth_6.0.3.2197+1.1.0-1_amd64.deb
-rw-rw-r-- 1 howtoforge howtoforge 33688483 May 19  2011 GoogleEarthLinux.bin
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Music
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Public
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Templates
drwxr-xr-x 2 howtoforge howtoforge     4096 Nov 27 15:10 Videos
howtoforge-VirtualBox howtoforge #

I want to install the .deb package using gdebi which takes care of all dependencies.

gdebi googleearth_6.0.3.2197+0.7.0-1_amd64.deb

It will install the Google-earth package.

9 Inventory (II)

Now let's check again what we have so far by browsing the menus again:

We have now all wanted applications installed:

Graphics:
[x] The GIMP
[x] Shotwell Photo Manager
[x] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Chromium
[x] Flash Player
[x] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] aMule
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Vuze
[x] Pidgin
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC
[x] Gwibber Social Client

Office:
[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice Calc
[x] Adobe Reader
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

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

Programming:
[x] Bluefish
[x] Eclipse

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[x] TrueType fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

Microsoft's TrueType fonts are now installed, you can check that e.g. by opening LibreOffice Writer. Take a look at the available fonts, and you should find fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman,Verdana, etc.:

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7 Comment(s)

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Comments

From: Anonymous

This article is ill-timed, as Linux Mint 17.1 KDE is not yet available. Having tried the other desktop environments available for Linux Mint (a waste of several DVD-r disks), KDE is the only worthwhile desktop environment offered. Unfortunately, it is not the defaul DE offered, and the KDE version of Linux Mint is always released later than all of the other versions. Yes, I know that I can install and try multiple DEs, it just seems to always work better to use a version built with KDE than to use a version built with something else and then install KDE.

From: MrAli

"KDE is the only worthwhile desktop environment offered"

Are you serious???

Why do you think so?

From: Rootz

 OH HERE WE GO THE DE wars.. two people about to be bi*ches each other over a desktop

 

ITS JUST A DESKTOP ENV WOOPITY F*ing DO

From: AndyF

Mint 17.1 is very good and I recommend it wholeheartedly, but these instructions assume you either have a blank system to work with or that you don't mind losing everything on your hard drive.

Considering that this seems to be aimed at beginners, it needs, at the very least, either a HUGE WARNING or a link to a howto covering partitioning your hard drive so you don't lose data.

From: italba

You should refresh your "perfect desktop" articles, in many years I see always the same configuration.  You've cut the "truetype install" section (we need it anyway?) and the 17.1 nickname is not "Quiana", like in 17.0, but "Rebecca".

From: Anonymous

You can install all the apps in terminal with these commands instead of searching for them with the Quick Filter, then follow the instructions for Google Earth It's Way easier!

sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ precise partner"sudo aptitude updatesudo apt-get install filezilla shotwell chromium-browser picasa opera evolution amule vuze skype google-earth-stable acroread gnucash scribus amarok audacity rhythmbox sound-juicer gtkpod xmms2* dvdrip kino vlc* xine-ui xine-plugin k3b normalize-audio sox vcdimager bluefish eclipse ttf-mscorefonts-installer gwibber virtualbox

 

From: Bob Rosenthal

Well done to you!  I wish I had seen this when I was thinking of switching, it would have saved me so much time.  OK maybe the comment about beginners needing a warning is valid, but I would think anyone moving to Linux would have at least that amount of understanding.  Anyway, THANKS.  I'll be sharing this link with many friends who are keen to follow me to Linux Mint.