The Perfect Desktop - Mepis 11

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme <ft [at] falkotimme [dot] com>, Christian Schmalfeld <c [dot] schmalfeld [at] projektfarm [dot] de>
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Last edited 09/01/2011

This tutorial shows how you can set up a Mepis 11 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. Mepis is a Linux distribution based on Debian Stable.

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 Mepis 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/Iceweasel
  • Opera
  • Google Chrome
  • Flash Player 10
  • FileZilla - multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird/Icedove - 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
  • Azureus/Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Empathy IM Client - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat 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
  • gedit - text editor

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)
  • Real Player (available only for Debian Squeeze i386, not x86_64)
  • 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
  • Eclipse - Extensible Tool Platform and Java IDE


  • 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 Debian 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/Iceweasel, Opera, Google Chrome).

I will use the username ctest in this tutorial, and I will download all necessary files to ctest's Downloads directory which is equivalent to the directory /home/ctest/Downloads. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace ctest with your own username. So when I use a command like

cd /home/ctest/Downloads

you must replace ctest.


2 Installing The Base System

Download the Mepis iso image (available here: (i386) or (x86_64)) , burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. Select default:

Log in as the premade demo user or root, the passwords are given at the top of the screen. Mepis Live mode will then be started:

Click on MEPIS install and give the root password if you are logged in as demo:

Check the checkbox to agree with the terms of use and click on Next:

Configure your installation now. Choose the hard drive and the partitioning scheme you want to use and click on Next:

A dialogue will pop up if you choose to format your entire disk in order to use it for Mepis. Click Yes if you want to proceed:

Select your boot method next. If you do not know what the options mean, leave them as they are and click on Next:

Click Yes to proceed and confirm with Ok after the installation of GRUB is done:

Configure your computer's data now. Give it a name, a domain and a workgroup. When you are done, click on Next:

Configure youre local settings like keyboard layout and time zone afterwards, then click on Next:

Select your username now and don't forget to replace mine with yours in the steps to come. Then click on Next:

You are done with the configuration of Mepis now. Click on Yes to reboot your system and log in with your login data afterwards:

The base system is now ready to be used.

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6 Comment(s)

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From: Jonquil at: 2011-09-19 00:02:23

I'm a little confused. Is this supposed to be a review?

From: Anonymous at: 2012-05-17 15:59:28


 You are to "review" these Instructions on "Howto" make "The Perfect Desktop - Mepis 11"

  Uhhhm, notice how the word "review" is NOT in the Penguin dictionary under "Howto", and Vice verca ... ?



From: Anonymous at: 2011-09-18 21:41:26

I have found that most windows users want to be able to simply use a photo manager and upload their pics to facebook, or easily email them. The only easy way in linux I have found, is using digikam for photo management, and thunderbird for pim. Digikam which easily exports to facebook and can access  thunderbird to email pics. Thunderbird with google calendar plugins installed, makes a very nice pim. 

 As of yet I have had no luck intigrating evolution  and shotwell (very good programs on their own) and evolution always mangles my contacts imported from yahoo, or palm. Google contacts is the only contact manager that hasn't mangled my contacts on import.

 I believe to seduce window users, we need programs which are simple to use and when it comes to photos, easy to manage and send to email and facebook and the like. Digikam is not the most simple, but is fully loaded and meets all other expectations and is fully capable of making a windows user happy.

From: Louis at: 2011-09-17 20:14:12

dvdrip gives you dependency errors ...

yes but only because you didnt use pinning for your multimedia packages.

If pinning is used you can choose from which tree your installing and dont have dependecies messages.


From: Stevo at: 2011-09-19 06:14:20

As you noted, MEPIS comes with the Adobe Flash plugin installed via the Debian flashplugin-nonfree package.  The debian-multimedia version is called mozilla-flashplayer, but does not need to be installed....instead, update the installed version with this terminal command (and check frequently for updates):

su -c 'update-flashplugin-nonfree --install --verbose'

The main debian-multimedia repository is already in sources.list, it is just disabled.  It is a good idea to change it to the nearest mirror, though.

Also present in sources.list but disabled are the MEPIS Community repositories, which have many updated and unique programs.  You need to  enable them and set the preferred distro to "mepis" in the Synaptic settings to upgrade programs that are both in the MEPIS and MEPIS CR repos, such as VLC (currently 1.1.11 in the CR)

From: Loic at: 2012-02-06 03:50:41

Thank you very much. This information was really useful especially for guys like me. I installed Mepis 11 on  my PC less than 24 hours ago and yet i already have all the softwares i need. Except Picasa. Google came up with a new version and they've not compiled one for linux yet.