The Perfect Desktop - Pinguy OS 11.04

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme , Christian Schmalfeld <c [dot] schmalfeld [at] projektfarm [dot] de>
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Last edited 05/03/2011

This tutorial shows how you can set up a Pinguy OS 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. Pinguy OS 11.04 is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu 11.04.

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 Pinguy desktop to have the following software installed:


  • 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


  • 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
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client - Bittorrent client
  • Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Empathy IM Client - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat 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 (Pinguy OS uses the Ubuntu repositories because it is based on Ubuntu).

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

Download the Pinguy OS iso image from, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

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

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Pinguy OS installation (the system should have at least 9.4GB 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 Erase disk and install Pinguy is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Erase disk and install Pinguy will create one big / partition for us:

Select the hard drive that you want to use for the Pinguy installation:

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

Your new Pinguy system starts. Log into the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

From the bottom panel, you can choose your desktop environment.  Press the Login button:

This is how your new Pinguy desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

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5 Comment(s)

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From: Anonymous at: 2011-09-03 03:25:39

Thank you, I love Pinguy OS.

From: Randy Fry at: 2011-09-05 02:59:03

Why so many media players, disc burning titles, and photo editors? I would think this list could be parred down some.

From: bob at: 2011-09-06 19:12:37

As to the comment about paring down the software selection:

One of the ways this "Perfect Desktop" series can be used is to check for something about a particular package. That is, the series doesn't have to be used just the way it is written, which appears to be for novices installing the system.

While I agree with the commenter that the list of software is more than most would wish to bother with, I also agree with the writers in including all of the packages. Including such a wide range of packages makes the article useful to some who just need to install a package (or perhaps a few) and don't know where to find it-or them, increasing the useful audience for the articles.

From: Mike G at: 2011-09-07 00:02:12

I agree with Randy, why so many redundancies in software?  Pinguy is my current distro of choice and I do appreciate this article.  Like most people I have my own list if favorite apps and regardless of what is packaged with a distro I delete out what I don't like and add the apps that I do like.

From: Anonymous at: 2011-09-06 12:57:52

Ubuntu based.... really? :(