There is a new version of this tutorial available for Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn).
The Perfect Desktop - Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin)
This tutorial exists for these OS versions
- Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn)
- Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)
- Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr)
- Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail)
- Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal)
- Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin)
On this page
This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) 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.
Ubuntu 12.04 will by default start the new Unity desktop which requires that your hardware supports 3D acceleration, however you can also switch to Ubuntu 2D mode in the log on screen. If your hardware does not support 3D acceleration or you don't like Unity, you can still switch back to 2D version or download one of the countless alternatives.
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 Ubuntu 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
- Chromium - Google's open-source browser
- Flash Player 11
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Read-/Write support for NTFS partitions
- Synaptic Package Manager
- gdebi Package Installer
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 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 the Ubuntu installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.
Download the Ubuntu 12.04 desktop edition iso image from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/ubuntu/download, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:
Select your language and click on the Install Ubuntu button to start the installation:
On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Ubuntu 12.04 installation (the system should have at least 4.5 GB available drive space 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 Continue:
Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Erase disk and install Ubuntu is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you're doing. Erase disk and install Ubuntu will create one big / partition for us:
Select the hard drive that you want to use for the Ubuntu 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 Continue:
Afterwards, Ubuntu 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 Ubuntu installation CD from the CD drive. Please do this now and press ENTER:
Your new Ubuntu system starts. Log into the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:
From the cog wheel icon, you can choose your desktop environment. By default, Unity 3D (Ubuntu) will be started. If you want to use Ubuntu 2D, please select it (the system will remember your choice, so the next time you log in, Ubuntu 2D will be started unless you make another selection) and login (If Ubuntu is selected, but you hardware does not support 3D acceleration, your desktop will have no effects).
This is how your new Ubuntu Unity desktop looks:
Now the base system is ready to be used.