Ubuntu Starter Kit

By | September 25, 2009

You have just installed Ubuntu, logged in for the first time and don’t know what to do next? It’s understandable that the system should be configured the way that would ensure decent experience. Of course, depending on your needs you may want different software to be installed. So we would recommend you to check the following steps and list of applications in order to choose the ones which may be useful for you.

1. Enabling all the repositories

Repositories represent software archives were thousands of programs for Ubuntu are stored. Repositories make it very easy to install new software onto Ubuntu using an Internet connection. In addition to that they provide a high level of security, as each program available in the repositories is thoroughly tested and built specifically for each version of Ubuntu. Thus enabling all the repositories you ensure the access to the bigger amount of applications.

It should be mentioned that Ubuntu software repositories are organized into 4 separate components, according to the level of support offered by Ubuntu. Here is the list of those components:

• Main – Officially supported software.

• Restricted – Supported software that is not available under a completely free license.

• Universe – Community maintained software, i.e. not officially supported software.

• Multiverse – Software that is not free.

There are two ways to enable/disable repositories:

a) System > Administration > Software Sources

b) System > Administration > Synaptic >> Settings >> Repositories

Here is the window you get, which gives you the opportunity to choose the repositories you need:


As soon as you’ve done which choosing enabling/disabling of repositories (we suggest you to enable all of them), click “Close” button to save your changes. A dialog box should appear, asking whether you’d like to update the list of repositories. Select “Reload” to update the list. Make sure that you click “Reload” button, because repository information will not be updated until the “Reload” is selected.

IMPORTANT: In case you use Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) all the repositories are enabled by default, so you can skip this step.

The last thing to mention about repositories is that you can use command line instead of graphical interface to manage them. Here you get more info about this method.

2. Installing the system components

a) Adding the fonts

When you first start Ubuntu there are no decent fonts to work with, but this problem can be easily solved. Open the Terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts ttf-larabie-straight ttf-larabie-deco mplayer-fonts xfonts-terminus xfonts-terminus-oblique xfonts-mona tv-fonts ttf-tuffy ttf-sjfonts ttf-sil-padauk ttf-sil-ezra ttf-paktype ttf-georgewilliams ttf-fifthhorseman-dkg-handwriting ttf-farsiweb ttf-nafees ttf-mgopen ttf-freefont ttf-dustin ttf-devanagari-fonts ttf-dejavu-extra ttf-dejavu-core ttf-dejavu ttf-bpg-georgian-fonts ttf-bitstream-vera ttf-alee

b) Installing different archivers

sudo aptitude install rar unrar zip unzip p7zip-full p7zip-rar cabextract

c) Installing themes

If you don’t like the default look of the system, you can easily install a lot of different themes. First of all you should run the following command in the Terminal:

sudo apt-get install gnome-themes-extras metacity-themes ubuntume-themes community-themes gnome-art

Of course those themes are not the only ones you can get. Probably you saw a great deal of cool themes on the screenshots of Ubuntu. Here are the things you should do to get much more themes.

Visit Gnome Look and download from GTK 2.x the themes you want. After that go to System > Preferences > Appearance > Theme and simply drag and drop the theme file you downloaded.

d) Installing CompizConfig Settings Manager to add effects

Given application brings 3D desktop visual effects that improve usability of the system and provide increased productivity. To install run the following command:

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra emerald librsvg2-common

e) Installing file managers

In fact standard file manager is pretty decent and the majority of the users, at least at the beginning, will hardly feel the necessity to use another application instead. However you can try to install default file managers for Xfce and KDE desktop environments, just to check if they are more convenient for you. Here are the commands you need to run in order to install them:

sudo apt-get install dolphin

After installation you can find this file manager by going Applications > System Tools > Dolphin

sudo apt-get install thunar

To find this program go to Applications > Accessories > Thunar File Manager

If you like two pane design you can install EmelFM2:

sudo apt-get install emelfm2

This application as Dolphin can be found in System Tools.

Of course there are much more file manager to choose from. So check Synaptic Package Manager and install the ones you like.

f) Installing VirtualBox

VirtualBox is a free x86 virtualization solution allowing a wide range of x86 operating systems such as Windows, DOS, BSD or Linux to run on a Linux system. What for do you need it? It’s up to you. Maybe just to install Ubuntu for testing purposes. Here is the command you need to run:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose virtualbox-ose-source