Ubuntu 10.10 'Maverick' Desktop Setup Guide

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Introduction

Everything I'd do to an out-of-the-box installation to make it what I'd consider more complete. This guide is for Ubuntu, not Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Netbook Edition or MythBuntu. This guide applies to i386 and amd64 architectures.

"Users of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS may wish to wait for 10.04.1 LTS, due in July 2010, before upgrading."

Changes Since the Last Guide

If Upgrading From The Previous Ubuntu Instead of Re-installing

Installation

Even when the home directory (/home) is on the same partition as the system (/), you can reinstall Ubuntu over an existing Ubuntu installation and preserve your /home directory as long as you choose not to format the root (/) partition - see HowToUbuquityPreserveHome.

Partitioning

Don't accept the default partitioning method because it puts the Ubuntu system, and your data, in the same partition, when it's better to separate them (see RecommendSeparateHome). With /home separate you can re-install Ubuntu without the risk of wiping out your own files (unless /home is encrypted). Use this partitioning scheme:

Usage Size Partition Type Filesystem Type Options Bootable?
/ 6GB is comfortable, 8GB is very comfortable
(/tmp is used when burning CD / DVD / BluRay)
primary ext4 relatime (the default) bootable
swap Depends on usage but typically 2 x RAM (to a max of 2GB?) + 1 x RAM (+ 1 x VRAM?) for suspend/hibernate primary swap area not bootable
home Remaining space primary ext4 relatime (the default) not bootable

Beware, if you've encrypted your home directory, then reinstall Ubuntu, choosing not to format the home partition, but formatting the system partition, then you'll need your encrypted partition password otherwise you'll lose the password store and be unable to get your data back.

User Accounts

The first account you create will have super user privileges, via the sudo capability. If you're installing this in an organisational setting then give this an appropriate username ('admin' is already taken by the system); if you're installing this in a home system then this first account will likely be yours. If you want to create user accounts that do not have sudo capability then create additional user account(s) with the following suggested restrictions:

User Account Configuration

Disable the login sound: System → Preferences → Startup Applications (AKA gnome-session-properties) → GNOME Login Sound - disable

The default behaviour is to lock the screen every 5 minutes, if you don't want to lock the screen you can turn this off using System → Preferences → Screensaver (AKA gnome-screensaver-preferences) → Lock screen when screensaver is active. Or if you want to change the timeout period you can do so there using 'Regard the computer as idle after: x minutes'.

Theme / Appearance and Other Behaviour

You might want a happier looking and clearer theme, Clearlooks is one example, you can find various themes at: System → Preferences → Appearance → Theme. Note that other themes may put the window controls back over to the right-hand side.

Update The System

Run Update Manager and install all the updates that have been released since this version of Ubuntu was released. You may need to reboot afterward if a newer Linux kernel was installed.

Update Manager won't remove old Linux kernels, to do this you need to instead use Synaptic Package Manager (under 'Installed (auto removable)') or apt-get.

Additional Repositories

Medibuntu

Medibuntu (Multimedia, Entertainment & Distractions In Ubuntu) is a repository of packages that cannot be included in the Ubuntu distribution for legal reasons (copyright, license, patent, etc). They provide for example libdvdcss2 (which enables you to watch commercial DVD movies).

Add Medibuntu repository and GPG Key (not whilst Synaptic or Update Manager are running):
sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list && sudo apt-get -q update && sudo apt-get --yes -q --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get -q update

If you want to exclude packages from the non-free component of the Medibuntu repository (acroread, alsa-firmware, AMR and FAAC support in MPlayer and FFmpeg, googleearth, restricted video codecs (ppc-codecs, w32codecs, w64codecs)), then do this:
sudo sed -e 's/ non-free//' -i /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

Add More Software

Packages Recommended For Most Regular Desktop Systems

Install these (note it includes Adobe Flash) from the terminal with:
sudo apt-get install xul-ext-adblock-plus flashplugin-installer gimp gimp-data gimp-data-extras gimp-ufraw gnash gparted gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg icedtea6-plugin libdvdcss2 libsane-extras liferea regionset scribus-ng scribus-ng-doc

Packages For Further Microsoft Windows Compatability

Install these from the terminal with:
sudo apt-get install ntfsprogs samba smbfs wine

Archival

Support for a wide range of archive formats

Install these from the terminal with:
sudo apt-get install arc arj cabextract lha lzop nomarch p7zip-full pax tnef unrar unshield zoo

Miscellaneous

Install these from the terminal with:
sudo apt-get install traceroute lynx

Optional - Software for Laptop Computers

Optional - Alternative Applications in case the default applications don't work for you

Optional - More Software, Less Necessary

Software and Configuration For Remote Access

To Do - Potentially Worth Adding To This Guide

Automatic Updates

System → Administration → Software Sources → Updates →

Issues

Importing images from media is broken. [TODO: is this still an issue in 10.04?]

Regression Tracker: http://qa.ubuntu.com/reports/regression/regression_tracker.html