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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Things to do on your new Ubuntu 8.04 Hard Heron Installation

Ubuntu 8.04 was released a few days back and like the previous releases of Ubuntu,Ubuntu 8.04 does not include a number of essential codecs, applications etc because of number of licensing restrictions and also the limitation of accommodating more and more applications on a single CD. Though undoubtedly Ubuntu 8.04 is one of the most user friendly release of Ubuntu with inclusion of Firefox 3 (though it is beta version but still is way better than the current stable version of Firefox) ,inclusion of bit-torrent client , out of box support for playing youtube videos etc . Still someone trying to make the jump from Windows to Ubuntu might be interested in installing the following applications and codecs too .

(Note : This article is updated version of the article i had written earlier "Creating your Ultimate Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop " )

1. Putting your repositories in order

Now many applications need additional repositories to be installed or some to be enabled in Synaptic package manager so before trying out steps given below ensure that repositories in order.

Launch Synaptic Package Manager (System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager ) , then in Synaptic package manager go to (Settings -> Repositories ) you will find window like this .

Ensure that all the check boxes are marked leaving source code(if you want to you can enable this also but you are not going to need this unless you are software developer) the dialog box should look like this .

Now for installing codecs and some applications we need mediubuntu repository too which could be added by issuing the following command in the terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ):

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update

Uf you have followed the above steps properly your repositories should be in order for following the steps below .

2. Installing Multimedia codecs for GStreamer

The first thing anyone who wants to use Ubuntu as a replacement to their windows operating system would like to do is install support for all kind of audio/video multimedia codecs . Ubuntu does not come installed with support for major audio/video formats because of licensing issue and other issues . To install support for audio/video codecs type in the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install faad gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gstreamer0.10-pitfdll liblame0
or you could better still install ubuntu-restricted package with the following command :

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

This would enable most of the popularly used codecs in the Totem Movie player which uses the GStreamer framework to play audio/video files.

If you want to use a different media player and framework you might try installing MPlayer or VLC (depending on which you prefer ) instructions on installing them are listed below .

Installing additional codecs :

*This step requires mediubuntu repositories

w32codecs contain a number of windows DLL files that are used by a number of media players including mplayer and xine to play various media files . To install this issue the following command in the terminal widnow :

sudo apt-get install w32codecs

Installing build-essential Package

Even if you don't intend to use Ubuntu for making applications , still a lot of open source applications don't provide binary and you have to compile them from their source code . Now Ubuntu for some strange reason does not come preloaded with GNU C++ compiler and other tools necessary for compiling applications so you have to install this package separately to install this package issue the following command in the terminal window :

sudo apt-get install build-essential

3. Avant Window Navigator

IMPORTANT : - To use AWN Compiz-Fusion should be up and running as mentioned in the step above

Avant Windows Navigator is cool little tool that allows you to have a cute looking dock at the bottom of the screen . Even though AWN is still very buggy, still because it is so feature rich and cool looking you could install it .

To install AWN you need to add extra repositories, now adding any additional repository carries certain amount of risk of screwing up your system so follow these step at your own risk :

To add repository :

echo "deb hardy main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list


echo "deb-src hardy main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list

After issuing above command type the following command to update your repositories :

sudo apt-get update
anf finally to install AWN issue the following command in the terminal window :

sudo apt-get install awn-manager-trunk awn-extras-applets-trunk
Now after completing above mentioned steps AWN should be properly installed , To Launch AWN go to (Applications -> Accessories -> Avant Window Navigator )

Now you could customize AWN by choosing to add more applets , configuring 3D effects for AWN etc by going to AWN Manager (
System -> Preferences -> Awn Manager )

Three ScreenShots of AWN Manager
Though the theme which AWN comes with preinstalled is also good , you might like to try this it's cool and very Mac like

you could install this theme through AWN Manager .

This is how my AWN Dock looks(with the above theme installed) like : -


4. Installing MPlayer with all codecs and dvd playing support
*This step requires Medibuntu repositories

MPlayer is one of the most popular media player available on linux , it supports playing all the major audio/video file formats . With w32codecs and libdvdcss2 it plays all the major audio/video format,however w32codecs has dll files from windows operating system hence its not available on the ubuntu official repositories and needs to be downloaded from the mediubuntu repositories.

To install MPlayer with all codecs type in the following command in the terminal window : -
sudo apt-get install mplayer

sudo apt-get install w32codecs
After completing above steps you could launch MPlayer by typing in gmplayer in the terminal window or from (Application -> Sound & Video -> MPlayer Movie Player )

Note : Installing Support for playing DVD's (taken from ubuntuforum post )

Issue the following command in the Terminal window :

sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 libdvdread3 libdvdnav4 build-essential debhelper fakeroot


sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/

or if you get an error with that command:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/examples/

5. RealPlayer

Realplayer is one of the most popular cross platform media player available on Windows,Linux , Mac OS and a number of other platform . RealPlayer plays popular .rm ,rmvb,.mp3 and other media formats.

To install RealPlayer first download RealPlayer10GOLD.bin file from the following website assuming you have downloaded it to your home directory .

After downloading the file go to the directory where you have downloaded the file in terminal window and type

After installation is over type

¨chmod +x RealPlayer10GOLD.bin¨


¨sudo ./RealPlayer10GOLD.bin¨

for installation to begin . Follow the instructions as presented to complete installation .

After installation is over you can launch Real Player from (Application -> Sound & Video -> Real Player 10 ).

Real Player for Linux

Note : It has been reported that Real player is not working properly :( i would update these instruction once i figure out solution to the problem .

6. Flash and Java Support

Both Macromedia Flash and JRE are an important part of internet experience almost all the websites use either of the two technology to add extra functionality to the web page . By default Ubuntu does not come preinstalled with support for these two , however they can be installed quite easily by typing in the following command in the terminal window .

To install flash type in the following command in the terminal window this command is going to download a script that would further download the files needed for installing flash-support and install it .

To install Adobe version of flashplayer (The official one ) :

Note : As pointed out by one of the readers there might be some kind of bug with the flashplayer so for the time being you might not like to install the the offical flash plugin , it would be better if you install the Free Opensource gnash player instead (instructions given below)

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree libflashsupport
To install Open Source Flash Player (though some sites may not render properly or not render at all !!! )

sudo apt-get install mozilla-plugin-gnash

To install Sun Java Runtime Environment and plugin :
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-fonts sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin

7. Firefox 2 Anyone ???

Ubuntu 8.04 comes installed with Firefox 3 Beta 5, now even though Firefox 3 beta 5 even after being beta version is very usable and is a lot better than Firefox 2 in terms of features. Still if you are facing problems (or you just want to use plugins that have not been designed for newer version of Firefox ) you could install Firefox 2 along with Firefox 3 Beta 5 by issuing the following command in the terminal window :

sudo apt-get install firefox-2
after issuing the above command go to (Applications -> Internet -> Firefox 2 Web Browser ) to launch Firefox 2 .

Firefox 3 Beta 5 and Firefox 2 installed simultaneously .

8. installing Microsoft fonts package

Even if you hate Microsoft Windows still majority of desktop computers around the world run some or other variant of Windows . Now sharing documents , web pages across Linux and Windows is bit difficult as document created in Windows do not render properly/or look as they did in Windows because the fonts which were present in windows are not available in Linux . Now even though Microsoft has released these fonts freely but still because of licensing issue most of the Linux distributions do not ship these fonts by default and you have to install them separately.

Here below we discuss how to install the following Microsoft fonts on your Ubuntu Desktop :

  • Andale Mono
  • Arial Black
  • Arial (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Comic Sans MS (Bold)
  • Courier New (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Georgia (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Impact
  • Times New Roman (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Trebuchet (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Verdana (Bold, Italic, Bold Italic)
  • Webdings
To install these fonts issue the following command in the terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) { Assuming you have your repositories in order }

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts
After issuing the above command , apt-get will download few files and then you will be greeted with the following screen :

After clicking the Ok button , you will find the following screen showing the fonts are being downloaded .
After this process is over issue the following command in the terminal window :

sudo fc-cache
if the above steps worked without any problem the font should be installed properly on your system .

9. Adobe Reader

On Ubuntu/Linux a number of good pdf reader exist that are quite functional and less resource hungry as compared to Adobe Reader , However if you still want to install Adobe Reader 7.0 you can either download package from adobe website or type the following command in the terminal window .

However note ,
the following command would only work if Medibuntu repositories are configured properly so be sure you have installed it correctly as described in the beginning of article .

sudo apt-get install acroread

Some Misc Applications you might be interested in :

10. Downloader For X

Downloader for X is a nice download manager that allows downloading files from Internet , pausing them and downloading them later . It also supports splitting file into number of segments so that files could be downloaded quickly . However one thing that i didn't like about is it's interface is somewhat difficult as compared to some of the download manager available on Windows.

Anyways to install " Downloader for X " type the following command in the terminal window.

¨sudo aptitude install d4x "

After installation is over launch ¨Downloader for X¨ by typing ¨d4x¨ in the terminal window , or by going to (Applications-> Internet -> Downloader for X )

This is how Downloader for X looks

11. aMule

aMule is alternative to popular eMule program on windows platform , amule supports/works with eDonkey2000 Network or Kadnetwork and allows P2P sharing of files . aMule is available on number of platforms , Current supported systems include Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Windows and Solaris.

To install aMule type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo aptitude install amule
After completing above step launch aMule from (Application -> Internet -> aMule )

12. . aMSN

aMSN is a MSN Messenger clone for Linux operating system , it tries to emulate look and feel of MSN messenger as close as possible allowing linux newbies to use aMSN easily .

aMSN has features not present in MSN Messenger. Users can set alarms, are able to see others who have removed them from their contact list, and are able to open many profiles at once. It is also very customizable, with extensions and themes available at the main site.

To install aMSN type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install amsn
and after completing installation launch aMSN from (Applications -> Internet -> aMSN )

Installing Linux DC++ Client

DC++ is a popuar tool used for p2p file sharing and is especially popular in college campuses , to install dc++ for linux follow the following instructions .

Type the following command in the terminal window: -

sudo apt-get install linuxdcpp
And after completing above step launch dcpp from (Applications -> Internet -> DC++)
Linux Client of popular DC++ Application


CheckGmail is a nifty little gadget/widget that sits in your taskbar and once configured automatically informs you whenever you receive new email in your GMail Inbox .

To install CheckGmail type in the following command :

sudo apt-get install checkgmail

and after installation is over you can launch it from (Applications -> Internet -> CheckGmail )

15.Installing VLC Player : -

VLC Player is another of popular video player available under Linux . It is released under GNU General Public license and is available for different platform including Windows,Linux,BeOS,Mac OS X etc. VLC player is based upon free open source libraries like libdvdcss,FFMpeg for decoding various video formats.One Important feature of VLC Player is it's ability to play files over NetWork Protocols. The Frontend of VLC player is created using wxWidgets toolkit and it's appearance can be changed by using different skins. One Popular feature of VLC Player is it's ability to play files that are incomplete/broken or partially downloaded , making it useful for previewing file while downloading on file-sharing networks.

To install VLC Player type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install vlc
After completing above step launch vlc player from (Applications -> Sound and Video -> VLC media player )

16. Audacity

Audacity is open source cross platform software for recording and editing sound files . The Graphical interface of Audacity was created using wxWidgets library .

some of Audacity's features include:
  • Importing and exporting WAV, AIFF, MP3 (via the LAME MP3 Encoder, downloaded separately), Ogg Vorbis, and other file formats
  • Recording and playing sounds
  • Editing via Cut, Copy, Paste (with unlimited Undo)
  • Multi-track mixing
  • Digital effects and effect plug-ins. Additional effects can be written with Nyquist
  • Amplitude envelope editing
  • Noise removal
  • Support for multichannel modes with sampling rates up to 100 kHz with 24 bits per sample
  • The ability to make precise adjustments to the audio's speed, while maintaining pitch, in order to synchronise it with video, run for the right length of time, etc.
  • Large array of plug-ins available

To install Audacity type the following command in the terminal window : -

sudo apt-get install audacity
After completing install launch audacity from (Applications-> Sound & Video -> Audacity )

Audacity Interface

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Desktop on Linux Blog ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Review : gOS 2.0 Beta

I have been using Linux for close to a decade now.Even though there has been a tremendous growth in the desktop Linux with maturing of the KDE and Gnome Desktop and availability of a number of really good desktop Linux application over these years. Somehow most of the Linux distributions have felt very similar and well there hasn't been anything radically different about them (Though there has been few exceptions like RedHat and it's Bluecurve , Novell Desktop , Lindows , Xandros , Symphony OS , Ubuntu(Extremely Simple and Free CD's :) ) etc though most of these distro's never gained enough momentum (Ubuntu is an Exception though) ) .

gOS is one such Linux distribution( developed by "Good OS LLC', a Los Angeles-based corporation" ) that has been attracting a lot of attention lately because of it's intergration of Web based applications (Particularly Google ones which made many people to interpret it as Google OS) with Linux desktop . Having read so much about gOS like operating system's being the future of OS and stuff i decided to give gOS a try and here is my review .

After burning the ISO as soon as you boot from the CD your are greeted with a green colored screen showing you various options for booting the CD.

gOS Loading :)
gOS is a Linux distribution that is based on popular Ubuntu distribution and hence entire Ubuntu repositories are available with gOS providing a rich set of applications to gOS desktop . However unlike Ubuntu gOS uses lightweight Enlightenment as it's default window manager .

Once the entire enlightenment desktop is loaded, one of the first thing you notice is the attractive iBar at the bottom with links to number of web based applications . Clicking anyone of the icon loads Firefox with the associated web application loaded. Also as you hover your mouse over the icons the icons enlarge and reduce very similar in fashion to the dock at the bottom of the Mac OS . Also one can easily add or remove applications from iBar by going to (My Settings -> Applications -> iBar ) .
iBar at the bottom of the screen
In the iBar you will find a Q&A icon too , which basically takes you to gOS help site. Though the site is not very useful which might be attributed to lack of users actually using gOS, though situation might improve later as more and more users join gOS bandwagon .

In the iBar there are icons for the following web applications :
  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Maps
  • Google News
  • Google Calendar
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Wikipedia
  • Blogger.

Clicking on the IM button takes you to meebo site which allows you to chat on a number of different protocols including Google, AIM , Yahoo etc .

There are traditional Trash (aka Recycle Bin ) , My gOS(aka My Computer for Windows users ) icon on the desktop besides icon for installation of gOS on hard disk(if u r booting from Live CD that is ) .

Also at the center of the desktop there is a Google Search text-box that allows you to search anything quickly . Typing anything in the text-box opens up Mozilla Firefox with google search for your typed query.
Google Search Box at the Centre of the desktop

There is a small Green Coloured icon at the top left corner of the screen clicking on which opens menu which houses all the applications and menus for setting and all kind of stuff . To the right of the green icons are the active workspaces , clicking on anyone of them takes you to different workspace .
Menus , Green Coloured Icon and Workspaces

gOS also comes installed with 'Google Gears' which is a software Google is developing which would allow google applications to work off line that is without needing internet connection . Right now the only application that works off line is Google Reader . So on gOS you should be able to download your feeds in Google Reader and read it later offline without being connected to internet.
gOS Setting Dialog Box

Besides all the online applications gOS comes preinstalled with the following applications :
  • Gimp - For Image editing and manipulation
  • Rhythmbox - Audio management tool ( With preinstalled mp3 support )
  • Xine - Video Player
  • Skype for internet telephony
  • Openoffice - Office Suite
There are number of other interesting applications and more can be easily installed from ubuntu repositories by using synaptic package manager .

Because of reliance on so many online applications gOS should work pretty flawlessly on even modest of modest configuration of hardware and using lightweight window manager enlightment just helps the cause.

: gOS is an extremely usable and user friendly Linux distribution. It actually brings much needed breath of fresh air to stagnant desktop Linux market (Dominated by Ubuntu and other distribution which are pretty similar with nothing radically different) . The future of operating system is certainly taking things online making operating system more of an interface to the applications available online and gOS takes a small step forward in this direction by integrating all kind of online applications into the gOS desktop and making the interface extremely user friendly.Also selling computers preloaded with gOS in Wallmart is another step in right direction . Overall gOS is highly impressive Desktop Linux distribution and one distribution to look forward to making in future.

Links : gOS Website : -
gOS Distrowatch page : -

Review Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop ,
(C) 2008 , Ambuj Varshney