Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A Few Things To Do Post-installation

Okay so if you followed the last guide you should now have a fresh installation of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex (or 8.04 Hardy Heron LTS – this guide will work for both).

Before you go about using your new OS there's a few things that should be done;
  • Install important security updates
  • Install support for restricted codecs (to enable support for playback of DVD and MP3 etc), Java and Flash
  • Make a list of your hardware (you never know when you'll need it)
  • Install an archive manager (better support for .zip .7z .rar files etc)

Installing Important Security Updates

This one should be done first – preferably immediately after installation. Linux is a far more secure OS than Windows et al but only if you're a responsible user – this means staying on top of security updates. Whenever Ubuntu detects available system and program updates, you will see a little red downwards-pointing arrow on the taskbar in the top-right hand corner of your desktop (see below image). All you need to do is single-click on this arrow. This will bring up the update manager. The list of updates will be rather large after a fresh install and, depending on your connection speed, may take a long time to download. Simply click on the Install Updates button and enter your password when prompted (this is the password you used to log in). The update manager will do the rest. You may need to restart your system after the updates – but you will be prompted to do this.

Installing Support For Restricted Codecs, Java and Flash Etc

By default Ubuntu doesn't ship with native support for playback of proprietary formats such as DVD Video, MP3, WAV, DivX etc etc. Neither does it support Java or Flash. This is due to licensing issues – in some countries it may be illegal to freely distribute these Codecs/Programs. However, Ubuntu makes it easy to install support for these.

There are two ways you can go about it – the graphical way (long-winded!), or the Command Line way (easy!). Here's how to do it the easy way;

Open a Terminal by going to Applications > Accessories > Terminal and simply copy and paste the following code;

sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/intrepid.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list && wget -q http://packages.medibuntu.org/medibuntu-key.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y ubuntu-restricted-extras non-free-codecs w32codecs totem-mozilla libdvdcss2

Enter your password when prompted and Ubuntu will start to pull in support for all the restricted Codecs and Java and Flash etc. Depending on your computer's specs and connection speed this may take a long time but you'll only have to do it the once. About half way through you'll be presented with a a rather ugly looking EULA (End User License Agreement) screen. Just use the Tab key to highlight [OK] and hit the Enter key and installation will continue. Once complete you will have support for all your favourite formats :)

Make A List of Your Hardware

This step is not essential and many of you could get by just fine without it. However, it only takes a moment and may come in handy if you ever need to provide a spec sheet for your computer, or if you're just curious about what's inside your box.

Open up a Terminal and type (or copy and paste) the following;

sudo lshw -html > pcspecs.html

This will create a nice little HTML document with details of all your installed hardware and deposit it in your /home folder.

For those who'd prefer a graphical application to show them their system specs, a little program called Sysinfo is available from the Ubuntu repositories. To get it type the following into a Terminal;

sudo apt-get install sysinfo

Once installed you'll find it under Applications > System Tools.

Install An Archive Manager (to provide support for compressed files such as .zip .7z .rar etc)

Open up a Terminal (you should be getting good at this bit by now!!) and type the following;

sudo apt-get install p7zip-full

That's it! You should have the basic necessities now. Go start enjoying the benefits only an Open Source OS such as Ubuntu can bring :)

Next we'll be looking at adding some eye candy to your Ubuntu experience with tutorials on basic and advanced desktop effects. Keep checking back as they should be up within the next few days.

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