The Perfect Desktop – Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

The Perfect Desktop – Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

The Perfect Desktop – Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric
Ocelot) 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 11.10 will by default start the new Unity
desktop which requires that your hardware supports 3D acceleration,
however you can also switch to Unity 2D mode in the log on screen. If
your hardware does not support 3D acceleration or you don’t like Unity,
you can still download the Ubuntu Classic GNOME desktop, what I will do
later in this tutorial.

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

  • Google Picasa – application for organizing and editing
    digital photos


  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • 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
  • Skype
  • 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

  • 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

  • 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
  • Java
  • Read-/Write support for NTFS partitions
  • GNOME Desktop


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,

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 11.10 desktop edition iso image from,
burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

Select your language and click on the Install
button to start the installation:


On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Ubuntu 11.10
installation (the system should have at least 4.5GB available drive
space, should be plugged into a power source (to make sure that the
system doesn’t shut down during installation because of an empty
battery), 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

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:

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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.

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