Author: Aaron Haun
Installing and configuring Linux has really come a long way in the last few years. People who used to be afraid of it are now starting to realized the benefits and seeing that they out weigh the learning curve. It is usually ready to use straight out of the box but here are a few things that I do after an install to make my experience a little more pleasant.
The first thing I do is change my repositories. For those who do not know, Linux is an open source operating system and so is the available software. That means the source code is available to the public and anyone in the community can contribute patches and improvements. These patches and improvements are posted in a CVS repository. When you search your package manager for software to install it searches the repository for the data. There is a button to automatically select the best repository and use it as your default. Let it scan through the servers and pick the one it recommends when it is finished.
Another initial installation step for me installing Yakuake. It’s a console window that scrolls from top of desktop and goes away by pressing f12. This will keep you from having to type sudo all the time and from having another window open on your desktop. If you have ever pressed ~ in a configurable multiplayer game it will look very familiar to you as it is made to simulate the experience.
Not everyone agrees with this but I always install the Studio Ubuntu package. It installs all kinds of stuff that will keep you from having to install individual codecs and libraries when you try to listen to music or watch any videos. All the audio/video codecs and tools you will need will be installed along with several editors.
Next I install Envy and Compiz so I can use the pro cube desktop. I amaze everyone who sees it and sometimes even turn into Linux people when they see what it can do on a level that they understand. Envy is a tool that installs the best driver for your ATI or Nvidia video card and customizes it to the most effective settings. Configuring your video card was once quite the challenge but Envy has made it a breeze. Compiz is the program that allows you to enable advanced desktop graphics. You will need this if you plan on playing any games at all.
I always install Wine even if I’m not going to use any Windows applications. There are several commercial products that may arise when you search for Wine called Crossover, PlayonLinux,Parallels, and Cedega. Don’t waste your time or money. Parallels will not let you run Windows programs in Linux as it is inappropriately advertised in some spots. It lets you run Windows inside Linux as a virtual machine. It will not let you play higher quality graphics games as advertised. I know what it says, it doesn’t work. If you must play Windows games just dual boot and save yourself the hassle.
There is so much more that can be said about configuring Linux but that is the normal routine for me. If working in Ubuntu has been a challenge for you in the past try some of my techniques and see if they help. It’s not easy for everyone at first but using these configurations should help to ease the transition from commercial to open source.
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