Anthony’s Xubuntu Linux 14.04 post-installation guide

(Update, 12/7/16: I have a newer version of this guide for Xubuntu Linux 16.04.)

I haven’t written one of these post-installation guides in awhile, but I’ve decided to do so after moving my old HP laptop from Linux Mint to Xubuntu 14.04. Below is my guide offering tips on what to do after installing Xubuntu. (For other operating system guides I’ve written, see my tech resources page.)

Xubuntu, of course, is a Xfce-based variant of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, with releases roughly keeping pace with those for Ubuntu. The most recent long-term service (LTS) Xubuntu release is 14.04, “Trusty Tahr,” which came out in April 2014. Support is scheduled to last through April 2017. The next LTS release, 16.04 (“Xenial Xerus”), is due in April 2016, and will be supported through April 2019.

Usual disclaimers: Not responsible if any of these tips wreak havoc on your computer. Backup all relevant hard drive information before proceeding with upgrades. These instructions assume one’s installing the 64-bit version of Xubuntu.

Download Xubuntu

Xubuntu can be downloaded from their main website. It’s also advised before installing anything to verify the ISO’s checksum hashes, as listed on Ubuntu’s wiki. Xubuntu 14.04’s hashes are available here (update: dead link).

Installing multimedia support

While the initial Xubuntu installation menu gives the option of checking a checkbox to install some codecs right away (such as MP3 support), it’s still worth installing the following packages to cover the most commonly used computer multimedia uses.

xubuntu-restricted-extras

This package will install support for: MP3s and some other audio/video codecs; playback of unencrypted DVDs; Microsoft’s TrueType core fonts; and Adobe Flash. To install xubuntu-restricted-extras, open the Terminal, then enter:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-restricted-extras

During installation, an agreement box will appear in the terminal window for installation of the Microsoft fonts. Use the keyboard to select “OK” to finish installation.

libdvdcss2

This package allows for playback of encrypted DVDs, which’re pretty much all DVDs available. To install libdvdcss2, open the Terminal, and enter:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

Favorite applications

Here’s my recommended applications to install.

Productivity

  • LibreOffice: While Xubuntu comes with the lightweight GNOME Office suite preinstalled (Abiword for word processing and Gnumeric for spreadsheets), I usually use LibreOffice for writing and spreadsheet needs.
  • Google Docs: While it’s not specifically Linux-oriented, Google Docs does work on Linux just like on Windows or OS X.
  • GCStar: A database program for hobbyists who wish to track their collections.
  • Calibre: An ebook management program.
  • GnuCash: Similar to Quicken, this program handles general financial bookkeeping duties (balancing checkbooks, tracking payments, etc.).

Internet

  • Chrome: Xubuntu comes with Firefox pre-installed, but for alternative browsers, Chrome is the main alternative to consider. While Chromium is also available (Chrome’s open source counterpart), some Google-specific features found in Chrome aren’t available in Chromium. Netflix compatibility on Linux is also exclusive to Chrome.
  • HexChat: A popular cross-platform IRC program.
  • KeePassX: An excellent password management program, with cross-platform support.

System

  • Synaptic Package Manager: Power users and those used to older *buntu versions will definitely want to install this program, by default left off of this version of Xubuntu.
  • Back In Time: A user-friendly backup program with some similarities to OS X’s Time Machine.
  • gufw: A firewall management program.
  • ClamTK: A GUI version of the command-line program clamav, this is a popular (and free) antivirus program. While viruses aren’t as big a concern for Linux users, it still doesn’t hurt to have a program like ClamTK installed.
  • Dropbox: The popular cloud-based storage service offers Linux software to integrate it into the desktop.

Media

  • MComix: A comics reader for DRM-free PDF, CBR and CBZ files.
  • Audacity: An audio editing program.
  • Sound Converter: A program to convert sounds from one format to another.
  • Handbrake: An easy-to-use DVD (and a few other video formats) conversion program. A version of Handbrake is now included with repositories, but it has fewer formats supported versus installing it directly from its website (www.handbrake.fr).
  • Shotwell: Photo management software.
  • Plex: A popular media server program that’s available on pretty much every platform, including Linux. Plex makes serving media files to various devices easy.
  • Google Play Music: Like Google Docs above, it’s not specifically a Linux program and, well, it’s another Google service. Still, Music works well through a web browser, plus offers the option of uploading one’s music collection (up to 50,000 songs). The uploaded music collection can also be accessed from Android devices or from a browser on Windows/OS X machines.
  • Spotify: Spotify offers a Linux version of its streaming music player on its website, though the web player also works fine.
  • VLC: The video player’s a staple on Windows and OS X machines, and is available on Linux as well.
  • Banshee: A popular Linux music player/management program, similar to iTunes.

Games

While it doesn’t match what’s available on Windows (or even Macs), there’s some games available for Linux. Two places to look for Linux-compatible games are Humble Bundle and Steam.

There’s also Frozen Bubble, a popular game available on Linux.

Set Banshee to import CDs as MP3 or FLAC

While I prefer to rip my CDs as lossless FLAC files for future-proofing purposes, others might prefer the more conventional (and lossy) MP3 format. In either case, to choose which format to rip CDs to by default, open Banshee (Applications Menu > Multimedia > Banshee). Once open, go to Edit > Preferences > Source Specific tab, then select “Audio CDs.” From here, you can choose which format Banshee should use to import audio CDs; available options include FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WAV.

If you have any questions, corrections, or remarks, please let me know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *