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Ubuntu is a free Linux distribution, based on Debian with the Gnome desktop environment.

Releases normally come out every half year (barring delays), are supported for 18 months (longer for "Long Term Support" (LTS) releases) and are numbered by the year and month as well as given a rhyming animal name:

4.10 "Warty Warthog"
5.04 "Hoary Hedgehog"
5.10 "Breezy Badger"
6.06 "Dapper Drake" (the current release and the first LTS release, supported for 3 years as a desktop OS and 5 years as a server; you can order free CDs! :)

The next release will be 6.10 "Edgy Eft", followed by 7.04 "Feisty Fawn"

The name "Grumpy Groundhog" is also reserved, for a special version that "will never actually be released, instead it will be in a state of perpetual development, representing the very cutting edge of upstream and distro packaging."




NOTE: This page has been revised for Dapper, but you can still see the Breezy page.

To upgrade from Breezy to Dapper, please run the Update Manager (from the menu or sudo update-manager) and click the upgrade button. It will take a while but is pretty painless :)

Synaptic (and running commands)

There is a program manager called the "Synaptic Package Manager" that is very much your friend. Learn to use it and you will be a happy Ubuntu user :)

Once in a while you may run into a command line that you'll need to run (as I use in some of the tips below). For this there's either the "Terminal" (which is equivalent to a
DOS-prompt in Windows) or if you press ALT and F2 together, you get the "Run Application" GUI window. New Linux users will want to use the latter method (with the gksudo command instead of sudo as I've written below).

Synaptic downloads its programs from special websites called Repositories; making sure you use the right ones is important to the well-being of your system. The Repository information is stored in a special file called the "sources list" which you can edit via the command:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

For Dapper, it should at minimum have these official repositories:
## Official Dapper Repositories
deb dapper main universe multiverse restricted
deb dapper-security main universe multiverse restricted
deb dapper-updates main universe multiverse restricted
I would also recommend adding the backports from Edgy (also official) as well as the "commercial" packages from Canonical (the company in charge of Ubuntu) which contains Opera 9 and Real Player 10:
deb dapper-backports main universe multiverse restricted
deb dapper-commercial main
(note that a # at the start of a line disables its use)

You might also want to use Kubuntu's latest packages since you're likely to end up using some KDE programs:
deb dapper main
#deb dapper main
#deb dapper main
In the example shown above, only the general packages repository is enabled; you can also remove the # from either or both of the other lines. The first of those is for amaroK, the much hyped music player. The second is for the KDE office suite.

To help verify that packages are legitimate, many repositories use GPG keys to 'sign' their packages or the entire repository. In Synaptic, if you are missing a key, you will get an error when starting up or reloading that "The following signatures couldn't be verified because the public key is not available"

To install a public key, for example "PUBKEY", one would run the following command from Terminal:

gpg --keyserver --recv PUBKEY && gpg --export --armor PUBKEY | sudo apt-key add -

The two keys installed by default in Ubuntu are 437D05B5 (Ubuntu Archive Automatic Signing Key) and FBB75451 (Ubuntu CD Image Automatic Signing Key)

For the Kubuntu repository, you'll want to install the Kubuntu public key: DD4D5088 (Jonathan Riddell)
gpg --keyserver --recv DD4D5088 && gpg --export --armor DD4D5088 | sudo apt-key add -

Some other repositories you might find handy:

For packages like w32codecs and libdvdcss2 (as well as some unofficial versions of proprietary programs; skype, googleearth, etc.), use the PLF repository:
## PLF
deb dapper free non-free
PLF public key: 12B83718 (Lionel Le Folgoc)
gpg --keyserver --recv 12B83718 && gpg --export --armor 12B83718 | sudo apt-key add -

The PLF has been superceded by "Medibuntu":
deb dapper free non-free
and their new key: 0C5A2783 (The Medibuntu Team)

gpg --keyserver --recv 0C5A2783 && gpg --export --armor 0C5A2783 | sudo apt-key add -

For some extremely nice eye candy if your video card supports it:
## Beryl and Emerald
deb dapper main
Beryl Project Ubuntu Repository public key: 6A7476EA (Nicholas Thomas)
gpg --keyserver --recv 6A7476EA && gpg --export --armor 6A7476EA | sudo apt-key add -

To fix a problem with mozilla-acroread (see below) use the Marillat stable repository and then remove it when you're done upgrading:
## Marillat "stable"
deb stable main
Marillat public key: 1F41B907 (Christian Marillat)
gpg --keyserver --recv 1F41B907 && gpg --export --armor 1F41B907 | sudo apt-key add -

I've been working on a metapackage repository of my own, to make installing packages that much simpler. To add it, first be sure that you have all of the above repositories in your sources.list and then add:
deb ./
The packages all start with "conrad" (from the German name meaning "daring advisor" ;) and are pretty much self-explanatory.

Wine is a "compatability layer" for running Windows programs in Linux. Its not guaranteed to work, but it does run some apps well (note that for the most part you'd do better using a Linux program that does the same task rather than trying to get a Windows program running in Linux).
## Wine
deb dapper main
GPG key: 387EE263 (Scott Ritchie)
gpg --keyserver --recv 387EE263 && gpg --export --armor 387EE263 | sudo apt-key add -

Proprietary programs:
## Opera
deb testing non-free
Opera public key: 6A423791 (Opera Software Archive Automatic Signing Key)
gpg --keyserver --recv 6A423791 && gpg --export --armor 6A423791 | sudo apt-key add -
## Picasa
deb stable non-free
## Skype
deb stable non-free
Note that you will get a "not authenticated" warning when installing packages from repositories for which you have not added keys or for which none exist; this is normal.

For more repositories, visit the Source-O-Matic!

If at some point you repeatedly get a "BADSIG" error from Synaptic, running these commands from Terminal seems to fix things:

sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/partial/*
sudo rm /var/lib/apt/lists/*
sudo apt-get update

When you next run Synaptic after making changes to sources.list, you'll get an error message about the new repositories; press the Reload button to clear this up.

If you find Synaptic too bland, you might like gnome-app-install (aka "Add/Remove" aka "Install and Remove Applications")

If you're using Terminal, instead of having to type out the full name of a file or directory, type just the first few characters and press TAB; it will fill in the rest for you! And by pressing the up (and down) arrow key(s), you'll be able to access previously entered commands! :) If you press CTRL-R you can search through your old commands by then typing a few of the characters you used.

To get an option to open the current directory in a Terminal when you right-click in Nautilus, install nautilus-open-terminal


First, a warning: if someone tells you to use Automatix, don't unless you can't figure out how to do it any other way. Something like
EasyUbuntu is a better idea. For some older notes on why I don't like Automatix, see this page.

If you want to add add/edit/move entries in the gnome menu, go Applications -> System Tools -> Alacarte Menu Editor (or right-click the "main menu" icon)

Here's a screenshot of my (somewhat windows-like) desktop (FYI, to take full screenshots just press the PrintScreen button; for a screenshot of a window, hold down ALT when pressing PrintScreen). Normally its all cluttered with files, but I tidied it up to take that pic ;) For the background colors (right-click the Desktop and select "Change Desktop Background"), I used "Vertical Gradient" using blue (#0000FF) and purple (#A020F0), with this picture centered. For the windows and desktop icons, I used a blend of theme elements; go System -> Preferences -> Theme and click the "Theme Details" button. I adjusted the settings as follows:
Controls: Clearlooks
Window Border: Glider
Icons: Smokey-Red
Click "Close", then you can "Save Theme..." as whatever name you want :)

I removed the "Menu Bar" Gnome Panel Applet and replaced it with "Main Menu".

The file browser, Nautilus, has some secret settings. Go Applications -> System Tools -> Configuration Editor and put a check next to these keys to make it a little user friendly:
If you want to see the Trash icon on the desktop, put a check next to:
To open the System Monitor when you press control-alt-delete, navigate to apps -> metacity -> global_keybindings and right-click "run_command_9" then select "Edit Key..." and change the value from disabled to <Control><Alt>Delete navigate then to apps -> metacity -> keybinding_commands and change "command_9" there from a blank value to gnome-system-monitor and you should be all set!

To automatically logon at startup, go: System -> Administration -> Login Window, select the Security tab and put a check next to Enable Automatic Login and select your username in the "User" field. For other login window art, install the gdm-themes package.

Ever notice when you right-click in a directory (or on the desktop) the "Create Document" option, but which says that there are no templates installed? Well, here's now to make a template :) Go Places -> Home Folder, right-click in it, "Create Folder" and name it "Templates". Now save any file you want in there (blank or not) and it will automatically show up under "Create Document". (e.g. if you go to gedit and save a blank file in ~/Templates as "Text File.txt" when you right-click and select Create Document, there will be an entry "Text File" :)

GUI method to access the Windows partition: Go System -> Administration -> Disks and "Storage List" should have "Hard Disk" highlighted. Click the "Partitions" tab; "Partition List" should have "Partition 1" highlighted. "Partition Properties" should read:
Device: /dev/hda1
Filesystem: Windows NTFS
Access Path: [change this to /mnt]
Status: [click Enable]
the Browse button will open sudo nautilus. you'll need to modify the file permissions of anything you transfer. go back and click Disable for Status when done.

As per the forums, if your computer won't reboot properly try this:
From Terminal, run sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst
Add reboot=h to the end of the kernel line(s)
Shutdown and restart the computer; reboot should then work.

For backing up your important files and settings you can use the "sbackup" package.

If you live in North America, you likely use Letter size paper for printing; the rest of the world apparently uses A4 size, which Ubuntu defaults to. To make sure you're using the right one, open the Printer Settings (System -> Administration -> Printing), double-click the icon for your printer, go Printer -> Properties, click the Paper tab and select the proper Paper Size. You may also want to check in foomatic-gui (if its not installed, install it; run it from Terminal the first time and if you get the "double free or corruption" error, run sudo foomatic-cleanupdrivers which will fix the problem).

And speaking of printing in Ubuntu, I just thought that I would point out that for my HP PSC-1210 I can print out *four* different test pages. One from Ubuntu's printer settings, another from foomatic-gui, a third from the HPLIP Toolbox and a fourth from the CUPS web interface (which you can get to via the HPLIP Toolbox). This is perhaps a bit excessive, but with them all working I'm fairly confident that I can print when I need to ;)

To associate the 'Windows button' of a keyboard with the Gnome menu, go System -> Preferences -> Keybaord Shortcuts, click on the entry "Show the panel menu" (under "Desktop") and press the appropriate keyboard button.

To have the computer's internal clock automatically set to the proper time, right-click the clock and select "Adjust Date & Time" Put a check next to "Periodically synchronize clock with internet servers" and it will install ntp, ntp-simple and ntp-server. Close and reopen Adjust Date & Time and select the appropriate servers.

Gedit is Ubuntu's default text editor and pretty nice, but it will litter your HD with hidden backup files (they are the name of your document followed by a tilde and remain even if you've deleted the original; you can press CTRL-H in Nautilus to see them). To stop this annoying behavior, go Edit -> Preferences, select the Editor tab and uncheck "Create a backup copy of files before saving".

Nautilus can add an option to delete items permanently (thus bypassing trash) which can be handy to avoid creating a .Trash file on thumb drives or when using sudo nautilus. Go Edit -> Preferences -> Behaviour (tab) and check "Include a Delete command that bypasses Trash" (note that to get this in sudo nautilus, you must do this from sudo nautilus). Also, to distinguish between a regular Nautilus window and a sudo one, in a sudo one go Edit -> Backgrounds and Elements… and make it a different color/background from the normal nautilus.


gstreamer0.10-plugins-good, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad, gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly, gstreamer0.10-pitfdll, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-*
mplayer, mplayer-fonts
ogle-gui (with ogle or ogle-mmx)
vlc (with ttf-thryomanes)
xmms (expandable with xmms-* plugins; install xmms-skins for different themes)

So I was doing a little surfing and wanted to listen to the MIDIs on
this page. What an adventure that turned out to be! ;) But the solution is fairly straightforward once you've figured it out: go to Synaptic and install "freepats", "timidity", and "timidity-interfaces-extra". Then right-click a MIDI (such as one of those from the page, saved to your Desktop), "Open with Other Application...", click "Use a custom command" and type timidity -ig

I had to make some MP3s from a CD. In Breezy I used grip (and suggested abcde or jack for command line users :) but for Dapper, Ubuntu's default Sound Juicer works quite nicely. Just select the output as WAV in the preferences.

When you have all your WAV files in a directory, to encode them to MP3s go to Synaptic and install "lame". Now, unfortunately, the package is missing an extremely important file; a script that lets you process more than one file per command! You can get it by either going to sourceforge, downloading the 3.96.1 archive (1.2 MB) and grabbing the file "mlame" (a shell script) from the "lame-3.96.1/misc" directory OR... you can download it as a zip from my site HERE (1.3 KB ;) After you extract it, sudo nautilus to copy mlame to the directory /usr/bin Then, as per my old (Windows) apps page, for nice VBR MP3s: cd in Terminal to the directory with the WAV files and run: mlame -o "-b 32 -m s -h -p -V 0 -B 320" *.wav That worked really nicely :)

If you just have a single WAV (or FLAC, etc.) to convert and don't mind a fixed bitrate MP3, you can use Audacity; install audacity and liblame0. Run audacity and go Edit -> Preferences -> File Formats (tab) and under MP3 Export Setup press the Find Library button. Navigate to /usr/lib click where it says Only and change that to Extended Libraries, search for* then select the file say OK and yes to the info warning. Choose your bitrate, say OK, open your input file and select File -> Export as MP3.

libdvdcss for DVD playback (or add the PLF repository and install their libdvdcss2 package, as well as the Ubuntu libdvdplay0, libdvdread3 and libdvdnav4 packages)

thoggen is a DVD ripper that saves in OGG format.

k9copy is similar to the windows program "dvdshrink"

If you have directories with lots of pics or audio files that you'd like to open with Eye of Gnome (aka "Image Viewer") or XMMS respectively, here's a little tip: right-click any directory, select Properties, Click the 'Open With' tab and add those two apps. From now on you'll be able to open any directory with those apps by right-clicking it and selecting the one you want.

This page has some really usefull GIMP tips.

Here’s a spiffy tip: mimms will record streaming windows media from the command line: type “mimms mms://streaming_video_url_here” and it will save a wmv to your working directory (note: the files are saved as wmv, but Breezy doesn’t like that, so just rename them to asf) Mplayer (with w32codecs from PLF) plays them back without a hitch. You can also record streaming video (e.g. mms or rtsp) with the command mplayer -dumpstream followed by the URL; just rename the stream.dump file produced when it finishes (but don't run more than one instance per directory).

Google has released Picasa for Linux (x86). Its actually the Windows version with a built-in copy of Wine. If that's something you want (vs. say an open source program like f-spot), just add the repository as I described above (or grab the DEB and double-click it to install with gdebi).

Google also released Earth for Linux (x86) as a native binary! (Demo Video) Run the bin file with bash to get it installed.

You can output video as text with mplayer! Install libaa1 and run mplayer -vo aa [filename] from Terminal. For text video with color install caca-utils and run mplayer -vo caca [filename] To further demo color text and run any of these six silly test programs: cacademo (render is the neatest effect), cacaview (an image viewer), cacaball, cacafire, cacamoir and cacaplas (the last four of these would make excellent screensavers for twin :)


Users migrating in from Windows might want to use the
Google Browser Sync extension to transfer all their Firefox settings, bookmarks, etc.

konqueror (if you feel like trying an alternate browser)
mozilla-mplayer (the Mplayer plugin for Firefox)
webhttrack (and httrack and httrack-doc)

Update:Flash 9 Beta for Linux has been released; go here and download his DEB of flashplugin-nonfree and install by double-clicking on it (click the triangle to view the Terminal output to agree to the license)
Test here. Adobe (which bought Macromedia) has never released a version of the Shockwave Player for Linux, nor the most recent version (8) of the Flash Player (they decided to skip from 7 to 9 on Linux, but 9 isn't scheduled to be released until 2007; you can read about the (slow) progress towards Flash 9 for Linux here.). However if you want to view Shockwave or Flash 8 or 9 content, here's what you can do right now: 1. Install wine. 2. Download and install Firefox (beta 1) for Windows (its settings are independent from Firefox for Linux, so it won't mess up your profile and you can run it at the same time) 3. download and install Flash 9 and Shockwave for ("Netscape" for) Windows. You should now be able to view said files with the Win(e)dows Firefox :)

BTW, if for some reason you need a version or versions (any or all of 5, 5.5 and 6) of Internet Explorer on your system, the easiest way to install them is with IEs4Linux. Be sure the wine and cabextract packages are installed first.

mozilla-acroread (the Acrobat plugin for Firefox)
[note: version 7.0.1-0.0.ubuntu1 doesn't work in Dapper because of a problem with the file that it installs; use the Marillat repository to get the latest version of acroread, mozilla-acroread and acroread-escript]

The Democracy Video Podcasting program is pretty neat! (see the Ubuntu instructions)

Opera 9 is now out; use Opera's repository to install the "opera" package. Once you've installed Java (see lower on this page), to get it working in Opera, go:

Tools -> Preferences... -> Advanced (tab)
Click "Content" on the left
Check "Enable Java" box, Press the "Java options..." button
for Java path, put: /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.5.0-sun/jre/lib/i386
press "Validate Java path" and you should get a message that says "The Java path seems to specify a valid directory."
Press OK, OK and OK. Shutdown and restart Opera and Test here.

Here was an annoying problem; when I went to check my shaw webmail in Firefox, I got the error message:
Firefox and cannot communicate securely
because they have no common encryption algorithms.
(which I wasn't getting from an XP computer...) A little searching led me to the solution: Go to about:config, find "security.ssl3.rsa_rc4_40_md5" and double click to change to "true". Shaw webmail should now work.

Did you know that you can use GAIM with Google's Gmail Chat? :)

If ever something goes very wrong and you find yourself stuck at the command line interface (CLI), you don't necessarily have to go to another computer to find out how to fix things as there are text-based web browsers! :) I would recommend links2 (it can also be run as a very lightweight graphical browser (when X is working ;) by running links2 -g or xlinks). When Links2 starts its blank; just press "g" to open a dialogue.

This whole Iceweasel business is a fiasco if you ask me, but assuming you use an i686 (basically, any Intel or AMD less than a decade old), you can use the official Mozilla version of Firefox quite easily:

First, download it in the language of your choice as a tar.gz file.
Double click it to open it with File Roller and extract the firefox directory.

For the next few steps, use Terminal to run sudo nautilus and use it to:
move the extracted directory to /opt
rename the plugins subdirectory of /opt/firefox to something like "plugins.default"
go to /usr/lib/firefox and right-click the plugins directory and select "Make Link".
right-click the new link, select cut and then paste it into /opt/firefox
rename the pasted link to plugins

So long as ubuntu-desktop is installed (which it is unless you've removed it), you'll have all the dependencies (fontconfig, libstdc++5, etc.) met.

To make sure the new Firefox is spawned from other apps, go:
System -> Preferences -> Preferred Applications
Set Web Browser to Custom and use the command:
/opt/firefox/firefox "%s"

To have the new Firefox check for program updates, go Edit -> Preferences
Advanced -> Update
put a check next to 'automatically check for updates to Firefox' and for 'when updates to Firefox are found' I would recommend 'ask me what I want to do'

Before applying the update, rename the linked plugins directory to something else (e.g. plugins.linked) and rename plugins.default back to plugins; reverse the procedure when the update completes.




amphetamine (runs with the command amph) for instructions, gedit /usr/share/doc/amphetamine/README
burgerspace (a BurgerTime clone; P to pause, CTRL to pepper)
codebreaker (and/or gnomermind)
heroes-* packages (see heroes --help e.g. run heroes -2)
lbreakout2 (and/or tecnoballz)
planetpenguin-racer (run "ppracer")
space-orbit (run "orbit"; instructions in /usr/share/doc/space-orbit/index.html)
xjig (uses both mouse buttons and CTRL-click to flip)
xlaby (a particularly vexing maze; read the instructions (xlaby -i) first!)

To run teg (a Risk clone), change the "server port" to something high, like 14444 and (if you just want to play as a single human player) check "Start server locally", then go Game -> Launch Robot (repeat for up to six players total)

To run MAME, first go to Synaptic and install "xmame-x". Then get
gxmame (0.35b2) as a deb and install that. Run GXMame and go Option -> Directories... -> XMame basic paths (tab) and add the location of your ROMs to "ROM paths". I bought a little USB gamepad to use with MAME and here's what I had to do to make sure it ran properly in games:

My USB joystick appeared as /dev/input/js0 so in GXmame I went:
Options -> Default Options... -> Controllers (tab)
changed "Joystick device prefix" to /dev/input/js0
and put a check in the first three boxes (check boxes as needed)
I had some issues with it not working exactly right, so I installed joystick and jscalibrator
I then ran jscalibrator and jscal jscal -c /dev/input/js0
(if the controls are reversed in games, repeat but press them in the opposite direction while calibrating) While I didn't need it, some people might need to install xserver-xorg-input-joystick

Now, if you want something very silly, get Miller's Quest; first be sure the "ruby" package is installed, then download the archive from its homepage, extract the directory (say, onto your desktop) and double click "millerquest.rb"; when prompted, choose "Run in Terminal". To quit, press CTRL-C in the Terminal window; you can load the (automatically) saved game the next time you run it.

To play old DOS games (as well as regular apps :) install the dosbox package.

The Scumm Virtual Machine (the scummvm package) can be used to play lots of classic games that were designed with it. Two free games can be installed from the packages beneath-a-steel-sky and flight-of-the-amazon-queen (when you run the ScummVM, you'll need to add them in from /usr/share/scummvm/)


any of the 'junior' meta-packages

gcompris (with gcompris-sound-** where "**" is the two letter abbreviation for the language, e.g. "en" for english)
gnomekiss (also install the lha package)

If you installed xmms-skins (see above), right-click in XMMS, go Options -> Skin Browser (or just Alt-S) and select the /usr/share/xmms/Skins directory in the Directories pane. You should the see a list of around a dozen skins in the Skins pane. YummiYogurt is the best for little kids ;) If you installed xmms-xmmplayer to view video in XMMS, go Options -> Preferences (or just Ctrl-P), in the Audio I/O plugins tab select MPlayer plugin, press the Configure button and set the path to /usr/bin/mplayer


celestia (or celestia-gnome)
glunarclock (gnome panel applet)

boinc-client (with kboincspy and/or boinc-manager) for projects such as Seti@home
To make the kboincspy work right, go File -> Add Location... Click 'Open file dialog' button Navigate to /var/lib/boinc-client/ and 'add file': client_state.xml
For boinc-manager, run the command "boincmgr" (no quotes). To configure for Seti@home, select "Attach to new project", set the URL to and the Account Key to what you were issued.


dasher (enter text without using the keyboard)
krename (a nice GUI program for doing batch renaming)
leafpad (if you'd prefer a simpler text editor)

deborphan (run in Terminal; as per
this thread, you can run the command: sudo apt-get remove `deborphan` to automate the process of removing orphaned packages (note the special characters around the word deborphan). Repeat until it says "0 to remove".) You can find this same functionality in Synaptic by going Settings -> Filters and creating one with a check next to "Orphaned"; these will appear under "Custom". Note that for it to work in Synaptic, you must have the deborphan package installed.

Ubuntu ships with no open ports (you can use this page or this page to test :) and so unless you plan on running a mail server or such, you really don't need a firewall (and if you have a hardware firewall (e.g. in a router), you really don't need a software one).

Here are a couple fun DNS tricks: you can use OpenDNS to help correct for typos and avoid phishing sites and DNSmasq to cache DNS results thus dramatically reducing the time it takes to look up the IP addresses of sites you commonly visit. Here's what you need to do:

- Go to Synaptic and install dnsmasq.
- Go to Terminal, run sudo gedit /etc/dhcp3/dhclient.conf and find the line that has the word "prepend" in it, e.g.:
#prepend domain-name-servers;
and change it to read:
prepend domain-name-servers,,;
Save and exit.
- Restart networking with sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart
- Go System -> Administration -> Networking, click the DNS tab and check to make sure that, and are at the top of the "DNS Servers" list.
- Test DNSmasq by running a command like dig As a result, you should see a result near the bottom like:
;; Query time: 73 msec
Now repeat the dig command and you should get something like:
;; Query time: 1 msec
Which indicates that DNS caching is working :) Test OpenDNS here; change settings here.

When using an external keyboard, I noticed that numlock was off by default; very annoying after a while ;) All I needed to do was go into Synaptic and install numlockx. Note that during regular boots it doesn't take effect until after you login.

If you're used to windows, you're used to a 'persistent clipboard'. That is, if you copy something from one program, close it and paste in another, it will paste. ubuntu only pastes if the first program is still open.

bubblemon (gnome panel applet) is a nice graphical way of showing how much of your system resources are being used.

sensors-applet is a gnome panel applet which can monitor various aspects of your system.
(I had a little trouble getting the temperature sensor working though (you may notice during bootup a line saying 'setting sensor limits failed') so I installed lm-sensors, ran sudo modprobe i2c-dev, followed by sudo sensors-detect, followed the instructions and allowed it to modify my system settngs "To make the sensors modules behave correctly" After that, temperature was displayed nicely :)

timer-applet (gnome pannel applet) is a nice little countdown timer.

To get Sun's Java working, install: sun-java5-jre, sun-java5-fonts (suggested) and sun-java5-plugin (for Mozilla-based browsers).
It has been said that you can speed up OpenOffice by disabling Java in it:
Go Tools -> Options -> Java
uncheck "Use a Java runtime environment"

For some desktop eye candy, install gdesklets and gdesklets-data. "You can populate your desktop with status meters, icon bars, weather sensors, news tickers... whatever you can imagine... Virtually anything is possible and may even be available some day." ;) There's also aDesklets and Superkaramba.

dmidecode, run with sudo, can tell you a lot about your system...

baobab can tell you where all your used HD space went :)

fdupes, run in Terminal (fdupes -r -d [directory]), finds duplicate files by their content (not by filename) and allows you to pick whch you want to keep.

Unlike in Windows, the GUI (Graphical User Interface) isn't bolted firmly onto the system. In fact, its extremely modular; for some fun, you can install any of the following package sets in Synaptic to get an alternate Desktop Environment ("a common graphical user environment and development platform") or Window Manager ("client programs which are either part of a desktop environment or, in some cases, standalone. Their primary purpose is to control the way graphical windows are positioned, resized, or moved. Window managers also control title bars, window focus behavior, and user-specified key and mouse button bindings." definitions as per this page). In case you're interested BTW, Gnome is a Desktop Environment which uses metacity as its Window Manager.

Desktop Environments:

KDE: kubuntu-desktop (uses the kwin window manager)
Xfce: xubuntu-desktop (uses the Xfwm window manager)

Window Managers:

Afterstep: afterstep
Enlightenment: enlightenment*
Fluxbox: flux* (note: conflicts with Blackbox: blackbox*)
FVWM: fvwm-gnome
IceWM: icewm*
Openbox: openbox*, obconf
Window Maker: wmaker

* indicates multiple packages starting with that name

At the login, you can select the one you want under "Session" (if you log in automatically, log out and the login screen will appear). Note that this will add icons to the Gnome menu (you can hide/move/delete them by going System Tools -> Applications Menu Editor in the Gnome Menu). There are probably even more DE / WMs in Ubuntu, this is just to 'test the waters' :)

[Note before you read this section: the characters here are "Unicode", but Firefox seems to be defaulting to "Western"; to change the default view, go View -> Character Encoding and click the Unicode Radio button.] If you're ever typing and you need a special character (e.g. "æ"), go into Accesories and run Character Map, select the "Latin" script and double-click the character to copy it into the text field at the bottom of the window (from where you can copy it to paste into your application). If you find yourself using certain extended characters more and more often (e.g. you type some German and need Ä, ä, Ö, ö, Ü, ü and ß), here's a little hack that can add them to your keyboard. Assuming that you use a US keyboard layout, first backup the file us in /etc/X11/xkb/symbols and then open it with gedit (you'll need to use sudo for both those tasks). Now go System -> Preferences -> Keyboard to see the keyboard options and click the Layouts tab; click Add and look at the different keybords. Under Available layouts, click U.S. English and click the arrow so it shows you the extended options and click "International (with dead keys)". Make the window bigger so you can see what you're doing and find where the characters you want are. Now go look at the file you're editing and find the corresponding characters in the "U.S. English - International (with dead keys)" section. Copy them (or the portions therof that you want) into the proper place in the first section. To get the German characters, I changed the defaults for A, O, U and S to:
    key  {	[	  u,	U,	    udiaeresis,       Udiaeresis 	]	};
    key  {	[	  o,	O,	    odiaeresis,       Odiaeresis 	]	};
    key  {	[	  a,	A,	    adiaeresis,       Adiaeresis	]	};
    key  {	[	  s,	S,	    ssharp		]	};
Save and go back to the "Choose A Layout" window. Click off of U.S. English and back onto it. The changes you wanted should now be in place. Click OK and put a check mark next to the new entry (you'll have two U.S. english entries; you want the second one). Now go to the "layout Options" tab and click "Third Level Choosers" and pick the one you want to access the new keys (I'm using the "Left Win-key"). Press Close. To use, press and hold the 'third level chooser' key you selected and then the key with the extended character. Adding shift to the mix does just what you think it would.

A little tip on how to make Ubuntu a little more Mac-like, from a chat log:
K: Do you know how I can get that feature of some window managers
where windows "roll" up when I double click the top bar?
C: ??  I'm not sure I understand what you mean; example?
K: When I double click the top bar of a window it maximizes or restores ....
I would prefer if it would shrink the window into the top bar
C: Oh.. like on macs?
K: OS9 did that OS X doesn't :P
C: I'm researching; I will try to find the answer :)
found it!
K: That was fast :)
C: System -> Preferences -> Windows
Titlebar Action
Double-click titlebar to perform this action:
change "Maximize" to "Roll up"
K: Perfect :)
That's exactly what I wanted :)
C: Cool; that adds functionality; I'll add that to my page :)
K: Nice
Ubuntu caches the thumbnails of images and videos on your computer, but it (amazingly) doesn't seem to have a mechanism to limit the volume of thumbnails and the directory can grow huge; this blog entry details how to clean them up with just a single command:

find ~/.thumbnails -type f -atime +7 -exec rm {} \;

You might want to disable the "Detachable Toolbars"; go System -> Preferences -> Menus & Toolbars and uncheck the box next to it.

The package "beagle" allows search from nautilus

The Upower project has ended with Breezy; Splashy is now the alternative to Usplash.

In Breezy I used InitNG to help speed up boot times; it doesn't seem as necessary in Dapper though.

For screensavers like BoxFit (what I use :), install: xscreensaver-data-extra and xscreensaver-gl-extra

XGL and Ubuntu/Kubuntu (fun eye candy if your video card supports it :)

Here's an old tip from when Warty was still new: "Drop this file in your home directory renamed to ".fonts.conf" and log out and in again. It turns on auto hinting and makes your fonts sexy smooth." I didn't think that it would still be necessary, but it is. You can further refine your fonts by going System -> Preferences -> Font and poking at the settings.

Some of the ttf-* packages have interesting fonts, e.g. ttf-ubuntu-title.

For some familiar Windows fonts, install the msttcorefonts packge

Let's say you have a large number of True Type Fonts (TTF files) in Windows (that aren't part of msttcorefonts) and typing documents in Ubuntu is sad without them. Here's what you need to do. First, copy them over to Ubuntu, say into a "TTF" directory in your home folder. Now right-click the directory and select "Make Link". Use sudo nautilus to move the link into /usr/share/fonts/truetype (you can rename it there if you like) and then let Ubuntu know you made a change with sudo fc-cache -f Now open a program like and you can use Wingdings to your heart's content ;) If you later download a font that you like, just drop it into the TTF directory you made and run sudo fc-cache -f again to update.

If you encounter a RAR archive file, install unrar and it will open in File Roller; unace and unalz packages work for their respective archive types.

For LOTS of clipart, install openclipart (warning: its ~200 MB download and expands to ~400 MB when installed!)

The popularity-contest package, once setup by running sudo dpkg-reconfigure popularity-contest sends information on which packages you have installed to the Ubuntu Popularity Contest website.

If you end up using Terminal enough you might want to personalize it with a background image; go Edit -> Current Profile, and click on the Effects tab (its self-explanatory after that). Images are tiled, BTW.

To be able to 'print' to a PDF file, install cups-pdf

To do some really neat PDF manipulations, install pdftk; it uses a CLI interface (though there's a GUI here which I have not tested). The manual (from Terminal, type man pdftk) has some very useful examples.

Other interesting CLI packages are twin (a CLI windowing environment which you can run links in :) and gpm, which provides mouse drivers for twin, as well as lfm (or mc) as a file manager. To test twin outside of X press ctrl-alt-F1 (or F2, F3, etc.) to get to a command line window (ctrl-alt-F7 should take you back to X).

I ran into trouble while attempting to extract files from DFM formatted floppy disks; mounting them in Ubuntu would only let me have the first 1.44 MB while the disks actually hold 1.68 MB of data. The solution was to install mtoolsfm (from Terminal, run MToolsFM), a frontend for mtools that has a neat FTP-like interface.



Anti-Virus software is not needed for Linux (and here's an example of AV programs being "at worst, downright harmful". Ouch!)
- the very notion of anti-virus software for Linux is about as necessary as wearing a life jacket around the house to prevent drowning.
- To mess up a Linux box, you need to work at it; to mess up your Windows box, you just need to work on it.

Why Linux doesn't need defragmenting

Security Report: Windows vs Linux

The short life and hard times of a Linux virus


The Top Ten Linux Distros
Rough Estimate of Relative Distro Popularity
How Linux Distros are related (see also this image from DistroWatch Weekly Issue 165)

Other Links:

If you need additional help, the Ubuntu Forums are quite helpful.
The Ubuntu Guide has been updated for Dapper.
For some really neat tips, see the Ubuntu Blog.
Some interesting (and often highly opinionated ;) articles can be found on the Blog of Helios.
If you find that you're really getting into Linux, consider attending a Linux User Group (LUG) meeting in your area.
I've been attending Saskatoon Linux Group meetings since July 2005 :)