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Sections: Synaptic, Settings, Programs: Audio-Visual, Internet, Games, Kids, Science, Misc; back to Introduction & Endnotes



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

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

Once the initial setup has been made, one likely will find it easier to maintain the sources list via Synaptic (Settings -> Repositories)

For Feisty, it should at minimum have these official repositories:
## Ubuntu
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty main universe multiverse restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty-updates main universe multiverse restricted
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty-security main universe multiverse restricted
(note that a # at the start of a line disables its use)

I would also recommend adding the backports from Feisty+1 (also official) when they become available:
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty-backports main universe multiverse restricted
as well as the "commercial" packages from Canonical (the company in charge of Ubuntu) which contains Opera 9 and Real Player 10; note that the feisty one is empty right now, so we still need to use the edgy one:
deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu/ edgy-commercial main
deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu/ feisty-commercial main
You might also want to use Kubuntu's latest packages when they become available since you're likely to end up using some KDE programs:
deb http://kubuntu.org/packages/kde-latest/ feisty main
#deb http://kubuntu.org/packages/amarok-latest/ feisty main
#deb http://kubuntu.org/packages/koffice-latest/ fesity 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 subkeys.pgp.net --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 subkeys.pgp.net --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; acroread, skype, googleearth, etc.), use Medibuntu (formerly the PLF)
deb http://packages.medibuntu.org/ feisty free non-free
0C5A2783 (The Medibuntu Team)
gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv 0C5A2783 && gpg --export --armor 0C5A2783 | sudo apt-key add -

I've been working on a metapackage repository of my own, to make installing large batches of 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 http://members.shaw.ca/Limulus/Conrad/Feisty ./
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 (see also here) rather than trying to get a Windows program running in Linux).
## Wine
# deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt/ feisty main
387EE263 (Scott Ritchie)
gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv 387EE263 && gpg --export --armor 387EE263 | sudo apt-key add -

For some extremely nice eye candy if your video card supports it:
## Beryl and Emerald
deb http://ubuntu.beryl-project.org/ feisty main
Beryl Project Ubuntu Repository public key: 6A7476EA (Nicholas Thomas)
gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv 6A7476EA && gpg --export --armor 6A7476EA | sudo apt-key add -

## Miro
deb http://ftp.osuosl.org/pub/pculture.org/miro/linux/repositories/ubuntu feisty/
## GetDeb
# deb http://ubuntu.org.ua/ getdeb/
(Warning! Choose packages from GetDeb carefully as they aren't nearly as thoroughly tested as the ones from the Ubuntu repository and can make your system behave oddly. I would recommend just browsing the site and picking up a few of their more interesting DEBs and manually installing them, e.g. rocksndiamonds, cheese, ogmrip, lives, gelemental, pipewalker, gens, gridwars, lastfm, nikwi, ogmrip, slingshot)

Proprietary programs:
## Opera
deb http://deb.opera.com/opera testing non-free
Opera public key: 6A423791 (Opera Software Archive Automatic Signing Key)
gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv 6A423791 && gpg --export --armor 6A423791 | sudo apt-key add -
## Picasa & Desktop
deb http://dl.google.com/linux/deb/ stable non-free
Google public key: 7FAC5991 (Google, Inc. Linux Package Signing Key)
gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv 7FAC5991 && gpg --export --armor 7FAC5991 | sudo apt-key add -
## VirtualBox (PUEL)
deb http://www.virtualbox.org/debian feisty non-free
Virtualbox public key: 927CCC73 (innotek GmbH archive signing key)
gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv 927CCC73 && gpg --export --armor 927CCC73 | sudo apt-key add -

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 may get an error message about the new repositories; press the Reload button to clear this up.

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



Settings

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 from before I upgraded to Edgy (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 :) Please note that Smokey-Red is not available in Edgy or newer. You can get more themes by installing gnome-themes-extra and by visiting the Gnome Art site.

Right now I'm using:
Controls:	Clearlooks
Windows Border:	Glider
Icons:		Crystal SVG
You can get more themes by installing gtk2-engines-magicchicken and gtk2-engines-wonderland and more icon themes by installing gnome-icon-theme-*, gnome-humility-icon-theme and tango-icon-theme-extras. gtk2-engines-murrine looks interesting but requires configuration.

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 (if its not visible, edit the menu or run gconf-editor) and put a check next to these keys (if they're not already checked) to make it a little user friendly:
/apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_browser
/apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_location_entry
/apps/nautilus/preferences/no_ubuntu_spatial
If you want to see the Trash icon on the desktop, put a check next to:
/apps/nautilus/desktop/trash_icon_visible
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. See also the edgy-* and feisty-* packages for more artwork.

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" :)

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 (you'll notice in Ubuntu if its not working right if it cuts off the bottoms of pages. In Edgy its fixed in the Ubuntu printing section, but not in the others, e.g. CUPS). 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 should also 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). In Edgy, I find that I need to run sudo foomatic-gui to make sure the changes actually apply (they transfer over to CUPS).

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 ;)

If your printer isn't supported out of the box, try installing openprinting-ppds* linuxprinting.org-ppds* splix (or search for "PPD" in Synaptic).

In Edgy I wanted to use the GIMP to edit an image; it stopped while trying to load the xsane plugin. I tried running xsane, but it locked up while starting. Turns out that I just needed to uninstall and reinstall my HP PSC (Printer/Scanner/Copier) in Ubuntu. Then things worked fine.

To get the PSC scanner working, I needed to install hpoj (note: there are setup steps in Synaptic's Terminal output). One might also need libsane-extras

gnomescan installs flegita which is a gnome alternative to the xsane scanner app.

If you're having trouble printing from a laptop on the LPT port, be sure the parallel port is enabled in the computer's BIOS before you get upset at Ubuntu :)

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

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.

If you're prone to accidentally pressing the Caps Lock key, you can get Ubuntu to beep whenever it (or any of the 'Lock' keys that trigger LEDs go on) is pressed. Go System -> Preferences -> Keyboard and press the "Accessibility..." button. Check "Enable keyboard accessibility features", click the Filters tab and check "Enable Toggle Keys".

Do you find that every 21st-or-so boot that Ubuntu is rechecking the filesystem? Is that too frequent for your liking? You can change it, e.g. to every 30th, by running: sudo tune2fs -c 30 /dev/hda1

If something bad ever happens to X, the graphical system in Linux, and you're dumped into a command line at boot and you can't get to a GUI, run this command: sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg and follow the prompts and you should be back in business in short order! :)

Delete all the pics on your SD card by accident? Install the testdisk package and run testdisk or photorec.



Audio-Visual

acroread
agave
audacity (you can extract the audio track from
Flash files with it :)
gpaint
gstreamer0.10-plugins-good, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad, gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly, gstreamer0.10-pitfdll, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-*, gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg
gtick
gwenview (lossless JPEG transformations)
gxine
k3b
libxine1-ffmpeg (formerly libxine-extracodecs)
mplayer, mplayer-fonts
ogle-gui (with ogle or ogle-mmx)
realplay
vlc
w32codecs
xmms (expandable with xmms-* plugins; install xmms-skins for different themes) which is slowly being phased out; I would recommend audacious as a replacement
soundconverter is exceptionally handy at making MP3s

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 since then I've found 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 libmp3lame.so and change that to Extended Libraries, search for libmp3lame.so* then select the file libmp3lame.so.0.0.0 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 Medibuntu 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; dvdrip saves as AVI by default. There's also acidrip. To create a DVD from a video file, use devede.

k9copy is similar to the windows program "dvdshrink"

avidemux lets you split out audio from AVI files.

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 Medibuntu) 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 which is now installed in Ubuntu by deafult! :), just add the repository as I described earlier (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) Medibuntu has it packaged up as a DEB.

beryl and emerald-themes The control program is beryl-manager which you can add to the startup programs if it runs right: go System -> Preferences -> Sessions (Startup Programs tab) and add beryl-manager Usage instructions at link. Other Ubuntu instructions here. cairo-clock is a nice clock designed to work with it.

gThumb, which is installed by default, can do some neat printing tricks with multiple images.

Xmms can be used to generate a tone or mix of tones; give it a 'location' of "tone://" followed by a number (the frequency in Hz). For more than one simultaneous tone, separate the numbers with semicolons, e.g. xmms tone://200;400;800

To record video of your desktop, try istanbul or gtk-recordmydesktop

To convert video from one format to another, you might try iriverter, though be warned that it messes with your systems Java settings! (run sudo update-alternatives --config java to correct)

For additional background images install gnome-backgrounds or try Wikipedia: Featured Pictures, Backgrounds, Widescreen Backgrounds and the Commons.



Internet

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

amule
bittornado-gui
gftp-gtk
gwget
konqueror (if you feel like trying an alternate browser)
mozilla-mplayer (the Mplayer plugin for Firefox)
mozilla-thunderbird
webhttrack (and httrack and httrack-doc)

flashplugin-nonfree
Test here. Adobe (which bought Macromedia) has never released a version of the Shockwave Player for Linux; however if you want to view Shockwave content, here's what you can do: 1. Install wine. 2. Download and install Firefox 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 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)

The Democracy Miro 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-6-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 webmail.shaw.ca 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 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.

Use Terminal to run sudo nautilus and use that to move the extracted directory to /opt

To make plugins work (by creating links to them), run: ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/* /opt/firefox/plugins (in the future, if you add plugins, just run that command again)

To kill the annoying Totem plugin (e.g. so that you can use the Mplayer plugin), run: rm /opt/firefox/plugins/libtotem* (or you can manually do it if you want to pick and choose).

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'
---

If using a wireless connection, wifi-radar will likely come in handy. For some reason on my system it won't pick up on connections until you press New and create a profile. Something like "linksys" would be a good choice for a basic one ;) You might also want wpasupplicant and wpagui. With Network Manager now installed by default, wireless networking should be MUCH nicer in Feisty :) If you have any trouble when upgrading, in Network Settings ensure that your wireless and wired connections say "Roaming mode enabled" (if not, click Properties for the entry that needs changing and check "Enable roaming mode").



Games

gnome-games-extra-data

kdegames

amphetamine (runs with the command amph) for instructions, gedit /usr/share/doc/amphetamine/README
armagetron
atanks (and/or xscorch and/or scorched3d)
atomix
billiard-gl (note: requires a good video card)
biloba
blobwars
blockade
burgerspace (a BurgerTime clone; P to pause, CTRL to pepper)
codebreaker (and/or gnomermind)
enigma
freedroid and nighthawk
frozen-bubble
ghextris
gnome-hearts
gnubik
groundhog
gtetrinet
gweled
heroes-* packages (see heroes --help e.g. run heroes -2)
lbreakout2 (and/or tecnoballz)
liquidwar
mirrormagic
monkey-bubble
pingus
planetpenguin-racer (run "ppracer"; note: requires a good video card)
solarwolf
space-orbit (run "orbit"; instructions in /usr/share/doc/space-orbit/index.html)
supertux (note: requires a good video card)
supertransball2
supertuxcart (note: requires a good video card)
teg
tuxpuck
trackballs (and trackballs-music)
viruskiller
wing
wormux
xbill
xgalaga
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), check "Start server locally" and (if you just want to play as a single human player) go Game -> Launch Robot (repeat for up to six players total)

To run MAME, first go to Synaptic and install kxmame "xmame-x". Then get
gxmame (0.35b2) as a deb and install that. Run GXMame and go Option Run Kxmame and go Settings -> 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 -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

Gaming circa 1993! Install: doom-wad-shareware, lxdoom-x11, lxdoom-sndserv and lxmusserv
run, e.g.: lxdoom -width 640 -height 400 (320x200 minimum)

gaming circa 1988! gav and gav-themes

Gaming circa 1984! sopwith :-) If you liked that, but want something a little newer, try airstrike.

Sudoku is now in the gnome-games package and gnome-sudoku conflicts with it

An article that lists some other games: "10 Games from the Ubuntu Universe"



Kids

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)
gtans
kgeography
tuxpaint
xball

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



Science

celestia (or celestia-gnome)
glunarclock (gnome panel applet)
gcu-bin
gchempaint
gperiodic
gpredict
kalzium
kstars
marble
openuniverse
planets
stellarium
sunclock
xaos

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 http://setiathome.berkeley.edu and the Account Key to what you were issued.



Misc

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 127.0.0.1;
and change it to read:
prepend domain-name-servers 127.0.0.1, 208.67.222.222, 208.67.220.220;
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 127.0.0.1, 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 are at the top of the "DNS Servers" list.
- Test DNSmasq by running a command like dig google.com As a result, you should see a result near the bottom like:
;; Query time: 73 msec
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#53(127.0.0.1)
Now repeat the dig command and you should get something like:
;; Query time: 1 msec
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#53(127.0.0.1)
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. (note: you may need to install and run lm-sensors to get it working right)

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

To get Sun's Java working, install: sun-java6-jre, sun-java6-fonts (suggested) and sun-java6-plugin (for Mozilla-based browsers).
It has been said that you can speed up OpenOffice by disabling Java in it:
Go Tools -> Options
OpenOffice.org -> Java
uncheck "Use a Java runtime environment"
(though I don't disable it myself)

Speaking of OpenOffice.org, if you want your document formatted as Landscape, go Format -> Page... and next to Orientation, select Landscape.

For some alternate icons (or, if you change the icon theme for Ubuntu and the menu icons in OOo look weird), install the openoffice.org-style-* packages and then run OOo and go
Tools -> Options...
OpenOffice.org -> View
User Interface -> Icon size and style
change "Automatic" to something else
(I'm partial to "Industrial" myself, though "Human" is nice too :)

Alternatively to OpenOffice.org, try gnome-office (plus abiword-plugins to open odt) or koffice.

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...

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: 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 frequently (e.g. you type some German and need Ä, ä, Ö, ö, Ü, ü and ß), you can use the unicode values directly in Gnome applications (e.g. gedit) by pressing Control-Shift-U

You'll see: u
input a hexadecimal value (e.g. "00df", but you can omit leading zeroes, so: udf)
press Enter for the result (e.g. ß)

The German characters are: C4 Ä; E4 ä; D6 Ö; F6 ö; DC Ü; FC ü; DF ß

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 {} \;

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

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. linux-libertine, ttf-dustin, ttf-f500, ttf-isabella, ttf-larabie-deco, ttf-larabie-straight, ttf-larabie-uncommon, ttf-sil-charis, ttf-sil-doulos, ttf-sjfonts, ttf-staypuft, ttf-summersby, ttf-thryomanes, ttf-ubuntu-title, ttf-sumersby

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 OpenOffice.org 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.

File Roller can open lots of archives by default, but needs some helper apps to open others:
Archive/Package to install

7Z	p7zip-full (and/or p7zip)
ACE	unace (and/or unace-nonfree)
ALZ	unalz
ARJ	arj
LHZ	lha
LZO	lzop
RAR	unrar-free (and/or unrar)
RPM	rpm
UUE	sharutils
For LOTS of clipart, install openclipart (warning: its ~200 MB download and expands to ~400 MB when installed!)

Enable Popularity Contest in Synaptic (Settings -> Repositories -> Statistics (tab)) to send 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.

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.

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 :)

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).

tss is a terminal screensaver! :)

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.

If you like the SLED menu you can install gnome-main-menu and add it as an icon to your gnome panel. gnome-control-center has been updated in Feisty and now displays all the icons from System -> Preferences and System -> Administration in a single Window with some search features; nicely done!

gnome-power-statistics (part of default installed gnome-power-manager) is nifty :)

glipper is a clipboard manager that sits in the notification area

qalculate-gtk is a full featured calculator

saytime and saydate are CLI apps that do just what they sound like ;)

giplet is a gnome panel applet that shows your IP address

fala (not in repositories) is a frontend for the festival text-to-speech CLI program.

There's a new metapackage called ubuntu-restricted-extras for installing some of the neat multiverse stuff I have listed on this page; some codecs for Totem, MS fonts and the Flash and Java (currently it installs version 5) plugins. Highly recommended for most systems :)

I bought a "Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX" (note: apparently Logitech sells two different models under the same name; as per the tag on the USB cable, mine is "Part Number 861194-0000" but these instructions should apply to both types) and plugged it in and nothing happened, so I had to figure out what to do to make it work ;) Running lsusb gives in part: "Bus 003 Device 021: ID 046d:08ad Logitech, Inc." Vendor ID "0x046d" (Logitech) and Product ID "0x08ad" which appear on this page (the other STX product ID is "0x08d7" BTW), so we can use the "Gspca/Spca5xx" kernel module... but we have to build it first (but its easy, so keep reading ;) Go to this page and download latest version "for kernel up from 2.6.11". Then in Synaptic, to be sure we have everything we need, install packages linux and build-essential. Now extract the downloaded source code, run a Terminal window from that directory and run the following commands:

make
sudo make install
sudo modprobe gspca


Test to see if it worked by running dmesg which should give an output like:
[10081.716000] /home/username/Desktop/gspcav1-20070110/gspca_core.c: USB SPCA5XX camera found.(ZC3XX) 
[10081.716000] /home/username/Desktop/gspcav1-20070110/gspca_core.c: [spca5xx_probe:3983] Camera type JPEG 
[10081.716000] /home/username/Desktop/gspcav1-20070110/Vimicro/zc3xx.h: [zc3xx_config:515] Sensor ID:12
[10082.132000] /home/username/Desktop/gspcav1-20070110/Vimicro/zc3xx.h: [zc3xx_config:597] Find Sensor HV7131R(c)
[10082.140000] /home/username/Desktop/gspcav1-20070110/gspca_core.c: [spca5xx_getcapability:1189] maxw 640 maxh 480 minw 176 minh 144
[10082.140000] usbcore: registered new interface driver gspca
[10082.140000] /home/username/Desktop/gspcav1-20070110/gspca_core.c: gspca driver 01.00.12 registered
You can now use your camera with programs like Ekiga (installed on your system by default; formerly known as GnomeMeeting) or install some packages like xawtv, camstream or camorama. BTW, the GSPCA driver supports some 235 USB webcams and was written by a single person, Michel Xhaard.

Xara Xtreme "is a very versatile and mature piece of graphics software, tailored for web, print and publishing." So if you need that, install xaralx* and imagemagick

An hourglass: sanduhr

A hex editor: ghex

A partitioner: gparted
Warning! You have to use it with sudo and thus you could delete your OS; only use it on drives which aren't mounted (so not the one running Ubuntu :) Alternately, there's a very nice Gparted Live CD.

For easy installation of the proprietary ATI and nVidia drivers, envy looks promising. There's also restricted-manager now.

gnome-specimen is an app to compare various fonts.

firestarter is a firewall that can be used if you want to steath your ports.

libwps can allow word processor programs to view proprietary MS Works word processor files.

Multiple screens? Try displayconfig-gtk

If you find OpenOffice.org a bit on the bulky side for wordprocessing, you might want to try abiword-gnome

USB Scanner not working anymore? See here

For some interesting offline reading, install miscfiles.

xresprobe can detect some screen resolutions not picked up by a default Ubuntu install.