Linux Computer Setup and Software

Summary

The standard Ubuntu Linux installation includes most of the software that people typically need for browsing the web and creating documents. However, some additional programs may be helpful depending on what kind of work you do. This document lists those programs and includes some other details about setting up a Linux computer. New programs will be added to this list as they are discovered.

Initial Setup

Unless you’ve purchased a computer than includes Linux, you’ll need another working computer to download the operating system and create a bootable installation DVD or USB flash drive. The best choice is a USB flash drive. Visit the Ubuntu download page to select the right version (flavor) for you and follow the instructions for making a bootable USB for Windows,  Apple, or Ubuntu.

Startup your computer and choose to boot to the USB device. On Dell computers this is typically done by pressing the F12 key on startup. MSI Motherboards use the F11 key for the boot menu.

Install Software

The following software is useful to have installed on a Linux computer for greater productivity.

  • Agenti – This helps manage sharing and other server features on your Linux computer. You’ll need to install Samba (see below) and restart the computer before Samba will show up in Agenti under the Software heading.
  • FileZilla – This is an FTP client useful for people who work on websites. Using the Ubuntu Software Center is the best way to install FileZilla.
  • Gimp Image Editor – This software lets  you edit images. This software is available for download in the Ubuntu Software Center. You can also use Terminal and install with these commands:
    • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp
    • sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gimp
  • Google Chrome – This is an excellent browser option for multiple platforms because it permits the installation of additional programs. This software is available for download in the Ubuntu Software Center. You can also download it from the Chrome Download page. There are many popular Google Chrome store apps. Here are some Google Chrome based programs that you’ll probably want:
    • Edge (Ruler) – Lets you measure objects on your screen in pixels, inches, or centimeters.
    • Gmail Offline – Lets you read and draft emails even when you’re not connected to the Internet.
    • Google Docs – Microsoft Word equivalent for word processing.
    • Google Forms – Lets you create online forms, polls, and surveys.
    • Google Keep – Cloud synchronized notes available on all your devices.
    • Google Music Player – Lets you store your entire music collection in the cloud and play from all your computers and devices.
    • Google Sheets – Microsoft Excel equivalent for spreadsheets.
    • Google Slides – Microsoft PowerPoint equivalent for presentations.
  • GParted – Lets you partition, format, and otherwise manage hard drives. This software is available for download in the Ubuntu Software Center. You can also use Terminal and install with this command:
    • sudo apt-get install gparted
  • Handbrake – Lets you create computer video files from your DVDs to make them viewable on computers and mobile devices. This software is available for download in the Ubuntu Software Center. You can also use Terminal and install with this command: sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk.
  • LibreOffice – This is a Microsoft Office alternative that includes programs similar to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint, as well as a drawing program. This software is already pre-installed with Ubuntu.
  • MDADM – This program, combined with the Ubuntu Disk Utility, lets you use RAID to combine multiple drives into one. Install using this command:
    • sudo apt-get install mdadm
  • Pidgin – A chat interface compatible with Google Hangouts, Microsoft Lync, and many other chat services.
  • Plex Server – Lets you store all of your videos, photos, and music files. This software is available for purchase in the Ubuntu Software Center. A more direct route would be to download the installation file from the download page on the Plex.tv website. We have a Plex User’s Guide with a brief introduction to how it works.
  • Samba – When you right click on a folder and choose to create a Network Share for the first time, Linux will prompt you to install the network sharing capabilities.
  • Thunderbird – This is an email client similar to Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail. It lets you access multiple email services in one place, and download your messages for offline viewing or drafting replies.
  • VirtualBox – Lets you run different operating systems within  your Linux computer, so you can bring up a Windows session to run Windows program. You can follow the command-line installation instructions or use the Ubuntu Software Center.
  • YouTube Video Downloading – To get the YouTube downloader, enter this command in Terminal: sudo apt-get install youtube-dl. To use the downloader, type your request in this format: youtube-dl http://www.youtube.com/VideoNumber (you can use other video site links here as well).

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