After much consideration, you have decided to switch to Ubuntu as your primary operating system.
You download the Ubuntu Live CD iso, burn into CD, boot it up and do a live install. When you finally boot into the new OS, start to use the browser and find that you can’t watch video on Youtube, or when you wanted to listen to mp3 and find that the format is not supportable, you start to wonder if you have make the right choice in switching to Ubuntu.
While Ubuntu comes with a set of applications that you can use immediately, due to licensing issue, some of the popular software/file format/plugins are not included in the installation by default. Luckily, there are tons of support and free software that you can install to enhance your user experience. Here is a list of software that you need to install after installing Ubuntu.
While Ubuntu does not leave all its ports open, it is always better to have a firewall to provide the extra protection. Firestarter is a firewall for Linux that is easy to configure and work silently in the background without your knowledge.
Ways to install:
- Go to Applications -> Add/Remove: Search for Firestarter. Check the box and click “Apply Changes“
- Go to System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager. Search for firestarter. Check the box and “mark for installation“. Click “Apply“
- Open up a terminal, enter sudo apt-get install firestarter
Restricted codec and plugin
Having trouble playing mp3 file or watching DVD movie? You will need to install the restricted codecs and plugins. A good thing is that Ubuntu Gutsy installs the missing codecs when you first played your music, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty. If you want to install it manually:
Got to Applications -> Add/Remove. Search for ‘Gstreamer‘ and check all the Gstreamer boxes. Click “Apply”
VLC media player
While Ubuntu comes with totem movie player and Rhythmbox music player, somehow I still prefer VLC since it is a versatile player that can play whatever format you throw to it. You can install it via the Add/Remove, Synaptic package manager or terminal: sudo apt-get install vlc
Pidgin is good and allows you to access to various IM, but somehow, I still miss my MSN messenger. AMSN proved to be a great substitute for Windows MSN messenger. You can install via Add/remove or synaptic package manager. Installation via the amsn’s installer package will require some technical skill, especially in configuring the tcl protocol.
Adobe flash player
Firefox by default does not come with Adobe Flash player. To watch video in Youtube, or access other flash-enabled site, you will need to install the flash player. While Firefox prompts and directs you to install the flash plugin on the first attempt, the installation doesn’t really work for me. An alternative is to download the installer file (.tar.gz format) from Adobe site and install it manually.
Your browser needs Java runtime to browse java-enabled sites. Installation via the terminal: sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts
(For easy installation of restricted codecs, flash and java, type sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras)
This is a ‘must-have’ software if you have some Windows applications that you can’t do without. I used it to run Photoshop and Dreamweaver and they work great. Installation method: Add/Remove, synaptic package manager, terminal: sudo apt-get install wine
GnomeBaker is a CD/DVD burning application. While it is not the best in the whole Ubuntu repository, it is one of the simplest to use. Installation method: Add/Remove, synaptic package manager, terminal: sudo apt-get install gnomebaker
(I personally find GnomeBaker easy to use and it works fine for simple usage. However, if you want a more sophisticated CD/DVD burning tool, then K3B would be a better choice. To install, sudo apt-get install k3b )
This is not really a ‘must’ install, but it does make your life much easier. Checkgmail is a small icon on your system tray that checks your gmail inbox at a regular interval. You get notified of new mail and choose if you want to open it or mark it as spam/read. Installation method: Add/Remove, Synaptic package manager, terminal.