Things You Need To Install After Installing Ubuntu

ubuntu logoAfter 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.

Firestarter

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:

  1. Go to Applications -> Add/Remove: Search for Firestarter. Check the box and click “Apply Changes
  2. Go to System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager. Search for firestarter. Check the box and “mark for installation“. Click “Apply
  3. 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

amsn

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.

Java

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)

wine

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

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 )

Checkgmail

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.

19 comments

  1. good tips – but you can do sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras – it will install the restricted codecs (tip #2), flash (#5) and java (#6), along with some extras

    a good one too is installing azureus if youre into torrents – its a pretty good graphical interface for it

  2. Amarok is great to be used with Kubuntu. Personally, I prefer the KDE, and amarok works with KDE

  3. I’m puzzled about the java requirement. I installed Gutsy and never had to specifically install java. Apparently it came with the distribution, or was automatically installed for some other reason.

    Java is necessary for Open Office. As far as I know, Open Office is installed as part of the Ubuntu standard installation. So it would seem to me that if you’ve got OO, you’ve got java.

  4. A firewall is not a plug-and-play security addition. If all you do is “apt-get install firestarter” then you will be no better off than before you installed it.

    A firewall is most useful for allowing certain network traffic and denying other network traffic. For instance, allowing other computers on your internal network to use the caching DNS server on your Ubuntu machine but not allowing anyone outside your network to use it. You could also export your X session to your work but not allow access to it from anywhere else. Firewalls can also be used to detect brute force ssh login attempts and block them. ( http://www.ducea.com/2006/06/28/using-iptables-to-block-brute-force-attacks/ ) but a firewall will do absolutely nothing if it is not configured.

    Also, if “Ubuntu does not leave all its ports open” as you said above then it must already have a firewall. You cannot “close ports” without one. I don’t want to get into any sort of argument over which firewall is the best but just picking one at random and installing it will not help your security at all, especially if there is already one installed.

    A false sense of security can actually be worse for your true security than remaining insecure and paranoid.

  5. Ubuntu and i think that most of the Linux versions comes with a default firewall ” IPTABLES / IPCHAINS?” If you learn how to configured this, its very powerful.

  6. By Default IPTABLES close all ports traffic from Untrust to Trust but its Any/Any from Trust to Untrust. So if you need to open a port for exmaple for SYSLOG traffic or any other traffic from the outside you had to configure a rule in IPTABLES. Open a shell and write:

    sudo iptables -L and it will shows you the Chains configure by default.

    sudo iptables ?
    shows you all attributes with the command

  7. The way I understand it, Firestarter is just a GUI to edit the IPTABLES. It’s also a buggy piece of crap.

  8. There are lot of information about IPTABLE at the Ubuntu documenation.

    Iptables is a firewall, installed by default on all official Ubuntu distributions (Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu). When you install Ubuntu, iptables is there, but it allows all traffic by default.

    A new user can use Firestarter (a gui), available in repositories (Synaptic or apt-get) to configure her/his iptable rules, without needing the command line knowledge. Please see the tutorial though… Configuration is easy, but may not be enough for the advanced user. However, it should be enough for the most home users…

    This should explain why Firestarter makes a good choice (may not be the best) for someone who is new to Linux (and Ubuntu).

    • Install the restricted-extras package (sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras). Alternatively, if you are using Ubuntu Gutsy and above, simply double click on the mp3 and the default media player will automatically search for the codec and prompt you to install it.

  9. my Name is David.
    I have windows 7 and it's wireless on my desk top work's fine I switch over on boot up
    to ubuntu,and no fire fox internet.it says server not found,no dvd movies will play,no cd music will play,have sound,what do I need to do to get it working.fire fox works fine I have Vidalia I can't burn.I guess I am just a geek thank's for your help.

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