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Guru Vs Kubuntu 7.10

This is a log of my experience with installing and using Kubuntu 7.10
This is not a 'who will win' comparison. Let's face it, Kubuntu is the ducks nuts (hmmm, do ducks even have nuts? I'm not sure?!). Anyway, for BASIC computer tasks like email, web browsing, ftp, word processing, networking, file management, playing music, p2p, burning CDs/DVDs, picture viewing, graphics editing and computer programming, Windows HAS lost. Windows still holds the game market and probably will forever, but we don't need games because we have MAME, and MAME will run on Linux too :-D
What this is all about is basically a dummies install and config guide in explicit detail to the point where the OS runs so slickly that you will be an instant Linux convert and all of your friends will be begging you to install it on their PCs. Plus I'll give you many top secret Guru-tips on how to configure it to look very close to a Windows-XP look and feel. Not because Windows is better, but because that's what I'm used to using and it's convenient.

There are no longer any conditions about compiling source because it's just so easy with Kubuntu that a few simple commands can make SO much of a difference to the system and the installed apps that it's worth the effort. However there's not a lot that I need that comes only in source form, updates are very quick for the OS and I don't need to be on the cutting edge of that.

Note that this only applies to Kubuntu 7.10. Other distros may be better or even worse. Also note there are no tricks here. I don't have a system all set up already. This is live and raw. This is based on what I've learned in about a year using Kubuntu (and a year with Suse... urgghh!). I'm also using Kubuntu because it is much nicer to look at and use than Ubuntu due to the integrated KDE interface and there's a lot more configuration options available in KDE. If you want a Windows XP look and feel, you must go with KDE :-)

I also hope that some key Linux devs will notice this and fix some of the issues I'm having in the hope that it will promote the use of Linux by more people who want to get away from Windows, but can't due to the difficulties expressed on this page.

OK, let's start.

Installing Kubuntu 7.10.... I just happened to have a spare laptop lying around. Well actually I have 7 of them.

Toshiba 2430 Pentium 4 2.8GHz and 1G RAM (my first one) that I use for work mostly (CNC Programming)
Plus all of the below that were dead at some point in the past and I repaired them over the years as I got access to other dead laptops for parts.
Toshiba A10 Pentium 4M 2.4GHz with 40GB HDD and about 1G RAM each (x2)
Toshiba A20 Pentium 4 2.4GHz with 80GB HDD and about 1G RAM
Toshiba A60 Pentium 4 3.06GHz with 40GB HDD, 1G RAM and ATI Radeon
Toshiba Tecra A8 Core 2 Duo 2GHz with 2G RAM and 120GB HDD (x2)
One of the Tecra A8's is plugged into a Toshiba Port Replicator II using my large monitor, keyboard and mouse through a Avocent Switchview 4-port KVM. This is now my No.1 Linux PC that I use every day. The other one will be used for this tutorial. Installing this on a laptop will also highlight some issues that are apparent when installing Linux on laptops... minor issues that can usually be fixed with some manual configuration tweaks. I believe some of them have been addressed in Kubuntu 8.04, but I'll install that on this same PC a bit later, probably in another partition that I'll split when installing it and we'll see just what's going down.

One of the minor issues with Kubuntu is that it's only available on a CD so there's a few critical apps missing because KDE takes up the space that was used for the apps in Ubuntu. However it's very easy to fix that later when we connect to the internet. We'll cover that a bit later.
So, I insert the CD into the drive and boot the PC. The first screen we see is a menu with some options.

Here we select 'Start Kubuntu in safe graphics mode'. I always do this because sometimes on laptops Linux will freak out and display wavey lines or just a bunch of coloured pixels upon bootup. Selecting this option avoids that problem completely.
So now we wait some..... and we're presented with the Kubuntu desktop.

Kubuntu (and many Linux distros) now boot up live and allow you to use it without installing. This is obviously slower though because it uses RAM for everything and has to copy stuff from the CD constantly. Installing it from that point is very, very simple. Just click the 'Install' icon on the desktop..... so that's what we'll do now.
One thing you must get used to is single clicking. Only a single click is required for most things in Linux. Initially you might find yourself wanting to just highlight a filename for some reason (rename or whatever) but in Linux that will load it. It can take some time to get used to it. I'm sure it can be changed but I actually like it.
The first screen after clicking Install shows a welcome message and asks for the language. It has selected English already, so we just click Next

Now it asks for the location to get time zone related info (and maybe so the CIA/FBI know where you're located so they can watch you? ;-)
I select my city (one of the small red dots) and click Next again.

Next, select keyboard. It defaults to U.S. English which is fine, so click Next again.

The next screen is the 'Prepare disk space' screen.
This is where the kids get all wobbly and give up. Don't be so fast to quit, be a man and sacrifice everything on the HDD in the name of Linux! It's not that hard really. Let's take a look. I have a single partition on this HDD with a base install of XP from the factory Toshiba Tecra A8 Install CDs. There's nothing important on it so we'll play with fire and select 'Manual' because I have some specific requirements for my HDD. Then click Next.

Here we see the partition table with just a single partition and it's called /dev/sda1, of type NTFS and it's mounted as /media/sda1 (In Linux, storage devices are listed in a directory called /dev as raw devices. A more user-friendly naming scheme is shown in /media which is where you should be looking when accessing a storage device normally. At this stage you can think of sda1 as C:\ and ignore it).

Only 6300MB is used for XP, so we'll just re-size it. Click 'Edit partition'

In the box that pops up, I'll resize the partition to 15GB by typing over the 120023 with 15000 then click OK.
Now another box pops up and tells you some serious shit is about to take place and you'd better be sure you want to do it. Click OK again.

A small box says 'Please wait resizing Partition...'. So we wait for the serious shit to happen.
After some time the little coloured bar at the top is a different length. Now I have 105GB free. Looking good.

So now we need to get some Linux partitions happening. I don't know how the Linux Pro's do it, but I like to be in control of my partitions so this is how I do it....
Click the 'free space' below the /dev/sda1 partition and click 'New partition'.
This will be the root partition for the Linux core stuff. In the box that pops up, leave the 'Primary' radio button selected, type a new partition size (in my case, I want 25GB so I type 25000), click the 'Beginning' radio button, leave the type of partition as ext3 and in the 'Mount point' type / then click OK.

Now we have about 80 Gigs free.

Select the free space again and click 'New Partition'.
This will be the home partition for my stuff. In the box that pops up, leave the 'Primary' radio button selected, type a new partition size (in my case, I want all of it minus 500M or so, so I type 79500), click the 'Beginning' radio button, leave the type of partition as ext3 and in the 'Mount point' type /home then click OK.

Now you can see the yellow coloured bar at the top is much smaller. That means we're nearly done.

Select the free space again and click 'New Partition'.
This will be the swap partition (basically equivalent to the Windows swap file). In the box that pops up, leave the 'Primary' radio button selected, accept the size given (it's all of the remaining space which is 534M), click the 'Beginning' radio button, change the 'Use as' type of partition to 'swap'. The 'Mount point' is not available for swap partitions so ignore it, then click OK.
We're done. Ensure the 'Format?' box is selected for the / and /home partitions and NOT selected for /media/sda1 (our old Windows XP partition) and then click Next.

btw, you can skip the creation of the home partition if you want and just have a root and swap (the minimum requirements) and Linux will make a /home directory for you on the single partition. The reason I set up root and home partitions separately is because if I want to do a clean re-install of the OS, I just boot from the CD, go through the manual partition process again, but I leave it as-is and simply select the X in the 'Format?' column for the root partition I created (the 15GB one). That leaves all of my stuff where it is without touching it and wipes the system files only. It also keeps my stuff separate so I can back up just that partition without having to weed out OS-related stuff.
The next window is for names and passwords. Just fill in the boxes with name, log-in name (can be the same as name), password and computer name then click Next.

The final step is a summary of what's going to be done. Don't worry if you messed up, you'll just lose everything and your PC will crash and burn. There's no going back now. Click 'Install'

Now the partitions are created and formatted and the system files are copied across. Time for a little MAME-ing for about 15 minutes while it installs....

At about 80% we hit the first snag. The system can't find the internet and the update repositories.

This is because on these particular (Toshiba) laptops, the Wifi/Network chipset they're using somehow doesn't set up the DHCP server properly from the router (or something like that). Don't worry about it now. We'll just click OK here and fix that later.
So now it's finished copying the system and tells me to restart the PC. Click OK, wait for the desktop to show, then click the K-Menu (the icon at the lower left), select the red 'logout' icon and then click Restart. Remove the CD when asked and press ENTER to reboot.

On reboot we're presented with the boot loader menu.

Here you can see a few options. The top one is our main Kubuntu 7.10 system that we boot into normally. At the bottom is the old Windows XP if we want it. If you don't touch the PC, the timer will count down and after 10 seconds the PC will start to boot Kubuntu.
After just a few seconds the log-in screen will appear.... YES, just a few seconds.

The list of users is on the left side. Click the user name you just created and type the password and hit ENTER. Once you log in correctly it will remember your log-in name and you'll only have to type the password on subsequent log-ins.
A few seconds later the Kubuntu desktop appears.

Damn this is fast. I LOVE it. Now the custom Guru-configuring starts.....

Let's tidy up the taskbar first. This is a laptop and I don't want multiple desktops so right click the small arrow to the left of the numbers 1 and 2 and select 'Remove Desktop Preview and Pager'. Gone!
Next to that there's a small icon that looks like a RAM chip. If I click it it's telling me that this PC is using proprietary drivers for the network card.... there's an Intel 3945ABG Pro Wireless mini-PCI card in this laptop. That's fine. Click OK and the window disappears along with that icon.
There's a little 'K' clipboard icon there too. I don't use it so right click, click 'quit' and click 'do not start'
The clock is a bit basic, so we'll fix it. Right click it and select 'configure clock'. In the appearance tab check seconds, day of week and click OK
There's a bin in the far right corner. I prefer it on the desktop personally. It's not so easy to put it there though, but we'll fix that later. For now, right click the small arrow to the left of the bin and click 'remove trash'.
I don't much care for the 'show desktop' icon either (I want to maximize the taskbar space because I usually have a dozen or more windows open) so that goes too... right click the 'Show Desktop' icon and select 'Remove Desktop Access Button'.
On the left side there's a thing they call 'Quick Launcher'. While this is ok, I don't like what's in there. Right click the icons for Kopete, Contact and Amarok and click 'remove'. Right click the small arrow to the left of the Quick Launcher and select 'Configure Quick Launcher'. Check the 'Conserve Space' box and click OK. Later I'll put some useful stuff in there that we'll use a lot.

Now one last thing for the bottom taskbar... let's get the net working. On the right side there's a white icon looking like a network wall plug socket thingy with a small red X in the corner. It's the KNetworkManager and it's telling us it needs help. If you're lucky your wireless will be working already depending on what type of PC you have, but mine isn't working so I right click the icon.

We see there's a couple of wireless networks near me. One is mine and one is the next door neighbours. If you put the mouse over the listed networks it gives you some basic info about it. Since I already know my neighbour uses WEP I'll skip the compulsive urge to hack into it (g'day Justin!) and I'll just left click my own network ;-)
Now a box pops up and asks for a passphrase. I'm using a slightly non-standard set-up here in my router so using this menu isn't going to help me. Your mileage may vary. I'll close it and use the manual configuration. YOU might actually learn something this way too....
Right click the KNetworkManager icon again and select 'Manual configuration'
To access this we need to put in the password (the same one you put in there at log in) and click OK. A window opens up and we can see 'eth0' and 'eth1'

The first one is the internal network card and the second one is the wireless card. I want to use wireless here so I'll select 'eth1' and click 'Configure interface'.
A window pops up asking for some info.

In the top 'TCP/IP Address' section, I check the 'Automatic' radio button, leave dhcp in the drop down box, check 'Activate when the computer starts' and type my ESSID and WEP key from my wireless DLink DSL-604T wireless router then click OK. For those interested, I'm using WEP128 with a HEX password that is 56 characters long. Feel free to hack it if you happen to be passing my house ;-)
In the routes tab in Default Gateway IP address, I type my router IP. In the Domain Name System tab in Domain Name Servers add the DNS server IP address of the ISP then click OK. As I said, this is just for this era of Toshiba laptops and your system may be automatically configured, especially if it's newer or you use Kubuntu 8.04 or later. Anwyay, that's it. Wait for the settings to be updated and now I have internet access.
The IP address of eth1 has now changed to one that is close to the router IP (router is, eth1 is and you'll also notice the little red X has gone from the KNetworkManager icon.
At this early stage we don't have a proper browser (no Firefox in baseline Kubuntu!) but we can test internet access easily. Bring up a Terminal prompt (KMenu / System / Konsole) and type ping (my router IP address) or ping and you should get a response. That means the DHCP and DNS server is working properly.

Now we need to get some updates from the repositories. Go to KMenu / System / Adept Manager. On the top menu select Adept then Manage Repositories. In the 'Kubuntu Software' tab, check all 5 boxes. In the 'Download from' box select a server nearest to your location. In the 'Third-Party' tab, uncheck cdrom (we'll get all our software from the net directly from now on), and check both Canonical links. In the 'Updates' tab check all of the top 'Kubuntu updates' boxes and click Close. A box will pop up asking to reload the repository info.

Click 'Reload'. Close Adept Manager. Now another orange icon appears on the lower right side, but leave it for now.
Go back to the console prompt.
Now let's get some free software. A huge bunch of it all in one hit! Can you handle it??? Paste the following and hit enter. (type your password if it asks for one and type y if you're asked if it's ok to download it)

sudo apt-get install firefox gimp alien ghex nano amsn msttcorefonts amule

You can use Adept Manager to select these apps/libraries if you want. I prefer this method, it's faster IMO :-)
You'll also be asked to OK a few things along the way (java, ms fonts and some others) just click OK or whatever is needed to keep it going.
Left click that new icon on the bottom right (an orange coloured box with a red triangle over it) and Adept Update will load. 'Click Fetch List of Updates', then 'Apply Updates'. There will probably be a lot of stuff. Here it tells me there's 346M of downloads waiting. ALL FREE!!! hahahahaarrr!!

OK so let's add a desktop Trashcan.....

Make a new text file on the desktop named 'Trash.desktop' (right click desktop, Create New... text file)
Edit it with any text editor (for example Kate). Add the following to the text file and save it.

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Contains removed files

Drag it to the bottom right of the desktop and that's it.

Now we'll configure the taskbars
Right click the bottom taskbar and select 'Add New Panel' then 'Panel'. Drag it to the left side of the screen so it sits vertically. Right click the taskbar and select 'Configure Panel'.
Arrangement - Settings for Main Panel are.....
Position is lower left, Length is 100%. Check 'Expand as required to fit contents. Size is custom and 52 pixels.
Hiding - Only hide when a panel hide button is clicked. Check Show right panel hiding button. Check Animate Hiding Panel and select speed between medium and fast.
Appearance - Check Enable Transparency. In Advanced Options, Hide Button size is 3 pixels. Set tint to about 1/4, check Also apply to panel with menu bar.
Taskbar - check Sort alphabetically by application name. Check Show applications only. Group similar tasks is never. Appearance is classic. Click OK

Right click the left side panel and select 'Configure Panel'.
Arrangement - Settings for Panel
Position is upper right, Length is 100%. Check 'Expand as required to fit contents. Size is normal.
Hiding - Allow other windows to cover the panel. Check Raise when the pointer touches the screens top left corner. Check Show top panel hiding button. Check Animate Hiding Panel and select speed between medium and fast.
Appearance - Check Enable Transparency. In Advanced Options, Hide Button size is 3 pixels. Set tint to about 1/4, check Also apply to panel with menu bar.
Taskbar - check Sort alphabetically by application name. Check Show applications only. Group similar tasks never. Appearance is classic. Click OK
Now we have another panel on the left for our frequently accessed programs. The small white bar at the top allows it to slide up out of the way. Touch the top left corner of the screen with the mouse to bring up the bar again if a window is covering it. It's pretty slick!

Yaaawwnnn. Time for sleep

Hmmm, on reboot today some things are now not working. I have lost my wireless connection (no eth1) and there's no sound. Let's look for the problem. Must be something to do with the update I just did. At a terminal prompt I type 'sudo apt-get update' it gives me a message....
E: dpkg was interrupted, you must manually run 'dpkg --configure -a' to correct the problem.
Ah yes, I remember that one. The package manager stopped at one of the updates and I just clicked OK to keep it going. Alright. So at the terminal prompt I type...
sudo dpkg --configure -a
I type my password and a few things get installed including some major system core updates. It's still not working properly and I figure the easiest way is to just reboot.... Yeah I know all of that stuff can be restarted from the terminal, but I'M NOT DOING IT!

OK, on reboot now everything is working again.
Update: In Kubuntu 8.04 there's no volume icon in the notification bar. To add that go to 'Add/Remove Programs' and install 'KMix'

Right click the desktop. select 'Configure desktop'
In Background, set 'Picture' to something nice. In Behaviour, Drive icons, ensure 'show device icons' is checked. This is a toggle that will either show the drive icons on the desktop (for example when you insert a CF card, or USB drive or MP3 player or whatever) or it will not show them on the desktop. In that case, you can easily access the drives from the System Menu icon (next to the KMenu icon in the taskbar)
In Multiple Desktops, set the slider to minimum (1 Desktop)

Now we'll add a couple of useful things to the Quick Launcher.
KMenu / System / Konsole, drag the icon to the Quick Launcher in the bottom taskbar.
KMenu / Internet / Firefox, drag the icon to the Quick Launcher in the bottom taskbar.
Now there's 3 icons sitting vertically. Konqueror (the file manager which was there originally), Terminal and Firefox.

I run Firefox from the Quick Launcher icon and comes up. Excellent!
While I have Firefox up, I'll add a few necessary things...
Go to Tools / Add-ons and click 'Get Extensions'. Do a search and download the following things...
1. Adblock Plus (or newer, by Wladimir Palant). Stops unwanted java/flash/other advertising B.S. Click 'Add To Firefox' and accept the pop-up warning to install it.
2. Flashblock 1.5.6 (or newer, by Lorenzo Colitti, Philip Chee). This is useful to stop unwanted flash ads. To view any flash just click it to enable it. The program can be configured so that nice sites like Youtube are not blocked. Click 'Add To Firefox' and accept the pop-up warning to install it.
3. Translator (or newer, by Byron Adams). Really simple and fast translator for web pages supporting most common languages. When auto-translate is enabled an icon will appear bottom right, just click it to auto-translate the current page to the pre-selected language. To translate other languages, click the icon bottom right and select the language/flag. Click 'Add To Firefox' and accept the pop-up warning to install it.
Once all three are installed, in the Add-ons window, click Restart Firefox.
When Firefox loads you'll see a window asking to subscribe to an ad-block list. Select EasyList (USA) and click Subscribe. Any new ads can be added to the filters simply by right clicking it and adding it.
Click the flag icon bottom right, then preferences. Check the Quick Translation enable box and select your preferred language then click OK, then close Firefox for now.

Update: Recently (November 2008) M$ changed Hotmail and now it won't work with the version of Firefox I have on my Linux PC and I refuse to update it so I can't reply in hotmail anymore. Initially there's an incompatibility page that comes up warning that I should upgrade my browser, then when I click 'continue to Hotmail anyway' Hotmail works and you can view emails, but when clicking reply the body of the email is not active and there's no cursor! I've done some research and it's been found that M$ are doing user agent sniffing and blocking Hotmail reply if not using Windows! Quite sad! Well, we'll fix those son's of bitches! There's a plug-in add-on called 'User Agent Switcher' that will allow Firefox to masquerade as any browser in any OS. Download User Agent Switcher 0.6.11 (or in Firefox, click Tools/Add-ons then 'Get Extensions' and search for it. After the add-on is installed, configure it. In Tools > User Agent Switcher, go into Options > Options, and add a new identifier: (use copy/paste here, of course)....
Set field 1 to Firefox for Windows
Set field 2 to Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en; rv: Gecko/20071127 Firefox/
Now you can access the full capabilities of Hotmail outside of Windows. Geez, that was really stupid M$, really stupid. ARSEHOLES. Hmmmmm
Of course, Microsoft denies doing it and it's quite funny. Read the truth here....

Let's test sound / MP3's. Open an MP3 from my USB stick, Amarok opens and it plays, but I can't hear any sound. This laptop is a bit quirky as I mentioned before and it's using a strange sound driver called Intel HDA. To fix it we must add some stuff to one of the config files. It's really easy because I've prepared some of it already by installing a useful and easy to use text editor (sorry to all you egg-heads out there, vi is not user-friendly nor intuitive). Open up a Terminal and type...
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base
type your password when asked and then scroll the text editor to the bottom and add a line...
options snd-hda-intel enable=1 index=0 model=basic
Press CTRL O then press ENTER to write the changes then CTRL X to quit the nano editor
Restart the computer and sound is now working through the internal speakers.

I liked to use the My Computer link in Windows XP a lot to check on my HDD space and give me quick access to the drives. While I can access any HDD via the System Menu / Storage Media icon (the icon sitting to the right of the KMenu icon) it has less info and something like what I want is missing from Kubuntu, so we'll add something very similar....
To add sysinfo:/....

Download package kio-sysinfo_1.7.1_i386.deb or the newest version from ..... (or search for it)
Paste this....
sudo apt-get install kdelibs4c2a libacl1 libart-2.0-2 libattr1 libaudio2 libc6 libdbus-1-3 libfontconfig1 libfreetype6 libgcc1 libhal1 libhd13 libice6 libidn11 libjpeg62 libpcre3 libpng12-0 libqt3-mt libsm6 libstdc++6 libx11-6 libxcursor1 libxext6 libxft2 libxi6 libxinerama1 libxrandr2 libxrender1 libxt6 zlib1g

sudo dpkg -i kio-sysinfo_1.7.1_i386.deb (check version before pasting!!)

Make a new text file on the desktop named 'myComputer.desktop'
Edit it with any text editor. Add the following to the text file and save it.

[Desktop Entry]
Name=My Computer
Name[en_US]=My Computer

Drag the icon to the left panel. Let's put some other stuff in the panel while we're there....
Most of the stuff we need is in the KMenu, but I think it's more convenient to get access to it from the panel. So we need to go looking in the KMenu for some programs. Right click the panel and select 'Add Application to Panel' and add the following stuff from the list...
Sysinfo (should be there already)
System / Konsole
Multimedia / Amarok
Internet / Firefox
Internet / Amsn
Internet / Amule
Utilities / Kate

There's a couple missing. We'll sort those out now.
As part of my work, I need a solid FTP program. I really like IglooFTP so we'll go get it....
Open up a terminal, CD to the directory where it's saved and type...
tar xvfz filename
Incidentally, in Linux, there's a nice way of auto-completing names. In the above command, I would only need to type tar xvfz Ig then press TAB and the line will be auto-filled in. If you hear a tone that means there's more than 1 file with those letters and you need to type a bit more. Just add 1 or 2 more letters/numbers and hit TAB again until the full filename is shown then hit ENTER. Really smooth!
To install it, type 'ls' to get a directory list. Look for the new dir name. CD to the newly created directory cd Igl [TAB] and type Install. Sometimes you might have to type ./install instead. It depends on the archive contents and which version you get. That also applies to other types of manual installs too. Just look for the install filename.
After it's installed there's no icon that I can see(?!) so right click the desktop and select 'Create New' then 'Link to Application'.
In the Application tab in name, type 'Igloo FTP Pro', in the command box paste in '/usr/local/IglooFTP-PRO/bin/IglooFTP-PRO' and in the work path box paste in '/home/guru/.IglooFTP-PRO'. You will need to replace 'guru' with the name of your home dir (which is your login name usually).
Go back to the general tab, click the icon and select Other Icons, then 'Browse' and go to /usr/local/IglooFTP-PRO/share/icons/ then select the 48x48 icon and click OPEN.
Drag the icon to the left panel.

The final one needed is KMail. AFAIK it's part of the 'Kontact Personal Information Manager' but I don't like it because it's too heavy for what I need (it's virtually identical to Microsoft Outlook)
Right click the desktop and select 'Create New' then 'Link to Application'.
In the Application tab in name, type 'KMail', in the command box type 'kmail'.
Go to the general tab, click the icon and select System Icons, ensure 'Applications' is selected then scroll down the list to the kmail icon and click it. Then click OK.
Drag the icon to the left panel.

Now the left panel is complete so right click any of the panels and select 'Lock Panels' so the icons can't be accidentally moved.
WOW, what a transformation!

Before we move on, we need to set up kmail properly...
click kmail in the left panel
On the top menu, select Settings / Configure KMail
Add an identify (basically just a name and email address)
In Accounts / Receiving, click add and in the General tab fill in Account Name, Login, Password and Host
In Accounts / Sending, click add and in the General tab type the name and host (your SMTP server)

In the top menu, select View / Headers / Long Headers
Then View / Attachments / As Icons

Configure Kmail / Appearance / MessageList / Date then select 'Standard Format'
Configure Kmail / Appearance / Messagewindows then uncheck 'Replace Smiley with Emoticons'

Right click the top toolbar, select 'Text under Icons'
Right click the top toolbar again and select 'Configure Toolbars'

Use the arrows to add and remove items to set the Current Actions list on the right to contain the following.....
New Message
Line Separator
Check Main In
Line Separator
Send Queued Messages
Line Separator
Line Separator
Move To Trash (then click it and click 'Change Icon' then scroll down the list and select a red X)
Line Separator

Basically what we've done above is make KMail look like Microsoft Outlook Express ;-)

Now we'll do the DVD movie thing. Pop in a DVD movie. A window pops up asking to select a program to play it. In Kubuntu we should use Kaffeine, so select that one, check the box to 'Always do this' etc and click OK
Of course it DOESN'T WORK! A window pops up with a message telling me it can't read the source.
We'll fix that!
Adding support for DVDs is quite simple. First we need to add the Medibuntu repository.
On the KMenu click 'System' then 'Adept Manager'. Then click Adept on the top menu and select 'Manage Repositories', then click the '3rd-Party Software' tab, click 'Add' and paste in or type the following....
deb free non-free then press ENTER
Then click OK and close. You will be asked to update the database so click 'Reload'
Now bring up a Terminal prompt. We need to add the Medibuntu keyring so Kubuntu recognises it as a trusted source.
sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring then press ENTER
Then paste in or type the following....
sudo apt-get install libdvdplay0 libdvdcss2 libdvdread3 libdvdnav4 w32codecs kubuntu-restricted-extras then press ENTER
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/ then press ENTER
Some stuff happens and we reload Kaffeine (Kmenu / Multimedia / Kaffeine)

Unfortunately I still get the same error! After many hours researching the problem, it looks like kaffeine-xine isn't installed and when I try to load it, it tells me the package is broken and won't install it. Everything regarding libdvdcss (etc) is installed but it won't play. I found a post that said an older version of the linux core would play DVDs but the newest backported Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon version won't. So it looks like I'll have to upgrade to 8.04 and see what happens.
I'm going to have to download an 8.04 ISO and start fresh again I think. I could upgrade but I wanted to do this on a clean install so this is the end of this experiment for now.

OK, a day has passed and there's no solution to my problem (I think?). It seems that kaffeine-xine is no longer available because the newer version doesn't require it now and my version of Kaffeine needs it. If I try to add kaffeine-xine it refuses to download it because it would break other packages. So I'm basically stuffed!

Now it's time to do the download thing again. I'll try the upgrade path because this PC is just doing nothing anyway so it can't hurt and it would be good to see what happens.
Kmenu / System / Adept Manager, then click Full Upgrade and follow the prompts and wait a while for it to download.
After it finishes installing everything it's basically exactly the same, but on reboot the boot menu has gone! My Windows stuff is still there but I can't boot up Windows anymore. I'll have to investigate adding back the boot loader later.

Update: OK, after talking to a friend about the missing boot menu, it seems like an easy fix. I open a prompt and view the menu file...
nano /boot/grub/menu.lst
After getting a quick briefing on what's supposed to be in that file, I check it and come to the conclusion that it looks ok to me. So he suggested to just do update-grub. That fixed it! Now the menu comes up again on boot-up. Thanks John!

I load Kaffeine and play a DVD. It still won't play but the message is now different!
It says....
This DVD Video is encrypted. To be able to watch it you will need to install libdvdcss by running from the console:
sudo /usr/share/doc/kaffeine/

So I type that again into the terminal (it's already on this PC). Everything goes smoothly and the libdvdcss2 installs fine. Unfortunately even after doing that 6 times it still gives the same error message! Jeez! Awww, come on guys get your shit together.
(B-I-G sigh.......)

Well, I know it works on my other PC with Kubuntu 7.10 installed a few months ago, so it must be either something hardware specific, or one of the updates broke something. Either way it's not critical for me. I'll probably try a full install of Kubuntu 8.04 from a CD later and see if it works that way. Anyway, let's move on and finish this.
Update: Yes, Kubuntu 8.04 is much better. To get DVD's and all other media types playing do this....
sudo wget`lsb_release -cs`.list --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list; sudo apt-get -q update; sudo apt-get --yes -q --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring; sudo apt-get -q update
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get remove gnash gnash-common icedtea-gcjwebplugin libflash-mozplugin libflashsupport mozilla-plugin-gnash openjdk-6-jre openjdk-6-jre-headless openjdk-6-jre-lib swfdec-mozilla && sudo apt-get install alsa-oss faac faad flashplugin-nonfree libk3b2-extracodecs liblame0 libtunepimp5-mp3 libxine1-ffmpeg non-free-codecs sun-java6-fonts sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin unrar
sudo apt-get remove kaffeine-mozilla mozilla-helix-player mozilla-mplayer mozilla-plugin-vlc totem-mozilla xine-plugin
sudo apt-get install kmplayer gecko-mediaplayer
sudo apt-get remove kaffeine-mozilla mozilla-helix-player mozilla-plugin-vlc totem-mozilla xine-plugin sudo apt-get install kmplayer mozilla-mplayer sudo apt-get install kubuntu-restricted-extras
sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2 libdvdread3 libdvdnav4 build-essential debhelper fakeroot
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/
(or sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread3/examples/

I'm going to kill a Dolphin. Well a software one anyway, I prefer Konqueror as my file manager.

From a terminal prompt run 'kcontrol'
Click 'KDE Components'
Click 'File Associations'
Click 'inode'
Click 'directory'
Move Konqueror Up
Click system_directory
Move Konqueror Up

while there, set the association for html links to Firefox (used when clicking links in emails to make Firefox load instead of Konqueror)....

Click KDE Components
Click File Associations
(search html)
In application/xhtml, Move Firefox up
In text/html, Move Firefox up

Get wine....
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/winehq.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine

Set up Amule (An Emule clone)....
Load program, change default server list to one of these... (you may have to go looking for others as some of these might be dead)

Click '>' below the Connect button to update server list then click connect.

For KAD, add new nodes in Kad removing the default server node.
Remove this:

Replace with any of these (again, these might be dead and you'll have to google for live / current ones)

In the big software update above you might have wondered about a program called 'Alien'. It's used to convert .rpm packages to Ubuntu .deb packages. But only do that if it's absolutely necessary. Firstly, try to use Ubuntu packages! To convert .rpm files to .deb files....
If you didn't install it before, install the alien package with Adept Manager or sudo apt-get install alien
In a Terminal, enter: sudo alien package_file.rpm (package_file.rpm is the name of the .rpm you want to convert)
or sudo alien -i package_file.rpm to auto-install it afterwards.

To install the resulting .deb file at the terminal prompt type...
sudo dpkg -i package_file.deb
BTW, to install a .deb, usually you just click on the file and it will install it. But I've found that sometimes it doesn't work at all. In this case, use the above command (dpkg -i etc) to install it from the terminal.

Get Java it's required for some browser related stuff
Open a terminal and type su then type your password
then type....
cd /usr
mkdir java
cd java
go to and download the 'Linux Self Extracting File' and save it to /usr/java
If you can't save it there save it anywhere then copy it to that directory. CD to the saved directory and type...
cp jre-6u10-linux-i586.bin /usr/java (remember to just press TAB to fill in the filename)
cd /usr/java
chmod a+x jre-6u10-linux-i586.bin

This will start the install. When it's completed you will see 'DONE'
cd /usr/lib/firefox/plugins
ln -s /usr/java/jre1.6.0_10/plugin/i386/ns7/

The last command creates a link to the plugin so it works. Close and reload Firefox and it should be working
For more info, full instructions are available on the Java web site on the download page

Install Adobe Acrobat because it's the best reader. kpdf and others don't display all pdf files.
Get it from the Adobe web site (v7 is good enough). Unpack it, CD to the dir and type
su {enter password}
After installation, it won't work... (?!)
At the prompt type...
nano /usr/bin/acroread
replace the following line (line-no 644):
check_gtk_ver_and_set_lib_path "$MIN_GTK_VERSION"
# check_gtk_ver_and_set_lib_path "$MIN_GTK_VERSION"
save and exit. Now Acrobat will work.

Installing NFS (network sharing) on Kubuntu 7.10 (this is for 7.10 but it should probably work in 8.04 also)
1. sudo apt-get install nfs-kernel-server nfs-common portmap
then right click a dir, click 'share' and add some shared folders, then click OK

2. Now we reconfigure Portmap so that it doesn't bind by default to the loopback interface ( and then we restart the portmap service
sudo dpkq-reconfigure portmap
sudo /etc/init.d/portmap restart

3. We open the exports file and define which folders we want to share, and the permissions the users have on the folder
sudo nano /etc/exports

4. make an entry in the file using the following format: path_to_folder ipaddress (permissions)
This is the path of the folder being shared on the server and the IP addresses allowed to access the folder.
In this case allowed IP addresses to access the folder are from to hence the /24 notation
If you added shared folders in step 1 you will see them listed so just ensure the permissions are correct.

5. Now save the changes and restart the NFS server
sudo /etc/init.d/nfs-kernel-server restart

6. Now export the new configuration
sudo exportfs -a

On the PC you want to use to access the other files on the server...

1. install the necessary packages needed for nfs
sudo apt-get install portmap nfs-common

2. Now mount the shared folder on the server into the client file structure...
cd ~
mkdir mounted
sudo mount mounted

the first command cd ~ sends us to our home directory. the 2nd creates a directory called 'mounted'
The last command mounts the files on the server into the folder called 'mounted' on the client.
The IP address is the SERVER's ip address not this PC's. In this case, it's supplied by
the DHCP server through an ADSL broadband router (a Dlink DSL-604T)

3. Now just navigate to the 'mounted' folder and you can see the files that are in the server's shared folder in the local 'mounted' folder.

All of the above is for networking two PC's running Linux, of course. Also note that the 'mounted' folder is only temporarily linked to the other folder. To permanently map it use the System Menu. We'll do that now with a Windows PC.

To set up a permanent network link to (e.g.) a Windows machine, click the System Menu (next to the KMenu) and then click Remote Places. Click 'Add A Network Folder'. Select 'Microsoft Windows Network Drive' then NEXT, then fill in the name (e.g. a text label like 'Windows Shared Dir'), type the other computer's IP address (should be something similar to this PC if you're using a Wireless Broadband Router like me) then type the folder name and click 'create an icon for this remote folder'. Of course, ensure the folder on the Windows box has been previously shared.... ;-)
Now you can access that shared folder from the System Menu / Remote Places link.

Alright. Now we'll do something fancy ;-)
I have a large number of .jpg images that I'm making for this page. I want to create a small thumbnail of them and have the name whatever_small.jpg
So we'll do a mass rename of all files in a directory then resize all of them together to 100 wide.
First I've copied all of my larger files into another dir
Bring up Terminal, CD to that dir and then paste this to a terminal prompt and hit return
for i in * ; do mv "$i" `basename "$i" .jpg`_small.jpg ; done
this says 'rename *.jpg to *_small.jpg

We still have a problem though because the images are still big. We can fix that with Gwenview. Load it from KMenu / Graphics / Gwenview
Navigate to the dir with the _small.jpg files. Now select them all with the mouse and from the top menu select Plugins / Batch Processing / Resize Images

Click 'Options', set the size to 100 pixels, click OK then Start and all the files will be resized in a few seconds!

That's just one of the nice things you can do with Gwenview :-)
You might have also noticed the last few images are much better quality. They were taken as screen snapshots using KSnapshot, which is located in the KMenu / Graphics menu.
If you're interested to see what else is available, click the Add/Remove Programs link in KMenu. You'll be surprised what's out there, and it's all FREE!

Now for some reference stuff....


Unpack/Install tarballs....
Use tar for files with .tar, .tgz, .tar.gz or .tar.bz2 suffix

If it is a .tgz or a .tar.gz, use...
tar xfvz archive_name
If it's .tar.bz2, then use....
tar xjvf archive_name
Then follow the instructions that come with the package. These are generally located in the extracted tarball in a file called README or INSTALL.

If a program decides to go AWOL, we'll need to kill it....
This is really easy in Linux. At a terminal prompt type....
ps aux
then look for the program and get the process_ID number
then type....
kill process_ID

If Adept Manager says a process is preventing it from continuing, quit Adept Manager, open a prompt and type.....
sudo dpkg --configure -a

Reset the xorg file using this command....
sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

View devices and handlers...
cat /proc/bus/input/devices

List drives

List USB devices

Command Line Linux/ Windows Equivalents

Windows: copy /b file1 + file2 file3
Linux: cat file1 file2 >file3

Search for a file on your computer...
locate filename
While this is VERY fast, it also picks up directories and might not be useful if it's a common file
To search for a specific filename only use....
find / -name "filename"

Search for text in files...
grep -i '8751' *.c
This means ignore case (-i), search for the text '8751' in all .c files

Run a program fron the terminal prompt....
cd the_program_directory

Must put the dot and slash in front of the program name or the program will not execute. The program must also have the 'execute' file attribute set.

Put a whole pile of jpg images into a PDF in just a few seconds.....
First, resize or enhance the images using Gimp or whatever (if required)
From the command prompt type....
sudo apt-get install imagemagick (if you don't already have Image Magick installed)
Go to the work directory (i.e. the directory containing the jpegs):
cd work/directory/path
Then convert the .jpg files to a single file as a .pdf
convert *.jpg filename.pdf

To extract images from a .pdf file....
Download the packages 'xpdf-utils' and 'imagemagik'
From a command prompt type...
pdfimages file.pdf picture
for i in picture-*.pbm; do convert $i ${i%pbm}jpg; done

This will extract all images from a pdf named 'file.pdf', name them 'picture-' (plus a number) then convert them to .jpg

Fix this stupid error!
If you plug in an external HDD and get an error saying 'hal-storage-removable-mount-all-options refused uid 1000'

Option 1:
click 'storage media'
right-click the disk
choose 'properties' > 'mounting'
uncheck 'mount as user'

Option 2:
sudo apt-get install ntfs-config
sudo ntfs-config

Option 3:
sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g ntfs-config
sudo ntfs-config
cp /etc/hal/fdi/policy/20-ntfs-config-write-policy.fdi /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/

Option 4:
sudo polkit-grant-privilege -u username -p hal-storage-fixed-mount

Option 5:
In "System Settings" gui in kubuntu:
Open "System Settings" GUI
Go to the "Advanced" tab
Open "Disk & Filesystems"
Click the "Administrator Mode..." button on the bottom right
Right-click on the partition that isn't mounting properly and Select "Modify"
Change "Mount Path" to a valid path
Change "Mount Permission: " to "Any User may enable/disable anytime"
Click the "Ok" button
Click the "Enable" button at the near bottom of the window.

I think this last option is probably a better choice as a permanent fix. Option 1 works, but is only temporary. When the drive is removed the setting is forgotten and re-plugging it back in means you have to 'fix' it again.

To mount an ISO file in Linux so that you can explore the file as if it were mounted on a CD-Rom or DVD-Rom without having to burn to a disc:
sudo mount -t iso9660 -o loop filename.iso /home/mounted
This functionality is similar to Daemon Tools or Alcohol on Microsoft Windows.
This can also be achieved by installing kiso...
sudo apt-get install kiso
which is then available in KMenu / Utilities / Kiso

If you want to compare 2 text files there's the old command line way (diff file1 file2) but that gives an extremely poorly formatted output that is nearly impossible to view properly. The solution is to use Kdiff3
sudo apt-get install kdiff3
After installation there's a new icon in KMenu / Development / Kdiff3
To back up a site to your local HDD.....
wget -r -l4 -np -nc
-r means recursive download
-l means maximum recursion depth
np means 'no-parent' i.e. don't ascend to the parent directory
nc means 'no-clobber' i.e. skip downloads that would download to existing files (useful for updating sites)
There's a serious cock-up with Kubuntu/Ubuntu in 8.04 and onwards. It seems some things have changed with Firefox 3. The install dir is no longer just '/usr/lib/firefox' or 'usr/lib/mozilla'. It is whatever your version is. In my case it is '/usr/lib/firefox-3.0.10'. This has serious repercussions when trying to get flash working in Firefox 3. To install flash....
download the .gz flash archive from the adobe site
unpack to a temp dir then go to that dir. In the terminal (as root) type...
When the installer asks for the directory make sure you type the correct location. THEN it will work in Firefox.
If you installed all of the crap to get DVD's playing but then try to play a DVD and it just loads then stops immediately, or you play it and you get a mess of colored pixels and blurry images with partial decryption of the video, check to make sure your region is right! It happened to me when I bought a replacement DVD drive for my laptop. It was region 1 (USA) and my DVD disc was region 4! To fix the region....

sudo apt-get install regionset
sudo regionset
Then follow the prompts to change your region.
To convert WMA to MP3
1st - convert WMA to WAV
mplayer song.wma -ao pcm:file=song.wav

2nd - convert WAV to MP3
lame -h song.wav song.mp3

Well, that's about it I suppose. I might add more things later because I'm going to use this as my cheat sheet, but for now, that's it!

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