Ubuntu for the Windows converts (for beginners)

Everyone’s blasting on about converting Windows users to Linux, and 2008 (and every previous year) being the year Linux takes over the planet etc. For those of you that have taken on board their words of wisdom and you’re now reading this from your shiny, new, browny-orangey Ubuntu desktop here’s a few tips that might help you out.

Installing new programs
One of the first things you’ll want to get used to is installing and removing programs from Ubuntu. See this guide on using Synaptic, Ubuntu’s package management system, before proceeding. If you’re already familiar with this then scroll on.

Follow the links below for the extra repositories required to install the programs in this article.
Medibuntu Picasa Avant Window Navigator

Get media players working
Install mozilla-mplayer w32codecs and ubuntu-restricted-extras using Synaptic

Get Java working
Install sun-java6-plugin using Synaptic

Play DVDs (with encryption and menus)
Install totem-xine libdvdnav4 and libdvdcss2 using Synaptic then insert a DVD.

Backup DVDs
Install K9copy using Synaptic. It’s a KDE program but doesn’t have a massive amount of KDE dependencies to run. I’m yet to find an equivalent GNOME program with a GUI that’s so simple.

Windows Live/MSN Messenger
A big one for the Facebook generation this. You’ve probably had a dabble with Pidgin already but if you’re not satisfied, need web-cam support, or just fancy a more ‘MSNesque’ experience then give aMSN a try. You can install aMSN from Synaptic, but be warned, the interface and fonts are pretty unsexy so you might want to try the procedure in the link below. It’s just as simple as installing from Synaptic, but you will have to register for the Ubuntu Forums before downloading the script, definitely worth doing if you intend to use aMSN frequently.
Automatic Script for Anti-Aliasing aMSN

Ubuntu comes with F-Spot, a good program in it’s own right but it’s still pretty young and doesn’t have the greatest feature set yet. I’d love to say I use F-Spot, and hopefully will in future but for the time being I personally think Picasa is the best free program for photo library management, not only on the Linux platform..bla bla…For instructions on downloading and installing the latest version of Picasa click the link
Download Picasa for Linux

One word – GIMP.

A dock
This is probably more for the Mac converts (if there are any!). Either way, if you fancy a nice looking dock for launching programs, managing windows and more, then try Avant Window Navigator. Just ignore the silly name and head on over to the AWN wiki. Make sure you have desktop effects/Compiz running before installing.
Installing Avant Window Navigator

Customising your desktop
Arguably the best site for Ubuntu (or any GNOME) eye-candy is GNOME-Look.org If you’re really desperate for that Windows look just search the site for ‘Vista’, or just don’t be desperate! 😉 To configure the look of Ubuntu go to System>Preferences>Appearance. From there you can install some of the themes or custom icons that you find on GNOME-Look. You can also choose the ‘customise’ option from there to further tweak various options.

and a couple of links…

Ubuntu Documentation – An obvious choice, but any newcomer to Ubuntu, particularly those new to Linux, should spend an hour browsing through the documentation here
Ubuntu Guide – An extensive list of tweaks/hints/tips for beginners to more advanced users and a good example of the extensive support available in the Ubuntu Community
Wine – not as nice as a glass of red but should see to your Windows emulation needs.

That’s my good deed for the day, hope it was of some use. If it just bored you then try this.


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