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How to setup the perfect 9.10 Karmic Koala Desktop

28 October 2009 6,100 views 13 Comments

Now that you have Ubuntu 9.10 installed, we are going to add all the basic programs, codecs, and customizations that you may need on Ubuntu.

Startup Programs

Next lets disable the startup programs that you do not need by going to System > Preferences > Sessions.

Installing & Uninstalling Programs

Select Applications > Ubuntu Software Center to install any programs you may want, and uninstall any programs that you don’t.

System Updates

Now lets customize how your computer notifies you when there are updates. Select System > Administration > Software Sources.

Under the Ubuntu Software tab, you can enable or disable the main repositories for Ubuntu. One suggestion that I have is that you change which repository you are using. By default it will use the US Server (or possibly another countries server if you are located outside the US). We want our updates to be as fast as possible and Ubuntu provides a way for us to determine what the best repository server is for us. Where it says “Download from:” click the arrow. This will bring up a list; choose “Other.” A new window will pop up with a button on the right hand side that says “Select Best Server.” Click that button and Ubuntu will test the downloads from all the servers and determine which one is best for you. When it is done, the server that is best for you will be highlighted. Click Choose Server to close the window.

In the Third-Party Software tab you can enable or disable any repositories that are not official Ubuntu repositories.

The Updates tab allows you to choose which updates you want to be informed about, and how often you want Ubuntu to check for updates.


To install all the “goodies” out there for Ubuntu, we need to make the Medibuntu repositories available. To do this, run the following two commands:

sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/karmic.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list


sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install medibuntu-keyring -y && sudo aptitude update

Install Restricted Codecs

Ubuntu does not ship with items such as flash, java, and some codecs due to licensing. Let’s enable the backports repository and install these items.

gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Locate the following lines and remove the # from the front of them:

# deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ karmic-backports main restricted universe multiverse
# deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ karmic-backports main restricted universe multiverse

Now lets update your system and install some codecs, including the restricted codecs.

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras non-free-codecs libdvdcss2 -y

Speed up your system

Even though Ubuntu is fast on its own, wouldn’t you like to make it even faster? Lets install an application called Preload which will monitor what applications you run and then predict what you will run and fetch the binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times. Say that you run Firefox, VLC, and GIMP every day, Preload will keep the libraries in your RAM to load these programs for you faster. This is similar to Windows SuperFetch.

sudo aptitude install preload

Other Programs

Now lets install Skype, Wine, VLC, Google Earth, Java, Flash Player 10, and Amarok.

sudo aptitude install skype wine googleearth vlc sun-java6-bin flashplugin-nonfree amarok -y

Adobe Acrobat Reader

Adobe Acrobat Reader is no longer available in the Medibuntu repositories. It is now located in the Canonical Partner Repositories. To install Acrobat, we need to enable to Canonical Partner Repositories.

gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Look for the lines:

# deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu karmic partner
# deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu karmic partner

and uncomment them. Now we need to update our package list and install Acrobat.

sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install acroread

Clean it all up

Now that we have finished installing everything, we need to go through and clean up the mess that was made. We do that by running:

sudo apt-get autoremove
sudo apt-get autoclean

The End

Now you have a fully customized full-featured Ubuntu 9.10 install. Enjoy!

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  • Morgan said:

    Hi I think you should check the acroread as its not currently in the karmic repos

  • Dan said:

    Great guide, thank you!!!

  • Grey-Bearded Geek » Blog Archive » Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala on Dell Inspiron 6000 said:

    […] base installation is missing just about every useful codec. This blog post is a nice guide to installing all of the media “goodies” in […]

  • Morgan said:

    Hi thanks for a great how to and I c the acroread is working again. I use this for all my installs

  • the_guv said:

    Hey Chris .. another nice piece .. tx


    having written a ridiculously substantial Karmic setup piece myself .. Karmic Koala Bible gives a hint

    .. i gotta say, i think it’s out of place to recommend apt-get anymore.

    aptitude is now installed for first time by default .. why you say apt-get?

    (you say tomato .. !)

    nonetheless .. thank you, some nice tips

  • PrincessTerra said:

    Great guide!

    Selecting the best server was a bad choice for me as it effectively prevented me from getting all the stuff I was looking for ie java, flashplayer etc. Once I reset that back to default country (Canada for me) everything ran smoothly.


  • Christer B said:

    Hi, thanks for a very good site. I would like to install Adobe Acrobat 7.0 besides Acrobat Reader, is that possible and how do I install it. (I have a win-version)


  • Vikram Dhillon said:

    Nice guide, but what about evince, it takes less resources and does the same job as adobe reader

  • Binary Soldier said:

    Nice guide.

    Many of these setups are what I do post a fresh install.

    The new software center in 9.10 has done a good job IMO of combining the update/upgrade options, but personally I find using the terminal the easiest method.

    Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Leprikaan said:

    Great guide, It was very useful to me as i am a beginner/noob w/ubuntu . I think everything did what it was supposed to but i dont see the Google earth icon or anything even relevant to it anywhere on my computer. I am currently running Ubuntu 9.10 on my playstation 3. But I really would like to get Google Earth up and running, thus far to no avail. I have tried numerous ways described on loads of different websites and i !!!NEED!!! major help. If anybody can help me, please e-mail me @ l_dub_ya@yahoo.com. Thanks a million

  • Logman123 said:

    Thank you for the great guide, I am new to Linux and you made it easy and me proof. Thank you again.

  • jazzybob said:

    Fantastic blog/addition to the UBUNTU system. You are a great resource!!! Clear accurate and concise. My Personal and professional thanks to you.

  • Morgan said:

    Thank you for a great how to. I always use it to setup my ubuntu. I also suggest it to my friends. I was wondering if you would maybe list some applications you remove as a preference. Just to help a noob like me get a idea what is good and what is crap.

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