Archive for March 9th, 2010

Ubuntu Karmic post-install Guide

Ubuntu Post-Installation Guide v9.10

Note: Unless otherwise specified, packages are installed/uninstalled using
System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager.
Repositories are updated in
(System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager > Settings > Repositories)
(System > Administration > Software Sources)

> Third Party Software (for Jaunty) or
> Other Software (karmic).

Java, Flash Player

By default, openjdk-6-jre is the Java VM used on Ubuntu. This is because OpenJRE is actively developed, while Sun’s Java VM is not. Also, by default, Flash is not installed. To install Sun’s Java VM (which can be successfully installed alongside OpenJRE) as well as Flash Player, install: ubuntu-restricted-extras

Medibuntu (DVD, MP3 and WMA support, etc)

Additional codec support (MP3, WMA, etc) is provided by the non-free-codec in the Medibuntu repository. (See for information) Running the following lines in a terminal will install the correct Medibuntu repository as well as the required keyring to authenticate packages:

sudo wget  -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


Following that, install the following packages:
libdvdcss2 (Allows to read encrypted DVDs)
non-free-codecs (Additional codecs)


On supported video chipsets and with the correct video drivers, Compiz can enable a variety of visual effects. If Compiz is supported on your system, it can be enabled via System > Preferences > Appearances > Visual Effects and settings the level to Normal or higher. If compiz is enabled, it is recommended to install compizconfig-settings-manager

Other Useful Programs

The following packages are useful, and installation is encouraged:

–sound and video:
(music management application which also supports a wide range of MP3 players)

While empathy is the new default IM client, pidgin is recommended for facebook users. Empathy, at the present time, does not have the same level of facebook
support that pidgin has). install:
pidgin and pidgin-facebookchat

–system tools:
gnome-format (a tool to easily format removable memory cards)

fglrx-amdcccle – Catalyst Control Center for ATI graphics cards
nvidia-settings – Tool for configuring the NVIDIA graphics driver
nautilus-wallpaper – Adds ‘Set as wallpaper’ to right-click menu
nautilus-image-converter – Adds ‘Rotate’ and ‘Scale’ image commands
to right-click menu


A free Virtual Machine system.

virtualbox-ose is available directly from Synaptic, but does not support USB device pass-through (allows the VM to communicate with USB devices). Sun’s VirtualBox 3.0 does support USB device pass-through easily.

See for instructions on how to add the VirtualBox repository to your system. After adding that repository, you can install the virtualbox-3.0 package.

Be sure to give yourself access to VirtualBox using System > Administration > Users and Groups
and give yourself User Privileges to ‘Use VirtualBox’

Intel microcode update

Systems with Intel CPUs should install the intel-microcode package. This provides an updated microcode to the processor at boot-time which can address processor errors and lock-ups.

Broadcom wireless issues

Systems with broadcom wireless cards which are detected but do not show any wireless networks should install the b43-fwcutter package. This provides an updated firmware for the card which fixes numerous issues. This would have to be installed using a wired network.

Dropbox on Ubuntu

Add the repository line for your Ubuntu distribution and install the nautilus-dropbox package (Reference:

Other Software

It is strongly recommended to use software that is distributed in the repositories. If you need to install a program from another source, the .DEB format is the best choice. This installs the program and adds a listing in Synaptic for easily unisntalling the program when you want to.

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The tools of the tech (or) “What’s in your toolbag?”

From one tech to… anyone interested, here’s my take on those “Computer repair” toolkits: JUNK. It’s a bunch of things you’ll never use, in one package, with a pricetag on it.

Here’s what’s in my toolbag, sorted in what I feel is the order of importance:

Most important:

  • Portable ESD mat / wriststrap / grounding cord (A must!)
  • A #1 philips screwdriver (Laptops)
  • A #0 philips screwdriver (small screws — laptop optical drives, some small sub-assemblies)
  • A #2 philips screwdriver — at least 6″ or longer (For desktops cases and “tool” jokes.)
  • A 1/8″ flat screwdriver (laptop CPU sockets)
  • A 3/16″ and a 5mm hex driver (for VGA / serial / etc port standoffs.)
  • Torx driver, various sizes but usually T5, T10, T15, T18, T20 (Various models). I have a tool similiar to this one, and it’s served me well.
  • Thermal paste (cheap stuff is better than nothing) along with alcohol pads for cleaning.
  • A paper clip, for opening optical drives
  • A bootable USB stick loaded with diagnostic software. 2GB ought to do it, depending on what you’re using.


  • Pliers (regular, long nose, bent)
  • Wirecutters (For cutting zip-ties and wire harnesses)
  • Plastic tool, such as this one (Great for prying apart stubborn case clips without damage) – Guitar picks are also known to work well.
  • Power supply tester. I have this one, and it’s wonderful.
  • The under $5 magnetizer that will save your sanity. Some screwdrivers are sold pre-magnetized, but often lose their charge after a short time. Plus, with this, you can magnetize any tool.
  • Spare screws, and this really high-tech container to keep them sorted.
  • A toothbrush (Awesome for cleaning laptop heatsinks, recessed switches, speaker grilles, and countless other things)
  • A small scratch awl for removing rubber bumpers, screw covers, and the like.

Optional, but useful:

  • A cheap set of headphones or earbuds for testing sound issues. A small, functional, microphone is also good for testing mic issues, though they are rare. You could get a headset and combine the functions, just make sure it has separate input and output jacks.
  • A Linux live CD or USB stick, again for diagnostic testing. Most Linux distros will fit comfortably on a 2GB stick.
  • Another, blank, USB stick for moving drivers, software downloads, etc, when necessary. 4GB is a good, comfortable size for this stick.

And lastly, my thoughts on a few other items:

  • Cans of compressed air, while useful, are often “borrowed” and become an added expense and encumbrance in field use. For bench use, however, they are invaluable.
  • A Dremel. I’m kidding… what would you use a Dremel for on a computer, anyway?

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