I build a lot of computers.  At work I build Windows machines (currently XP, 7, and 8) and I build Apple machines (now either Lion or mostly Mt Lion).  By build I mean format the drives, install the operating systems fresh, install a host of paid and free software, run all available updates, and configure the machines for various users.  I either touch or oversee all the user machines built.

At home either for myself, for my friends and family, or for my Linux for Anybody program I build a lot of Ubuntu machines.  I do a lot of the same stuff: format the drives, install the operating system, install a host of free software, run all available updates, and configure the machines for various users.  Since there are a handful of things I do every time I build an Ubuntu machine I thought I’d put together a post with some helpful links and mild instructions for folks who are building their own Ubuntu machines.

(I do all of these things every time I build a machine.  You will find that certain system, such as the PPC architecture, may give you hassle when attempting some of these, but for the most part these should work on all flavors and modern versions of Ubuntu.)

First, go get the operating system from the Ubuntu download page.  I prefer using the 64 bit version unless my hardware doesn’t support it.  If you are not sure, you can always either download both and try to run each from the CD or simply fall-back to the 32 bit as it will work on a 64 bit system.

Once that is installed you will want to run all the available updates and reboot the system.  I prefer using the terminal and since it’s so easy you may as well too.  You can call up a terminal in any version of Ubuntu by using the ctrl-alt-T key combination.  Then run these commands in order.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

(You will be asked to invisibly enter your password.  If it gives you grief about holding some updates back use dist-upgrade instead of upgrade.)

Once the system has rebooted, you may want to take a moment to install Opera (which is my preferred browser).  I have an article on how to do that here.  You can just visit the and download the latest .deb package and run that on your Ubuntu machine.

You can install Skype by doing the same thing over at the Skype site (use whatever is the latest version of Ubuntu they list which was 12.04 as of this writing).

One other application I’ve been adding lately is a music player called Clementine.  You can read my article (with installation instructions) here.)

A brief note about adding repositories (like the Opera repository):  First, I Edit the repository as soon as I added it and put something useful in the Comment field (such as Opera).  Also, when you add a repository two entries are generally added.  The second is for Source Code.  I uncheck the entry for Source Code as I don’t fiddle with any code directly and as such there is no need for me to scan them every time I run updates.  I would consider both of these as good-housekeeping but non-essential.

Next you may want to ensure you are able to ssh into the machine.  (If you are not sure, feel free to do this anyway.  It could come in handy later.)  For whatever reason ssh is not installed by default so here it is.

sudo apt install openssh-server

If you have any plans to use Samba file sharing systems, the step I always forget when I’m setting up the connections is to add the file system support for Samba.  May as well do that now.

sudo apt-get install cifs-utils

Now to really add some punch to your system.

Head over to this amazing post at the Ubuntu forums.  It’s called the Comprehensive Multimedia & Video HowTo for a reason.  The work of Ubuntu-Freak is terrific.  Using his simple HowTo you will be able to get pretty much all things audio and video functioning excellently on your new system.

(In the most recent versions of Ubuntu (and especially by 14.04) many of the issues the previously mentioned HowTo solved are no longer issues.  Just remember to enable the Partner’s repository and add the Ubuntu Restricted Extras package and you should be golden.)

Take another moment to reboot.  You may consider these two clean up commands as well.

sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt autoclean

You have added some great packages, but there is one more that will be of use if you (like me) are interested in customizing your system.  With the introduction of Gnome3/Unity many of the old methods of customization have gone away, but with the Unity Tweak Tool you can bring many of those back.  You can read my article on the Unity Tweak Tool here.

That’s the major stuff.  After that I might do other things, but this is the stuff that pretty much every machine gets.  If I think of more I’ll add it later.

Also, take a look through the comments section for optional additions you might enjoy.

Have fun with that.


9 thoughts on “BuildUbu!

  1. Something that will be of interest to folks who are into audio and video production of any sort might be to try Ubuntu Studio. This site has a plethora of information as well as download links for the necessary disc images:

    Ubuntu Studio

    You can either use the Studio installer if you are building a machine, or you can use this page to install the additional components to upgrade your system from Ubuntu to Ubuntu Studio:

    Ubuntu Studio Upgrade from Ubuntu

  2. If you are running a dual-boot (or more) system, you will benefit from adding the repository for Boot Repair and installing that as well. Whenever you update Ubuntu, just run Boot Repair before you reboot and you shouldn’t have boot problems.

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair

    If you fail to run Boot Repair and subsequently have boot woes, you’ll want to boot into an Ubuntu live CD, load the above repository, and install Boot Repair and run it.

    If you’re not sure how to run it, Google is your friend.

  3. A new application I’m trying out for distraction-free writing.


    (It’s available for Mac and Windows as well.)

    (As of 14.04 FocusWriter is included in the repositories and thus may be installed through Software Center or a terminal without adding an additional repository.)

  4. Sublime Text 3 (or 2):

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/sublime-text-3
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install sublime-text-installer

    (For 2 substitute 2 for 3 above.)

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