I build a lot of computers. At work I build Windows machines and I build Apple machines and I sometimes build Ubuntu or CentOS machines. 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 depending various circumstances.
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 or (perhaps with slight modifications) other forms of Debian based versions.)
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.)
Once the system has rebooted, you may want to take a moment to install Opera (which is my preferred browser).
You can just visit the opera.com and download the latest .deb package and run that on your Ubuntu machine. Just double-click the downloaded .deb package and again invisibly enter your password. (And as of (at least) 20.04 you can find Skype and Opera in the new Ubuntu Software application.)
You can install Skype by doing the same thing over at the Skype site (use whatever is for your version of Ubuntu).
One other application I’ve been adding lately is a music player called Clementine. You can read my article (with installation instructions) here.) (And as of (at least) 20.04 you can find Clementine in the new Ubuntu Software application.)
A brief and optional 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.
Regardless, any software you add via its own repository will be updated when you run your updates for the system itself, which is pretty handy.
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
(Another optional step, in case you need to, remember to enable the Partner’s repository and add the Ubuntu Restricted Extras package.)
Take another moment to reboot. You may consider these two clean up commands as well.
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt autoclean
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.
12 thoughts on “BuildUbu!”
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:
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:
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.
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.
For those interested in Skype (which could diminish now that MS has announced the API is being killed), you can install it using this page:
(As of 14.04 Skype is included in the repositories and so may be installed without much ado through Software Center.)
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.)
For those looking for more fancy window dressings you may want to install the additional plugins for Compiz:
sudo apt-get install compiz-plugins
Sublime Text 3 (or 2):
(For 2 substitute 2 for 3 above.)
Sublime now has an official repository of their own.
And as of (at least) 20.04 you can find Sublime in the new Ubuntu Software application.
In Ubuntu 20.04 (at least) the disc utility Disks has functionality for UDF (the Universal Disc Filesystem) so you can create universal USB drives without using crappy FAT file systems. However, you need to add UDF support to the system in order to unlock the UDF level!
sudo apt install udftools
(Looks like this also helps GParted.)
This includes mkudffs and that’s what Disks needs to manage UDF work. There are other capabilities that would need to be similarly unlocked: XFS, Btrfs, F2FS, and exFAT. If I look for those packages I’ll update this note.
You may benefit from adding the Gnome Tweak Tool to make additional customizations in your system. I have it working in 20.04 at the moment.
sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool
As of 22.04 it’s just called Tweaks:
sudo apt install gnome-tweaks
I use this especially to get focus to follow the mouse.
I bought a System76 machine (no Nvidia) and will require this page whenever I want to rebuild that box.
In order to use Gnome extensions you must first install gnome-shell-extensions and then log out/in.
sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions
Once done, you can restore quarter-screen snapping using the WinTile Gnome extension.
For setting Monday as the first day of the week (if it is not) first check the location of the relevant config using this:
Edit the config file indicated (here en_US) using a text editor like Nano:
Then add the first_weekday 2 configuration immediately before the END LC_TIME line in the config file.
Finally, run sudo locale-gen to fold in this new config change. Next time you reboot you will see the change.