How to set up an Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) desktop


This tutorial shows how you can set up an Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do thethings they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on oldhardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

Ubuntu 14.10 will by default start the new Unity desktop ver 7.3.1 which requires that your hardware supports 3D acceleration,however you can also switch to Ubuntu 2D mode in the log on screen. If your hardware does not support 3D acceleration or you don’t like Unity,you can still switch back to 2D version or download one of the countless alternatives.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Ubuntu desktop to have the following software installed:


  • The GIMP – free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • Shotwell Photo Manager – full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop


  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Chromium – Google‘s open-source browser
  • Flash Player 11
  • FileZilla – multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird – email and news client
  • Evolution – combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule – P2P file sharing application
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client – Bittorrent client
  • Vuze – Java Bittorrent client
  • Empathy IM Client – multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC – IRC client
  • Gwibber Social Client – open-source microblogging client (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)


  • LibreOffice Writer – replacement for Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice Calc – replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash – double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus – open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok – audio player
  • Audacity – free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee – audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer – media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • Rhythmbox Music Player – audio player, similar to Apple’s iTunes, with support for iPods
  • gtkPod – software similar to Apple’s iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS – audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip – full featured DVD copy program
  • Kino – free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor – CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player – media player (video/audio)
  • MiroPlayer – media player (available for i386 systems only)
  • Totem – media player (video/audio)
  • Xine – media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero – CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B – CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia Codecs


  • Bluefish – text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Eclipse Extensible Tool Platform and Java IDE


  • VirtualBox OSE – lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don’t have to entirelyabandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read-/Write support for NTFS partitions
  • Synaptic Package Manager
  • gdebi Package Installer

Lots of our desired applications are available in the Ubunturepositories, and some of these applications have been contributed by the Ubuntu community.

As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, forexample there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don’t need toinstall the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players likeAmarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera, Chromium).

I will use the username howtoforge in this tutorial. Please replace it with your own username.

2 Installing The Base System

The installation of the base system is easy as 1-2-3 because theUbuntu installer doesn’t offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Ubuntu 14.10 desktop edition iso image from, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

Select your language and click on the Install Ubuntu button to start the installation:

On the next screen you see a few requirements for the Ubuntu 14.10installation (the system should have at least 7.1 GB available drive space and should be connected to the Internet). Please check the Download updates while installing and Install this third-party software (this will install the software necessary to process Flash, MP3, and other mediafiles) checkboxes and click on Continue:

Now we come to the partitioning of our hard disk. Usually Erase disk and install Ubuntu is a good choice, unless you need custom partitions and know what you’re doing. Erase disk and install Ubuntu will create one big / partition for us:

Select the hard drive that you want to use for the Ubuntu installation and press Continue

Then choose your time zone:

Change the keyboard layout, if necessary:

Type in your real name, your desired username along with a password,and click on Continue:

Afterwards, Ubuntu is being installed. This can take a few minutes,so be patient:

After the installation, you will be asked to reboot the system.Click on Restart Now:

Your new Ubuntu system starts. Log into the desktop with the username and password you provided during the installation:

By default, Unity 3D (Ubuntu) will be started. If you want to use Ubuntu 2D, please select it (the system will remember your choice, so the nexttime you log in, Ubuntu 2D will be started unless you make another selection) and login (If Ubuntu is selected, but you hardware does not support 3D acceleration, yourdesktop will have no effects).

This is how your new Ubuntu Unity desktop looks:

Now the base system is ready to be used.

3 Update The System

Now it’s time to check for updates and install them. You can startthe Update Manager by opening the Dash, typing in Update Manager into the search bar and clicking on the icon:

The Update Manager tells you which updates are available (you can click on the Check button to refresh the list). Click on Install Updates to install them:

If there are any updates available you can install them by clicking on Install Updates and entering your password confirm administrative rights. When the update is complete,click on Close (if a new kernel was amongst the updates, a system restart is required to make the changes effective. If this is necessary, you will see a Restart Now button. Click on that button to restart the system.). The system is now up-to-date.

4 Flash Player And Java

If you have checked the Install this third-party software checkbox during installation Flash Player should already be installed on the system but Java has to be installed manually.

To check this, open Firefox and type about:plugins in the address bar. Firefox will then list all installed plugins, andit should list the Flash Player (version 11.2 r202) plugins among them.

We will install Java a few steps below.

5 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus to see which of our needed applications are already installed (open Dash and click on the second icon at its bottom – The label Installed displays all application already on your system):

You should find the following situation ([x] marks an application that is already installed, whereas [ ] is an application that is missing):

[ ] The GIMP
[x] Shotwell Photo Manager
[x] LibreOffice Draw

[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Chromium
[ ] Flash Player
[ ] FileZilla
[x] Thunderbird
[ ] Evolution
[ ] aMule
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[ ] Vuze
[x] Empathy IM Client
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[ ] Xchat IRC
[ ] Gwibber Social Client

[x] LibreOffice Writer
[x] LibreOffice Calc
[ ] Adobe Reader
[ ] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[ ] Amarok
[ ] Audacity
[ ] Banshee
[ ] Gnome-MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[ ] gtkPod
[ ] XMMS
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] Kino
[ ] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[ ] VLC Media Player
[ ] MiroPlayer
[x] Totem
[ ] Xine
[x] Brasero
[ ] K3B
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs
[x] Cheese


[ ] Bluefish
[ ] Eclipse

[ ] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType fonts
[ ] Java
[x] Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

[ ] gdebi

[ ] Synaptic Package Manager

So some applications are already on the system. NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on Ubuntu 14.10.

6 Install Synaptic

Before you install any additional packages it’s best to firstinstall the Synaptic Package Manager since it easily lets you download multiple packages at a time. Open aterminal (Dash > Terminal) and enter

sudo apt-get install synaptic

Again, open a terminal and edit /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

…, enable the Utopic partner and Ubuntu Extras repositories (if they are not already enabled)while you are at it:

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical’s
## ‘partner’ repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the
## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
deb utopic partner
deb-src utopic partner

Then save the file.

Then run

sudo update-apt-xapian-index

to make Synaptic display packages from third-party repositories.


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