Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Linux is an excellent linux distribution, specially for spanking brand new computers. It's an open source and free operating system (OS) that competes well with commercial and proprietary OS's like Mac or Windows. You can read more about linux distributions at http://distrowatch.com

Once you download Ubuntu and run the LiveCD, if everything doesn't work great immediately, don't worry. It's easy to fix. Mouse and keyboard seem to always work well. Video, Network (NIC and Wireless) are the most important issue – with it, you can troubleshoot.

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What Ubuntu Version Do I have?

In terminal type

cat /etc/lsb_release


lsb_release -a

To find out what these commands do, in terminal type “man cat” and/or “man lsb_release”

What Is My Computer

You can information regarding your computer by typing following commands in terminal.

sudo dmidecode -s system-manufacturer
sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name
sudo dmidecode -s system-version

You can learn more about what the linux manual has to say about the command by typing in trnimal “man dmidecode”.


Always works, at least in graphic safe or recovery mode. But most important is your network so you can get help.

Useful links:

Network Interface Card

Wired network card always seems to work. Use it to fix your wireless below.

Useful links:

  • Soon to come


Useful links:

Hot Keys

All those nifty keyboard function keys and other cool shortcut buttons.
See: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LaptopTestingTeam/HotkeyResearch

C compiler cannot make executables

Having trouble with “C compiler cannot make executables”? http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=479618

All you need is

sudo aptitude update
sudo aptitude install build-essential
gcc -v

Recover Grub

Recovering Ubuntu after Windows or another program destroys the MBR / grub: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RecoveringUbuntuAfterInstallingWindows

1. Boot Live CD

2. Open a terminal (Applications → Accessories → Terminal)

3. Start grub as root with the following command :

sudo grub

4. You will get a grub prompt (see below) which we will use to find the root partition and install grub to the MBR (hd0,0)

   [ Minimal BASH-like line editing is supported.   For 
         the   first   word,  TAB  lists  possible  command
         completions.  Anywhere else TAB lists the possible
         completions of a device/filename. ]


Type the following and press enter:

find /boot/grub/stage1

If the above file “/boot/grub/stage1” does not exist, then your partition table may have been deleted by “Windoe$” evil Windows XP CD. You can recover it using TestDisk. Most likely, you can run testdisk in terminal window and if it's not installed, then try sudo apt-get install testdisk. Then run it and follow the self explanatory options.

Using this information, set the root device:

grub> root (hd0,1)

Install Grub:

grub> setup (hd0)

Exit Grub:

grub> quit

5. Reboot (to hard drive). Grub should be installed and both Ubuntu and Windows should have been automatically detected.

6. If, after installing grub, Windows will not boot you may need to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst (That is a small “L” and not the number 1 in menu.lst) Open a terminal and enter :

gksu gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Getting Help

Get firefox addon “chatzilla” launch it and join the Ubuntu channel on freenode. Specifically, type:

/server irc.freenode.net
/join #ubuntu

Ask away all your worries and questions. Lot's of people there to help you. Instead of irc.freenode.com, you can look for a freenode server near you. Here is a list of most useful channels/rooms:

  • #ubuntu - everything ubuntu, great place for those new to ubuntu
  • #ubuntu+1 - development version questions (currently Hardy, 8.04 beta)
  • #ubuntu-laptop - installing on laptops
  • #ubuntu-california - if you live in California, USA.

Xubuntu Desktop

I love Xubuntu desktop using the light fast no-nonsense xfce desktop environment. See xfce tips and tricks for good hints.

Ubuntu runs gnome desktop, also easy and very functional but not as fast. Kubuntu runs the KDE desktop, focused on providing all the bells and whistles, not for people like me, simple minded minimalist. For me, less is more - nuf said.

Mac Like Bar (Avant & Awn)

Ubuntu like Mac OS? http://www.taimila.com/?q=node/11

Xubuntu like Mac OS? http://xubuntublog.wordpress.com/2008/02/15/design-your-own-desktop-with-xfce-44-part-2/

You can get latest avant and awn by adding the following to your System > Administration > software sources > Third-Party Software > click add button and add following one by one (Change “hardy” to your distribution – see below to find out how you will know what version you have).

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/awn-testing/ubuntu hardy main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/awn-testing/ubuntu hardy main

This adds these lines to the file /etc/apt/sources.list

Use Xampp

Xampp is an excellent all in one package (Apache, MySQL, PHP) for testing and developing purposes. Here is a link on Ubuntu forum: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=223410

Quick and dirty version:

Download the linux version and copy to /opt by typing following in terminal in the same folder (tab should fill in the rest of the file name):

sudo tar xvfz xampp<tab>.gz -C /opt

to start

sudo /opt/lampp/lampp start

to stop

sudo /opt/lampp/lampp stop

see options

sudo /opt/lampp/lampp

Make an icon in menu

gedit ~/.local/share/applications/xampp-control-panel.desktop

and put the following text in it:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Start/Stop XAMPP
Name=XAMPP Control Panel
Exec=gksudo "python /opt/lampp/share/xampp-control-panel/xampp-control-panel.py"
Name[en_CA]=XAMPP Control Panel
Comment[en_CA]=Start/Stop XAMPP

It will show up under Applications>Other. To change, right-mouse-click Applications then “edit menu”. You can drag the menu item to other groups as desired. Download the SVG xampp icon xampp.svg.txt, just delete “.txt” and leave the name as “xampp.svg”. It looks like this:

Once you download the icon xampp.svg to your desktop, you can put it in /opt directory by:

sudo mv ~/Desktop/xampp.svg /opt

Then, change the icon path in file “~/.local/share/applications/xampp-control-panel.desktop”

gedit ~/.local/share/applications/xampp-control-panel.desktop

fine the following line


change it to


Consider creating a link to your own folder by following (it will save you from having to use “sudo” to edit your web files:

mkdir ~/public_html
sudo ln -s ~/mywebfiles /opt/lampp/htdocs/$USER

Browse http://localhost and see your files at http://localhost/yourusename

To secure XAMPP, do:

sudo /opt/lampp/lampp security

and follow the prompts. Keep in mind that the default username for xampp web interface is “lampp”, it is harcoded in /opt/lampp/share/lampp/checkapache and stored inside file /opt/lampp/lib/xampp.users in format “username:encryptedpassword”. The default username for MySQL is “root” and default username for ProFTP is “nobody”.

Also to speed up login for proftp, you can add following ensure following is exists in file proftpd.conf (either in /etc/proftp or somewhere under opt/lampp)

# make it more secure and faster
# http://www.howtoforge.com/forums/showthread.php?t=583
IdentLookups	off
ServerIdent	on "FTP Server ready."
UseReverseDNS	off

Sending Fax

Add efax-gtk, and then readme. To add a printer called “FaxPrinter”, type following in terminal:

sudo /usr/sbin/lpadmin -p FaxPrinter -E -v socket://localhost:9900

Free Video Conferencing

Simple and easy, use Applications > Internet > Ekiga (formerly GnomeMeeting)

For friends using Windows or Mac: http://wiki.ekiga.org/index.php/Which_programs_work_with_Ekiga_%3F

However quality seems worse than Skype, at least at time of this testing June 2008.

Laptops Specific Issues

For some HP laptops, going back updates the ALSA
Using Backports to update ALSA

Pavilion dv series: Good how to for dv2000, dv6000, dv6500 and dv9000: http://aldeby.org/blog/?page_id=87


Setup Toshiba Laptop A135-S4527 on Kubuntu Linux Feisty Fawn: http://www.geocities.com/sikofitt/

Gateway laptop M series, the M6319 homepage: http://www.gateway.com/systems/product/529668063.php


Samba - Share files with windows & mac

See http://www.brennan.id.au/18-Samba.html

Recent Samba versions do not store password in /etc/samba/smbpasswd file. To see a list of Samba users use

pdbedit -L