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Old 01-06-2006, 07:31 AM   #1
Registered: Apr 2005
Location: switzerland
Distribution: debian etch
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Newbies: How to make Kubuntu 5.10 'just work'

January 5 2006. This document is intended as a Kubuntu Breezy (5.10) post-installation guide for newbies. Kubuntu promises to be a very user-fiendly GNU/Linux distribution featuring the latest KDE packages. Unfortunately, the Breezy release incorporates a number of bugs and annoyances that have the potential to scare away some of the less-experienced GNU/Linux users. I wrote this document as a collection of the nastiest bugs I encountered during my first few days of using Kubuntu. I was able to sort them out thanks to my (admittedly limited) experience in Debian (upon which Kubuntu is based) and the help of some kind members of the GNU/Linux community.

0. Install Kubuntu

It is important to burn the downloaded image as such, and not as a file on a data CD. Make sure your Bios is set to boot from CD-ROM, then insert the Kubuntu install CD and reboot your machine. You will see a boot: prompt. If you are a newbie, just hit ENTER and follow the instructions.

If you choose 'expert' (as I did), the installation routine will not only create a normal user account but also enable the root account. Unfortunately, your normal user will not be added to the sudoers file, so kdesu won't work (and, as a consequence, neither will any graphical admin tools). To add yourself to the sudoers file, type (as root in a konsole):


add a line similar to this:

your_username ALL=(ALL) ALL

save and exit.

Now read the Kubuntu Quick Guide:
The Ubuntu Starter Guide:
And the Sticky in this Forum.

1. Upgrade your System

If you have an Internet connection, use Adept to enable all desired online repositories. You should at least install the security updates. If you do a full upgrade, a new version of kdebase-kio-plugins will be installed that will cripple your 'Storage Media' folder. On my system, all hard disk partitions and CD-ROM drives disappeared from media:/ and automount was disabled. This is a bug (#18211) that has not been fixed yet (1.5.2006). And what a nasty one! The solution that worked for me was to downgrade kdebase-kio-plugins to the previous version. Adept does not support package downgrading (yet?). But Synaptic (another graphical APT frontend) does. Use Adept to install Synaptic and run it. Search for kdebase-kio-plugins, mark it and select

Package >> Force Version

and select version 4:3.4.3-0ubuntu4

Then, select Package >> Lock Version

Hit Apply to downgrade.

Remember to unlock the package again when upgrading to Dapper (Kubuntu 6.04) or as soon as the bug gets fixed.

2. Install appropriate Kernel

In most simple terms, the kernel of an operating system acts as the glue between software and hardware. For compatibility reasons, the installation routine will not install the optimal kernel for your system. This is not a bug, but because of its central role, installing a kernel that matches your processor's capabilities will increase your computer's speed by a noticable amount. Use Adept or Synaptic to install one of the following packages:

For Intel Pentium PPro/Celeron/II/III/IV: linux-image-686
For AMD Duron/Athlon: linux-image-k7
or the corresponding *-smp packages if you have multiple processors. Don't use the kernel-image-* packages. Those are meant for Debian, not (K)ubuntu.

Then reboot your machine.

3. KDE behavior

Compared with OSX or Windows, KDE behaves differently in many respects. For example, single-clicking files and folders will open rather than select them. This is not a bug at all but can be annoying to former Mac or Windows users. Mouse behavior can be adjusted at

System >> Settings >> Peripherals >> Mouse

Kubuntu uses its own unique System Settings menu. If you run kcontrol from the 'Run Command' menu, you will see what it looks like in other KDE distributions. Which view is more user fiendly is debatable. But on my laptop which uses a screen resolution of 1024x768, I found that using the Kubuntu view didn't allow me to see all options in some very large or resized windows, whereas the traditional kcontrol view had scroll bars and showed all options. (Bug #16651)

4. Openoffice.org2 Nimbus Font

By default, Openoffice Calc uses the Nimbus Sans L font. This is a very nice font but for some reason Openoffice doesn't use the normal but the condensed version. To make Calc use the normal version, run (via 'Run Command'):


Click on Fonts >> Add, Source directory /usr/share/fonts/type1/gsfonts >> OK
Select Nimbus Sans L (n019003l.pfb) and rename it to Nimbus Sans L Normal

Close oopadmin2 and open Openoffice Calc >> Tools >> Options >> >> Fonts
and use the replacement table to replace Nimbus Sans L with Nimbus Sans L Normal (don't forget to click the V button and enable 'Always' and 'Screen'). This solution was given to me by Dead Parrott on Thank you very much!

5. Firefox (and other GTK applications') Appearance

If you've installed Synaptic in step 1. you'll have noticed that it looks rather ugly (like Windows 95?). This is because applications that use the GTK libraries (on which GNOME is built) -- like Synaptic, Firefox and others -- don't inherit the Qt appearance (the GTK equivalent to KDE). To make all applications look the same, run

kcontrol >> Appearance & Themes >> GTK Styles and Fonts
and select 'use my KDE style in GTK applications' and 'use my KDE fonts in GTK applications'. Even if those were already selected, it won't work until you select them again and hit 'Apply'. Synaptic will still look ugly because you have to repeat the above steps for the root user (to run synaptic you have to be root, remember?). To make root's applications look nice run

kdesu kcontrol

and repeat the steps above. By the way, using Kubuntu's System Settings didn't allow me to open the 'use KDE style in GTK applications' dialog.

6. Multimedia Playback and Autorun

If Multimedia (DVD, MP3,...) does not work correctly, refer to the Ubuntu Starter Guide:

In Kaffeine and Amarok the GStreamer engine didn't work for me (no picture, no sound). Solution:
Install kaffeine-xine (don't forget to select Kaffeine engine in player)
Install amarok-xine

If you don't like the way Kubuntu starts applications automatically when inserting a DVD/CD, see

7. Some Applications I install

Below you'll find a list of useful applications I usually install on all my computers.

guarddog - easy to use yet very powerful firewall script generator (don't forget to allow incoming protocols HTTP, DNS, HTTPS, SMTP, POP3)
checkinstall - keep track of manually installed applications and use APT tools to uninstall them
debfoster - helps keeping a clean system (for advanced users)
ktorrent - Bittorrent client that integrates with Konqueror
unison-gtk - synchronise files between two computers or disks, make backups (requires ssh and sshd)
kgpg - file and email encryption (Gnu Privacy Guard) frontend, easy to use
disc-cover - make CD covers automatically (command-line tool)
Old 01-06-2006, 11:28 AM   #2
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Registered: Nov 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Distribution: Ubuntu,Mepis,Madriva
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I would include installing Automatix snd thanks for the guide.

Old 01-15-2006, 04:10 PM   #3
Registered: Apr 2005
Location: switzerland
Distribution: debian etch
Posts: 99

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Originally Posted by ausm
I would include installing Automatix snd thanks for the guide.
I haven't tried Automatix. It seems to work well but installs some Non-Free Software which is fine as long as you know what you are doing. If you want to use skype for example, I think that you should at least be aware of the concept of vendor lock-in.


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