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Useful packages and tips for Ubuntu

Tips and notes

  1. Ubuntu doesn't have a root password by default; it prefers to let the account you made do stuff via sudo. If you want a root account, log in with the sudo-capable account, and do "sudo passwd root" to set the password.
  2. Start by using the GUI updater, synaptic, or apt-get to do a full update.


Install these with synaptic or apt-get.


  • openssh-server: SSH server
  • build-essential: Everything needed to compile C/C++ programs
  • manpages-dev: Manpages for system calls (open,close,mmap,etc.)
  • cvs: Basic source control and versioning package
  • vlc: A video player that plays virtually anything
  • sshfs: Mount a remote file system via ssh - compatible with any SSH-able machine
  • sun-java6-plugin: Install the Sun Java plugin without using their crappy installer
  • mozilla-thunderbird: An email client to match the firefox browser
  • wine: Run windows apps (sometimes)
  • xmms: Winamp for Linux
  • msttcorefonts: Core Microsoft fonts, so you can have true Times New Roman, Arial, Tahoma, etc.


  • subversion: Better source control and versioning package
  • sysstat: The "iostat" and related tools
  • kdiff3: A graphical diff tool
  • sun-java6-jdk: Install the Sun JDK 6.0 without using their crappy installer
  • celestia: Fly around an accurate 3D simulation of the universe as we know it.

For special purposes


  • kubuntu-desktop: turns Ubuntu into hybrid Ubuntu+Kubuntu (installs KDE and friends)

To make KDE your windowing system, choose "Options | Sessions | KDE" from the login screen, and "Make Default" when prompted.

NIS (also known as YP)

  • nis

To set up NIS:

  1. Set up YP by editing /etc/yp.conf and adding the appropriate line, e.g. "domain <YOUR_DOMAIN> server <YOUR_NIS_SERVER>".
  2. Enable the NIS service by running the "Services" configurator under "Settings", and turning on "Account information resolver (nis)".
  3. Some versions of Ubuntu (including 6.06.1 LTS) aren't configured to use NIS out-of-box. Modify /etc/nsswitch.conf so that the "passwd", "group", and "shadow" lines have the word "nis" at the end of the line. For example: "passwd: compat" becomes "passwd: compat nis".

NFS client

  • nfs-common (if not already installed - without it, NFS will work, but with long timeouts due to locks not working)

To set up a boot-time mount:

# mkdir /mymount
# TextEditorOfYourChoice /etc/fstab       (insert the following line)   /mymount    nfs     defaults        0 0
# mount /mymount
# ls /mymount


  • g77: The Fortran-77 compiler based on gcc 3
  • gfortran: The Fortran-95 compiler based on gcc 4

Latex editing

  • kile: A latex code editor
  • lyx: A latex WYSIWYG editor

Dual boot with Windows

If you're dual-booting with Windows for some reason, your best bet is to find a dual-boot guide online. Here's the short short version:

  1. Boot into Windows installer
  2. Clear all partitions, make a partition > 4GB for Windows, leave the rest unused.
  3. Install Windows to the partition.
  4. Boot into Linux installer
  5. Claim rest of disk for Linux partitions
  6. Tell Linux's grub to include an option to boot Windows (may be done automatically)
ubuntu_useful_packages_cheatsheet.txt · Last modified: 2007/10/18 10:18 by tkbletsc

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