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My Custom Xubuntu Setup

Every now and then I like to upgrade my computer hardware or move to a new machine which requires a completely fresh installation of the operating system. This is very easy with Ubuntu because most of the programs I use (Firefox, LibreOffice, etc.) come pre-installed and are ready to use from the first boot. The following is my customization and personalization list to get a fresh Ubuntu installation right back where I started in short order. It is provided here both as a quick reminder for myself and as a way to help my friends get to the same place without a lot of time invested. Please note the command line interface (CLI) is used here because it is the most direct way to get a lot of things done with little or no need for menu navigation or clicking.


If you already have Xubuntu installed, start with a backup. Since I keep most of my personal and work data on a separate NTFS partition for equal access when dual-booting Windows, the only part of Xubuntu partition I need to backup are the contents of my home directory. There are plenty of good backup programs available in the Ubuntu repository if you need something more than a file copy.


  • If this is a dual boot machine, install Windows first. Unfortunately this is likely to be the longest part of the process. It typically takes me over an hour to install Windows. Then starts the long process of downloading drivers followed by many hours of junk software removal, turning off unwanted features, installing, rebooting, patching, rebooting, tweaking, and rebooting to get Windows tame enough to use in my production environment. Do not use the Windows boot menu option if you are presented with a choice while installing Windows.
  • Perform the Xubuntu install from the latest live CD, choose a strong password and reboot to the hard drive when the CD install is complete. This typically takes a little more than 10 minutes depending on the size of the Linux partition and the speed of your hard drive. The good news is that you can do things like use Firefox on the Internet or play games while the Xubuntu install happens in the background.
  • If this is a laptop, go to Settings Manager/Hardware/Additional Drivers and click the Enabled check box next to your wireless or video card. This may prompt for a download. Accept the download and unpack firmware option if it is presented.
  • Open the System/Synaptic Package Manager, go to the Settings/Repositories menu and put a check mark in all the Downloadable from the Internet boxes, close the Software Sources box and click the Reload button to make sure the package list is current. Selectively install the following packages along with any dependencies that may be required.

    1. apparmor-profiles (additional security policies)
    2. clamav (virus scanning)
    3. conky (desktop information display utility)
    4. gedit (text editor easy for Windows users to understand)
    5. gweled and/or kdiamond (a game I like)
    6. smbnetfs (access Windows network servers and shares)
    7. ubuntu-restricted-extras (audio and video media playback stuff)
    8. virtualbox (to run Windows inside a box on your Linux desktop)
    Then after selecting these packages, click the Mark All Upgrades button. Depending on the age of your install disk, this may show a big list of updated packages to install. Click OK and the Apply button to start the download.

    Be patient. If a new operating system kernel is part of the download you may need to reboot at the end, so don't get too involved with other stuff yet.

I like to click the Automatically close after the changes have been successfully applied box on the Applying Changes window after the download completes. This keeps it from waiting for your input after the packages download and install.


While you wait for the new and updated files to download, now is the time to do some user interface customization.

Right click the blank space on the top bar and select Add To Panel. Drag the following icons on to the top bar.

  1. System Monitor (real time system state)
  2. Workspace Switcher (shows virtual desktops)

Click the Close button when you are done.

Next go to the Applications menu and right click on the following item to bring up a menu showing Add this launcher to panel.

  1. Accessories/Terminal (used for command prompt)

Open Firefox and go to www.ifxgroup.net/ffext.htm to see the latest list of suggested add-ons for your web browser. Not all of the add-ons are needed for every installation, so choose what you like. It is a good idea to right click on the links for each of the add-ons you want and select Open Link in New Tab. This allows you to open all of the add-on pages you want without having to return to the suggestion list. Then simply switch tabs and click on the green Add to Firefox or Install button to install.

Windows Partitions

Note: The following uses the volume name assigned to your disks created by Windows. I use the type of format (FAT32, NTFS) as the volume lable to keep things easy for me to remember.

Open a terminal (by clicking the black icon on the top bar) and type:

 sudo mkdir /media/NTFS
sudo mkdir /media/FAT32
gksudo gedit /etc/fstab

Note that file and directory names are case sensitive in Linux. The directory names used in the example above are in UPPERCASE on purpose and must be entered exactly the same in the fstab file.

Add the following two lines to a blank line inserted below the bottom of the existing text:

 /dev/sda2 /media/NTFS ntfs-3g defaults,locale=en_US.utf8 0 0
/dev/sda3 /media/FAT32 vfat rw,nosuid,nodev,shortname=mixed,uid=1000,utf8,umask=077,usefree 0 0

Save the changes and close the editor. Then type

  sudo mount -a


You may be asked to reboot when all of the packages are downloaded, installed and ready. If you are not asked to reboot, keep going.

Account Configuration

If you installed VirtualBox, goto System/Administration/Users and Groups and click the Unlock button. You will be prompted for your system password. After unlocking, click the Manage Groups button and scroll down and select the vboxusers group (normally the last one) and click the Properties button. Make sure there is a check mark in the box next to your account name or you won't be able to run VirtualBox machines. It is a good idea not to grant this permission to any account that does not need it.

SAMBA Configuration

Open a terminal (by clicking the black icon on the top bar) and copy or type the following command.

  gksudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf
  • Scroll down to the line that starts with wins server = and add the IP address of the IPAD-OS router (or your wins server).
  • Scroll down to the line that starts with encrypt passwords = and change the true to false for maximum compatibility. This is relatively safe if you own all of the machines on your LAN. Encrypted SMB passwords are known to be weak (easy to decode) so even in a LAN without complete control, the password encryption does not add much protection.

Save the file and close the editor.

Importing favorite fonts from Windows

To import fonts you use in Windows paste the following three commands:

  sudo mkdir /usr/share/fonts/truetype/more
sudo cp /media/NTFS/WINDOWS/Fonts/Arrobatherapy.TTF /usr/share/fonts/truetype/more
sudo fc-cache -fv

Getting the latest version of WINE

The latest version of WINE (a recursive acronym for Wine Is Not Emulation) is not always available through the default Ubuntu repositories. This describes how to pick up the latest version directly from the WINE repository.

  • Remove the WINE that comes with Ubuntu if you've installed it. Open a termainl and paste or type the following command.

  sudo apt-get remove wine

  • When that is done, paste the following two commands.

  wget -q http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt/387EE263.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add -
gksudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

  • Add the following to your sources.list file then close the editor and save the changes.

  ## Wine, Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope (9.04):
deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt jaunty main
deb-src http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt jaunty main
## Wine, Ubuntu Karmic Koala (9.10):
deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt karmic main
deb-src http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt karmic main

  • Type or paste the following at the command prompt to install Wine.

  sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install wine

Ubuntu Tweak

The last part is to get Ubuntu Tweak from ubuntu-tweak.com and follow their installation directions. This tool gives the average Ubuntu user the power to keep their system clean and running at top speed without having to know or remember a long list of detailed maintenance commands. I know these commands and have spent countless hours over the years doing normal maintenance that this program does with a few clicks. If you are using the Long Term Support (LTS) version of any Ubunutu related distribution this tool is critically important to keep from running out of space on your boot partition.

First published 2008-07-21. The last major review or update of this information was on 2015-04-20. Your feedback using the form below helps us correct errors and omissions on this page.