How To Setup a Workstation Computer With Xubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS Step by Step

How To Setup a Workstation Computer With Xubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS Step by Step

Xubuntu is the Ubuntu flavor with Xfce. Xfce is a lightweight desktop, fast, stable, simple and user friendly. Xubuntu is Free and Open Source. It is an excellent choice for any desktop computer, even more for those with older hardware or lower specifications. A nice environment with great support for sound, peripherals, removable devices and any kind of networking (wired, wi-fi etc) “out of the box”. Moreover, a lot of free (usually Open Source) applications are available to create your working environment. Version 16.04 LTS provides software updates for 3 years (LTS = Long Term Support). In short, it contains everything you need in a modern desktop.

Xubuntu installation performed on a 7 years old Fujitsu Siemens AMILO Notebook Xi 3650:

  • CPU: Intel Centrino 2 processor technology with Intel Core 2 Duo processor P8400
  • RAM: 4096MB DDR3 Memory
  • Hard disk space: 2 x 300GB SATA 5400 rpm hard drives
  • Graphics card: Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT with 512MB video memory & Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M HD featuring NVIDIA HybridPower technology

Software installation in Xubuntu (or any *ubuntu) can be performed using command line

sudo apt-get install package_name

or using graphic utilities (“Synaptic” or “Software center”). See details in this post. In this tutorial I use the first method.

My goal is to create a Simple And Functional Linux Desktop.

Xubuntu setup is similar to Ubuntu setup. So, I don’t duplicate these sections, but I put a link to post How To Setup a Workstation Computer With Ubuntu Desktop 16.04 LTS Step by Step instead.

REMARKS

  1. you will not find information on setup server applications like apache, php, mysql etc in this article. If you are interested on this software, please see this post.
  2. in this article I also describe the software I use for software development. If you are not interested on this kind of software, please skip relevant sections.

Basic setup

Xubuntu desktop setup is a simple graphical procedure. Download Xubuntu desktop here. Insert the CD (or the USB) and follow the instructions. Setup will only ask for your name and password and disk partitioning. Everything else is a graphical “wizard”.

Main system user

Username and password you provide during default setup will be used to create the main user of your system. This user will be automatically added to sudoers group (users with “administration privileges”).

By default, the root account password is locked in Xubuntu (or any *ubuntu). So, to execute admin tasks you have to use sudo. For example:

sudo apt-get install package_name

Disk Partitions

You may let Xubuntu to decide for your disk(s) partitioning or to define it manually, as in my case.

I use ext4 file system for system and data partitions.

This computer has two 300 GB hard disks, so I used the following structure.

First hard disk for the Operating System

The first partition I defined is the /boot partition (mount point /boot) and the second is the root partition (mount point /). It is strongly recommended to define a swap partition. As a rule of thumb set the double size of your computer RAM. It is recommended (but not required) to have a separate boot partition. tmp partition is optional (more useful for public server systems).

Second hard disk for data storage

After completing the Basic setup

When setup finishes, you have a working system, covering all of your basic needs.

Next steps include:

  1. Update System
  2. Tweak Command Line Environment
  3. Install more Command Line applications
  4. Programming Languages
  5. Tweak Desktop Graphical Environment
  6. Install more Graphical applications
  7. Install Web Development software
  8. Setup peripherals
  9. Cloud integration
  10. Recovery mode
  11. Backup your workstation

Update System

The first thing you have to do after Basic setup is to update your system.

Launch “Menu → Settings → Software updater” (recommended)

or open a terminal and type

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -V upgrade

Tweak Command Line Environment

This section is optional.

Base system includes a lot of command line tools (GNU or other). To run these programs, first launch a Terminal.

“Menu → Accessories → Terminal Emulator”

or using keyboard shortcut: SUPER+T

To color bash prompt

sudo nano ~/.bashrc

uncomment #force_color_prompt=yes.

Increase Terminal fonts

Edit → Preferences → Appearance

Furthermore, see relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Install more Command Line applications

This section is optional.

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Programming Languages

This section is optional.

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Tweak Desktop Graphical Environment

Xubuntu uses Xfce as Graphical Desktop Environment (hence the name). Xfce is a lightweight desktop, elegant and simple.

Xfce panel is located at the top of the desktop. Xfce panel can be easily customized adding new items, using “right click”. The main component of the panel is Application launcher (“main menu”).

Xubuntu comes with many applications very useful for everyday work. Core Xfce components and applications are available from the top Menu (Application Launcher). They are divided into several categories (Favorites, Office, Accessories, Graphics, Settings etc). “Favorites” is the area with the most used applications. You can easily add an application to “Favorites” just using “right click”.

You can Logout, Restart or Shutdown computer from the Log Out button in Application Launcher).

Customize Xfce in Xubuntu

Xubuntu settings are available from the Menu. Press “Settings” or use the “All Settings” button in Application Launcher:

There are a lot of settings you can modify to tweak your system:

System Updates Settings

Select Settings → Software & Updates → tab Updates

The default setting is “Automatic Download and Install Updates”. Set package updates to “Notify”:

NVIDIA Drivers

Select Settings → Software & Updates → tab Additional Drivers

Change nouveau to NVIDIA:

Thunar (file manager)

View → view as Detailed list

View → Configure columns (add Owner Group Permissions)

Edit → Show hidden files

System font

Settings → Appearance → tab Font

Microsoft fonts

To install Microsoft fonts, use:

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Window manager

Settings → Window manager

Set

  • default theme
  • Font Title

Xfce Panel

Right click to Xfce Panel and choose “Panel preferences”:

  • Increase “Row size” to 32 pixels

Right click to Xfce Panel and choose “Add new items”:

  • System Load Monitor
  • Keyboard Layouts
  • Show desktop
  • Workspace Switcher

Set Xfce Panel Window Buttons Sorting order

To be able to sort Window Buttons (each running window handler in Xfce panel) using drag and drop, right click to panel (or Settings → Panel), go to tab “Items”, select “Window buttons” and press the properties button:

Change Sorting order to drag and drop:

Power Manager

Settings → Window manager → tab System

Wallpaper

Right click on Desktop and choose “Desktop settings”. Then select a background.

NOTE: In Xfce you may have different wallpaper per workspace “out of the box” without plugins or extra settings! Just select a Workspace and then change desktop background.

Tweak Firefox

Firefox is preinstalled in Xubuntu. See this post for details: How To Setup And Configure Mozilla Firefox on Ubuntu 16.04.

Tweak Libreoffice

Adding Spell-check for your language is simple.

Select Settings → Language Support. Xubuntu will check automatically for your language dictionaries and will set them up.

Networking

After default setup you will find Gnome Network Manager on Xfce panel. Ethernet Network (wired connections) and Wireless Networks (Wi-Fi) are all available there.

Assign static IP address

After default setup your computer will obtain a “fake” IP address automatically, using DHCP. If you want to assign a static IP address:

Top bar → NetworkManager → Edit connections

Then

Ethernet → Wired connection 1 → Edit → IPv4 settings

and press Save

Enable the changes you made

Top bar → NetworkManager → Ethernet Network → Disconnect

Then connect again

Top bar → NetworkManager → Ethernet Network → Wired connection 1

Check the changes you made

Top bar → NetworkManager → Connection Information

or using command line:

ifconfig

Desktop magnification

Desktop magnification is an accessibility feature. It is also very important, when you create screencast videos.

In Xfce <Alt+Scrollwheel> zooms the entire desktop (up to Zoom in, down to Zoom out).

NOTE: If you want to disable this feature

Settings → Settings editor → select xfwm4 → change property zoom_desktop

Install more Graphical applications

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

REMARK: some minor differences:

  • Dropbox

    Install Dropbox the same way as in Ubuntu:

    sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox
    

    In Xfce there is a bug with Dropbox Panel Icon (it is not working). To fix it

            nano /usr/local/sbin/fix-dropbox.sh
    
            #!/bin/bash
    
            dropbox stop && DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" dropbox start
    

    Call this script every time computer starts:

            fix-dropbox.sh
    
  • Text editor

    You will not find Gedit in Xubuntu. Install Geany instead:

            sudo apt-get install geany
    
  • CD burning

    Xfburn is preinstalled in Xubuntu (so, you do not have to install Brasero).

  • Gnome disks

    You will not find Gnome disks in Xubuntu. Install Gnome disks using:

            sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility
    

Install Web Development software

This section is optional.

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

REMARK: the only difference I have to mention is about Gvim. In Xubuntu vim-gtk is preferable than vim-gnome as you do not want to install Gnome libraries on which vim-gnome depends:

sudo apt-get install vim-gtk

Setup peripherals

Printer – scanner

It’s quite easy to setup a printer (in my case HP OfficeJet 4500).

Menu → Settings → Printers → Add

Then use the wizard.

Web camera

It will be detected automatically during installation. You can try it using cheese:

sudo apt-get install cheese

Cloud integration

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

Recovery mode

Press and hold “SHIFT” key during boot. GRUB (boot loader) menu will display. Select “Advanced Ubuntu Options” to enter Recovery mode.

Backup your workstation

See relevant section in Ubuntu setup.

REMARK: Deja-dup is not preinstalled in Xubuntu, so you have to install it:

sudo apt-get install deja-dup

Synopsis

Operating system

Base Linux Systemdefault setup

CLI software

File managerMidnight commander 
Process viewerhtop 
Bandwidth usage monitoriftop 
NetworkingOpenSSH 
 Samba 
File archiversp7zip 
 unrar 
Secure deletewipe 

Programming languages

GNU bash4.3.43default setup
Perl5.22.1default setup
Python2.7.11+default setup
JavaOracle JDK 8 

Desktop environment

Xfcedefault setup

Apps

TerminalXfce Terminaldefault setup
 Byobu 
 Terminator 
Settings managerSystem Settingsdefault setup
 NVIDIA X Server Settings 
File managerThunardefault setup
Password managerKeePaasX 
Cloud storage clientDropbox 
Package managerSynaptic 
Web browserFirefoxdefault setup
 Google Chrome 
Mail clientThunderbirddefault setup
Download manageruget 
BitTorrent clientuget with aria2 plugin 
BitTorrent clientTransmissiondefault setup
FTP clientFilezilla 
Text editorMousepaddefault setup
Text editorGeany 
Run as usergksu 
Screen tool for eyes protectionRedshift 
Office suiteLibreOfficedefault setup
PDF readerDocument Viewerdefault setup
Image/photo editorGimp 
Image viewerRistretto Image viewerdefault setup
Screenshot takeScreenshotdefault setup
 Shutter 
Graph editoryEd 
Extra media codecsxubuntu-restricted-extras 
Video converter (FFmpeg GUI)Winff 
Video editorOpenShot 
Slideshow editorImagination 
Screen RecorderKazam 
Web camCheese 
Audio editorAudacity 
Media playerParoledefault setup
 VLC 
ScanningSimple scandefault setup
 gscan2pdf 
CD burningXfburndefault setup
File archiversGnome Archive Managerdefault setup
 Peazip 
Sync toolFreeFileSync 
System profilerhardinfo 
Disk partitioner, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, benchmarking etcGnome disks 
Disk partitionergparted 
Disk health inspection toolGSmartControl 
Hardware temperature monitoring toolpsensor 
BackupDeja-dup 
EncryptionAEScrypt 
VirtualizationVirtualbox 
Remote accessTeamviewer 
Music NotationMuseScore 
GamesMinesdefault setup
 Sudokudefault setup
 Quadrapassel 

Apps for Web Development

Version controlGit 
PHP IDEPhpStorm 
Code editorGvim 
Localization toolPoedit 
Diff/merge toolsDiffuse 
 Meld 
Database ManagerPgAdmin3 
Documentation generatorDoxygen 
Javascript Documentation generatorJsDoc Toolkit 

Screenshots Collection

View Screenshots Collection here.

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