Best Ubuntu & Kubuntu Software to Add After Installation

Canonical’s Ubuntu & Kubuntu distros are loaded with great software and utilities. There are, however, a bunch of great tools that are not included in their standard installations.  Aside from Skype, all of these tools can easily be added by going to your download package manager (in Ubuntu, Synaptic) and search for the program names.

We’ve compiled a list of the must-have software that can be added on after installation.

Voip – (Voice over IP)

Skype for Linux
Skype for Linux

Get Skype – It works great in Linux. Their Linux version isn’t as full with bells and whistles a their Windows version, but it works great and all the essential functions are there. Even better, skype is in the 64 bit software repository for Ubuntu, so a simple terminal command will get you up and running. First, you’ll need the Medibuntu repository.

sudo wget`lsb_release -cs`.list –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list; sudo apt-get -q update; sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring; sudo apt-get -q update
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

Then install Skype
sudo apt-get install skype

Windows Tools

Do you need to run Windows software on Linux?  If so, you’ll want to run Wine
sudo apt-get install wine

Educational Software

Edubuntu is the Ubuntu distro aimed at K-8 and highschools.  You may want to download some of the great educational tools they have included in that distro into your very Ubuntu.

Kalzium – Periodic table of elements

Kbruch – A great math game / skills test.  The kids (and adults) will have a lot of fun with this.  This is a KDE tool, but it works great on my Gnome Ubuntu

Khangman – A simple but effective visual hangman game to encourage your kids to practice their spelling. Comes with nice background choices and hints.

Tuxpaint – Tux Paint is a drawing program aimed at younger kids.  It includes audio sounds integrated with the actions being drawn.  For example, you can “stamp” a frog on the screen and hear the sound that a frog makes too.

Tux Typing – A nice typing tutor that adds a space-invader type arcade game.  You save the Linux penguin from being smothered by the falling words by correctly typing them.

Tux Math – A nice game / math learning tool integration.

It’s amazing that all these tools are open-source.  Grab then now and make Ubuntu that fun learning tool you always wanted for your kids.


Gimp – This is the Linux world’s answer to Adobe Photoshop.  What’s better is that it’s free!  This tool is so rich and includes so many wonderful add-ons and plug-ins, it’s nearly impossible to describe just how great it really is.  If you need a graphics package, get Gimp!  I also recommend adding the animation plug-ins for 3D graphics.  There are plug-ins for many of your favorite Photoshop filters and for saving as a web optimized file.

Sound & Video

Kstreamripper Not enough can be said about this simple “dark horse” tool.  How many Linux users know of its existence?  The display is quite spartan, but the results are excellent.  You add the URL for an audio stream.  Preferably, Shoutcast, or some other stream that displays song information while its playing.  Kstreamripper takes the feed and splices it up into MP3 files in your chosen directory, and injects the song information to the song’s tag and filename.  This is also a KDE tool, but it works great in Kubuntu and Ubuntu.

KDE Apps on Ubuntu – The Best of Both Worlds

So you’ve decided to leave Kubuntu and headed over to the world of Gnome on Ubuntu

Who ever said you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

From the linux forums these days it seems that many former hard-core kubuntu users are fleeing to ubuntu after the failed-start of KDE 4.x They, and other Ubuntu users who have only known from the Gnome world, are devoid of all the rich application tools available to the KDE community.

Compusa (Systemax, Inc.)

I am not willing to leave the Ubuntu distro, as others have suggested, to try KDE on Mandriva or on other KDE driven distros. I am very familiar with Kubuntu, the command line, the tools, the whole ‘way of doing things’.

I switched to Ubuntu last week and haven’t looked back yet. What’s the key to my success? I kept most of the familiar KDE tools. Even though I’m on Gnome, I am using Amarok for music playing, Kstreamripper to save audio from my favorite streams (shh…, the best kept secret on the internet), and other KDE specific tools that I’ve been using for years and don’t want to depart from so quickly.

Adding KDE apps on Ubuntu is simple. From the command line, you can add an app by typing:

sudo apt-get install program_name

If you can’t find the KDE app you want to install, then you’ll probably need to add the app source lists for KDE tools, which can be found by search on Google and at the Kubuntu website.

On the other hand, for all us KDE users who switch to Gnome, you will be pleasantly surprised. There is a rich world of many apps that work great and are well stitched to the linux distro. I kind of wonder what it would have been like had I started on Ubuntu in the first place. I’ll discuss in a later article more in depth the greatness of the Gnome deployment on Ubuntu – especially for developers.

Linux – Save Youtube, Myspace Videos To Desktop. No Software Needed

I’m using Ubuntu, but this method should work on every Linux distribution.

Copy Youtube, Myspace, Metacafe, DailyMotion, Megafile, MegaVideo Videos to Your Desktop
When you watch a video on Youtube and other popular video file sharing sites, Adobe’s Flash Player is temporarily storing the file in your /tmp directory. Once you leave the page or close the tab on your browser, the file is erased and is irretrievable.

Steps to copy file to your desktop
1. Let the video load on your web browser. You can do this for multiple videos on separate tabs at the same time. The progress bar shows you when the file is completely buffered (e.g. saved to your hard drive).
2. Do not close the browser or leave the pages where the videos are buffered!
3. Find the temporary file
From a terminal window, change to your /tmp directory

cd /tmp

3. List all the files in order of last updated.

ls -tlh

The Flash file(s) that you currently have open in your browser will be listed. They usually start with FLA****
Look for the biggest filesize(s) and you’ll clearly see the video file(s) you are looking for.
4. Copy the the files to your desktop (or anywhere else on your drive). Remember to give them a .flv extension for easier playback of the files.

cp tempfilename ~/Desktop/MyFavoriteTVShow1.flv

Use our other Linux tips to then copy these FLV files to your iPod, Sansa, Creative and other portable mp4 players. Linux is the best, enjoy!

Please share your methods and experiences here.

Free Linux Tools – Convert Media Files to Your Sansa Disk

Sansa Media Player
You bought the Sansa Player and you use Linux. Sansa doesn’t come with Linux support. Have no fear. It’s really easy to convert and copy your favorite media files to your portable Sansa Player.

ffmpeg is a great tool for converting files from one format to another.  The flexibility and capability of this is seemingly endless.  Unfortunately, the manual has about 200 pages at last count, and the trial and error of getting a file into another format requires a lot of patience.

if you don’t already have ffmpeg installed, then use your Linux distro’s package manager and install it with all recommended dependencies.
In Ubuntu and Kubuntu to install ffmpeg type this into your Terminal command prompt

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg

Convert to Sansa Disk Player Format
I’ve used this method to copy countless FLV & AVI files to my daughter’s Sansa Player.

From a Linux command prompt copy in the following code.  Replace INPUT and OUTPUT with the filename you are converting and the name of the output file

ffmpeg -i INPUT -r 29  -ab 96k -qmax 51 -mbd 2 -flags +4mv+trell -aic 2 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 -ar 44100 -g 300 -s 320×240 -aspect 4:3 -ac 2 -f mp4 -y OUTPUT

You’ll see a progress bar working in your Terminal window. Once it’s completed, simply copy the file over to the Sansa Disk directory. (Assuming you’ve connected it to your computer, it should probably be in /media/disk)

Let us know if this tip helped and/or if you have a better method.

Ubuntu vs. Kubuntu – A Linux Lover’s Challenge

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that you’ve already decided on or are using the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.  e.g. There are plenty of linux flavors out there, and this article will only discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Ubuntu and Kubuntu.

First of all, both Ubuntu and Kubuntu are based on the same cannonical distribution and core.  The only (and important) difference between them is the desktop environment offered with either option.  Ubuntu comes with the Gnome desktop environment, whereas Kubuntu offers the KDE desktop.

KDE vs. Gnome
Many will say that the value of Gnome vs KDE is in their graphical presentation.  KDE is a 3D highly graphical environment with much eye-candy objects.  Gnome is a more basic, pleasant IMO, graphical implementation.  It more resembles Windows XP in form and function.

In addition, KDE and Gnome each have different software packages that are specific to them. For example, KATE is a KDE text editor.  Amarok is a KDE music player.  Gnome has a whole set of tools specific to it as well.  Most of these tools will work fine on either desktop.  I have used Amarok on KDE and Gnome with no problems in either case.

I have used Kubuntu as my desktop operating system for the last three years.   I use my desktop PC for development, email, media, file management, SSH connections with servers, and just about everything else. I need my OS to be a workhorse.
After three years of strong Kubuntu performance on KDE 3.x, I upgraded first to Kubuntu 8.x which upgraded the KDE to 4.0. I found the desktop interface changes to be clumsy, and although well-meaning, were essentially a dud. After reading the much-hyped reviews of Kubuntu 9.x which shipped in May and included the update to KDE 4.1, I thought maybe we could go back to the ‘good ole days’. My wishes were not delivered. Kubuntu had been slow and causing many crashes – primarily with the media players. I found myself on a regular basis having to kill the mplayer or npviewer.bin (the 32 bit wrapper for the Adobe flash player on 64 bit OS). Granted, there are other factors, possibly hardware and/or configuration changes due to added software, but the same machine performed well in the past and after the upgrade to 9.x and until my switch to Gnome (Ubuntu) last week, had become nearly unbearable.

RiseSmart Inc.

After much consideration, I have changed the desktop environment on my copy of linux Kubuntu to Gnome. Essentially, I am running Ubuntu, but the logon splash screen says Kubuntu. Since both desktops rely on the same core operating system, i was able to upgrade (or simply to switch) to Gnome / Ubuntu by going to the upgrade manager and requesting the Gnome desktop. The upgrade/switch took about 20 minutes, and not only was it seamless, even the bookmarks in Firefox and all the configurations are still in place.  Here’s a tutorial for Kubuntu users to switch to Gnome.

Therefore, my experience has been that if you are looking for a dependable Linux OS and without the bells and whistles of a developmental phase of KDE (at least until it’s fully baked in this new 4.x generation), stick with Ubuntu.
What have been your experiences with Kubuntu and Ubuntu? Please share with us.

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