Ubuntu for Business

Note: this article is the writers personal opinion. It is based upon almost 40 years of experience in small computers and communications, but it is still an opinion. It is presented AS IS. All use is at your own risk.


Most software packages, however nice, still need a little configuring before they are ready for use. In my computer lab, this is especially true. We use eight Pentium 4 computers for students, one more for a lab supervisor, and one to run the two five foot monitors purchased with a grant from the Verizon Foundation in our Back to Work 2010 project. To use the Ubuntu, we need Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Plugin, and the Google Chrome web browser. FireFox is already included. Also, because the next release of Ubuntu (April 2011) will replace Oracle OpenOffice with LibreOffice, we need to remove OpenOffice and install LibreOffice instead.

This is a fairly standard setup to be able to perform office work. After a bunch of web research, here is how I did it. I worked remotely from my office because I had 11 computers to configure, but you can just as easily do this from the command line at one workstation.

Be sure you have selected the optional repositories. Click System / Administration / Synaptic Package Manager. In the dialog which opens click Settings / Repositories. I check them all in the Ubuntu Software tab, then Canonical Partners and Unsupported Updates in the Other Software tab. We’ll add some from the command line later.

On the First Tab, there is also a drop down combo box labeled “Download from:” which controls where the computer will try to update itself. This is more art form than science as choosing the wrong web site results in the infamous “NODATA2 bad signature” error. Changing the source to something else usually fixes the error. Why Canonical has not made the process more robust — as Red Hat has done — by trying another source if one source is overloaded and returns the NODATA2 error, I do not know. I work from the command line because I get fewer of these NODATA2 failures that way. It also has helped me to use “apt-get -y dist-upgrade” to update the computers as this command seems to fail less often that the GUI Software Update Manager.

Get a command line to work from. Click Applications / Accessories / Terminal.

Set the root password to something you can control. Shell to root. Notice I do not “sudo” and type my password over and over again: I’m just too old and irritable for that. ;>

sudo passwd root

<enter your user password here>
<enter the new password for root here>
<enter the new password for root here, again>

su –

<enter root password>

If you are going to work remotely, as I do from my office or from home, install SSH2 on each computer, them go home and shell into them for the rest of this. Whether you are physically present at the computer or controlling it remotely via SSH the actions are the same.

apt-get -y install openssh-server

Install Adobe Flash Plugin

apt-get -y install adobe-flashplugin

Install Adobe Acrobat Reader

apt-get -y install acroread

You need a couple more repositories, and then you can install Google Chrome (Chromium) and LibreOffice. I made a simple script to do this. It backs up your original list of repositories just in case something bad happens, adds two repositories to the allowed list, then removes OpenOffice. At this point I noticed that it not only removed OpenOffice, but the same instruction PARTIALLY INSTALLED LibreOffice, but it is lacking a few key parts. The next line installs LibreOffice and Google Chromium.

This is the script I used; The lines beginning with a pound # are commented out lines included only so that I can easily see what I was doing.

cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.backup
apt-get install python-software-properties

add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa
add-apt-repository ppa:chromium-daily/ppa
apt-get update

apt-get -y autoremove openoffice.org-*
#apt-get purge “openoffice*.*”

#apt-get install chromium
#apt-get install libreoffice
#apt-get install libreoffice-gnome
#apt-get install libreoffice-pdfimport
#apt-get install language-support-en

apt-get -y install chromium libreoffice libreoffice-gnome libreoffice-pdfimport language-support-en

Aaannnnnndddd. You’re good to go. If you like, you can run “apt-get -y dist-upgrade” to update all the parts of the computer before you quit.


Note: this article is the writers personal opinion. It is based upon almost 40 years of experience in small computers and communications, but it is still an opinion. It is presented AS IS. All use is at your own risk.

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