Install a new desktop

From Organic Design wiki
Procedure.svg Install a new desktop
Organic Design procedure

Download and install

First download and install the operating system of choice, our procedures are suited to Debian-like operating systems such as Linux Mint (preferred), Debian, gNewSense, Mepis or Ubuntu.

Get network access and upgrade to the current state

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

Required utilities and libraries

apt-get install git python3-setuptools python3-pyqt5 python3-pip python3-dev libssl-dev libsecp256k1-dev p7zip-full bzip2 rar
cpan Perl::Version

Post install checklist

This is my personal checklist of items I do after a fresh installation to get everything I use running and to get it looking the way I like it :-) Some of these items will already be included, or may not be available, depending on which OS you're running.

  • Advanced settings (then add all buttons to windows from shell menu, also fonts, see below)
  • Keyboard (add US, Alternative International and then fix the Cedilla)
  • Geany (the local page shows context-action, colour and line-spacing tweaks)
  • VLC
  • Pidgin (with OTR and plugin pack and copy backed up .purple after install)
  • Thunderbird and Enigmail - apt-get install enigmail
  • Inkscape & GIMP/Krita
  • FBread for ebooks (Calibre is good too but is much heavier and best only if you need library, editing or format conversion features)
  • Skype (details on installation from the i386 .deb with MultiArch here - note it says sound crashing needs libpulse0:i386 too, or try libasound2-plugins:i386 if still crashing)
    • Most distros have skype in the normal software manager now, just install from there
    • Note: you can get multiple chat windows back by un-ticking options/IM/use default view
  • World clock (zones in ~/.tzlist, use custom format %H:%M (%A) - the annoying window-size bug is not present in Debian)
  • Go to details in system settings and set the default programs associated with file-types
  • Icons (gnome-brave-icon-theme, can be installed via apt-get)
  • Audacity - if you need to record and edit sound, then Audacity is both simple and powerful (apt-get install audacity)
  • You might like to change to the interface font, see also how to install fonts in Linux

PDF editing and manipulating

  • PSD arranger for switching pages around and combining PDF files
  • Xournal for quick addition of images etc
  • Master PDF Editor is pay, but well worth it for a full editor


Mozilla Firefox is a graphical web browser developed by the Mozilla Corporation, and a large community of external contributors. Firefox, officially abbreviated as Fx or fx and popularly abbreviated FF, started as a fork of the Navigator browser component of the Mozilla Application Suite. Firefox has replaced the Mozilla Suite as the flagship product of the Mozilla project, under the direction of the Mozilla Foundation.

Firefox is our choice of web-browser here at Organic Design, and this article lists the extensions and configurations we like to include with it. Note that browsers are inherently risky by the fact that any site you may visit can contain malicious code, and you are also trusting all your installed extensions. For this reason it's a very good idea to install FireJail which gives you super easy sandboxing capability. See below for more detail.



Local folders: The Hide Local Folders is a useful extension since the local folders just clutter up the tree for us since we only use IMAP folders.

Sent folder issue: Another issue I've found is that the Sent folder sometimes ends up located alphabetically instead of at the top of the tree under the inbox. This happens because we have the Save a copy of sent messages option disabled as the server does it for us. But to ensure that the Sent folder has its special status, you must first select to save the sent messages in it, and then untick the option to save a copy. That way it gains its special status first and still remains special even after messages aren't saved into it locally.

Brazilian keyboard settings

To make your keyboard have the accents working for Brazilian Portuguese on Debian-like operating systems in the proper way that Brazilians are used to, you need to add a second Keyboard Layout which uses the English (US, alternative international) language.

The dead keys are single quote, double quote, back-tick and tilde, typing any of these characters while using the international keyboard will result in an accent being applied to the next typed character - unless the next character is a space in which case the dead-key itself will be typed. For example single quote, double quote, back-tick and tilde respectively followed by the letter A results in á, ä, à and ã.

In Spanish, upside down question marks (¿) and exclamation marks (¡) are also required as they work like quotes that wrap around a sentence in Spanish. These characters are available on the international keyboard using right-alt + 1 and right-alt + /.


An annoying hack is required to fix the cedilla, because the apostrophe+C yields a C with an accent instead of a Cedilla! [more...]

SSD optimisation

I've had one too many mechanical disk failures and have finally decided to move over to SSD. They still have a long way to go as a technology since they still suffer from the major problem of flash technology in general which is that each memory bit can only be written to a thousand times (3 thousand on the most recent technology). So I'm just going to get a small cheap one initially and hopefully in six months or so they'll be longer lasting and more practical sizes. I've started with a 120GB Samgsung 840 series, for these reasons. Most of the following optimisation tips are taken from SSD optimisation in the Debian wiki, and another good artile here in the Arch Linux wiki. [more...]

Windows Emulator (Wine)

The windows emulator allows practically seamless integration of native windows applications into the Linux desktop environment. Internet Explorer is more difficult to set up in it than other applications due to its tight integration with the windows internal components, but a package is available allowing easy installation of multiple simultaneous Internet Explorer versions (see Installation on Ubuntu).

Below is a screenshot of my local laptop running Ubuntu. As you can see all the open windows are integrated naturally into the normal desktop environment but some of them are windows applications and some native Linux ones. The top browser window is Internet Explorer 6 running in windows emulation, but the bottom one is Ubuntu's Firefox. Music is playing from the Windows emulated Winamp in the top right, and the middle application is a Windows-only family tree program. I was able to drop a folder of music directly into the Winamp window to play it, and all file paths and open/save dialogue boxes can navigate the entire Linux directory tree just like a native application behaves.

Video tools

DVD::Rip: It's important to make backup copy's of DVD's you've purchased so that you're not at risk from the original being damaged and becoming unreadable. We use the DVD::Rip application, which after installed can be found in Applications/Sound & Video. [more...]

youtube-dl: This is a command-line tool for downloading Youtube videos, it's best to install it from the site rather than with apt because it needs to be completely up to date and the apt package has the update feature disabled.

Local development tools

Install these additional packages - if running local wikis, see the install a new server procedure for more required packages, then Nginx and SSL for details about installing a single localhost wiki configuration with SSL support.

apt-get install build-essential autoconf libtool subversion git python-dev python-qt4 cpanminus libwww-perl libxml-simple-perl

And these Perl modules with cpanm:

cpanm HTML::Entities Archive::Zip IO::Async::Loop Net::Async::WebSocket::Client Net::WebSocket::Server


The webcam is really dark in skype for some reason, even though it shows fine in other programs. I found that installing the v4l2ucp package gave me some controls that helped the problem. Just run the program from the command line with the video device as the first parameter (no parameter required if the default video device is fine). I found that the "Exposure, Auto Priority" setting at the bottom helped brighten the picture up a lot.

See also