Gee, this OS changes fast.
May 2, 2010 9:33 AM   Subscribe

I just installed Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx on my MacBook Pro. What are the first things I should do to make it more usable?

I'd particularly like to make the touchpad work better. Also, whatever font package people like these days would be nice, too. I'm planning on using it for browsing the internet and typing up papers as an alternative to OSX (mostly for fun).

What I've done so far: Installed Chromium and Flash and the libraries to play my MP3 and AAC files.

I'm kind of a noob as far as repositories and stuff goes. I've fiddled with Ubuntu in the past, but assume I've forgotten almost everything.
posted by mccarty.tim to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: PS: It's a late 2007 Santa Rosa MacBook Pro. Also, should I install any video drivers?
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:34 AM on May 2, 2010

Best answer: Ubuntu should automatically look for and install codecs as you need them. Synaptic package manager is a brilliant piece of kit (both Win 7 and OSX would be oh so much better if they had an equivalent) and will let you know when a codec is needed. 90% of the time it will seek out the right one and install it. Just for the record Linux Mint (a distro based on Ubuntu) comes with all audio/video codecs preinstalled, with all necessary repositories. It is very straightforward to add repositories to ubuntu, or any other distro that uses synaptic (basically 9 out of 10 distros based on ubuntu). Here is a great primer on Synaptic, and how to add repositories.
I've never run linux on a mac, but I'm pretty certain that apple uses synaptic drivers for their touchpad (different than Synaptic package manager). Some roaming around got me this thread and this search result for "trackpad" on Ubuntu forums under Apple hardware.
VLC is a great video player, and if you can get Songbird to play nicely (especially with internet radio streams) it comes closest to iTunes look and feel and surpasses it for functionality. Amarok is another good audio app, albeit rather clunky when compared to songbird or itunes.
Desktop Drapes is a fun app that automatically changes your wallpaper every X minutes.
Cairo Dock works like the dock under OSX, and can be extended to do much more than dock can.
Gnome Do is an awesome open source version of the legendary Quicksilver app launcher/control console. It's been around since early OS 10.3 days and had quite a following. Gnome Do is a very versatile app that you may very well never want to be without ever again. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask!
posted by chosemerveilleux at 10:31 AM on May 2, 2010

Best answer: I've got a gen1 macbook that I've been using ubuntu on for years (now with lucid), and the touchpad only needs two tweaks for me. Enable two-finger-scrolling under the Touchpad tab of the Mouse preferences instead of the side-scroll (default). As well as bumping up the sensitivity a bit. You should be able to right-click with the default config by putting two fingers down on the touchpad and clicking. If you have specific problems with the touchpad, it'd help to be more specific.

There's one meta-package with fonts that I know of. Install from a terminal with:

sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-font-meta

But it's easy to just download and install individual font files. Some of my favorite sources:

The League of Moveable Type
Smashing Magazine (2,3)

You shouldn't need any special video drivers. Does everything look fine with your resolution? If so, don't give it another thought.

You look like you're pretty covered for web browsing and typing papers with Chrome/OpenOffice. Some of the stuff I've installed/setup are: gPodder for podcasts, Ubuntu One for file sync, Banshee for music, Bazaar for version-tracking and project management, and Cheese to make the macbook camera into a photo booth. Enabling the iSight camera might take a little extra work, but you can gauge how hard it is with your model here.
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2010


How did you install Ubuntu? I've thought of doing the same on my MacBook Pro, but it would only be for occasional use.
posted by lukemeister at 11:13 AM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: I installed it by formating over the Windows Boot Camp partition. I'm sure you could do the same thing by going into the Boot Camp agent, partitioning off half or so of your hard drive, and installing Ubuntu in the free space. Then you just hold Alt to go into ubuntu via Grub.

I'm sure there's probably a more elegant EFI solution, but I didn't really want to mess with that.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:06 PM on May 2, 2010

and if you can get Songbird to play nicely (especially with internet radio streams) it comes closest to iTunes look and feel and surpasses it for functionality.

Unfortuntely the Songbird team are discontinuing the Linux port. Hopefully others will pick it up, but don't get too used to it.

As long as you've got the Universe and Multiverse repos enabled, you've got more software than you can shake a stick at; I'd recommend just browsing around in the software manager to look for things that seem interesting; you'd be surprised how much good stuff is available in the Debian/Ubuntu repos.

You might want to have a play with Texmake and LyX for authoring documents.
posted by rodgerd at 12:28 PM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: That's a shame to hear about Songbird. I guess I'll see how I like the one that comes bundled and Amarok.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:51 PM on May 2, 2010

Best answer: The Ubuntu MacPro wiki pages may be helpful with specific hardware issues. Have a poke around.
posted by pharm at 1:16 PM on May 2, 2010

Best answer: As long as you've got the Universe and Multiverse repos enabled, you've got more software than you can shake a stick at

Though you might want to enable the Medibuntu repositories, as they'll bring in the unstripped versions of the various codecs, and various other proprietary apps (Skype, Gizmo5, etc.) that can't be bundled in the standard install or repos. Ubuntu Tweak may also help, especially if you're a bit overwhelmed by synaptic: it's a simplified way to see the kind of software you might want to install, particularly if you're switching from another OS.
posted by holgate at 1:19 PM on May 2, 2010

I installed 10.04 on my Macbook Pro as well. Everything is great! However, I too, noticed that the trackpad wasn't really up to scratch. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what was different, but I found installing another trackpad management util from Ubuntu Software Center (I think it was called "gsynaptic" or something) and raising the minimum acceleration value helped a lot.
posted by puddpunk at 2:10 PM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: Yeah, I read up online and installed Gsynaptic. Upped the minimum acceleration and sensitivity, and now it's just like in OSX, right down to the two-finger scroll. All I miss now is Evernote, which I'm going to install via wine.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:24 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, I installed evernote (I had to go with an older version since the new one doesn't work well with wine), and it works fine save for a few graphical glitches.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:37 PM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: I also installed the bleeding edge wireless drivers, as described here, to work out some flakiness, that I initially thought was my router. Apparently Lucid still doesn't come with good drivers for Wifi out of the box. But on the plus side, at least I have the power to do something about it. Under OSX or Windows, I'd just be waiting for the next release from Atheros.

Just putting this down in case somebody else with the same laptop has the same problem.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:11 PM on May 3, 2010

hey mccarty.tim, have you used Kubuntu/kde desktop?
It's also installable via synaptic within ubuntu.
It's a little different, not particularly worse/better. Worth a little bit of playing with; you can choose in the "login" screen which desktop manager to use.

Also, the google desktop app is pretty nice (don't know if you use google apps already, but it ties in nicely with them. I've used their services for a while, but just found the linux desktop app.)

It was such a nice surprise, using a several years old acer 4670 travelmate, the track-pad has 'two finger' scrolling, three finger fwd/back- much more useful than under win (including 7, though the 'other' synaptic [the touch pad makers] have released a nice set of features to upgrade track pads, and are in the process of releasing Synaptics Gesture Suiteā„¢ Linux for TouchPads) I had used the computer for a long time, and liking the "multi-touch" nature of the "macbookpro" touch-pad... and suddenly bam, I put on Linux, and this older computer has multi-touch out of the install...

Pretty much the "prettiest" set of 'themes' I have seen in the wild are the "Mac4Lin" theme files available on sourceforge. (and a page telling ppl how to 'do' it.)
posted by infinite intimation at 12:12 PM on May 7, 2010

I'm sure there's probably a more elegant EFI solution, but I didn't really want to mess with that.

rEFIt is an excellent and (relatively -- e.g., don't do anything stupid) safe EFI solution if you're looking for snappier, more elegant ways to dual boot, but writing over a Windows Boot Camp partition and holding down Option during startup works just as well.
posted by a small part of the world at 12:57 PM on June 28, 2010

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