I’ve had to set up a few Ubuntu desktop machines recently, and I thought it was worth documenting what I install on each one, and how I automate those installations as much as possible. I wrote about this a few years ago but so much has changed with my setup that I thought it was worth revisiting these instructions.

Generally, I’ll always install from USB, and from the latest desktop version. I make my installer in Ubuntu, using Disk Image Writer and boot the computer from that. From 18.04 onwards I sometimes use the minimal installation feature (which I love), but for now assume that I just go with the defaults for everything.

Once it has finished installing, I’ll go through the process of getting everything I want on to the machine.

Install dropbox

I download the latest version from https://www.dropbox.com/install?os=lnx and then type:

sudo dpkg -i dropbox <hit the tab key>

I have a lot of files on Dropbox, so I let this sync while I’m doing the rest.

Add some software from the Ubuntu repositories

sudo apt update
sudo apt install byobu gimp vlc ubuntu-restricted-extras build-essential hexchat openssh-server gnome-tweak-tool tilix testdrive tasksel gnome-session libdvd-pkg chromium-browser youtube-dl
sudo snap install --classic atom
sudo snap install spotify

Add a script to make updating software easier

Create a new file called updateall

#!/bin/bash
echo "updateall v.1.2 for Ubuntu"
#Run this as a normal user. Your admin password will be asked for if required.
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade -y
sudo apt full-upgrade -y
sudo apt autoremove -y
sudo purge-old-kernels -y
echo "The script has now finished running."

I move it to /usr/local/bin/ then make it executable with sudo chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/updateall.

Install tails-installer

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tails-team/tails-installer
sudo apt update
sudo apt install tails-installer   

Install pandoc

This installs the latest version at time of writing, although there may be updates available.

wget https://github.com/jgm/pandoc/releases/download/2.2.1/pandoc-2.2.1-1-amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i pandoc-2.2.1-1-amd64.deb
sudo apt install texlive texlive-latex-extra

See here for more on how I configure and use Pandoc.

Cosmetic tweaks

  • Change desktop wallpaper
  • Log out, log back in, and select a vanilla Gnome desktop.
  • Go to Settings --> Security and Privacy and turn off all “phone home” functionality.