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Multimedia and Peripherals

Now that you know how to install programs and how to expand your selection of available programs, we can now cover the rest of the setup.


Many things will just play even without the traditional installation of w32codecs. To make sure that just about everything will, choose System > Administration > Synaptics Package Manager. It should come up in All (packages) mode. Click Search, enter ubuntu-restricted-extras. Click the check box, select Mark for Installation, and enter Apply. Wait for 42MB to download, and the OS will do the rest.

And as usual, if one multimedia app doesn't work, try another. From the file manager, instead of simply clicking on the file, right-click to get a choice of applications. I found one .mpg that liked VLC Media Player better than Movie Player (totem).

If you still find yourself unable to play some multimedia formats, install w32codecs. To play back encrypted (most commercial) DVD video, install libdvdcss2.


When undergoing printer setup for supported printers, plug it in during or before boot. Open File > Print (or a print icon) in any application that supports printing. Choose between print-to-file or your printer name. If you plug it in after boot, it will open a simple wizard in which the right choices will be preselected. For practical purposes, It Just Works. This is the new CUPS printer setup and should be available on all distros Real Soon Now. (And yes, this is better than Windows.)

If your printer is not supported, you have some research ahead of you and good luck. If you're planning to install KDE, wait until you've installed KDE to deal with the printer.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Automated printer installation


When setting up a scanner for supported scanners, just plug it in. Go to the Applications menu and choose Graphics > xsane. It will find your scanner. Warning: You’ll want to reset the dpi to 300 or 600 or whatever works with your scanner; 50 dpi for an actual scan rather than a preview is fairly useless.

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