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System Administration

Like any computer application or system, Kubuntu occasionally needs administrative support. Do not be afraid of personally administrating your Kubuntu system. While system administration is not completely foolproof, a lot of changes have been made to help make administration easier. Knowledge of command line will go a long way, but the developers have made sure to provide graphical interfaces wherever it makes sense to do so. Everything from changing the IP address (e.g., from DHCP to a static address) to installing packages can be done without having to drop down to the command line. This section focuses exclusively on system administration performed through the graphical interface.

Installing New Packages

As mentioned earlier, Kubuntu is built around some of the same applications and systems as Ubuntu. All applications are installed through packages. Like Ubuntu, Kubuntu uses the Advanced Package Tool (APT), and also like Ubuntu, Kubuntu has a wonderful graphical interface. Kubuntu’s graphical installer is called Adept. This program was sponsored by Canonical to help further the project of Kubuntu and other Linux distributions. The old package manager, Kynaptic, lacked many features and was not user friendly. Adept seeks to solve these problems.

Adept is composed of four parts: the installer (Add/Remove Programs), the main program (Adept), adept update-notifier, and adept-updater. These programs will help you install packages and keep your system up to date with the latest and greatest changes.

To start Adept and begin installing new applications, open up the Application Launcher and click on Add/Remove Programs or type Add/Remove in the search bar that is part of the Application Launcher. Figure 8-12 shows the screen that will be displayed.

Add/Remove Programs divides programs into three groups: applications that are based around KDE, applications that can be installed with GNOME, and applications that can be installed in either desktop environment. Searching for that needed application is simple. Just type in the application you are looking for, click on it, and select install. Figure 8-13 shows an application being installed.

Once you click on Apply Changes, Add/Remove Programs downloads the information from the repository and installs the application. Easy and painless. Add/Remove programs also downloads any dependencies to prevent conflicts or broken programs.

To start Adept (Figure 8-14) and begin to install new applications, open up the Application Launcher, and move through the System folder to Manage Packages (Adept Manager/KDE3) or use the search portion of the launcher.

Adept has an easy-to-use search feature that allows you to quickly locate the application that needs to be installed. Locate the name of the application, click the drop-down arrow, and select install.

This will queue the package to be installed; click on Apply Changes to set up the application on the system. Unlike Microsoft Windows, Kubuntu is great about not forcing a system restart in order for the new application to work correctly.

Packages are organized into four different groups or repositories: main, restricted, universe, and multiverse. The main repository contains applications that are free software, programs that allow for complete distribution and are supported by the Kubuntu team. When you install something from the main repository, you are guaranteed to receive security updates and support through the various venues. A change to Adept is that applications located in the main repository have a Kubuntu icon next to them, as Figure 8-15 demonstrates.

The restricted group of software is reserved for software that is commonly used and is supported by the Kubuntu team, even though the team may not be able to change or update it. An example of software included here is the binary video drivers that some vendors publish.

Software in the universe repository is where almost every other known open source software application can be found. Software here comes with a variety of licenses, and some might have restricted use in various countries. Users should take care to ensure that they do not violate these restrictions. Items built and maintained in this group are put together by the Masters of the Universe (MOTUs). However, there is no support from the core developers for these items.

Anything from the multiverse repository contains software that is not free, which is defined by the Kubuntu Main Component License Policy. Software here is used at the user’s own risk.

Managing Repositories

With Adept, you do not need to know how to manually edit the sources.list text file to change repositories. Adept can guide you through making these changes. From the File menu, simply select Manage Repositories, and you will see a window that looks like the display shown in Figure 8-16.

A lot of work has been done to ease the configuration of different repositories in previous releases; this has been simplified down to just clicking on the correct configuration and selecting Close. Also, you can now more easily change the location from which the software is downloaded, by clicking on the drop-down menu and selecting the country closest to you.

Another big change in repository management is the ability to add third-party repositories. An important note is that software from these locations is not supported by the Kubuntu developers and may not have been given the same quality of testing and debugging as supported applications. Figure 8-17 shows the tab to use for adding a third-party repository.

Adept can also be easily customized as to when Adept Updater checks for updates, which types of updates to check for, and how to handle new updates. Depending on how you are administrating your system, you may even have Adept download and install these security updates for you. Figure 8-18 shows the default settings for dealing with updates.

The fourth tab under repository management deals with authentication. By default, the signed key for the Ubuntu repositories is installed. It is important when using third-party repositories to make sure they provide a valid GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) key, which verifies that the packages you are installing are indeed what you requested.

The final tab enables reporting of usage statistics for various applications installed on your system. This works the same as the popcon package does in Debian (another Linux distribution that you may have used). The Web site http://popcon.ubuntu.com displays the results and also has more information on what exactly is collected. From the FAQ on privacy concerns:

Q) What information is reported by popularity-contest?

A) Popularity-contest reports the system architecture you use, the version of popularity-contest you use and the list of packages installed on your system. For each package, popularity-contest looks at the most recently used (based on atime) files, and reports the filename, its last access time (atime) and last change time (ctime). However, some files are not considered, because they have unreliable atime.

The Web site is updated daily with the latest information based on what the users send.

Installing a Package

The easiest way to find the package you need to install on your system is to use the search function built into Adept. After opening up Adept and typing in the password, you will be presented with the main Adept screen. Just type the name of the package you are looking for, and Adept will display a listing of every package that fits the criteria you entered (Figure 8-19).

Through the use of filters, Adept helps limit the package listing you are searching for. These filters allow you to, for example, show packages that are not installed, show packages that are installed, and show packages that are upgradeable.

Once the package has been found, click on the name or the drop-down arrow, and Adept will display the description of the program and current version along with other information (Figure 8-20).

At this time, you will be presented with two options: to install the package and to view the details of the package. Details show more information, including dependent packages and where the files will be installed. Once an application is marked for installation, Adept also marks all of the dependent files and applications for installation as well. This prevents “dependency hell,” in which not all of the files required to get an application to function correctly are installed. Notice that the requested action will change from “no change” to “install.” Figure 8-21 shows mysql-server (an open source database server) marked for installation.

A very important part of installing packages through Adept is to make sure you always preview the changes by clicking on Preview Changes at the top before clicking Apply Changes. Any changes marked can be undone up to the point of applying them simply by clicking Undo. Figure 8-22 shows a preview of the additional packages that will be installed along with the main package.

Upgrading Kubuntu

The upgrade manager works in conjunction with Adept-Update-Notifier, discussed soon, to check whether a new version of Kubuntu is available. If so, the upgrade manager will ask you whether you want to upgrade. Follow the instructions to upgrade your version from 7.10 to 8.04. Figures 8-23 through 8-26 demonstrate how to use the upgrade manager.

How to Keep the System Up to Date

Two parts of Adept, Adept Updater and Adept-Updater-Notifier, help keep the system current with the latest fixes and updates. In the earlier Managing Repositories subsection, we mentioned how to customize the way the update applications function. Just as when you install new packages, you will rarely have to restart the system for these changes to take effect. Examples of an update requiring a restart would be a kernel update or an update to KDE.

The Adept-Update-Notifier periodically checks for updates (by default, daily, but that can be changed) and then allows you to launch Adept Updater and install the fixes. The application functions very much like the Windows Update icon in Microsoft Windows systems.

When updates are available for your system, a red triangle appears in the taskbar, as Figure 8-27 shows.

After entering your password, click on Fetch Updates to grab all the available updates. Click on Apply Changes for the updates to take place.

System Settings

System Settings allows users to make changes to the system, including settings for sound, user accounts, mouse behavior, and network configuration. If you are familiar with KDE, you may recognize that System Settings replaces the K Control Center. Figure 8-28 shows System Settings.

System Settings can be found in the Application Launcher, or type System Settings in the search bar of the launcher, or in KRunner. (KRunner is accessed by either right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Run Application or by hitting ALT-F2.) When making changes in System Settings, you will be prompted at times to enter your password. Changes made that require a password are systemwide and will affect all users of the Kubuntu system.

System Settings is divided into two tabs, General and Advanced, and each tab is further divided into sections based on tasks. Under the General tab are the following sections: Look & Feel, Network & Connectivity, and Computer Administration. The Advanced tab contains two sections: Advanced User Settings and System.

When moving through the different options, be sure to select Overview to return to the main screen of System Settings instead of clicking on the X. Doing so may take some getting used to.

Look & Feel

The Look & Feel section allows further customization of your Kubuntu system. Sections here include Appearance, Desktop, Notifications, and Window Behavior. One of the options in this section is to customize the splash screen, known as the ksplash (Figure 8-29), displayed after you log in.

Personal

In the Personal section, you can change information about yourself, including your password, settings for your region and language, default applications, and accessibility options.

Computer Administration

The Computer Administration section allows you to change items such as the date & time, display, fonts, joystick settings, keyboard and mouse settings, and sound.

The Display section allows you to change the screen resolution and orientation. If you are using an external monitor or a projector, this is where you would customize those settings. The Power Control Section deals with whether or not the monitor should turn off or go into standby to help conserve power. Figure 8-30 shows the display section of System Settings.

To install and set up Hewlett-Packard printers, there is the HP Device Manager, which eases configuration of HP Multifunction Devices (MFDs), printers that function as copiers and scanners, and other HP printers. You can find the HP Device Manager in the Application Launcher under the System folder. After you launch the application for the first time, the HP Device Manager will attempt to connect to any currently installed devices and, if there are none, will open a new window to help you set up a new device. Figure 8-31 shows an example.

The HP Device Manager has the ability to automatically detect any attached devices and to scan your network for any compatible devices. To set up a new device, click on the Setup Device button, and you will be prompted for your password. A new window (Figure 8-32) will open up that will allow you to determine how your device is connected. Once your device is discovered, the HP Device Manager provides an easy way to set up and configure your printer.

Advanced Tab

The Advanced tab of System Settings allows for further customization of user settings. This section is divided into Advanced User Settings and System.

Advanced User Settings

The advanced user settings portion of the Advanced Tab allows you to customize things such as how Kubuntu handles audio CDs, digital camera settings, file associations, and so on.

One portion is Services, shown in Figure 8-33, allows you to configure what services start during boot up of the computer. In order to make changes, first put in your password and then you can start and stop services that are running.

System

Changes made to the entire system are made in this section. One of them is the Login Manager, which controls what is shown when you log in to your system. Figure 8-34 shows the Login Manager.

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