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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 KPackageKit.

In previous versions of Kubuntu, Adept software was used to install and update packages; however, this application was no longer being developed and also was not updated for KDE 4. The developers of Kubuntu switched to KPackageKit, and many improvements to the application were made during the release cycle. The developers of KPackageKit and the Kubuntu developers worked together to make sure this application was up to the quality that Kubuntu users expect.

KPackageKit is found in the Application Launcher under Applications > System as Software Management and can also be launched through Krunner as Software Management.

Upon launching Software Management, you are presented with the KPackageKit application (Figure 8-12).

Three options are available in Software Management: Add and Remove Software (through the Software Management section), Software Updates, and Settings.

In order to add a new piece of software, type the name of the application in the search bar. The screenshots in Figures 8-13 and 8-14 show searching for a chess game and then selecting it for installation.

Once you click on the application to install, more details about the package are displayed, including the description of the package, the file list, other packages that depend on this package, and other packages required by this package. This information allows you to understand what files are being installed and to make sure the correct packages are being downloaded and installed so the application works properly.

To install the application, click on the “+” (plus sign).

This will queue the package to be installed; click on Apply 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.

Managing Repositories

The Software Management application has the ability to manage the repositories you would like to use. To change which repositories are being used, open Software Management and select settings and the select “Edit Software Sources.” After you provide the correct password, a new window will open up (see Figure 8-15).

Software Sources is divided into five sections: Kubuntu Software, Third-Party Software, Updates, Authentication, and Statistics.

Packages are organized into four 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.

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.

Third-party software is not supported by Kubuntu.

Upgrading Kubuntu

If you are currently using Kubuntu 8.10 and would like to upgrade to Kubuntu 9.04, you can use the update manager to install the new version. There is no need to purchase new software or reload your system; just update from the current version to the latest stable release. From the console, type sudo do-release-upgrade and watch your system upgrade from Kubuntu 8.10 to Kubuntu 9.04.

How to Keep the System Up to Date

Kubuntu will check to see if your system is up to date. Software Management will notify you in the task bar and prompt you to update your system.

In the Settings portion of Software Management, you can change how often the system checks for updates (by default, it is every week). Another setting that can change is whether or not the system will automatically install the updates or prompt you for your updates.

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 8-16 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 and 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 8-17), displayed after you log in.


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 add or remove software and to change items such as the date and time, display, fonts, input actions, keyboard and mouse settings, and multimedia.

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 8-18 shows the display section of System Settings.

Add or Remove Software

New to Kubuntu 9.04 is the addition of Add or Remove Software to System Settings. By opening this portion of System Settings, you open up KPackageKit to install new software. This functions the same way as described under the section Installing New Software.

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 section, the Service Manager, shown in Figure 8-19, 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.

Also in Advanced User Settings is the ability to configure how Akonadi (Akonadi configuration) and Nepomuk (Desktop Search) work. These two utilities are new to KDE4.

“Akonadi is a cross-desktop storage service for Personal Information Manager data (calendars, contacts, email, etc.) and also for the metadata” (http://pim.kde.or/akonadi for more information). Nepomuk can work together with Akonadi and helps you organize the information and metadata on your machine. (For more information, see http://nepomuk.semanticdesktop.org.) Another portion of Nepomuk is Desktop Search, which provides the ability to search for files and applications on your system. These two applications can be configured through System Settings.


Changes made to the entire system are made in this section.

Changes include Printer Configuration, Login Manager, Network Management, PolicyKit Authorization, and Power Management.

Printer Configuration

Major changes have been made in the Printer Configuration section to integrate setting up and managing printers in System Settings instead of in a different application. To add a new printer, click on the New Local Printer button and then follow the steps as shown in Figures 8-20 and 8-21.

Network Management

Another addition in System Settings for Kubuntu 9.04 is for Network Management. This section differs from the Network Settings under Network & Connectivity on the General tab, which deals with how your system connects to the network. The Network Management section allows you to configure different wireless or wired connection settings and helps you set up a VPN (virtual private network) connection. See Figure 8-22.

PolicyKit Authorizations

Another new addition to System Settings is PolicyKit Authorizations (Figure 8-23). PolicyKit itself is an application that controls systemwide privileges. It allows nonprivileged users and processes to work with privileged processes. PolicyKit provides a fine level of control, and this part of System Settings allows you to customize how PolicyKit is enabled in Kubuntu.

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