March 30, 2006

Updating made easy with EasyUbuntu

Author: Mayank Sharma

Ubuntu uses only open/free formats, so it doesn't include playback support for formats such as MP3, Windows Media Audio (WMA), and Audio Video Interleave (AVI) that may have some restrictions. If your country has no such restrictions or legal issues with these formats, the Restricted Formats article on the Ubuntu wiki can help you install software that plays such files. Or you can do it they easy way, with EasyUbuntu, a Python script that gives Ubuntu users access to commonly used applications and codecs through a neat graphical user interface (GUI).

In addition to free codecs to play MP3s and other non-free formats, EasyUbuntu installs libdvdcss to read DVDs, and activates the "audio preview" under Nautilus. For a better Web experience, it enables Mozilla Firefox to play Flash, Java, and embedded videos, and installs Wengo and Skype VoIP software. You also have the option to install various fonts, including Microsoft's, and official drivers from both Nvidia and ATI Technologies.

Download the latest EasyUbuntu tarball, which is an archive generated nightly from the Breezy Badger 2.4 series. If you're still using Hoary Hedgehog, download EasyUbuntu 2.2. Untar the archive and run the EasyUbuntu.sh script as root: $ sudo ./EasyUbuntu.sh. The script asks for your account password, then drops you into the EasyUbuntu GUI. Select the items that interest you and click Install.

EasyUbuntu doesn't modify your apt-get's sources.list, but it gives you the option to append its repositories to yours. The latest version of EasyUbuntu uses Penguin Liberation Front (PLF) repositories.

EasyUbuntu's only shortcoming is the lack of information it provides while it's working. Some programs such as Skype and RealPlayer may take a while to download, depending on your connection speed, and staring at a "Downloading Skype" message could be irritating.

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