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Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce
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Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:44 am ]
Post subject:  Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

For UberStudent 4.0 Xfce 64-bit and 32-bit and Xubuntu 14.04 64-bit and 32-bit
Updated: Fri, 24 Oct 2014
Tutorial status: BROKEN after a string of major updates on Oct 24, 2014. DO NOT FOLLOW ANY OF THE DIRECTIONS BELOW. Please check back in the near future!


Additional Update, 04 Sep 2014: The below manual steps are now automated via a bash script and are available as a download from the UberStudent Soureforge page. Simply download the xubuntu-transformation-4.0.tar.gz file, extract it to your home directory, open the xubuntu-transformation-4.0 folder that the compressed file will extract, and read the README.txt file for further directions. :ugeek:

CAREFULLY READ THESE DIRECTIONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH BEFORE DOING THEM. Alternately, you can download a script package (info above) that will automate this whole process for you.

The packages in the UberStudent repository (http://uberstudent.net) were made to service the UberStudent distribution, but you can add the repository and its dependencies to a compatible system.

In fact, you can transform a basic Xubuntu installation into full UberStudent Xfce in about 30-45 minutes (NOTE: this is how I initially test UberStudent releases before going through all the trouble of building an ISO. If everything works this way, it will work the same way on the full-install UberStudent ISO). You can use something like VirtualBox to take these steps, if you wish.

You should consider that adding the UberStudent repository to your system and taking the below steps means permanently transforming your system in to UberStudent, due to the nature and requirements of UberStudent. If you are not interested in that, please stop now! While certainly possible, I have not created a tutorial on how to revert UberStudent back in to stock Xubuntu, and probably never will because--why? :geek: Please consider this a one-way trip. ;)

People who do not have a DVD drive or USB thumb drive that holds 3 GBs may find these steps an especially attractive option...as well as those who just like to do this sort of thing. I'll add comments throughout in italics so you know what's going on in each step. If you take these steps and understand them, you will definitely undergo a learning experience. :ugeek:

As of the date mentioned atop this post, the steps below have been tested on a fresh U.S. English installation of Xubuntu 14.04 desktop (both the 64-bit and 32-bit versions) that contained a single user account. It should work regardless of language. If you have multiple user accounts, the results will be incomplete for accounts you are not signed in to. In that case, please avoid this tutorial and just install UberStudent via the ISO file.

Tech Side Note: Any distro upstream of Debian may be transformed in this manner, assuming proper directions. If your favorite distro has not published a tutorial similar to this, it is because (1) the developers have not been asked to or are perhaps not interested in providing one (e.g., Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary); or; (2) the distro is technically poor (e.g., Zorin OS) and overly relies upon specific builds to place files that are static rather than ones its own repositories can update in to the system at the developer's will.

Please note that:

  • Following the below steps will completely remove Xubuntu, since a variety of packages in Xubuntu conflict with packages in UberStudent. As well, it will replace a variety of core Ubuntu configurations, although the resulting system will remain compatible with and depend on Ubuntu's repositories to function. This is to say that you cannot just add the UberStudent repository as a supplement to another distribution. Installing the repository means transforming your system in to UberStudent. If you are like most people, you will be delighted with the results. :-)
  • The required UberStudent package uberstudentsources will remove your sources.list file in /etc/apt. You can find a backup of the removed sources.list file in /etc/apt/sources-list.disabled-by-uberstudent, something I made the package do during post-installation. If you are unsure what this means or you are doing this on a fresh Xubuntu install, the removal probably does not matter to you. ;) These steps have not been tested on a system containing user-added PPAs--these steps are aimed only at transforming a standard, stock, Xubuntu installation in to UberStudent.
  • In the directions below, blocks of code may be copied and pasted as a block into the terminal window. Use Crtl+Shift+V to paste into the terminal. Pay close attention: Make sure you hit Enter on your keyboard to run the last line of the copied-over text block.
  • As stated below, carefully read these directions all the way through before you undertake them. Every single step here must be done without mistake or the result will fail. Read and double-read. If any of the directions are unclear, ask in this thread before you proceed. Like I said, these steps are a routine part of testing UberStudent versions. They do work. Just follow the steps exactly as written and you'll be fine!

Following are the steps to transform an installation of Xubuntu into UberStudent. Obviously, they assume you already have Xubuntu installed on your computer, either to a harddrive or in Virtualbox.

1. Read these directions all the way through before proceeding. You can do that while you do step 2, below, if you need to.

2. As is always prudent before doing anything major, make a complete backup of any important files in your home directory. If you are doing this on a fresh Xubuntu installation, there's nothing to back up, so skip this step but keep reading this all the way through before proceeding. It is imperative that you get an overview of these steps before taking them individually.

3. Now, since you have presumably read these directions all the way through before proceeding, you can proceed. So, let's begin. Please run the following in a terminal:

REMINDER: Use Crtl+Shift+V to paste code you copy here into the terminal. AND, make sure each time that you hit ENTER on your keyboard to make sure you've run the command block completely!

# Clearing the apt cache:
sudo apt-get clean

# Removing some packages that conflict with UberStudent:
sudo apt-get purge apport apport-symptoms apport-gtk lightdm liblightdm-gobject-1.0 light-locker menulibre popularity-contest python3-apport python3-distupgrade python3-problem-report python3-update-manager ubuntu-release-upgrader ubuntu-release-upgrader-gtk ubuntu-release-upgrader-core update-manager update-notifier whoopsie xul-ext-ubufox

The terminal will state "Errors were encountered while processing: lightdm." Just ignore this error for now. We will deal with it near the end of these steps, and once you boot in to UberStudent the first time the error will be taken care of, gone.

# Installing a few pre-dependencies:
sudo apt-get install python-glade2 libglade2-0 synaptic wget

Leave the same terminal window open.

REMINDER: Each step in these directions must be taken without even one mistake. They do work! You'll be just fine if you follow every direction carefully, exactly as stated!

4. Now in the terminal run the following in the exact order given, one block at a time.

# Changes to the Desktop directory, for convenience:
cd $HOME/Desktop

# Makes a new directory there:
mkdir xubuntu-transformation

# Changes to the directory you just made:
cd $HOME/Desktop/xubuntu-transformation

In the below wget command blocks, make sure each time that you hit ENTER on your keyboard to make sure you've run the command block completely!

# Downloads the required keyrings and UberStudent apt configuration packages:
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/d/dropbox-keyring/dropbox-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/g/google-keyring/google-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/o/oracle-vbox-keyring/oracle-vbox-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/s/skelwipe/skelwipe*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/s/skype-keyring/skype-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/s/spotify-keyring/spotify-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/s/steam-keyring/steam-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/u/uberstudent-keyring/uberstudent-keyring*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/v/videolan-keyring/videolan-keyring*.deb

wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/u/uberstudent-common/uberstudent-common*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/u/uberstudent-mirrors/uberstudent-mirrors*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/u/uberstudentsources/uberstudentsources*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/u/uberstudentupdate/uberstudentupdate*.deb
wget ./ ftp://uberstudent.net/main/u/uberstudentupdate/uberstudentupdate-rules*.deb

Please verify that you have downloaded all 8 keyrings and all 4 of the uberstudent* packages before you proceed. You should have a total of 12 packages in the xubuntu-transformation folder. If you lack 12 packages, it's probably because you did not hit Enter on your keyboard after pasting in the command blocks to the terminal; so, delete everything inside the xubuntu-transformation folder, run the above wget blocks again, and do it right this time. ;)

Once you have verified you have all 12 of the required packages, please continue by running the following command chain in the terminal:

REMINDER: make sure each time that you hit ENTER on your keyboard to make sure you've run the command block completely!

# Installs the 8 keyrings:
sudo dpkg -i dropbox-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i google-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i oracle-vbox-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i skype-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i spotify-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i steam-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i uberstudent-keyring*.deb && sudo dpkg -i videolan-keyring*.deb

5. Now, run this command chain in the terminal:

# Installs UberStudent base packages, including apt configurations:
sudo dpkg -i uberstudent-common*.deb && sudo dpkg -i uberstudent-mirrors*.deb && sudo dpkg -i skelwipe*.deb && sudo dpkg -i uberstudentupdate-rules*.deb && sudo dpkg -i uberstudentsources*.deb &&  && sudo dpkg -i uberstudentupdate*.deb

sudo dpkg -i uberstudentsources*.deb uberstudentupdate*.deb

6. Now, in the terminal run:

Updates the apt cache
sudo apt-get update

You will now see the UberStudent repositories (uberstudent.net) listed in the terminal during the update.

You now have everything you need to interact with and install packages from the UberStudent repository, so let's do so.

7. Now here's the mother-load, what we have been working up to to this point. Now in the terminal run the following command:

sudo apt-get install uberstudent-desktop-xfce

READ EXTRA CAREFULLY: When asked "Do you want to continue?" type y for yes and press Enter on your keyboard. The package uberstudent-desktop-xfce will then install the remaining packages you need to transform stock Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce. You will see that it will install many, many packages and take up almost 3 GBs of disc space. The installation will take about 20-30 minutes to run, possibly more or less time depending upon your Internet and computer speed. The system must sort out all of the required dependencies, download lots of files, and install them. It takes time. Be patient and let the terminal run until everything has completed. If there is a dependency error, STOP. Such is VERY unlikely but possible due to upstream changes in Ubuntu that we may not be able to predict. Please post the error here before proceeding so we can rapidly fix the issue for you. :geek:

NOTE: WATCH during the installation, because you MAY be asked to select your default login manager. IF you are so asked, you MUST select mdm with the arrow keys on your keyboard (down for mdm, right for OK). You might also be asked if you wish to overwrite numerous configuration files. Select "Install the package maintainer's version" in each instance (you will be typing Y for yes in each case and hitting Enter).

During installation of uberstudent-desktop-xfce, Xfce's appindicator MAY tell you that the system requires reboot. DO NOT REBOOT YET A prompt will ask the same thing a few minutes later. Again, DO NOT REBOOT YET. We'll do it later.

During installation, a prompt may ask you several times if you want to Start the Xfce Panel. Click Cancel each time to the prompt.

When chromium-browser-noaura is installing, the terminal may display some "errors." Ignore them, they are entirely trivial. There will also be a few "warnings" when other packages install. They, too, are entirely trivial.

8. Now, there are some packages on the normal Xubuntu installation you just don't need, and some of them really need to go or they will clutter especially your mime types (file associations); so, let's clean up a bit. Some of these will have already been removed while installing UberStudent packages but this list is everything not needed in UberStudent when making an installation of it from an Xubuntu installation. The system may tell you you that some of these packages are "not installed, so have not been removed." No matter. Run in full the following block in the terminal:

sudo apt-get purge abiword abiword-common abiword-plugin-mathview abiword-plugin-grammar apport apport-gtk firefox-globalmenu gthumb gthumb-data gmusicbrowser gnumeric gnumeric-common gnumeric-doc libabiword-* liblightdm-gobject-1.0 libreoffice-style-human libreoffice-style-tango lightdm lightdm-gtk-greeter light-locker mousepad parole popularity-contest python3-apport python3-problem-report plymouth-theme-xubuntu-logo plymouth-theme-xubuntu-text shimmer-themes transmission-common transmission-gtk thunderbird-globalmenu update-notifier whoopsie xchat xchat-common xchat-indicator xubuntu-artwork xubuntu-default-settings xubuntu-docs xubuntu-community-wallpapers xul-ext-ubufox xubuntu-icon-theme xubuntu-wallpapers

9. Now let's do some more clean up. Run the following in the terminal:

# Removes the files you downloaded and used earlier:
rm -rf $HOME/Desktop/xubuntu-transformation

# Purges stuff left over from taking these steps (including the lightdm error mentioned above). Some of the files may not exist on your system, just run each command anyway:
sudo rmdir /var/lib/lightdm-data/lightdm

Make sure you answer "Y" or "y" (without quotes) and press "Enter" on your keyboard to any question asked of you in the terminal while you run this command block.
sudo aptitude purge ~c && sudo aptitude unmarkauto ~M && sudo rm -rf /var/cache/debconf/*.dat-old && sudo rm -rf /var/lib/aptitude/*.old && sudo rm -rf /var/lib/dpkg/*-old && sudo rm -rf /var/cache/apt/*.bin && sudo updatedb && sudo rm /root/.bash_history && sudo rm /root/.nano_history && sudo rm /root/.local/share/recently-used.xbel && sudo rm /root/.thumbnails/normal/* && sudo rm -rf /root/.cache/*

10. Now--this is IMPORTANT!--copy these last steps in to a text editor and work from them there and exit all programs with the exceptions of the terminal and a text editor. Now, remembering how you must press ENTER after running each command-line block, in the terminal run the following commands, one block at a time, in the exact order given:

# Kills the Xfce panel:
killall xfce4-panel

Much of your desktop will disappear at this point! Just keep going, running the following in the terminal as shown, again making sure your press Enter on your keyboard to run the last line.:

# Changes to the home directory:
cd $HOME

# Removes Xubuntu, firefox, chromium, zotero, and other important configuration and data files from the home directory, because they need to be replaced:
rm -rf .config/chromium
rm -rf .config/libreoffice
rm -rf .config/Thunar
rm -rf .config/xfce4
rm -rf .gconf
rm -rf .local
rm -rf .mozilla
rm -rf .zotero

# Copies over UberStudent home directory configuration files that are not planted automatically from elsewhere:
sudo cp -af /usr/share/uberstudent/fakeskel/. $HOME

IMPORTANT: Note that in the two chown commands below, you MUST replace login yourusername with your actual account username. For example, my username is ewens. So I would put ewens where yourusername is.

Be careful: If you make a mistake on this step regarding the username and afterward shut down the system, you will lock yourself out from your own system and have to start all over again, because you will not own your own home directory and will be unable to access it and thus unable to log in.

# Makes sure the user owns the copied over files:
sudo chown -R yourusername $HOME/*
sudo chown -R yourusername $HOME/.*

To make doubly clear how you must run the above chown commands, I stated above that my username is ewens. When I run the above two chown commands they will look like this:

sudo chown -R ewens $HOME/*
sudo chown -R ewens $HOME/.*

I have replaced yourusername with ewens.

11. Now, to trigger certain important changes, run the following in the terminal:

sudo update-grub && sudo update-initramfs -u

12. Finally, we have to shutdown the system in such a way that nothing has a chance to get written in to your home directory during shutdown. Run the following in the terminal:

sudo shutdown -h now

Your system will shutdown in a flash. Boom! :o NOTE: DO NOT make a habit of shutting down this way--it is shutdown with a slam! This is a command you should only run under special circumstances...such as right now. ;)

12. Boot up again, read and follow the post-installation guide, and enjoy UberStudent! :ugeek: :mrgreen:

Author:  Samir Moussa [ Sun Aug 17, 2014 1:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

When trying
wget ./ http://www.uberstudent.net/pool/main/u/uberstudentsources/uberstudentsources_1.3.3_all.deb

I'm getting the following error:
--2014-08-17 14:56:13--  http://./
Resolving . (.)... failed: Name or service not known.
wget: unable to resolve host address ‘.’
--2014-08-17 14:56:13--  http://www.uberstudent.net/pool/main/u/uberstudentsources/uberstudentsources_1.3.3_all.deb
Resolving www.uberstudent.net (www.uberstudent.net)...
Connecting to www.uberstudent.net (www.uberstudent.net)||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 404 Not Found
2014-08-17 14:56:13 ERROR 404: Not Found.

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

I apologize for this error.

A few days ago I updated the uberstudentsources package and I forgot to update this how-to. That was the reason for the error you got--the URL was off by one digit, due to the update; so the wget download command you posted about failed.

The tutorial is fixed now, in a long-term way. I've just now updated it in a way that avoids package version update breakage. I've created an FTP server on the UberStudent repository domain; so, it now uses FTP, which supports globbing ("wildcards") to download packages. The commands will now download the latest package version without me having to even update this tutorial. :ugeek: That's good for both you and me. :mrgreen:

So, the tutorial is all up-to-date now and should no longer go out of date just because I updated a package. You may now proceed. :) :geek:

Let me know how it goes. We like screenshots around here. :)

Author:  Samir Moussa [ Wed Aug 20, 2014 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your fast response and fix!

The 'transformation' of my Xubuntu installation is done and it works like a charm.

In fact, at first glance, it even works better than a clean install from UberStudent!

Stephen Ewen Comment: The system that results should be the same. The required files are placed by either method.

I will post details here: http://uberstudent.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=599 .

Thank you for the clear instructions!


Author:  Abby M [ Sat Aug 23, 2014 12:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

Stephen Ewen wrote:
12. Finally, we have to shutdown the system in such a way that nothing has a chance to get written in to your home directory during shutdown.

What can happen if something is written during shutdown? Why is this important?

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Sat Aug 23, 2014 4:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

Abby M wrote:
What can happen if something is written during shutdown? Why is this important?

Great question, Abby!

Normally, whenever a program asks them to be so written, we want files to be written in to the home directory, including during shutdown. It saves a condition, a state. But in this case we absolutely do not want that. Some of the files copied to the home directory in step 10 can possibly get overwritten by the running system, in this case Xubuntu. We absolutely do not want even the possibility of that when we are transforming Xubuntu in to UberStudent. So, we avoid such by shutting down the system not in the normal way but with a huge slam (sudo shutdown -h now). That way, the files we copied in to the home directory during step 10 remain unchanged, as required, and mimic the condition of the system creating a new user account during an ISO-based installation. :geek:

Maybe this analogy will help: If someone is sitting alone in a chair, you have to first kick them off before you can sit alone in the same chair. Shutting down with a slam does exactly that. It makes sure that one, and not two, are able to sit in the chair at the same time. :lol:

If that still sounds like too much gibberish to you, it's okay. Just trust me for now. It's important and it works!

Author:  Tomaz Santos [ Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

Hello team!

Stephen you are a hero!!

Few people have the courage to post this.

Thanks thanks!

Tomaz Edson

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Wed Sep 03, 2014 10:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

Thanks! I'm delighted it worked, just as promised. :geek: I knew it would. ;)

I am right now testing a script that automates each of the tutorial's steps. Simply run it and let it do everything--that is my goal. ;) UPDATE: This is now available for download and use, see the link at the lead post in this forum thread.

I am working toward a cool possible target for the next UberStudent release, in October or November of this year, which is creating a Debian meta-package that completely provides for this Xubuntu-to-UberStudent alternate installation method: Simply add the uberstudent.net repository to stock (or mostly stock) Xubuntu, run sudo apt-get update, install the xubuntu-to-uberstudent package, reboot, and you're done. :) People have occasionally requested this since the UberStudent 0.9 beta release in January 2010. It is complicated, so no promises yet--imagine making an ubuntu-to-linuxmint package, and you have the basic idea of what's involved in making an xubuntu-to-uberstudent package...most definitely possible but a good amount of work making it so. ;)

Author:  Stephen Ewen [ Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

The below manual steps are now automated via a bash script. It is available as a download from the UberStudent Soureforge page.

Simply download the xubuntu-transformation-4.0.tar.gz file, extract it to your home directory, open the xubuntu-transformation-4.0 folder that the compressed file will extract, and read the README.txt file for further directions. :ugeek:

Author:  Abby M [ Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Transforming Xubuntu into UberStudent Xfce

Stephen Ewen wrote:
Tutorial status: BROKEN after a string of major updates on Oct 24, 2014. DO NOT FOLLOW ANY OF THE DIRECTIONS BELOW. Please check back in the near future!

This tutorial was GREAT!! :geek: :D
It worked stupendously for me and I loved it.

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