My First Day with KDE4 on Ubuntu Hardy Heron

Back in the 90s, I used to install and reinstall Windows 95 over and over again due to one reason or another (and I am sure it was the same for any Windows user). The last time I did a clean install, though, was 2 years ago, when I bought this laptop and killed the default Dell partitions to make it dual-boot. Installing the shiny new Kubuntu Hardy Heron on the day of its release gave me a geeky high I never knew I missed. Yesterday was my first actual day with Kubuntu 8.04. This post started as text notes for personal reference in the future, but I decided to put it up online instead of letting all that typing go to waste just in case it is useful to somebody. So here it is, my first day with Hardy Heron, full of installations, documented.

NVIDIA Drivers

Installing NVIDIA drivers took a bit longer than Gutsy, as Envy is not compatible with Hardy Heron as of now. There were two choices: go with the 92.something drivers available in Synaptic or download the latest drivers from the NVIDIA website. I (unfortunately for me) chose the second option, and ended up having to download build-essentials, rebuild the driver kernel, and fix /etc/X11/xorg.conf multiple times before my drivers took pity on me and started working.


Both Wireless and Wired network drivers worked out-of-the-box without any special configuration necessary. It seems that the days of madwifi are gone for good.


You have two options: firefox-2 and the firefox-3 beta. I lost my mind and decided to go with firefox-3. After the installation, I logged in to various websites that I use the most, to save my username/passwords, but when I started installing the extensions I can’t live without, not even 10% were enabled with the new version – there’s almost no backwards compatibility in firefox-3 as far as extensions are concerned. At the end, I had to uninstall firefox-3 and reinstall firefox-2, but not before I tried running them both in parallel without success. Maybe it is possible to make them work that way, but I had better things to do.

Firefox extensions

As a result of my previous firefox-3 blunder, the extension installations stopped working. I got an unexpected 203 error whenever I tried to install an extension. Thankfully, the errors went away after I deleted the extensions.rdf file in my ~/.mozilla/firefox folder, and I was able to install everything I needed.

Flash installation from source went without issues.


Nothing has changed for Apache, MySQL and PHP, so AMP installation went smoothly. I did the standard sudo apt-get install blah blah, Addtype in apache.conf, a2enmod to enable mode_rewrite, installed phpmyadmin and was able to restored everything from my USB harddisk.


My Dell Inspiron 9400 has an extra “subwoofer” – in Gutsy, I had to compile ALSA from source in order to make it work, but I didn’t have to do it with Hardy. So I installed amarok and was expecting that the mp3 playback will start after amarok prompts to install mp3 support, but it began with a klauncher error. This thread helped me fix the error using kdeinit, and amarok started properly, though mp3s were still not working. After an hour of installing dozens of gstreamer good, bad and ugly codecs and xine plugins, mp3 playback and shoutcast streaming were still broken. During my tinkering, I enabled ALSA from amarok configuration manually, and everything started working! It took one more hour to build a mySQL playlist database from my 210GB mp3 folder, but that’s not such a bad performance.

Essential Software

With the music working, I had enough energy left in me to install all the essential applications that I could think of (and this post will serve as a reminder the next time I have to install from scratch). They were:

  • Skype – Instead of downloading the .deb package, I added it to the 3rd party repository from the repository manager using deb stable non-free .
  • Quanta Development Environment – I like its PHP syntax highlighting, fish and ftp support, and the built-in SVN integration.
  • Eclipse – for C++ / cdt
  • The remaining firefox addons and toolbars, google/stumbleupon fireftp etc.
  • VLC Player – For vlc, I added the mediabuntu repository from , which also had some upgraded plugins and codecs.
  • ktorrent – since the next Battlestar Galactica episode was going to be available the next day 😀
  • Instead of having a local subdomain based php website structure like before ( site1.localhost , site2.localhost ), I used the clean install opportunity to create some virtual local servers, so now I have http://site1/ , http://site2/ and so on. This page shows how.
  • virtualbox – Since I spend more time on linux than on Windows, and since I still need to do some development on VS.NET and MSSQL, so I installed virtualbox. If I manage to set everything up properly, I will be able to get rid of the windows partition altogether, or atleast abandon it to gather digital dust.
  • msttcorefonts – They make a few software look nicer.
  • Java JDK and JRE – JRE for eclipse and JRE just in case…

And this is how I spent my first day with Hardy Heron before sleepiness made me … go to sleep. Day two was spent exploring and getting used to KDE4, plasmoids and plasma. In the next post, I will try to write about my first impressions of KDE4, plasma and plasmoids, and how and why it wants to change the desktop experience (for better or worse).

7 thoughts on “My First Day with KDE4 on Ubuntu Hardy Heron”

  1. Nice blog Shoaib. I can identify with you at many places although a beginner relatively 🙂

    Just dropping a tip that might be useful when you cant install extensions in firefox. To be fair firefox IS backward compatible. Its the extension-author that needs to update JUST ONE VALUE in install.rdf of their plugin (and test it). Nearly 98% of plugins are already working in any new version that comes out. But people cant install because install.rdf file has a property em:maxVersion that is usually set to the available version of firefox when the extension was released. Here is what users can do to make extensions working:

    1. download the extension-name.xpi

    2. open it in any archive-manager; its actually a zipped file (open directly, don’t extract)

    3. you will see a file install.rdf, edit it within your archive-manager, change the value of em:maxVersion to 3.0b5 (or whatever max version support you need)

    4. save the file. archive manager would ask you to update the archive, say YES

    5. now install the extension-name.xpi file and it should work!

  2. A question: why do you go with Kubuntu and not the standard Ubuntu? I have an impression that GNOME is faster and more loved by the community than KDE. But I am not sure that’s why asking your expert opinion.

  3. Thanks for your comments and the extensions tip, I will definitely try it on the next machine I set up (which is the next weekend).

    Regarding my choice of Kubuntu as a distro… let me think (as I have not really thought about the WHY part till you asked)…

    I have been working with Qt for a few years and like what the Trolltech people have managed to create, so perhaps it was a subconscious bias towards Qt that made me stick to Kubuntu.

    I started shifting to Linux as my primary OS around 3 years ago, installed Ubuntu on my desktop, Kubuntu on my laptop and Fedora on another machine, and tried to give almost equal time to each installation. I decided to use Kubuntu after 3 months of comparisons of the total user experience.
    Though I do start a GNOME session sometimes, I find it a bit counter-intuitive (but that’s probably just me), and to be honest, ugly – especially the default dull rusty color schemes. Even my 5 yr old son (who has Ubuntu on his computer) likes Kubuntu better, maybe the choice of a linux distro is genetic.
    I haven’t noticed any significant speed differences between the two.

  4. I use google reader for all my RSS feeds. Google reader has some interesting way of discerning the choices you make while you subscribe to blog or news feeds, and based on that makes a recommendation, and today guess what happened your blog popped up. Through this mechanism I’ve subscribed to many Pakistani/desi blogs already, and when I saw your link, I thought, God another Pakistani blog. I ‘ll pass this time. Then thought doesn’t hurt checking out, and then I went on and on, and read almost 10+ of your posts already. Frankly, I liked the non-techie posts better, filled with sarcasm and humor.

    Your blog has been starred and permanently saved/bookmarked in my reader, and I’d be able to regularly check your post. Keep writing the great stuff, and next time I am in Lahore, I’ll try to meet you in person. And I was wondering if you were able to upload SI sessions to Youtube?

  5. Thanks a lot for your appreciation and for adding me to your list Suleman, you’ve made a soon-to-be miserable old blogger happy 😀
    Definitely get in touch when you’re in Lahore and we can have coffee together. I still have the SI sessions on my harddisk, but strangely, video editing is something I have never attempted in my life till now.
    They are about 12GB of wmv files that need to be sliced and uploaded. The uploading part, I can process in parallel but need some free time to learn and do the editing/cropping part. If you can suggest a software, do let me know.

  6. Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Cheers

Comments are closed.