Fedora 8 Desktop setup

Fedora 8 Tips and Tricks (v0.4)
Last modified: Friday May 16, 2008

This is based on my Fedora Core 7 Tips and Tricks page. This is in maintenance only mode since there is now a Fedora 9 version of this guide in the works.

I've started to add x86_64 specific instructions below when they differ from traditional 32-bit instructions. The biggest issue is with multimedia plug-ins which are still often available only in 32-bit versions. Please note that I have yet to test the 64-bit instructions personally so if you do try them please do so with care and use the comments section at the bottom to send corrections.


Add support for other repositories

Fedora comes with a ton of software but there are still plenty of packages of interest to most users that are not included for a variety of reasons. This is where you find the MP3 plug-in and a ton of other packages.

These instructions can vary depending on 32bit or 64bit architecture. If there is a difference it will be noted. If you don't know which architecture you're running you can run the following command:

$ uname -m

I'm still working on the 64 bit specific instructions so your feedback is very important.

Before you add repositories it's probably a good idea to make sure your system is fully updated first. At this point I'm prefering the Livna repository as it's the most useful and complete but at some point I might need to add another one for things that are lacking there. The easiest way to get started is to install the livna-release packages:

# rpm -ihv rpm.livna.org/livna-release-8.rpm

Please note: If you are upgrading from a previous release this command will fail with a conflict. Skip to the next section on upgrading from a previous release instead.

When adding additional repositories be very careful as many respositories don't mix well. It's ok to add specialized repositories such as the one for Flash below, but when mixing general repositories such as FreshRPMs, Livna or ATrpms there are often conflicts that are difficult to recover from.

You can browse the packages available there.

Upgrading from previous Fedora

There are a few things you need to do when upgrading from a previous version of Fedora. This was tested only with Fedora 7 so older versions may not work quite as easily. The first thing you want to do is upgrade the repository package for the newer version.

# rpm -Uhv http:// rpm.livna.org/livna-release-8.rpm

And finally you're going to need to do an update of the whole system. This will most likely pick up official Fedora updates as well as updated packages from the Livna repository. This might take a while.

# yum -y update

Install MP3 Plug-in

Since you've been following along this next step is about as easy as it gets. Just use yum  to automatically install the MP3 plug-ins for xmms and Rhythmbox like this:

# yum -y install xmms xmms-mp3 xmms-faad2 gstreamer-plugins-ugly \
gstreamer-plugins-bad libmad libid3tag

While you're here you might as well install my personal favorite (this week at least) music player Banshee


# yum -y install banshee

The -y  flag is to automatically answer yes to any question. If you want to be able to say no you can ignore that flag.

While you're there I highly recommend the grip CD ripper which supports both MP3 and Ogg formats. Once again installation is quite simple:

# yum -y install grip

Install Macromedia Flash/Shockwave plug-in

Flash Plug-in 9.0
32-bit instructions:
It's now "Windows easy". Just go to a site that uses flash such as YouTube and try to view a video. At the top of the window you will get a prompt like this:

Just click on Install Missing Plugins and follow the prompts. It will install the plug-in for the currently installed user only, not system wide.

64-bit instructions:
Thnks to Tristian for the following instructions. I haven't been able to try them myself yet, hopefully soon.

# rpm -ivh http://linuxdownload.adobe.com/adobe-release/adobe-release-i386-1.0-1.noarch.rpm
# rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-adobe-linux
# mkdir -p /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
# yum install nspluginwrapper.{i386,x86_64} pulseaudio-lib.i386
# yum install flash-plugin
# mozilla-plugin-config -i -g -v

Install DVD player

Currently I find the DVD player that works best is the Xine Multimedia Player which is found in the Livna repository so installing it is just this simple:

# yum -y install xine xine-lib xine-skins xine-lib-extras-nonfree libdvdcss

This will install the xine DVD/VCD/CD player. Now to get xine to automatically play a DVD upon insertion instead of the Totem player which can't actually play DVDs, you can simply use the gconftool-2 utility as follows:

$ gconftool-2 --set /desktop/gnome/volume_manager/autoplay_dvd_command \
'xine --auto-play --auto-scan dvd' --type='string'

Install MPlayer Media Player

At some point you're probably going to want to play a QuickTime, AVI or ASF file so you'll want the MPlayer media player. Fortunately with the FreshRpms repositories it's also very easy to download and install. Then you can go ahead and install mplayer and all it's dependencies:

# yum -y install mplayer mplayer-gui mplayer-skins mplayer-fonts mplayerplug-in

This command line will download the whole kit and kaboodle, command line utilities, plug-ins, etc. If you want to play content from a command line you will want to use the gmplayer  version which will include a skin-able control panel. Restart your web browser after that whole mess is done installing and you'll also have a plug-in for Mozilla so you can play embedded content. While you're at it be sure to configure mplayer to use the Pulse sound system rather than the default. It just works better. Edit the file ~/.mplayer/config and add the following line:


You can enable support for mms streaming by opening Firefox and click on the special URL about:config. Right click on the list and choose New then choose String. For the preference name enter network.protocol-handler.app.mms then for the string value enter gmplayer.

Special 64-bit instructions:
The above installs the 64-bit version of everything but because your other plug-ins are 32-bits you need to run the 32-bit version of Firefox, which won't be able to use the 64-bit version of the plug-in you just installed. The plug-in can use the 64-bit version of the mplayer application just fine so all you need to do then is to install the 32-bit mplayerplug-in plus a dependency it requires. If you know of any easier way to do this please let me know below.

# rpm -ihv http://ftp.freshrpms.net/pub/freshrpms/fedora/linux/7/mplayerplug-in/mplayerplug-in-3.40-1.fc7.i386.rpm

And finally you'll probably also want some additional codecs to play all that proprietary video that seems to have infected the Internet. Go to the MPlayer Download page and find the Binaries Codec Package section then follow the link for codecs directory. There you will grab the latest all codecs file. You'll need to install those files in /usr/local/lib/codecs. Here are the steps. Remember the exact file names may change at some point. If you also installed xine you will need a symlink since it expects codecs to be in a different directory.

# gtar xjvf all-20071007.tar.bz2 
# mv all-20071007/* /usr/local/lib/codecs
# ln -s /usr/local/lib/codecs /usr/lib/codecs
# ln -s /usr/local/lib/codecs /usr/local/lib/win32


Install VLC (VideoLAN Client)

Multimedia can be the achilles heel of Linux, but with just a little work you should be able to play just about anything your friends can. Besides Mplayer the other great video player is called VLC. It too is trivially easy to install once you have your repositories set up:

# yum -y install vlc

Once the client and a zillion dependencies get installed you can play a huge variety of video formats easy with the command vlc


Install RealPlayer 10 Media Player

This one is a little tricky only because the latest official release is horribly out of date and doesn't even use ALSA for sound. So rather than deal with annoying workarounds I think the easiest thing to do now is to just use the latest daily build that's available. I'm currently using RealPlayer- which you can just download and install. This one pretty much "just works" and doesn't seem to have any bugs I can see.

Just install it:

$ rpm -ihv RealPlayer-

Then whenever you want to view something just use /usr/bin/realplay. Here is a link to a cute test video to make sure it's working for you.

If you also installed Mplayer above then you will likely run into a problem where the Mplayer provided Real Media plug-in will be run instead of the one installed by the RealPlayer package. The mplayer verison of the plug-in does not work correctly in most cases and causes more problems than it solves. The only way I've found to get rid of it is to just simply delete the plug-in files:

# cd /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
# rm mplayerplug-in-rm.*

You'll of course need to do that again should you re-install or upgrade the mplayer plug-ins.

Install Java J2RE and Mozilla Plug-in

Fedora 8 now includes a fully open source Java implementation complete with Firefox plugin. You can verify it's there at the command line:

$ java -version
java version "1.7.0"
IcedTea Runtime Environment (build 1.7.0-b21)
IcedTea Client VM (build 1.7.0-b21, mixed mode)

And you can verify the Firefox plug-in works using one of the Java testers at http://java.com/en/download/installed.jsp or http://www.javatester.org/version.html

Install NTFS driver

Fedora 8 now includes the Fuse based NTFS filesystem driver so no special instructions are required any more.

Install Internet Explorer

I know what you're saying, why would I ever want Internet Explorer installed on my perfectly good Linux system? If you don't have your own answer to that question, feel free to just skip this section. For everyone else, it's actually quite easy thanks to some very handy scripts from wine and cabextract installed:

# yum -y install wine cabextract

Then just download the latest script, extract and run it. The example below is based on version 2.0.5, just adjust the version number as necessary. Please note that you will want to install and run this as your own user, NOT as root. I used the defaults except that I installed all the versions of IE. I do some web development and I always find myself needing to resolve some goofy incompatibilites with older versions of IE.

$ gtar xzvf ies4linux-2.0.5.tar.gz
$ cd ies4linux-2.0.5
$ ./ies4linux
Welcome, greg! I'm IEs4Linux.
I can install IE 6, 5.5 and 5.0 for you easily and quickly.
You are just four 'enter's away from your IEs.

I'll ask you some questions now. Just answer y or n (default answer is the bold one)

IE 6 will be installed automatically.
Do you want to install IE 5.5 SP2 too? [ y / n ] y
IEs 4 Linux installations finished!

To run your IEs, type:

You can read more about this feature on my Internet Explorer with ActiveX on Linux page. It goes into a little more detail about using IE on Linux.

Install Other Odds and Ends

This section used to have information on installing additional fonts. With the font improvements in Fedora 7 they really aren't needed any more.

Other Handy Utilities

Here are a few other tools that aren't installed by default but a lot of people find handy:

# yum -y install  gnomebaker testdisk thunderbird  screen cups-pdf \
unrar deluge
deluge - Advanced graphical Bittorrent client
cups-pdf - Add-on to CUPS which creates a PDF Printer which you can use to print any document in PDF format. The file is written to your Desktop.
gnomebaker - GTK based CD/DVD burning utility
screen - If you do a lot with the command line you'll find screen invaluable
testdisk - Two command line utilities to recover lost partitions and undelete files on FAT filesystems. VERY handy for undeleting files on flash memory cards.
thunderbird - Excellent E-mail client that complements Firefox
unrar - Useful utility to extract RAR archives

Common Glitches/Problems

There seems to be a common problem with audio in Fedora 8. It manifests itself in many applications not being able to play any audio. You can follow along the various threads about this problem as a solution is being worked on:

Other Useful Resources

I've tried to not just copy other people's tips so I've included a list of other people's tips and tricks I've found to be useful. There should be little or no overlap. FedoraForum - Linux Support Community - This is now the official way to get community support of the Fedora Linux system. There is no official Red Hat mailing list for any version of Fedora any more.

Mauriat Miranda's F8 Installation Guide - Great guide that goes into more depth of selecting options during the installation process. If you do need the MS TrueType fonts for whatever reason this is also the source for them.

The Unofficial Fedora FAQ - Another great guide that should answer most general questions about Fedora. Fedora 8 doesn't seem to be addressed there yet but most answers are the same for both F7 and F8.