Setup for Ubuntu 11.10 (and up)

Re-installation Note

If you are re-installing an existing user's computer, see You will need to know the computer's host name, where the user's backup is stored, etc.

General Install Steps

This section describes the setup steps that a general to all Ubuntu installations. There are a number of steps to be done that are specific to the user who will be using the computer. Those steps are outlined below.

Install Ubuntu

Using the live CD, install Ubuntu.

  • We usually make partitions like this:
Partition size comment
swap size of memory e.g. 8 GB
/ 150 GB (approximately) (ext4) This is where all system files are placed.
/home remainder of space (ext4) user's files
  • Get a hostname from ColeBeck or DalePlummer
  • During the installation, make a user called "biostat".

Once the Ubuntu installation is complete, log on as user "biostat" and continue...

Edit the sources.list file

Edit the sources.list file to use the repository rather than ???( also works well). Uncomment the community and universe repositories.
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list


sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo shutdown -r now

Add R repository to sources.list

If we want the very latest R stuff then add these lines at the end of /etc/apt/sources.list. "precise" is version specific (12.04). You might need to change it to match the version that is installed.

# R stuff
deb trusty/

Then run these commands:

gpg --keyserver --recv-key E084DAB9
gpg -a --export E084DAB9 | sudo apt-key add -


sudo apt-get update

Install packages

Install a few other things that we want.
sudo apt-get install gnumeric abiword pidgin samba ntp ssh cifs-utils sshfs nfs-kernel-server nfs-common remmina compizconfig-settings-manager vim r-base-core r-base-dev r-base-html r-doc-pdf r-recommended exim4 htop emacs24 texlive-base texlive-latex-recommended texlive-latex-extra libjpeg62 libappindicator1 libindicator7 lockfile-progs libgstreamer0.10-0 libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-0

Download ( and install RStudio ( sudo dpkg -i Downloads/rstudio-0.98.953-amd64.deb ) Also, download ( and install Google Chrome ( sudo dpkg -i Downloads/google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb )

Disallow ssh root logins

Edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and set PermitRootLogin to no
sudo gedit /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Set up printers

See Printer hostnames for the names and other information about our printers. (Instructions for installing printers on Windows and Macintosh are in the FAQ topic (see the "How_to_install_printers..." section))

  • get printer definition files
cd /usr/share/cups/drv
sudo wget
sudo wget

  • set up printers using the command line (biostatcolor1, biostatcolor2, and biostatcolor3 for regular users; biostatcolor4 is for administrators). The network addresses for the printers can be deduced from the commands below (following "socket://") or found at Main.PrinterHostnames.
sudo lpadmin -p 00_biostatcolor1 -L "biostatistics" -D "HP Color LaserJet M651" -P /usr/share/cups/drv/hp-color_laserjet_m651-ps.ppd -v socket:// -E

sudo lpadmin -p 00_biostatcolor2 -L "biostatistics" -D "HP Color LaserJet M651" -P /usr/share/cups/drv/hp-color_laserjet_m651-ps.ppd -v socket:// -E

sudo lpadmin -p 00_biostatcolor3 -L "biostatistics" -D "HP Color LaserJet M651" -P /usr/share/cups/drv/hp-color_laserjet_m651-ps.ppd -v socket:// -E

sudo lpadmin -p 00_biostatcolor4 -L "biostatistics" -D "HP Color LaserJet M651" -P /usr/share/cups/drv/hp-color_laserjet_m651-ps.ppd -v socket:// -E

Mount directory for administrative scripts

Create a mount point for the administrative scripts.
sudo mkdir -p  /biostat/cvs/admin

Add the following line to /etc/fstab /biostat/cvs/admin nfs rsize=8192,wsize=8192,timeo=14,intr 0 0

...and mount the administrative folder
sudo mount /biostat/cvs/admin

Set up firewall

Set up the iptables firewall. Download iptables file and set things up.

We have stopped setting up firewalls on workstations with private IP addresses. It causes more trouble than it is worth. For servers and computers that are exposed to the internet, we probably DO want to set up a firewall.
cd /etc/network/if-up.d/
sudo wget -nc
sudo chmod ugo+x /etc/network/if-up.d/iptables
cd /etc/network/if-post-down.d
sudo ln -s ../if-up.d/iptables

Create the /var/lib/iptables directory and set up the inactive and active rule sets.
sudo mkdir /var/lib/iptables
sudo chmod 700 /var/lib/iptables
sudo cp /biostat/cvs/admin/etc/active /var/lib/iptables/
sudo touch /var/lib/iptables/inactive


This setup allows the workstation to send emails, i.e. from the root account and from user cron jobs. This setup is orthogonal to the vunetid user's email setup.

It works by having exim send all outgoing emails to the smarthost This will only work if the following steps are performed, and if the workstation IP address resolves to, where DDD is replaced with the appropriate 3 digit number.

Assuming exim v4...
sudo cp /biostat/cvs/admin/etc/update-exim4.conf.conf /etc/exim4/update-exim4.conf.conf
sudo /usr/sbin/update-exim4.conf
sudo cp /biostat/cvs/admin/etc/mailname /etc/mailname
Then edit /etc/aliases and add the following line root:

Restart exim
sudo /etc/init.d/exim4 restart

You can test that it works by running something like this:
  • /biostat/cvs/admin/bin/mail-wrapper ls -lh /tmp
This will email the output of 'ls -lh /tmp' to the biostat it mailing list. You may want to send it to your own email address for immediate results as the biostat it list is sloooowwwwwwww sometimes.


If this is a new computer, get a bar code label from DalePlummer. Also put a hostname label where it can be seen easily. The label printer is in the IT work room.

Installation steps that are user specific

Before configuring a new user's computer, please read NewEmployeeInfoSysProcedures.

Create an account and location for backup on the biostat3 server

  • Create the user on the biostat3 server (for backup services)
sudo adduser VUNETID
  • Note the UID and GID that are generated when the biostat3 account is created. We will use these values when setting up the user account on the workstation.
  • edit /etc/passwd and change "/bin/bash" to be "/bin/false" for the user just created
  • Make the user's backup directory: /home?/backup/VUNETID

Make a user account on the workstation (if not reinstalling)

Be sure to use the GID and UID that you recorded earlier. See NewEmployeeInfoSysProcedures

sudo addgroup --gid [GID] [vunetid]
sudo useradd --create-home --shell "/bin/bash" --groups cdrom,audio,video,plugdev,lpadmin,adm,sudo --uid [UID] --gid [GID] [vunetid] && sudo passwd [vunetid]

Workstation Backups

  • Create the directory /biostat/backup/vunetid (make sure to change "vunetid" to real value)
    sudo mkdir -p /biostat/backup/vunetid
  • Add the following line to /etc/fstab: /biostat/backup/vunetid nfs rsize=8192,wsize=8192,timeo=14,intr 0 0
Note that "home?" should be "home2" or "home3" or whatever depending on disk space constraints on the backup server (
  • Add the following cron entry to the vunetid's crontab and choose a suitable value for X and Y ( crontab -e). The command is sudo crontab -u vunetid -e
    X Y  * * * /biostat/cvs/admin/sbin/run-user-cron
  • If there's problems mounting those entries, try running exportfs -a on the server, either biostat or biostat3. It seems to clear up the nfs export entries.


  • Set up Samba. Click smb.conf to save a generic version of the /etc/samba/smb.conf file. This is for authenticated user-level access.
  • Create a Samba ID: sudo smbpasswd -a vunetid
  • Restart the Samba service: sudo service smbd restart

Set up password-less SSH login to servers

See Here is an example from that topic:
vunetid@biostatnnn:~$ ssh-keygen 
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/vunetid/.ssh/id_rsa): 
Created directory '/home/vunetid/.ssh'.
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
Enter same passphrase again: 
Your identification has been saved in /home/vunetid/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/vunetid/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
b1:25:04:21:1a:38:73:38:3c:e9:e4:5b:81:e9:ac:0f vunetid@biostatnnn
The key's randomart image is:
+--[ RSA 2048]----+
|.o= . oo.        |
|*B.+ . .         |
|*=o .   o .      |
| = .     =       |
|. o     S        |
|E.               |
| o               |
|  .              |
|                 |

Copy the public key to the server (e.g.

vunetid@biostatnnn:~$ ssh-copy-id's password: 

Now try logging into the machine, with "ssh ''", and check in:


to make sure we haven't added extra keys that you weren't expecting.


  • Configure Thunderbird
  • Configure Pidgin
  • Configure Terminal Server Client (Remmina Remote Desktop Client)


Make a label containing the hostname and stick it some place visible.
Topic attachments
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
hp-color_laserjet_m553-ps.ppdppd hp-color_laserjet_m553-ps.ppd manage 150.7 K 30 Oct 2015 - 11:09 DalePlummer  
hp-color_laserjet_m651-ps.ppdppd hp-color_laserjet_m651-ps.ppd manage 160.1 K 30 Jun 2015 - 16:14 DalePlummer  
iptablesEXT iptables manage 1.2 K 14 Sep 2015 - 11:03 DalePlummer  
smb.confconf smb.conf manage 0.6 K 07 Dec 2011 - 16:31 DalePlummer sample smb.conf file
sources.list-xeniallist-xenial sources.list-xenial manage 0.9 K 25 Apr 2016 - 12:40 ColeBeck  
thissystem.shsh manage 0.2 K 24 Oct 2014 - 11:41 DalePlummer  
xrx6130n.ppdppd xrx6130n.ppd manage 64.1 K 25 Aug 2015 - 16:14 DalePlummer  
xrx6360dn.ppdppd xrx6360dn.ppd manage 241.0 K 25 Aug 2015 - 16:10 DalePlummer  
Topic revision: r36 - 04 Jan 2018, DalePlummer

This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © 2013-2017 by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Vanderbilt Biostatistics Wiki? Send feedback