CentOS 7 - a great distro for a Desktop Workstation

Alexandru Calcatinge bio photo By Alexandru Calcatinge

Introduction

As I use CentOS on my servers, I decided to give it a try on my workstations too. On my main desktop workstation I mainly use Fedora nowadays, but I frequently used openSUSE Leap and Debian Stable also. Nevertheless, a few weeks ago, on my office workstation which is a quite old HP USFF Destop from 10 years ago, I decided to switch from Debian 9.3 Stretch to CentOS 7 as a workstation distribution.

First, I thought that CentOS won’t be up to the task, but I must frank and admit that I was wrong. CentOS is a great Desktop distribution, especially in an environment where you don’t actually need the leading-edge software the open-source has to offer.

Installation

While installing CentOS, the main thing you have to do is to select the GNOME Desktop, KDE Plasma Desktop or the Developemnt and Creative Workstation. I would go with the last one, but for this example I would select the GNOME Desktop.

Before showing you more, I must admit that I find the CentOS/Fedora Anaconda installer the most advanced and user friendly installer available. Now, lets move on. First, you select the GNOME Desktop option, and then start selecting additional add-ons from the right panel.

gnome-desktop-selection The GNOME Desktop selection

In the end, this is how your installation window would look:

install-window

Next step would be to set your user name and password and the root password as well, and then let the installation process do its job.

Desktop setup

System update

As usual, after the first installation you should run a full system update, using the command

sudo yum update

Additional repositories

After that, you will have to enable additional repositories. Those extra repositories are not supported by the CentOS team, they are third-party one supported by their respective maintainers.

The repositories that I would advice you to use are:

  1. EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux)
  2. nux (desktop and multimedia)
  3. Remi (mostly for newer PHP)

To install EPEL use the command:

sudo yum install epel-release

After installing EPEL, issue a update command too:

sudo yum update

This will update the repositories and will ask you to accept the EPEL GPG key too.

To install nux use the command:

sudo yum install http://li.nux.ro/download/nux/dextop/el7/x86_64/nux-dextop-release-0-5.el7.nux.noarch.rpm

To install Remi repository use the command:

rpm -Uvh http://rpms.famillecollet.com/enterprise/remi-release-7.rpm

The nux and Remi repositories are dependent on the EPEL repository, so make sure that you install that first.

To list all the installed repositories, just use the command:

sudo yum repolist

Install software

Google Chrome

The easiest way is to download the 64bit rpm version of Chrome and install it. If you would try to do this the GUI way, you will get an error from the GNOME Software, saying that the package can not be installed. Nevertheless, if you already downloaded the rpm using the graphical interface, you can use that package by installing it with the command:

sudo yum install ./google-chrome-stable_current_x86_64.rpm

This would assume that your pwd is the directory where the package was downloaded.

If you want to download the package using your command line, just use the following command:

wget https://dl.google.com/linux/direct/google-chrome-stable_current_x86_64.rpm

Flash plugin

To install Adobe Flash, you need to add an extra repository directly from Adobe. I did not include this in the first list of repos, as I do not consider this very essential, but some of you might need it, so here are the commands:

To add the repo:

sudo yum -y install http://linuxdownload.adobe.com/adobe-release/adobe-release-x86_64-1.0-1.noarch.rpm

To install flash-plugin:

sudo yum install flash-plugin

MP3 support

To add MP3 support to your CentOS workstation, add the following packages:

sudo yum install gstreamer gstreamer1 gstreamer-ffmpeg gstreamer-plugins-good gstreamer-plugins-ugly

Multimedia players

To add extra multimedia players like VLC or SMPlayer, install the following packages:

sudo yum install vlc smplayer ffmpeg HandBrake-{gui,cli}

MSCore TTF fonts

Method 1

If you need Microsoft TTF fonts, you can install them using the commands:

sudo yum install curl cabextract xorg-x11-font-utils fontconfig
rpm -i https://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/mscorefonts2/rpms/msttcore-fonts-installer-2.6-1.noarch.rpm

Method 2

You can use the nix repository already installed and search for the package:

sudo yum search msttcore-fonts-installer

HPLIP

You can install HPLIP using the commands:

sudo yum search hplip
sudo yum install hplip.x86_64 hplip-gui.x86_64

More software

Now, you could install more software such as Gimp or Inkscape…or whatever that you feel you would need for your everyday use. You can thus issue the command:

sudo yum install gimp inkscape

Conclusion

To be honest, I really enjoy working with CentOS as my daily driver at the office. It is a reliable system that you can configure to be extremely secure. The packages available are not that old, but they are not as leading-edge as in Fedora also. CentOS gives you the right combination of configurability, security and pakage versioning.

Enjoy!

For more interesting reading on how to make CentOS a great distro, you can also read the following sites: dedoimedo, CentOS wiki, pkgs.org,