Tips and Tricks for Ubuntu after Installation [Ubuntu 12.04 to 13.10]

 

Introduction

Ubuntu UnityUbuntu is a free operating system or a Linux distribution ("distro") which currently receives the second highest hits after Linux Mint at DistroWatch.

Starting from the version of 12.04 LTS, Ubuntu used Unity as a default user interface for the GNOME-3 desktop environment. If you have installed such or a newer version of Ubuntu operating system on your PC, you might find these tips and tricks useful for working with the system.

Looking for a desktop interface with a start menu that looks closer to the traditional Windows system? Then give Linux Mint a try and check out Tips and Tricks for Linux Mint 13 to 16 Cinnamon Edition or MATE Edition.

Note: The tips and tricks included in this article work well with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin, 12.10 Quantal Quetzal, 13.04 Raring Ringtail and 13.10 Saucy Salamander, except for a few worked only for either of the versions at time of checking. Please see this article if you're using an older version of Ubuntu.

 
Index:

 

Adjust the Launcher Icon Size

Ubuntu DesktopUbuntu includes a launcher on the left of your screen. If it appears that the size of the icons on the launcher is either too small or too big, you can adjust it to the size you like.

  1. Click the Control Gear and select "System Settings".
  2. Click "Appearance" under "Personal".
  3. Under the Look tab, drag the slider of "Launcher Icon Size" to the left for a smaller size, or right for a bigger size.

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Auto Hide the Launcher

Depending on the version of Ubuntu you use, the Launcher is set to always either appear or hide on the screen by default. You can change this default setting easily.

  1. Click the Control Gear and select "System Settings".
  2. Click "Appearance" under "Personal".
  3. Under the "Behavior" tab, switch on or off the button of "Auto-hide the Launcher".

To reveal the Launcher temporarily, just press and hold the Super (aka Windows) key, or move your mouse cursor to the far left of the screen. You can adjust the reveal sensitivity with the slider under the "Behavior" tab mentioned above. If it still doesn't work very well, you can adjust the amount of mouse pressure in the following tip.

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Make Revealing the Launcher Easier

After auto hiding the Launcher, you can reveal it by moving the mouse cursor to the left edge of the screen. But when you feel that you have to actually knock the mouse cursor against the screen edge hard enough to get the Launcher revealed, then it's better that you adjust the 'mouse pressure' using CompizConfig Settings Manager.

  1. Install CompizConfig Settings Manager from the Ubuntu Apps Directory if the application is not available in your system.
  2. Press Alt-F2 and type ccsm into the box, press Enter to run this program.
  3. Select "Desktop" from the left panel.
  4. Click "Ubuntu Unity Plugin".
  5. Under the "Launcher" (or "Experimental") tab, adjust the preset value of "Launcher Reveal Pressure" or "Launcher Reveal Edge Responsiveness" where applicable, to lower to make the launcher easier to reveal, or higher to do otherwise, click "Back" and "Close".

Try the Launcher again and enjoy.

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Using Quick Lists

DockBarX AppletLike the way the Jump Lists do in Windows 7, you can use almost the same feature for Ubuntu's Launcher. If you're using a newer version of Ubuntu, you can right-click an icon on the Launcher to reveal all open windows or browser tabs in a list and quickly jump to one of them.

For Ubuntu 12.04, you can enable this feature by installing Unity Window Quicklists.

Press Ctrl-Alt-T to call up Terminal, copy following codes and paste (Ctrl-Shift-V) them inside Terminal to install Unity Window Quicklists.

  1. sudo apt-add-repository ppa:alanbell/unity
  2. sudo apt-get update
  3. sudo apt-get install unity-window-quicklists
  4. sudo sed -i 's/OnlyShowIn=UNITY/OnlyShowIn=Unity/g' /etc/xdg/autostart/unity-window-quicklists.desktop (This command line allows for the Unity Window Quicklists to start automatically when you log into the system.)

After running the codes successfully, log out and log back in, right-click an icon on the Launcher and select an open window in the jump list. This serves as an alternative to clicking an icon on the Launcher and selecting an open window in preview.

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Disable Shopping Suggestions (For Ubuntu 12.10 and newer)

When you do a search from the Dash in Ubuntu 12.10 or newer versions, it offers additional search results including shopping suggestions, a feature known as "Shopping Lens" or "Unity Smart Scopes", underneath the local search results by default. If you don't like these suggestions, you can turn them off or back on.

For Ubuntu 13.10

  1. Click the Dash Home icon on the Launcher and click "Filter results" next to the search box.
  2. Deselect the categories or sources that you want to exclude from the search results.

For Ubuntu 12.10 and 13.04

You can disable (or re-enable) the Shopping Lens by entering the command below in the Terminal, then log out and back in.

  • To disable: sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping
  • To re-enable: sudo apt-get install unity-lens-shopping

Alternatively in either of the versions above, you can follow these simple steps to opt out of the online search results:

  1. Click the Control Gear and select "System Settings".
  2. Under Personal, select "Security & Privacy" (or just 'Privacy' in older versions).
  3. Under the Search tab, turn off "When searching in the Dash: Include online search results", then log out and back in.

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Disable or Enable the Global Menu

Move buttons to rightUbuntu system places the application menu (File/Edit/View) (also known as AppMenu or Global Menu) on the top bar by default. If you want to disable this feature and move the menu back to the application's window, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to run the Terminal.
  2. Enter sudo su
  3. Enter echo "export UBUNTU_MENUPROXY=0" > /etc/X11/Xsession.d/81ubuntumenuproxy
  4. Log out and back in to the system.

To re-enable it, enter sudo rm /etc/X11/Xsession.d/81ubuntumenuproxy into the Terminal, then log out and back in the system.

Prior to Ubuntu 13.10, you can remove the Global menu by running the following commands in the Terminal:

  1. Enter sudo apt-get autoremove appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt into the Terminal.
  2. Log out and log back in the system.

To get back the Global Menu, follow these steps:

  1. Enter sudo apt-get install appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-gtk appmenu-qt into the Terminal.
  2. Log out and log back in the system.

Note: To disable the Global Menu of Firefox, enter about:config into the address bar, then set the value of "ui.use_unity_menubar" to false.

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Move Window Control Buttons to the Right

Move buttons to rightIf your Ubuntu system sets the Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons to the left in a window and you prefer to change them to the right, then follow these simple steps:

For Ubuntu 12.10, 13.04 and 13.10

  1. Press Alt-F2, then type dconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it. (See Note below)
  2. Browse to org > gnome > desktop > wm > preferences, look for "button_layout" on the right panel.
  3. Change the value in the "button_layout" from close,minimize,maximize: to :minimize,maximize,close and press the Enter key.

For Ubuntu 12.04

  1. In the Terminal, enter this code sudo apt-get install gconf-editor to install Configuration Editor if it's not in your system.
  2. Press Alt-F2, then type gconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it.
  3. Browse to apps > metacity > general, look for "button_layout" on the right panel.
  4. Change the value in the "button_layout" from close,minimize,maximize: to :minimize,maximize,close and press the Enter key.

The above works for all control buttons on non-maximized windows. When a window is maximized, the control buttons are however fixed to the left of the Global Menu.

Note: If dconf-editor is not available, you can install it by running sudo apt-get install dconf-tools in the Terminal.

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Open Up a Window in Center

If you run an application without maximized and the system always puts it in the left-top corner of the desktop, but you are allowed to set a program window to open up in the center of the desktop area.

  1. CompizConfig Settings ManagerInstall CompizConfig Settings Manager from the Ubuntu Apps Directory if the application is not in your system.
  2. Press Alt-F2 and type ccsm into the box, press Enter to run this program. (You may receive a warning to use this advanced tool with care.)
  3. Select "Windows Management" from the left panel.
  4. Click "Place Windows".
  5. Change Placement Mode from "Smart" or other modes to "Centered", click "Back" and "Close".

Ideally, the window manager in Ubuntu should restore the last known position of an application window, but it does not do that unless an application remembers its own window position. (See reported bugs)

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Roll Up and Down a Window

When you double-click the title bar of a window, the default setting is to maximize or un-maximize a window. On a non-maximized window, you can roll up or down a window by changing the setting below.

For Ubuntu 12.10, 13.04 and 13.10

  1. Press Alt-F2, then type dconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it.
  2. Browse to org > gnome > desktop > wm > preferences, look for "action-double-click-titlebar" on the right panel, change the value from 'toggle_maximize' to 'toggle_shade'.

Now you can roll up a non-maximized window when you double-click its title bar, and vice versa.

For Ubuntu 12.04

  1. In the Terminal, enter this code sudo apt-get install gconf-editor to install Configuration Editor if it's not in your system.
  2. Press Alt-F2, then type gconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it.
  3. Browse to apps > gwd, change the value in the "mouse_wheel_action" to shade.

You can now roll up a non-maximized window when you hover on its title bar and scroll up the mouse wheel, and vice versa.

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Customize the Theme

Themes in Ubuntu can be customized to suit your needs. The default theme "Ambiance" has the menu (File, Edit, View, etc) printed in white on a dark background, but you can easily switch to another theme such as "Radiance" to have the menu printed in black on a light background. These are easy steps to customize a theme.

  1. Click the Control Gear and select "System Settings".
  2. Click "Appearance" under "Personal".
  3. Under the Look tab, select a theme from the drop-down menu.

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Set Aero Glass Effect (For Ubuntu 12.04 and 13.10)

Aero Glass EffectIn Ubuntu you can set nearly the same aero glass effect to window borders with alpha transparency as available in Windows 7.

For Ubuntu 12.10

  1. In the Terminal, enter this code sudo apt-get install gconf-editor to install Configuration Editor if it's not in your system.
  2. Press Alt-F2, then type gconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it.
  3. Browse to apps > gwd, look for "metacity_theme_active_opacity" on the right panel.
  4. Change the value in "metacity_theme_active_opacity" from 1 to 0.75 (or smaller such as 0.5 for more transparency).

For Ubuntu 13.10

  1. Press Alt-F2, then type dconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it.
  2. Browse to org > compiz > gwd, look for "metacity_theme_active_opacity" on the right panel.
  3. Change the value in "metacity_theme_active_opacity" from 1 to 0.75 (or smaller such as 0.5 for more transparency).

   If the aero glass effect doesn't work, check if you have updated your display driver. Go to Control Gear > System Settings > Hardware > Additional Drivers, activate the recommended graphics driver and restart the system.

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Disable Overlay Scrollbar

In new versions of Ubuntu, the scrollbar button is hidden until you mouse over it. You can revert it to the normal scrollbar by changing the settings.

For Ubuntu 12.10, 13.04 and 13.10

Either enter this command in the Terminal: gsettings set com.canonical.desktop.interface scrollbar-mode normal

Or edit the value using dconf-editor:

  1. Press Alt-F2, type dconf-editor into the box, and press Enter to run it.
  2. Browse to com > canonical > desktop > interface, look for "scrollbar-mode" on the right panel and change the value from overlay-auto to normal.

For Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Try to use Ubuntu Tweak to get the same result.

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Change Wallpapers Automatically

You can right click your desktop, select "Change Desktop Background" and choose any one of the wallpapers pre-installed, but you need to do it each time you want to change a wallpaper. What about changing a wallpaper automatically within a certain time interval? Try Wally.

  1. Change Wallpapers with WallyInstall Wally from the Ubuntu Apps Directory if the application is not in your system.
  2. Press Alt-F2, type wally and press Enter to run it.
  3. Right-click the Wally icon on the system tray, select Settings.
  4. Click "Folders" in the left column, then add /usr/share/backgrounds to the Folder box and tick "Include subfolders".
  5. Click "Settings" in the left column, then tick "Play automatically on application starts". You can also check the option to disable splash screen and auto quit if you wish.
  6. Set the application to auto start, using this tip Auto Start Up an Application (as Wally's option to "Start automatically when system starts" being disabled).

Your wallpaper on the desktop will automatically change following these basic settings when you log back in the system (or right click the Wally icon on the system tray and select "Play").

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Set a Default View in File Manager

Windows Explorer allows for users to set a default view to all folders. In almost the same way, Ubuntu's Nautilus File Browser (now known as "Files") allows for these settings:

  1. Set File BrowserClick the File Browser icon on the Launcher.
  2. At the Global Menu on the top of the screen, click "Files" or "Edit" then "Preferences".
  3. Under Default View, change "Icon View" to "List View", to see more details in columns.
  4. Tick "Show hidden and backup files" if that's your choice.

Other various settings, such as single or double click to open items, icon captions, list columns and preview files can be done in the same window as well.

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Preview Files in File Manager

Sushi is a quick previewer for Files (previously known as Nautilus) file browser. You can download the previewer from here if it's not in your Ubuntu system. With this handy tool installed, you can preview text, PDF, audio and video files, and other supported documents in a single step when using the file browser.

  • Select a file, press Spacebar to preview.
  • Press Spacebar again or Escape to close a preview.

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Change a Folder Icon

When running a default file browser, you will see that the folder icons are predetermined by the theme you set. If you wish to change a folder icon to another for it to stand out from the system-wide icons, follow these steps:

  1. In the file browser, right click a folder icon, select Properties.
  2. Under the Basic tab, click the icon image to open up the "Select Custom Icon" window.
  3. In the Location field, type /usr/share/icons, press Enter. (You can hide or unhide the Location field by clicking the Edit button on the top-left of the window.)
  4. Browse and select an icon you want.
  5. Click the Open button on the bottom-right of the window to confirm.

Note: You can change your custom folder icon back to the default by clicking the "Revert" button in the "Select Custom Icon" window at Step 2 above.

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Create an Advanced File Manager

In the Ubuntu file system, you can use "Files" or "Nautilus" file manager to browse most files but can only write files in your home folder /home/your_name and its sub-folders such as Desktop and Documents. If you have to rename a folder or write files outside of your home folder using the file manager, you won't be able to but you can create a shortcut to run an advanced file manager for this purpose.

  1. Click the Dash Home icon on the Launcher (or tap Super), then type keyboard into the Search box and press Enter.
  2. Under the "Shortcuts" tab, select Custom Shortcuts, then click the "+" sign to create a custom shortcut.
  3. Enter a name such as Advanced File Manager in the "Name" box.
  4. Enter gksu nautilus in the "Command" box, then click the Apply button. (See note below)
  5. Click on Disabled at the Advanced File Manager row in the Keyboard Shortcuts window (Disabled is then changed to New accelerator...).
  6. Press a new key combination, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+N (New accelerator... is then changed to Ctrl+Alt+N).

Now you can easily access the Advanced Nautilus by pressing the shortcut key you assigned. But be careful since you can use it to delete or change any files on your system.

Note: For Ubuntu 13.04 or newer versions, "gksu" is not available by default. You'll need to enter sudo apt-get install gksu in the Terminal for it to work. If you're using the 64-bit version of Ubuntu, enter gksu-properties in the Terminal after installing gksu and set the authentication mode to sudo.

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Add or Change Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are preset in the system, but you can add new ones or change them easily. For instance, change the default shortcut Ctrl+Alt+T (Run a Terminal) to Super+R (press R while holding down the Super [aka Windows] key) by the following steps:

  1. Keyboard ShortcutsClick the Dash Home icon (or tap Super), type keyboard and press Enter.
  2. Under the "Shortcuts" tab, select "Launchers" on the left panel
  3. Click "Launch Terminal", and it shows "New accelerator..."
  4. Tap Super+R, and it shows Super+R
  5. Click the Close button and try the new shortcut. (Note: In this article, I use Ctrl-Alt-T as a default shortcut to Terminal.)

   To disable a shortcut, press Backspace when it shows "New accelerator..." after the step 3 above.

   Keyboard shortcuts can also be set by changing keybinding values with Configuration Editor. In Ubuntu 12.10 and newer verions, press Alt+F2 and enter dconf-editor, then navigate to org > gnome > desktop > wm > keybindings. In Ubuntu 12.04, press Alt+F2 and enter gconf-editor, then navigate to apps > metacity > global_keybindings and window_keybindings.

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Terminate Unresponsive Programs

Xkill is part of the X11 utilities pre-installed in Ubuntu and a tool for terminating misbehaving X clients or unresponsive programs. You can easily add a shortcut key to launch xkill with the steps below.

  1. xkillClick the Dash Home icon on the Launcher (or tap Super), then type keyboard into the Search box and press Enter.
  2. Under the "Shortcuts" tab, select Custom Shortcuts, then click the "+" sign to create a custom shortcut.
  3. Enter xkill to both the Name and Command boxes and click the Apply button.
  4. Click on Disabled at the xkill row in the Keyboard Shortcuts window (Disabled is then changed to New accelerator...).
  5. Press a new key combination, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+X (New accelerator... is then changed to Ctrl+Alt+X).

Xkill is ready for use. Press the above key combination to turn the cursor to an X-sign, move the X-sign and drop it into a program interface to terminate the unresponsive program, or cancel the X-sign with a right-click.

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Enable Media Playback

Ubuntu only includes completely free software by default and does not configure proprietary media formats such as mp3 and mp4 'out of the box'. The required codecs however can be easily installed for the default player to playback these files following a few simple steps below.

  1. Double click an mp3 file in a folder.
  2. Click the "Install" button to download and install the recommended codecs. (See Note below)
  3. Restart the player after the codecs are installed.

You might need to do the same for other restricted media formats such as mp4 too.

Note: As an alternative, you can also download and install Ubuntu restricted extras from Ubuntu Apps Directory right away for media players to playback some restricted formats.

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Install Screenlets

Screenlets are small applications to represent things such as sticky notes, clocks, calendars around on your desktop. You can launch a pre-installed screenlet from Screenlets manager, or install a new one into the manager for launching it. Here are the steps for installing and launching a screenlet, for example, WaterMark System Information.

  1. WaterMark ScreenletInstall Screenlets manager if it has not been added from the Ubuntu Apps Directory.
  2. Download the screenlet "WaterMark System Information" to a folder.
  3. Press Alt-F2, type Screenlets into the box and press Enter to run the manager.
  4. Click Install, select Install Screenlet and click OK.
  5. Browse to the folder, select the file downloaded and click "Open" to install the screenlet into the Screenlets manager.
  6. Select the screenlet "WaterMark" and click "Launch/Add". (Tips: you can add more than one WaterMark screenlet and set it to display other system information.)

More screenlets are available for installation from screenlets.org.

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Install Oracle Java Packages

Ubuntu may use OpenJDK by default, but I note that some web services such as ezyZip.com might need the Oracle Java Runtime Environment (JRE) to be installed in the system for running the services properly. If you would like to get the proprietary Oracle Java packages for your system, you can download and install them following these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to run Terminal.
  2. Enter sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java to add the partner repository.
  3. Enter sudo apt-get update to update the source list.
  4. Enter sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer to download and install the Oracle Java packages.
  5. Enter sudo java -version to check the version of the Java used in the system.
  6. Enter sudo update-alternatives --config java to choose the default Java for use in the system when necessary.

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Auto Mount Drives at System Startup

Ubuntu is capable of reading and writing files stored on Windows formatted partitions using NTFS file system, but partitions must be 'mounted' before they can be accessed. With these steps, you can auto mount the drives or partitions without the need to manually mount them for access each time you start up the system. Below are two ways of doing it, either using Storage Device Manager or adding an entry in the fstab file.

Method 1: Using Storage Device Manager (This PPA is not yet available for Ubuntu 12.10 and newer versions at time of checking)

  1. Storage Device ManagerInstall Storage Device Manager from Ubuntu Apps Directory if the application is not available in your system.
  2. Click the Dash Home icon (or tap Super), type Storage Device Manager to look for the application and run it.
  3. Extend the list of sda and select the sda you want to auto mount, click 'OK' to configure.
  4. Click the "Assistant" button.
  5. Uncheck "Mount file system in read only mode" and keep "The file system is mounted at boot time" checked.
  6. Click the "Mount", "Apply" then "Close" button, and restart the system.

In case you wish to remove the auto-mount of a certain drive or partition, you can similarly use Storage Device Manager to do the setting.

Method 2: Adding an Entry in the 'fstab' File

  1. In the Terminal, enter sudo blkid to get the UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) of the partition you want to mount.
  2. Enter sudo mkdir /media/ntfs to create a mount point
  3. Enter gksu gedit /etc/fstab and add the following line in the fstab file: (see Note below about using gksu in Ubuntu 13.04)
    UUID=1234567890123456 /media/ntfs ntfs rw,nosuid,nodev,noatime,allow_other 0 0
  4. Replace the above 16-digit number with the UUID you've got from step 1, then click 'Save'.

Restart the system and check if the partition is mounted.

   To identify disk partitions by label, either use sudo blkid or ls /dev/disk/by-label -g in the Terminal. To view partition sizes and file systems, enter sudo fdisk -l. Disk Utility or Disks mentioned in "Name or Label a Partition" also gives you a glance of device numbers, partition types, sizes and labels.

 

Note: For Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10, "gksu" is not available by default. You'll need to enter sudo apt-get install gksu in the Terminal for it to work. If you're using the 64-bit version of Ubuntu, enter gksu-properties in the Terminal after installing gksu and set the authentication mode to sudo.

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Manually Mount a USB Drive

A USB storage device plugged into the system usually mounts automatically, but if for some reasons it doesn't automount, it's possible to manually mount it with these steps.

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to run Terminal.
  2. Enter sudo mkdir /media/usb to create a mount point called usb.
  3. Enter sudo fdisk -l to look for the USB drive already plugged in, let's say the drive you want to mount is /dev/sdb1.
  4. Enter sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sdb1 /media/usb -o uid=1000,gid=100,utf8,dmask=027,fmask=137 to mount a USB drive formatted with FAT16 or FAT32 system. OR:
    Enter sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sdb1 /media/usb to mount a USB drive formatted with NTFS system.

To unmount it, just enter sudo umount /media/usb in the Terminal.

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Name or Label a Partition

The file manager shows the root directory as File System (or "Computer" in newer versions) for your Ubuntu system partition. If you have other partitions (or volumes), it shows them as xx GB Filesystem if they’re not named or labelled.

Using Disks (or Disk Utility for Ubuntu 12.04) is one of the effective ways to name a partition easily:

For Ubuntu 12.10, 13.04 and 13.10

  1. Click the Dash Home button (or tap Super), type Disks to search for the application and run it.
  2. Select the item Hard Disk.
  3. In the Volumes section, click a partition you want to label.
  4. Click the 'More actions' button below the Volumes section then select "Edit Filesystem Label"
  5. In the Label box, enter a name, e.g. Data-Disk, and click Change.

For Ubuntu 12.04

  1. Disk UtilityClick the Dash Home button (or tap Super), type Disk Utility to search for the application and run it.
  2. Select the item Hard Disk.
  3. In the Volumes section, click a partition you want to label.
  4. Click "Edit Filesystem Label" (See  below)
  5. In the Label box, enter a name, e.g. Data-Disk, and click Apply.

The file manager should now show the partition label, such as Data-Disk, instead of xx GB Filesystem. This tip is for naming a partition using the application; use other advanced features such as format, edit or delete partition with caution as they can delete data on your disk.

   If the option for "Edit Filesystem Label" is not shown, click "Unmount Volume" before hand. In case you can't unmount a volume, try Storage Device Manager to unmount it. See Auto Mount Drives at System Startup.

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Auto Start Up an Application

In Windows, you can place a program shortcut in a startup folder for running a program automatically when the system starts. In Ubuntu, you can do the same in this way:

  1. Auto Start Up ApplicationsClick the Dash Home icon (or tap Super), type 'Startup Applications' to search for the application and run it.
  2. Click the "Add" button.
  3. Name a program.
  4. Click the "Browse" button and navigate to "File System" (or "Computer") > usr > bin, where programs are usually installed.
  5. Select a program, click the "Open" button followed by the "Add" button.

The above program will then be listed in additional startup programs. Check if the program runs automatically by logging out and back to the system.

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Clean Up Old Crash Reports

System program problem detectedIf your Ubuntu system always pops up a dialog saying "System program problem detected" each time you log in even though you've already reported the problem, you might need to clean up all old crash reports by entering a command line below in the Terminal.

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to run Terminal.
  2. Copy and paste sudo rm /var/crash/* in the Terminal and press Enter.

Log out and log back in the system, check if the dialog still appears.

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Enable Log-in Sound

Ubuntu doesn't have a log in sound that it used to have? If so, you can enable it easily:

  1. Click the Dash Home button and type "Startup Applications" to search for the application and run it.
  2. Click the "Add" button.
  3. In the Name field, type "Login Sound" (no quotes) or any other name you like.
  4. In the Command field, copy and paste this line: /usr/bin/canberra-gtk-play --id="desktop-login" --description="GNOME Login"
  5. Give a comment you like, such as "Plays a sound when I log in".
  6. Click the 'Add' or 'Save' button.

Log out and log back in to check whether the log-in sound works.

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Change Default Boot Options

After full installation, Ubuntu is set to be the default operating system to boot up if no key is pressed within a few seconds on a multi-boot system. You might want to set your preferred operating system to boot up by default. This can be done easily with Grub Customizer.

Press Ctrl-Alt-T to call up Terminal, copy following codes and paste (Ctrl-Shift-V) them inside Terminal to install Grub Customizer.

  1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:danielrichter2007/grub-customizer
  2. sudo apt-get update
  3. sudo apt-get install grub-customizer

After installation, run Grub Customizer to set the default boot options with the following steps.

  1. Press Alt-F2, type grub-customizer into the box and press Enter to run it.
  2. Under the "General Settings" tab, select the default entry you like to boot up from the drop-down menu.
  3. Adjust the timeout value if needed, then press the Close button and the Save button.

Avoid changing timeout to 0 seconds if you need to select a system to boot up from a multi-boot menu.

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Clean Up the Boot Menu

Each time when Ubuntu updates to a new Linux kernel, the old one is left behind and the boot menu gets complicated. If your new Linux kernel works well, it's safe to clean up the boot menu. Do take these steps carefully as incorrectly hiding the items can make your system unbootable. You can check the Linux kernel version you're running by entering this command line uname -r into the Terminal.

To clean up the boot menu, it's pretty straightforward with Grub Customizer used in the tip above.

  1. Press Alt-F2, type grub-customizer into the box and press Enter to run it.
  2. Delete (or uncheck) the entries you want to hide from the boot menu.
  3. Click the Save button.

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Auto Shutdown the System

A simple command can be entered in the Terminal to schedule a time for the system to shut down.

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to run Terminal.
  2. Enter sudo shutdown -h +m (replace m with the number of minutes, e.g. +60).
    OR: enter sudo shutdown -h hh:mm (replace hh:mm with the time on the 24hr clock, e.g. 23:15).
  3. Enter password and minimize the Terminal window.

The system will then shut down within the minutes or at the time specified. To cancel a scheduled time, enter sudo shutdown -c in the Terminal.

   Alternatively, you might want to download and install GShutdown, which is a GUI program for scheduling a time to shutdown the system.

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MyUnity (For Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10)

MyUnityThe tips and tricks in this article cover some basic and useful ways for working with your Ubuntu in the Unity desktop environment. If you want more tweaking tools, MyUnity is one of them and you can download it from here. It allows you to configure and tune Unity with a pleasant graphical user interface.

With this tool, you can do quite a lot of settings such as:

  • Set the Launcher's color, transparency, size, etc.
  • Change the Dash size and blur effect.
  • Set transparency for the top bar.
  • Show some icons on the desktop.
  • Change fonts for window title, document, desktop and system.
  • Select themes and icons, etc.

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Ubuntu Tweak

Besides MyUnity, you can also try Ubuntu Tweak which you can download from here.

Some settings are available in both tools but you may find something else which are only available in Ubuntu Tweak. I find these settings more useful to me:

  • QuickLists Editor to re-order shortcut items on the Launcher.
  • Janitor to clear cache and more.

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Add More Useful Software

Ubuntu Software Center lets you search and get more software. You can either click the Ubuntu Software Center icon from the Launcher to search for applications, or go to Ubuntu Apps Directory to find the software products you need. If you like a product on the Directory, just click the orange download button and it opens up in your Ubuntu Software Center app for you to confirm the install.

Besides this, you can get the latest freeware applications by clicking the Install this now button from the GetDeb Repository after the getdeb package is installed with the instructions given.

See also our Best Free Software for Linux.

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Related Links

 

Editor

This category is maintained by volunteer editor Jojo Yee. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here.
You can visit the Google+ profile page of Jojo Yee here.

 

Tags

things to do after installing Ubuntu, tips and tricks, tweak, Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin.

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Comments

by Jojo Yee on 24. December 2013 - 4:16  (113152)

Update:

This update covers Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander.

by Ivtec on 3. October 2013 - 3:20  (111188)

how to remove apps from the desktop

by Jojo Yee on 3. October 2013 - 6:55  (111192)

If you mean hiding app icons from the desktop Ivtec, then try Ubuntu Tweak which has a toggle to switch it on and off easily.

You can get it from here: http://ubuntu-tweak.com/

by Karna on 13. July 2013 - 4:03  (109184)

The Article is really awesome. It provides glipmse of very essential tools in a very nice way. Good work.

by nonurban on 16. December 2012 - 6:33  (103644)

First of all I'd just like to thank you for having this site and for all the great tips you have here. I'm new to Ubuntu and this is my favorite place to go to try to learn more about this OS.

There is one tip; Enable Quick Lists (For Ubuntu 12.04) where I followed your instructions and everything went well until I got to the last line;
sudo sed -i 's/OnlyShowIn=UNITY/OnlyShowIn=Unity/g' /etc/xdg/autostart/unity-window-quicklists.desktop and then I got an error message I can't remember the exact wording something about not being able the find a certain directory or file so I figured I'd try to substitute /unity-window-checklists.desktop for /unity-window-quicklists.desktop and it worked. Just thought I'd let you know....

by nonurban on 16. December 2012 - 2:14  (103642)

For "enable Quick Lists (For Ubuntu 12.04)" tip you have "sudo sed -i 's/OnlyShowIn=UNITY/OnlyShowIn=Unity/g' /etc/xdg/autostart/unity-window-quicklists.desktop" and I think you meant "sudo sed -i..../unity-window-checklists.desktop"

by Jojo Yee on 16. December 2012 - 6:25  (103643)

Thanks nonurban for your feedback. The step 3 was mistaken which is now fixed and the step 4 remains unchanged.

by RusCol on 5. December 2012 - 22:47  (103385)

I downloaded and executed "grub-customizer", intending to clean-up a long boot-list. I exited the procedure when the following exception was noted:
"exception'17FileReadException' with message'cannotradthefile' in/build/buildd/grub-customizer-3.0.2/src/Model/SmartFileHandle.cpp:67" The program gave the opportunity to exit at this point, or continue and possibly "lose data".
My AMD64-based processor is running Ubuntu 12.04, 3.2.0-34-generic.

Can anyone advise how to overcome this difficulty?

by Bob M (not verified) on 1. December 2012 - 16:27  (103174)

I am also trying to get maximize/minimize back to the right side in Ubuntu 12.04. I made the changes as you suggested (same as in other posts I found) through gconf-editor:

:minimize,maximize,close

but of course it has no impact. When in the editor and button_layout is selected under Key Documentation it says 'This key has no schema'. Is there something else?

by Jojo Yee on 2. December 2012 - 3:20  (103187)

Check again Bob if you're using Ubuntu 12.04 or Ubuntu 12.10.

If you're trying "gconf-editor" in Ubuntu 12.10, it will say 'This key has no schema' under the Key Documentation. You'll need to use this editor "dconf-editor" (different from "gconf-editor") for Ubuntu 12.10 as described in this article.

by kunal (not verified) on 18. November 2012 - 3:48  (102498)

by far one of the best articles. keep up the good work

by Jojo Yee on 10. November 2012 - 6:45  (102104)

Update: This article is now updated to cover the new release of Ubuntu 12.10. Some tips only worked in Ubuntu 12.04 since the PPAs of certain apps such as Storage Device Manager and MyUnity are still not available for Ubuntu 12.10 at time of checking.

by Jos Bouma (not verified) on 14. November 2012 - 20:56  (102327)

nice work
I'm new in Linux ubumtu 1204
entertaining article

by Frank Christiny (not verified) on 28. September 2012 - 18:19  (99921)

The instructions to Adjust the Launcher Icon Size above no longer apply! I (made the mistake of) installingd the newest updates to my Ubuntu 12.04 (from kernel 3.2.0-30 to 3.2.0-31) yesterday and all kinds of changes were perpetrated against my System settings. I have reverted most of them except for the size of the launcher icons. I cannot find a way to make them smaller yet...

In Step 3 of the instructions above it says "Under the Look tab, drag the slider of "Launcher Icon Size" to the left." Well, I do not see any slider at all anywhere!

I would appreciate any hints you can provide.

by Jojo Yee on 30. September 2012 - 8:42  (99987)

I've it updated to kernel 3.2.0-31 and it still works for me though.

by Flicky Licky (not verified) on 17. August 2012 - 10:32  (97847)

I installed 12.04 on 2 x Sony Vaios and a Chillblast desktop

ALL THREE rapidly overheat and shutdown within 10 minutes. Its apparently a Kernal (?) that's at fault and has been an issue since 12.04 was launched. I saw no mention of this - has it been fixed?

by Karna on 13. July 2013 - 4:11  (109185)

Hello, I would like to tell you about the issue that I myself faced.

The root cause of Problem is Graphics Driver.

Ubuntu has some open source drivers , but that does not fit well with some systems and leads to consumption high VRAM that causes the "Hit".

So, the solution is install proprietary driver from AMD or ATI Radeon And The issue will be fixed.

You can search on Google with keywords "graphic driver ubuntu 12.04 heat".

Thanks,
Karna Soneji

by geneloeb (not verified) on 16. August 2012 - 3:13  (97766)

Just wanted to know about ubuntu. What is it used for? I never used it. What am I missing?
Thanks

by Anonymousmarx (not verified) on 3. October 2012 - 21:44  (100214)

Ubuntu is an OS (Operating System) the current release is 12.04 which is LTS or Long Term Support, an operating system is a computer such as Windows or Mac. However Ubuntu is a opensource community whereas windows is closed source.
If you would like to try Ubuntu without installing onto a system this can be done in two ways that I know of:
1. Download the proper .iso for your machine 32 bit or 64 bit,
if for some reason you are not sure which usually 32 bit can be used on both types 32 bit and 64.
2. There is also the WUBI (Windows-Ubuntu-Boot-Initiator) With this method you simply download it from Ubuntu and follow the instructions, this will load Ubuntu inside Windows like an ordinary file would, If you decide that you no longer want the the WUBI/Ubuntu you can un-install it as well.

The following Link is Provided:
http://www.ubuntu.com/

http://www.ubuntu.com/download

http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/windows-installer

by Anupam on 16. August 2012 - 7:03  (97773)

Please register on the site, and post the query in the forum, as this can turn into a long discussion, better suited for forum.

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