Tips and Tricks for Ubuntu after Installation [Ubuntu 10.04 to 11.04]

Introduction

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

If you have the Ubuntu system which comes with the default Gnome desktop environment installed in 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 Windows system? Then give Linux Mint a try and check out Tips and Tricks for Linux Mint 13 to 15 Cinnamon Edition or MATE Edition.

Note: The steps described in this article work best with Ubuntu 11.04 (logged into Ubuntu Classic session), Ubuntu 10.10 and Ubuntu 10.04. Please check out this article if you're using a newer version of Ubuntu.

 
Tips and Tricks for Ubuntu - Quick Select Index

After clicking a link, use your browser's Back icon to return here.

Panel
Window
Desktop
Keyboard Shortcuts
File Manager
Sound
Add Fonts, Codecs and More Software
Drive and Partition
Startup and Shutdown

 

Customize the Panel

Ubuntu includes a top panel and a bottom panel by default. If you prefer to keep only one panel at the bottom just like the Windows Taskbar, then these are the steps to follow:

  1. Ubuntu DesktopDelete the bottom panel: right-click over it and click "Delete This Panel".
  2. Move the top panel to bottom: right-click over it, select "Properties" and change Orientation from "Top" to "Bottom".
  3. Add running program buttons: right-click the panel, select "Add to Panel", scroll down and select "Window List", click "Add".
  4. Replace the Menu Bar ("Applications-Places-System") with the "Main Menu" to save space in the panel:
    1. Right-click the "Menu Bar" and select "Remove From Panel".
    2. Right-click the panel, select "Add to Panel" and choose "Main Menu", click "Add".
    3. Right-click the items (Firefox, etc) and untick "Lock to Panel".
    4. Right-click the added "Main Menu", select "Move" to relocate it to the far left.

These are basic changes. The panels are much more flexible than the Windows Taskbar in that many items in the panels can be easily added, removed or configured.

   The Main Menu shows the "Lock Screen", "Log Out" and "Shut Down" items if you remove the "Indicator Applet Session" item (which shows your username and the shutdown button to the right of the panel). These three items are hidden from the Main Menu when the Indicator Applet Session item is on the panel.

   If you need to restore the panels to the original state, enter the following commands into the Terminal and re-start the system:

  1. sudo gconftool-2 --shutdown
  2. sudo rm -rf .gconf/apps/panel
  3. sudo pkill gnome-panel

   At any point if your customized desktop settings caused a problem and you wish to reset all back to their defaults, then enter this command sudo rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity in the Terminal, log out and log back in to the system.

 

Pin Programs to the Panel

Frequently used programs can be easily pinned to the panel.

  1. Browse to the program from "Applications" or "Main Menu".
  2. Drag and drop the program to an empty space in the panel, or right-click the program and select "Add this launcher to panel".
  3. Right click the program icon, select "Move" and drop it to a new place in the panel.
  4. Right click the program icon and select "Lock to Panel".

See also "Enable Superbar".

 

Set Fully Transparent Panel

When you set the panel to be transparent in the default Ambiance theme in Ubuntu, you will find that some panel items' backgrounds are not transparent, but you can make them transparent and consistent with others, following these steps:

  1. Ubuntu DesktopGo to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > Terminal.
  2. Enter cp -R /usr/share/themes/Ambiance ~/.themes/
  3. Enter gedit ~/.themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/apps/gnome-panel.rc (for Ubuntu 11.04 or 10.10) OR gedit ~/.themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/gtkrc (for Ubuntu 10.04), to open the file with gedit.
  4. Search for this line bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "img/panel.png" (for Ubuntu 11.04 or 10.10) OR bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "panel_bg.png" (for Ubuntu 10.04)
  5. Ubuntu DesktopComment out the line by placing a # at the beginning of the line, like this: #   bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = ...
  6. Save the file.
  7. Go to System > Preferences > Appearance, switch to the other theme and then back to the Ambiance theme.

   If you'd to change to the New Wave theme, then enter cp -R /usr/share/themes/"New Wave" ~/.themes/ in step 2, enter gedit ~/.themes/"New Wave"/gtk-2.0/gtkrc in step 3, search for and comment out this line bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "Images/Panel/PanelBarLong.png" in steps 4 and 5 respectively.

 

Enable Superbar

In Windows 7, frequently used programs can be pinned to the taskbar (hence called Superbar). Likewise, DockBarX, a Gnome panel plugin, can be added to Ubuntu to achieve almost the same effect to pin and unpin or launch the applications from the panel.

  1. DockBarX AppletGo to Ubuntu Software Center > Edit > Software Source.
  2. Select "Other Software" and click "Add"
  3. At APT line, enter ppa:dockbar-main/ppa, click "Add Source" and "Close"
  4. At the left panel of Ubuntu Software Center, select "PPA for Dockbar Main Group", which is added after the above steps
  5. At the right panel, select DockbarX and click "Install"
  6. Wait for the cache to be updated, then right click the panel and click “Add to Panel”.
  7. Select the DockBarX Applet and click "Add".

   A thumbnail preview of a running program is also available to DockBarX. To enable this feature, right-click the DockBarX item on the panel, select Properties, choose Window List and tick "Show Previews". Other preferences such as appearance, window item and group button can also be configured by users.

 

Change Font Type and Color of Panel Clock

The font type and color of the panel clock follow the windows text in a theme by default. In particular, if the font color is black and shown on a dark background through a transparent panel, you can't read the clock clearly, but you can tweak it by changing the font color. And you can define the font type for your panel clock as well.

The code in Step 1 below sets the font color to white and applies DS-Digital font (See  below), bold and size 16.

  1. Panel ClockOpen up the text editor Gedit and paste the following code:
    style "my-panel-clock"
    {
    fg[NORMAL] = "#FFFFFF"
    font_name = "DS-Digital Bold 16"
    }
    widget "*.clock-applet-button.*" style "my-panel-clock"
  2. Save the file as .gtkrc-2.0 (including the dot in front of the filename) inside your home directory /home/your_user_name.
  3. Log out and log back in (OR enter killall gnome-panel into the Terminal) to see the change.

   The DS-Digital font can be downloaded here. After downloading, unzip the file and install the font into the system for use. See Install Extra Fonts.

   The filename leading by a dot represents it's a hidden file and visible by toggling the key Ctrl-H in the Nautilus file browser.

 

Move Window Control Buttons to the Right

If 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:

  1. Move buttons to rightPress Alt+F2 to bring up "Run Application" window.
  2. Type gconf-editor into the box, click "Run" to bring up Configuration Editor.
  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 menu:minimize,maximize,close and press the Enter key.

 

Open Up a Window in Center

When running an application without maximized, Ubuntu always puts it in the left-top corner of the desktop by default, but you are allowed to set a program window to open up in the center of the desktop area.

  1. CompizConfig Settings ManagerGo to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager
  2. Select "Windows Management" from the left panel.
  3. Click "Place Windows".
  4. Change Placement Mode from "Smart" 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)

 

Roll Up and Down a Window

When you double-click the title bar of a window, the default setting is to maximize a window. Since there's already a maximize button you can use for this, I always like to change the default setting to rolling up (or 'shading') a window when I double-click on its title bar.Window Shading

  1. Go to System > Preferences > Windows
  2. In "Titlebar Action", select "Roll up" (or "Shade" where applicable), from the drop-down list.

Now you can roll up a window when you double-click its title bar, and roll it down by double-clicking the title bar again. Simple as that.

 

Customize the Theme

Themes in Ubuntu can be customized to match the applications or suit your needs. I once tried the "New Wave" theme and the menu (File, Edit, View, etc) was hardly visible on the dark background in OpenOffice, but customizing the "New Wave" theme with "Ambiance" Controls solved the problem. These are easy steps to customize a theme, for example, allowing the "New Wave" theme to mix with the "Ambiance" Controls.

  1. Customize the ThemeGo To System > Preferences > Appearance.
  2. Under the "Theme" tab, click the "Customize" button while the "New Wave" theme is selected.
  3. Under the "Controls" tab, click any other control item such as "Ambiance" and click the "Close" button.
  4. Now it becomes your Custom theme and you can save it as a new theme, such as "New Wave with Ambiance Controls".

 

Set Aero Glass Effect

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

  1. Aero Glass EffectPress Alt+F2 to bring up "Run Application" window.
  2. Type gconf-editor into the box, click "Run" to bring up Configuration Editor.
  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).
  5. Then go to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager
  6. Select "Effects" from the left panel.
  7. Tick "Blur Windows" and click the "Close" button. (Note: default values in Blur Windows can be applied.)

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

 

Enable Aero Snap (Ubuntu 10.10 & 10.04 only)

In Windows 7, you can click and drag a window to the left or right edge of the desktop and it will fill half of the screen, or snap a window to the top edge of the desktop and it will be maximized.

In Ubuntu 11.04, you can click and drag a window to the left, right or top edge of the desktop to achieve the same result, but in Ubuntu 10.10 or 10.04, you need some tweaking as follows.

  1. In addition to CompizConfig Settings Manager, install WmCtrl if not added.
    1. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > Terminal.
    2. Enter sudo apt-get install wmctrl
    3. Enter password when prompted.
  2. Go To System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager.
  3. Select "General" from the left panel and click "Commands".
  4. In Command line 0, 1 and 2, paste the following codes:
    1. Command line 0, paste WIDTH=`xdpyinfo | grep 'dimensions:' | cut -f 2 -d ':' | cut -f 1 -d 'x'` && HALF=$(($WIDTH/2)) && wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,maximized_vert && wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -e 0,0,0,$HALF,-1
    2. Command line 1, paste WIDTH=`xdpyinfo | grep 'dimensions:' | cut -f 2 -d ':' | cut -f 1 -d 'x'` && HALF=$(($WIDTH/2)) && wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,maximized_vert && wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -e 0,$HALF,0,$HALF,-1
    3. Command line 2, paste wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b add,maximized_vert,maximized_horz
  5. In the same window, click "Edge Bindings" tab.
  6. Change Run Command 0, 1 and 2 from "None" to "Left", "Right" and "Top" respectively.
  7. Click "Back" button and select "General Options", change "Edge Trigger Delay" to about 500.

 

Hide Drive Icons on the Desktop

Ubuntu adds an icon to the desktop for every removable drive that you attach to your system. The icons can be hidden by these steps:

  1. Press Alt+F2 to bring up "Run Application" window.
  2. Type gconf-editor into the box, click "Run" to bring up Configuration Editor.
  3. Browse to apps > nautilus > desktop.
  4. Untick "volumes_visible" and close the window.

The drive icons would then disappear from the desktop. Remember that you can always access the drives from "Places".

 

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 WallyGo to Applications (or Main Menu) > Ubuntu Software Center, enter wally into the Search box and click "Install". (See  below.)
  2. Press Alt-F2, enter wally and click the "Run" button.
  3. Right-click the Wally icon on the panel, 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".
  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 panel and select "Play").

   If you like to get the latest version of Wally which has an option to disable splash screen and auto quit, go to developer's site to download. After which, right click the .deb file and select "Open with Ubuntu Software Center" to install, then follow Step 2 above.

 

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 Win+R (press R while holding down the Windows key, also known as Super key) by the following steps:

  1. Keyboard ShortcutsGo To System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts
  2. Browse to Desktop > "Run a terminal"
  3. Click on the Shortcut, and it shows "New shortcut..."
  4. Press Win+R, and it shows Mod4+R
  5. Click the Close button and try the new shortcut.

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

   Shortcuts begin with XF86 refer to special keys available to some multimedia keyboards.

   Keyboard shortcuts can also be set by changing keybinding values with Configuration Editor. Press Alt+F2 and enter gconf-editor, then navigate to apps > gnome_settings_daemon > keybindings, or apps > metacity > global_keybindings and window_keybindings.

 

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. xkillGo to System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.
  2. Click the Add button 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 shortcut...).
  5. Press a new key combination, e.g. Ctrl+Alt+X (New shortcut... is then changed to Ctrl+Alt+X).
  6. Click the Close button.

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.

 

Re-start System without Rebooting

If you press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, Ubuntu brings you a menu to shut down, restart, or suspend your system. But for some reason you might encounter that the system freezes, the mouse cursor can't move, neither pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete can work.

Remember that there's a shortcut key Alt+PrintScreen+K that can bring you back to the log-in screen immediately without the need to reboot the system. That's a time saver.

As an alternative, you can also use Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to do the same after you've enabled the shortcut key by the following steps:

  1. Go to System > Preferences > Keyboard.
  2. Select the “Layouts” tab and click the “Options” button.
  3. Select “Key sequence to kill the X server” and enable “Control + Alt + Backspace”.

 

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 allows for these settings:

  1. Set File BrowserGo to "Places" and open a folder.
  2. At the top of the File Browser, click "Edit" and "Preference".
  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, preview files and media handling can be done in the same window as well.

 

Create an Advanced File Manager

In the Ubuntu file system, you can use 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 an advanced file manager for this purpose.

  1. Advanced File ManagerGo to System > Preferences > Main Menu
  2. Select "Accessories" in the left panel and click "New Item" in the right panel.
  3. Enter a name such as Advanced Nautilus in the "Name" box.
  4. Enter gksu nautilus in the "Command" box.
  5. Click the "OK" button and the "Close" button.

Now you can go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories and see that the Advanced Nautilus is ready for use. But be careful since you can use it to delete or change any files on your system.

 

Set Sound Output

When I first installed Ubuntu onto a PC with an integrated audio device and tried to play a media file on a player, it had no sound. I tried these simple steps in setting Sound Preferences and then it had sound. It works for me for the audio device I have.

  1. Go to System > Preferences > Sound to bring up the Sound Preferences window.
  2. Under the Hardware tab, change Profile to Analog Stereo Duplex from the drop-down menu.
  3. Under the Output tab, change Connector to Analog Output (LFE)/Amplifier from the drop-down menu.

As the items available from the drop-down menus might differ depending on the hardware devices detected by the system, you might want to try other items in the menus to see if they work for your devices. It might also help to check out the steps in Sound Troubleshooting from the Ubuntu Documentation.

Playing a media file in a proprietary format on a player might also have no sound if the required codecs are not installed. In this case, see Enable Media Playback in this article.

 

Disable or Change Login Sound

Each time when you login to Ubuntu, it plays a login sound. If you don't like to listen to it each time you login, you can easily disable it, or you can even change it to your favorite sound.

To disable the login sound:

  1. Go to System > Preferences > Startup Applications.
  2. Under the "Startup Programs" tab, untick "GNOME Login Sound"
  3. Click Close

To change the login sound, tick the above "GNOME Login Sound" if it's unticked, then follow these steps:

  1. Press Alt+F2 to bring up "Run Application" window.
  2. Paste gksu nautilus /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo into the box, click "Run" to open Nautilus in the right folder.
  3. Rename the original file desktop-login.ogg to another such as desktop-login-original.ogg for backup
  4. Copy your sound file in ogg format to the above folder and name the file as desktop-login.ogg
  5. Log out and log back in to listen to the new login sound.

 

Install Extra Fonts

Do you prefer Windows TrueType fonts to the default fonts installed by Ubuntu? The mscorefonts package containing most Microsoft fonts can be installed and configured easily in a few steps below:

  1. Ubuntu Extra FontsGo to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > Terminal.
  2. Paste sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer into the Terminal (by pressing Ctrl-Shift-V in the Terminal after copying the highlighted code).
  3. Go to System > Preferences > Appearance > Fonts.
  4. Click each of them, pick a font and size to configure for window title and so on.

   How about installing more TrueType fonts? With your font files, you can manually add them into the system following the steps below:

  1. Press Alt+F2 to bring up "Run Application" window.
  2. Paste gksu nautilus /usr/share/fonts/truetype into the box, click "Run" to open Nautilus in the right folder.
  3. Create a new sub-folder and copy your files ending with .ttf into the sub-folder.
  4. Enter sudo fc-cache -f -v in the Terminal to rebuild the font information.

   Besides this, you can run an application such as Font-Manager to view, install, remove fonts and so on.

   If you like the Tahoma font which is not included in the mscorefonts package, you might want to copy the two files tahoma.ttf and tahomabd.ttf from /Windows/Fonts and install them.

 

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 "Search" button when the the default player shows up with a "Search for suitable plugin?" window.
  3. Click the "Install" and "Confirm" buttons to download and install the restricted software.
  4. Restart the player after the package files are installed.

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

 

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 Screenlet 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.
    1. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Ubuntu Software Center.
    2. Enter screenlets in the Search Box.
    3. Select Screenlets, click the "Install" button.
  2. Download the screenlet "WaterMark System Information" to a folder.
  3. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > Screenlets.
  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.

 

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 with the steps below:

  1. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > 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
  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.

 

Add More Useful Software

Ubuntu Software Center lets you search and get free software. If an application you need is not included in the Center, you can go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager, type in an application name to search and install a software package from the repositories.

Alternatively, 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.

 

Auto Mount Drives at System Startup

Ubuntu is capable of reading and writing files stored on Windows formatted partitions, but partitions must be 'mounted' before they can be accessed each time you start up the system. With these steps, you can auto mount the drives or partitions without the need to manually mount them for access.

  1. Storage Device ManagerInstall Storage Device Manager if it has not been added.
    1. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Ubuntu Software Center.
    2. Enter pysdm in the Search Box.
    3. Select Storage Device Manager, click the "Install" button.
  2. Go to System > Administration > Storage Device Manager.
  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.

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

 

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. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > 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.

 

Name or Label a Partition

Nautilus file manager shows the root directory as File System 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 Disk Utility is one of the effective ways to name a partition easily:

  1. Disk UtilityGo to System > Administration > Disk Utility
  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.

   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.

   This tip is for naming a partition using Disk Utility, use other advanced features such as format, edit or delete partition with caution as they can delete data on your disk.

 

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 ApplicationsGo To System > Preferences > Startup Applications
  2. Click the "Add" button.
  3. Name a program.
  4. Click the "Browse" button and navigate to File System > 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.

 

Synchronize System Time and Date

Ubuntu allows you to manually set your system time and date, but you can also activate the Network Time Protocol (NTP) support in the system to automatically sync them with the Internet time servers as follows.

  1. Time and Date SettingsGo to System > Preferences > Time & Date.
  2. Click the lock icon to change settings.
  3. Select your time zone from the list.
  4. If the configuration type is "manual", change it to auto synchronize with the Internet server. (In Ubuntu 11.04, the default is set to auto.)
  5. Click "Install NTP support" when prompted with a dialog box. (Applicable to Ubuntu 10.10 & 10.04)
  6. Tick the time server(s) nearer to you. (Applicable to Ubuntu 10.10 & 10.04)
  7. Click the Close button.

When you next boot up the system with the Internet connection, your system clock will then be synced with the Internet time servers.

 

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 StartUp-Manager.

  1. StartUp-ManagerGo to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > Terminal.
  2. Enter sudo apt-get install startupmanager (OR copy the highlighted code and, in the Terminal, press Ctrl-Shift-V to paste it).
  3. Enter password used upon installation of Ubuntu.
  4. Go to System > Administration > StartUp-Manager
  5. Enter the same password to perform pre-configuration tasks, which include searching bootloaders to operating systems.
  6. Select the default operating system from the pull-down menu, click "Close" to perform post-configuration tasks.

With StartUp-Manager, you can also do others such as manage Usplash themes, adjust bootloader menu resolution or set timeout in seconds. Avoid changing timeout to 0 seconds if you need to select a system to boot up from a multi-boot menu.

 

Remove Old Linux Kernel, Clean Up Boot Menu

Each time when Ubuntu updates to a new Linux kernel, the old one is left behind and the boot menu gets longer. If your new Linux kernel works well, it's safe to remove the old one and clean up the boot menu. Do take these steps carefully as incorrect removal of the items can make your system unbootable.

  1. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > Terminal.
  2. Enter uname -r to print the Linux kernel version you're running (e.g. 2.6.32-22-generic).
  3. Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager.
  4. Click Status from the left panel and select Installed.
  5. Enter the main version number (e.g. 2.6.32) in the Search box.
  6. Right-click the items with smaller sub version number (e.g. 2.6.32-21) for older Linux kernel and select Mark for Complete Removal. The files for the older version to remove may include linux-headers-2.6.32-21, linux-headers-2.6.32-21-generic and linux-image-2.6.32-21-generic.
  7. Click Apply from the top panel.
  8. Click Apply again from the pop-up window to confirm removal of the marked packages. The boot menu will be cleaned up automatically after the removal is confirmed.

   Try also Grub Customizer which can be used to hide items from the boot menu. Just install the program by entering the following in the Terminal, then run the program, untick the items you want to hide and click 'Save'.

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

 

Auto Shutdown the System

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

  1. Go to Applications (or Main Menu) > Accessories > 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.

 

Note

CompizConfig Settings Manager (ccsm), if not added yet, can be installed this way:

  1. Click "Applications" (or "Main Menu"), select "Ubuntu Software Center".
  2. Type ccsm into the Search box.
  3. Select "Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (ccsm)" and click the "Install" button.
  4. Enter the password used upon installation of Ubuntu.
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, Ubuntu tips and tricks, tweak Ubuntu, Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx.

Back to the top of the article

 

Share this
4.693335
Average: 4.7 (150 votes)
Your rating: None

Comments

by George.J on 8. August 2012 - 8:04  (97374)

Wow...great job with the tips and tricks section Jojo...I wish there was one for Mint, the most popular among distro's currently.

by Col. Panek (not verified) on 2. August 2012 - 12:42  (97109)

One of the things on my essential list of things to tweak when installing Ubuntu (or Mint), is to install libreoffice-pdfimport. It lets you open up PDF files for editing (in LO Draw). You can save in any format, including exporting back to PDF.

by TheNomadSoul (not verified) on 31. July 2012 - 19:28  (96958)

Any idea when this will be updated for 12.04?

by Col. Panek (not verified) on 2. August 2012 - 12:41  (97108)

Maybe it will be updated if you volunteer to do the updating!

by TheNomadSoul (not verified) on 5. August 2012 - 22:50  (97252)

What does this add to the conversation. I'm obviously at this page to LEARN more about Ubuntu. If I knew how to do this stuff myself I wouldn't even need this page. I have steered clear of unity up until now and am frustrated at the lack of customization I was able to perform in gnome 2.x. Since Jojoyee did such an awesome job with previous versions I was just curious if it was going to be updated for 12.04 and Unity.

by Jojo Yee on 2. August 2012 - 14:52  (97112)

It's in my to-do list but unfortunately gets pushed down to the bottom when more other items added to the top of the list. Certainly it helps if anyone will like to volunteer updating this article :)

by TheNomadSoul (not verified) on 5. August 2012 - 22:54  (97254)

Thanks for the response! I understand it is time consuming to write up an article like this and I appreciate your contributions. I understand if you are unable to find the time to update this article and thanks in advance if you ARE able to or whoever else comes along and has the requisite knowledge to do so :)

by Jojo Yee on 10. August 2012 - 15:00  (97512)

@TheNomadSoul

The updated article is now posted here. Please leave a comment below the new article if you find anything which doesn't work for you. Thanks.

by TheNomadSoul (not verified) on 17. August 2012 - 6:29  (97840)

Thanks Sooo much.... I went on vacation and came back to this! As soon as I get a chance, I'll try everything out. Thnks again for all your work!

by Jim Van Damme (not verified) on 8. July 2012 - 2:20  (95885)

The "Install Sun Java Packages" info is obsolete; Java 6 is insecure and will reach end of life in November. Go to this page and install Java 7 instead:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Java

by xIN3N (not verified) on 6. July 2012 - 10:36  (95795)

Awesome work keep it up and Thank you, Linux OS is so great and so merciful because it's free

by Hemant (not verified) on 22. March 2012 - 21:49  (90995)

Hello
Good morning
I installed wine software and some .exe software inside wine.
and after installing all that i started facing some serious problem
when i try to open a file , using OPEN WITH command ,
there are many repeted software shortcut name i.e adobe photo shop , winrar , Pagemaker

Now i jst unstalled wine software - but i m still facing same problem
How to fix it ..?
My system is fully updated.... kernal also....

plz help me ..............

[email address removed for safety reasons]

by Hemant (not verified) on 22. March 2012 - 21:53  (90996)

and these repeated softwares' shortcuts are of those , who were installed under WINE . like as i installed photoshop , so there are allmost 8 icons of photoshop - and same for others..!!
so plz its a serious problem
becasue i jst prepared my desktop .. after ALOT of updates download...
so i cann't take risk of formatting now...!
:) thanks

by Ali Innovative (not verified) on 15. March 2012 - 13:41  (90650)

It is really awesome tips and tricks for ubuntu 10.10.
I loved a lot that kinds of tips, that is easy to use for the linux user's and naive user's also.
I have found that was only the better solution.

thanks.

by Tresnio (not verified) on 11. February 2012 - 11:10  (88672)

It's nice tutorial! Thks.

However, it would be nice if Ubuntu 11.10 is also included.

by Nagaraja (not verified) on 30. January 2012 - 9:21  (88015)

Hi Jojoyee,

Very Nice contribution and explanation. Can I share this on My Blog?

by Jojo Yee on 30. January 2012 - 13:00  (88025)

Thanks for your kind comment Nagaraja. You're welcome to share this with a link to our site.

by Umer (not verified) on 26. January 2012 - 1:45  (87784)

Hello sir,

i buy a new laptop in that only home base unbuntu software is required ...
Then i installed it at the last at created a pasword .and after instalation it was completed ...

UP to now its ok..after i shut down my laptop .again i start then .then it was showing the pasword tab ...

Then i entered a exatly new pasword but still abuse to login ..why this problem was creating i dont

PLEASE A HONABLE REQUEST TO SAY ABOUT THIS MINOR PROJECT WITH IN A FEW HOURS..REGARDING U VERY MUCH SIR

by MidnightCowboy on 26. January 2012 - 2:41  (87787)

The information in this thread should enable you to fix this:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1452351

by Linux n00b (not verified) on 22. January 2012 - 20:02  (87625)

Just wanted to say a great big THANK YOU! This article helped me do so many things upon my first (serious) installation of Ubuntu, saved me so much time looking for how to do a lot of things. Definitely saving this for later use!

by Mr wdhpr (not verified) on 6. January 2012 - 3:09  (86661)

will these tips and tricks work with Ubuntu 11.10? Not sure if I can boot into classic mode

by Jojo Yee on 6. January 2012 - 12:58  (86685)

As Ubuntu 11.10 is basically based on Gnome 3, some tips and tricks described in this article may not work. We are in need of an editor to set up a separate article to focus on this new version of Ubuntu. Interested editors are invited to check out this page for details.

by Jiyauddin Ansari (not verified) on 9. December 2011 - 5:54  (84679)

Dear Sir,

How can we decrease the resolution in ubuntu 10.04 version

Thanks

by catatanlinuxku (not verified) on 1. December 2011 - 17:13  (84241)

cool :D

by DH (not verified) on 16. October 2011 - 14:08  (81517)

I was looking at your tips for ubuntu,

I'm pretty new to Linux but I don't see the headings in the system settings as it is referred to in "Open Up a Window in Center".

I'm using ubuntu 11.04 (natty).

So is it something I'm missing or is this setting somewhere else in 11.04?

by Jojo Yee on 16. October 2011 - 14:51  (81521)

There's a placement mode which you can change it to 'centered'. You might want to check out the steps here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/ubuntu-tips-and-tricks.htm#Open-...

by DH (not verified) on 16. October 2011 - 15:43  (81525)

I must be going to the wrong place.
If I goto the icon bar on the left side of the desktop and select "system settings".
I get a window labeled "control center".
If I then click on "windows".
I get a box labeled "window preferences".
There are three settings, "window selection", "titlebar action" and "movement key".
None of these have centered as an option.
So is there another system section I need to goto?

by DH (not verified) on 16. October 2011 - 16:31  (81528)

I think maybe I need to explain my last post, I am trying to follow that section, thats what I ment by my first post and the second one is what I find in ubuntu when following the post as best I can,

by Krissyg19852000 (not verified) on 30. September 2011 - 3:46  (80594)

i just updated my system to ubuntu 11.04 and was checking things out when i accidentally created a customized theme somehow. i dont want it. how can i get rid of it?

Gizmos Needs You

Gizmo's Freeware is Recruiting

 We are looking for people with skills or interest in the following areas:
 -  Mobile Platform App Reviews for Android and iOS
 -  Windows, Mac and Linux software reviews       Interested? Click here