Since 2009 this website is a complete quick guide for Linux, both for beginners and for experienced users!

Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr has been released!

A star of the Ubuntu family: Xubuntu!

2days since
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr

Release schedule of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr

11days since
end of life for Windows XP: quickly replace it by Linux!

The ideal replacement for Windows XP

Do this first in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS


Back to the home page


Congratulations with your brand-new installation of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr!

First, you'll want to round off your shiny Ubuntu Linux with some polishing.

Note: this web page is only meant for Ubuntu; the corresponding page for Xubuntu is here.

Do the following things, in this order:

Tip: you can download a checklist here, which you can print on paper. Then you can strike the items that you've done.

I have divided the actions in two: the absolutely essential ones (part 1) and the merely recommended ones (not essential, part 2).


Part 1

TEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS:


Apply all available updates

1.1. First the updates, then the rest...

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: update
Click on Software Updater, let it check for available updates and apply them all.

Afterwards reboot your computer (not always necessary, but in this case, do it just to make sure).

Make sure all hardware is working properly and install missing drivers

1.2. Installing drivers is usually not necessary, because they are already present in the Linux kernel. One exception is the proprietary restricted drivers for Nvidia and ATI graphics cards, but there are more.

a. First install a firmware package that can't be in Ubuntu by default, for copyright reasons. Even if you don't need it now, because it might come in handy in the future:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.
Type (use copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

Afterwards, reboot your computer.

b. For optimal performance of your Nvidia or ATI graphics card, you'll want to install the closed source restricted driver (the proprietary driver).

When applicable, you'll get an automatic alert about the availability of restricted drivers for your graphics card, by a notification in the system tray in the upper panel of your screen (on the right). Click on the notification icon and follow the steps.

If there is no automatic alert, perform a manual check:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: software
Click on Software & Updates - tab Additional Drivers.

Sometimes you're being offered several versions of the restricted driver for your video card. The order of preference is as follows:

NVIDIA:
1. nvidia-current
2. nvidia-current-updates
3. (nvidia-173)
4. (nvidia-173-updates)
5. nvidia-experimental

ATI:
1. fglrx
2. fglrx-updates
3. fglrx-experimental

Only choose from the versions that you're being offered, because only those support your video card! Start with the preferred number one, and only work your way down when it doesn't perform well.

The required driver is then automatically downloaded from the internet, from the software repositories of Ubuntu, and (also automatically) installed. Afterwards you will have to do a full reboot of your computer. Ubuntu will issue an alert for that.

Do you have a graphics card of the brand ATI or Nvidia, which is so new that the proprietary restricted driver version in the software repositories of Ubuntu is too old? Then it's better to stick with the default open source driver, and wait until the next Ubuntu release, which will provide a newer proprietary driver.

Optimize your Solid State Drive (SSD)

1.3. Do you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) instead of a conventional hard disk? Then optimize it for Ubuntu.

Install some useful tools

1.4. There are some important applications for managing your system, that aren't installed by default: Synaptic, dconf-tools, gksu, Lxkeymap, Leafpad and GDebi.

Synaptic and GDebi are useful installation tools, which sometimes are more useful than the default Software Center.

Leafpad is ideal for editing system-wide configuration files by hand.

gksu is very useful for launching Leafpad safely in root mode.

Lxkeymap is useful for changing keyboard layouts.

Install them all by means of Software Center. Or by the terminal, which is much quicker:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

Type (use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation to the terminal):
sudo apt-get install synaptic dconf-tools gksu gdebi lxkeymap leafpad

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

Decrease the swap use (very important!)

1.5. This is especially noticeable on computers with relatively low RAM memory (512 MB or less): they tend to be far too slow in Ubuntu, and Ubuntu accesses the hard disk too much. Luckily, this can be helped.

On the hard disk there's a separate partition for virtual memory, called the swap. When Ubuntu uses the swap too much, the computer slows down a lot.

Ubuntu's inclination to use the swap, is determined by a setting. The lower the setting number, the longer it takes before Ubuntu starts using the swap. On a scale of 0-100, the default setting is 60. Which is much too high for normal desktop use, and only fit for servers.

a. Check your current swappiness setting:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.
Type (use copy/paste):
cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

Press Enter.

The result will probably be 60.

b. Make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal
Click on Terminal.

Type (or copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gksu leafpad

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

c. To change the swappiness into a more sensible setting and improve the cache management as well, type in the terminal (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /etc/sysctl.conf

Press Enter.

Scroll to the bottom of the text file and add your swappiness and cache parameters to override the defaults. Copy/paste the following lines:

# Decrease swap usage to a workable level
vm.swappiness=10
# Improve cache management
vm.vfs_cache_pressure=50


d. Close the text file and reboot your computer.

e. After the reboot, check the new swappiness setting:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

Type (use copy/paste):
cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

Press Enter.

Now it should be 10.

Note: your machine might benefit from an even bigger decrease in swappiness. A useful rule of thumb might be this:
1 GB RAM or more: swappiness at 10
Less than 1 GB RAM: swappiness at 5

Solve some known bugs

1.6. Look at the solutions for 14 bugs in Ubuntu. Don't skip this! There's a 90 % chance that you'll benefit from at least one of the workarounds presented at that page.....

Install full multimedia support

1.7. Install full multimedia support (mp3, Adobe Flash Player, Sun Java, Microsoft fonts, etc.) by applying this manual: multimedia support.

Avoid 10 fatal mistakes!

1.8. There are 10 mistakes that you definitely want to avoid, for the sake of the health of your system.

Turn on the firewall

1.9. The firewall is disabled by default, but in many cases it's better to turn it on. The how-to and the explanation can be found here.

Install Xfburn for burning DVD's

1.10. Brasero is the default DVD burning application in Ubuntu. It's, let's put it mildly, not doing a particularly good job: too often it ruins your DVD's.

Luckily, there's a vastly superior alternative: Xfburn. There's a new version of Xfburn available for 14.04, which contains many bugfixes and improved disc support. I strongly advise you to install it, because it's simple, stable and won't let you down.

Installing is easy: use the Software Center or this magical invocation for the terminal:
sudo apt-get install xfburn

Press Enter and submit your password. Please note that the password will remain invisible, not even asterisks will show, which is normal.

(continued in the column on the right)



This website is being sponsored by Google Ads.

Are you using an ad blocker? Then you're also blocking my earnings from advertisements....

If you wish to support my website, you can configure your ad blocker to make an exception for this website. Thanks in advance....



Part 2

TEN RECOMMENDED ACTIONS (NOT ESSENTIAL):


Install gnome-session-flashback and consider disabling the visual effects

2.1. By default, when your video card can handle it, the 3D visual effects are enabled. However, these may cause malfunctions or sluggish performance. Consider disabling them, which you can do by switching to a 2D desktop environment.

Note: this applies only to Ubuntu and not to Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

There are several options for this.
My personal favourite is a switch to the Xubuntu desktop. But there's another option as well:

a. First, install gnome-session-flashback:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.
Type (use copy/paste):
sudo apt-get install gnome-session-flashback

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

b. Log out. In the login window, click on the Ubuntu logo next to your user name (see the screenshot below):



Then click on GNOME Flashback (Metacity).
Note: don't select GNOME Flashback (Compiz), because that also has 3D effects, and you want to get rid of those.

c. Log in again.

Optimize Firefox

2.2. There are several things you can do to make Firefox leaner and cleaner.

Install Chrome or Chromium as second browser and improve it

2.3. Sometimes it comes in handy to have a second web browser available, for example when you experience problems on a website. Chrome and Chromium are fine for such a purpose. Chromium can be installed in Software Center; Chrome needs to be downloaded from Google.

You can do a couple of things to make Chrome or Chromium even better: click here for a how-to.

Improve the configuration of Libre Office

2.4. You can improve the settings of Libre Office like this: click here for a how-to.

Disable advertisements in the Dash and normalize the appearance

2.5. There are a couple of things you can do to improve the user-friendliness of Ubuntu.

a. As you've probably already noticed, Ubuntu shows advertisements in the Dash, whenever you type a query in the Dash.

It's easy to disable this:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: privacy
Click on Privacy - tab Search

Put the slider at OFF.

Do you also want to disable activity recording? That's possible as well, but normally it's useful when applications like media players and the terminal have a "memory". When you disable that, it can be bothersome at times.

If you still want to disable the memory of applications as well (but why?): go to the tab Files & Applications and put the slider at OFF there, too.

Tip: if you want to help Canonical to make some money, turn the Search slider on again, now and then, whenever you want to buy something.... After all, it's an easy and free way to support your favourite Linux!

b. Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: appearance
Click on Appearance - click on the tab Behavior

Check:
Add show desktop icon to the launcher

Show the menus for a window:
put the dot at: In the window's title bar

Note: user preference, so repeat this in each user account.

Make NumLock turn on automatically

2.6. Note: only apply this tweak on a system that has been configured for automatic login. Otherwise a system malfunction might occur.

Note 2: this instruction is only meant for desktops and laptops that have a separate numeric keypad, as it's definitely not desirable to have the NumLock on by default on a laptop that has no such separate keypad.

In some cases it's useful for NumLock to be switched on automatically when you start Ubuntu. You can achieve that as follows:

a. Start Ubuntu Software Center.
Search word: numlockx

Install numlockx ("enable NumLock in X11 sessions").

b. Make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad.

c. Now enable the keypad at the login screen.

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: terminal.
Click on Terminal.

Type (use copy/paste):
gksudo leafpad /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

Press Enter.

d. Now add the following line, below the last line (use copy/paste):
greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on

Save the modified file.

Reboot your computer. The numeric keypad should turn on automatically at the login screen, and stay on after logging in.

Note: it's possible that during login, Ubuntu will turn NumLock off again (sigh). If that happens, you can counteract that irritating behaviour as follows:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: startup.
Click on Startup Applications.

Click Add

Give the new addition the name Numlockx and the command:
sleep 20 && numlockx on

Click Add.

This will turn NumLock on, 20 seconds after login. This delay is necessary, because you have to make sure it happens after Ubuntu has turned NumLock off.

Note: this last operation (modifying the startup applications) only has effect in the user account of the user that is also the administrator (usually the first account that you set up, during installation of Ubuntu). The other user accounts may lose NumLock after logging in, even if they have added the numlock command to their Startup Applications, too. Reason unknown....

Have a laptop? Tame your touchpad

2.7. You can make the touchpad (trackpad) of your laptop behave better with a simple tweak.

And you can enable one finger scrolling as follows:

Click on the grey Ubuntu logo (Dash home). Query: touchpad
Click on Mouse & Touchpad.
Remove the check at: Two finger scroll

Speed up your wireless internet

2.8. You can possibly speed up your wireless internet, by disabling the power management for the wireless chipset (item 8, right column).

The price you pay for that is a slight increase in power consumption, which will reduce your battery time somewhat. But that's a small price to pay for a faster and more responsive internet connection....

Enable the key combination Ctrl+Alt+Backspace

2.9. Ubuntu almost never freezes. But when it does happen, it's often enough to perform a "partial reboot" (only the graphical environment). That's technically better than a hard reboot by the physical power button.

For a partial reboot you can enable the key combination Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. That used to be enabled by default, but the wise Linux gurus have since deemed it better that you have to enable it first.

In Ubuntu you can enable it as follows:

a. First make sure that you have installed the applications gksu and leafpad.

b. Now type in the terminal (use copy/paste to avoid errors):
gksudo leafpad /etc/default/keyboard

Press Enter. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.

Find the line:
XKBOPTIONS=""

Replace it by this line (use copy/paste):
XKBOPTIONS="terminate:ctrl_alt_bksp"

c. Save the modified file and close it.

d. Reboot your computer.

e. After logging in again, you can test it: Ctrl+Alt+Backspace should reboot only the desktop and throw you back into the login window.

Note: when you log in again after this "partial reboot", you'll be confronted with one or more error reports. Strictly speaking, you could safely ignore this error report, because it was triggered by the irregular partial reboot.

But in order to prevent it from returning again and again, go partly along with the report: enter your password and then remove the tick for sending in the error report.

Migrate your e-mail from Outlook (Express) in Windows, to Ubuntu

2.10. It's easy to migrate your e-mails and e-mail settings from Outlook (Express) in Windows, to Thunderbird in Ubuntu. Simply apply this how-to.

Want more?

3. Do you want more tips and tweaks for Ubuntu? There's a lot more of them on this website!


To the content of this website applies a Creative Commons license.

Comments