November 7, 2014

20 things I did after installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu 14.04

Ten years has been gone by since the launch of brand Ubuntu. Ubuntu 14.10 is the 21st major release and this latest launch codenamed "Utopic Unicorn" could also be the most low-key release to date. But that's a whole different discussion. We will be reviewing Ubuntu 14.10 in detail soon. Here we'll see what all can be done to improve stock Ubuntu 14.10. 20 things to do after installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10

Introduction: Ubuntu 14.10 "Utopic Unicorn"
My favorite Ubuntu versions has almost always has been the LTS releases. Ubuntu 12.04 could be termed as my favorite Ubuntu to date, and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS comes a close second. On the other hand, Ubuntu 14.10 could be termed as one of my least favorite Ubuntu ever!

A lot of issues actually. First being the fact that there are no serious changes/improvements to Ubuntu 14.10, it's kind of like a token release. Secondly, for the first time in my laptop which has been running Linux-es for ages, a lot of commonplace apps like Firefox and Chrome are acting weird, like unusable-weird.

May be I will fresh-install Ubuntu 14.10 once again before doing the full review. For now, I'll do a quick things-to-do-after-installation exercise which is applicable for both Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Trusy Tahr.

Disclaimer: Even though I have made utmost care not to make any mistakes here, please make sure you double-check everything before executing. As they say, you don't trust a random code or command from the web. The same applies here. You've been warned.

First things first: Downloading Codecs package during Installation
  • You can install restricted codecs package (which include Adobe Flash, MP3 codecs and such) during installation of OS itself. See below.
20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10
  • Notice the arrows pointing to the boxes in the screenshot above. If you tick both of them during the Ubuntu installation process (make sure you are connected to the internet before doing so), restricted extras package will be installed automatically and you will be able to play mp3's, avi's, mp4's etc. and watch flash videos (YouTube videos for example) right after Ubuntu installation is done with.
  • But there is a catch. If you have a slow internet connection (which is very rare these days), ticking the boxes shown in the screenshot above will unnecessarily lengthen the installation process. I for one prefer to do all that after installing Ubuntu. If you are like me, the next two steps are for you.
Update Repositories
  • After you install brand new Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04, the first thing you need to do is to update repositories and make sure you have the latest updates installed.
20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/ubuntu14.04
  • Search for Software Updater in Unity Dash and launch the Software Updater app. It will automatically check for updates available. Install the updates.
20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04
  • OR you could simply use the command line method. Open Terminal (Ubuntu 14.10 Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + T) and copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  • Enter your password when asked and you're done. Your new Ubuntu 14.10 has been successfully updated and upgraded. 
Install Ubuntu Restricted Extras
  • Install the "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package. This will enable your Ubuntu to play popular file formats like mp3, avi, flash videos etc. CLICK HERE (to install directly fromUbuntu Software Center) OR simply copy-paste the following command into Terminal to install the package (You need not do this if you have ticked the 'right' boxes before).
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • Done. [Note: The package contains some proprietary fonts and such which will not be downloaded while OS installation. Hence, you might still want to install Ubuntu Restricted Extras package even though you ticked those boxes before.]
Check for Availability of Proprietary Hardware Drivers

20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04
  • As in previous releases, Ubuntu 14.10 has 'Additional Drivers' functionality inside Software & Updates (previously called Software Sources).
  • In my case, all the hardware drivers including graphics, sound and wireless drivers were enabled automatically. But this may not be the case for everyone.
  • If you are among the not-so-lucky, open Unity dash (Ubuntu 14.10 Keyboard Shortcut:Super key) and search for 'Software & Updates' application.
20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04
  • Check for additional drivers available and activate the ones you want. In majority of the cases, this will do the trick. If you're not able to get hardware drivers working yet, you'll have to do a fair amount of digging through ubuntuforums and askubuntu.
Display Current Date and Day on Top Panel

20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04
  • Trivial stuff, but something I've been doing for years with each new Ubuntu release.
  • By default, only time is displayed on top. By going to the Time and Date Settings, you can modify it to display both date and weekday along with time. 
Enable Workspaces for Ubuntu 14.10

enable Workspaces for Ubuntu 14.10
  • Back in 2007, one of the first "feature" that attracted me to Ubuntu was the multiple workspaces thing and all the cool animations you could do with it. I know, it's kind of silly but workspaces are still very important to me.
  • Even when market leaders like Microsoft is thinking about bringing multiple workspaces feature to its upcoming Windows 10 OS (or so I heard), Ubuntu 14.10 by default decides to ditch workspaces. I find it kind of amusing. May be Canonical received a different feedback from its users. Anyway, you can easily re-enable it by going to System Settings - Apperance window (see screenshot above for reference). 
Unlock/Remove Unwanted Stuff from Launcher

20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04
  • A lot of apps are there in the Unity Launcher by default and this can be a problem if you're using a smaller screen device like netbooks. 
  • I almost never use apps such as LibreOffice Writer, LibreOffice Calc and even Ubuntu Software Center. Unlocking them from launcher makes the whole Unity experience a little less cluttered (Right Click - Unlock from Launcher). 
  • You can also re-arrange stuff in the Launcher by simple double-click and drag action. 
Learn the Essential Ubuntu 14.10 Keyboard Shortcuts

ubuntu 1410 keyboard shortcuts essentials
  • If you want to be a PRO Ubuntu user, you've to learn the shortcuts. There's no other way around. And there are a ton of them for Ubuntu's Unity interface.
  • Press and hold the Super key (aka Windows key) and learn the basics. 
Hate two-finger scrolling? I do too.

things to do after installing ubuntu 14.10
  • Two-finger scrolling is enabled by default. But you know what, I kind of like it now. But still, if you want to change it back to normal scrolling, here is what you need to do. 
  • Launch System Settings and browse to Mouse & Touchpad under Hardware.
  • Unselect Two finger scroll.
Unity Tweak Tool: The insanely good tweaking tool for Ubuntu
  • When it comes to tweaking Unity, there's no better candidate. Even the default Ubuntu Settings app is no match for Unity Tweak Tool.
  • Unity Tweak Tool is available in default Ubuntu 14.10 repositories. 
  • Click Here to install Unity Tweak Tool in Ubuntu 14.10.
  • Unity Tweak Tool has a lot of options to tinker with, about which we will discuss in detail later on in this post.
Enable 'Click to Minimize' feature using Unity Tweak Tool

20 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 14.10/Ubuntu14.04
  • You can now click on the apps to minimize it to the launcher, a behavior which should have been default if you ask me. Here's how you do it.
  • Launch Unity Tweak Tool which you've already installed, goto Launcher sub-menu under "Unity". Rest is self-explanatory (refer screenshot above). More details and video
Enable 'Hot Corner' feature in Unity Tweak Tool

ubuntu 14.04 tips and tricks
  • Hotcorners along with multiple-workspaces have been two of favorite features ever since I started using Ubuntu years ago. Enabling hotcorners is a pretty straight-forward affair since you have already installed Unity Tweak Tool.
  • Launch Unity Tweak Tool and goto Hotcorners sub-menu under 'Window Manager'.
Compiz Config Settings Manager, nuff said!
  • CCSM is similar to Unity Tweak Tool, but more advanced, and very specific to Compiz, the default window manager. CCSM may not be as relevant as before, but it still packs the punch. We'll deal with some CCSM specific hacks later on. 
Disable Animations and Fading windows using CCSM

ubuntu 14.10 tips and tricks
  • I am all for eyecandy, but it should not be at the cost of performance or responsiveness.
  • Disabling Animations and Fading windows from CCSM might make your Ubuntu look less attractive. But as far as I can see, it has a significant positive impact on performance. 
Disable Active Blur in CCSM for a faster loading Unity Dash

ubuntu 14.04 tips and tricks
  • Launch CCSM again, goto Ubuntu Unity Plugin under Desktop.
  • Change Active Blur to Static Blur or No Blur. 
Disable Online Search Results in Unity Dash

ubuntu1410 privacy
  • Online search results in Unity dash, sounds like a good idea on paper, but not in the real world. It unnecessarily makes Dash search slower (at least for me). 
  • To disable it, goto System Settings app and find Privacy category. 
Disable Record Activity Option in Unity Dash

ubuntu 1410 privacy on/off switch
  • Ubuntu by default will be recording your activity which is later used to refine searches in Unity and such. You can completely disable this feature by accessing Privacy category within System Settings application. 
  • You can optionally disable recording for a pre-defined set of files only like image, text, video etc. instead of completely disabling recording altogether (my preferred way).
Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 14.10

ubuntu 14.04 tips and tricks
  • If errors like that with titles such as "system program problem detected" or "ubuntu 14.10 has experienced an internal error" are common in your Ubuntu installation, you might want to disable Apport error reporting tool altogether. 
Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 14.10
  • Hit ALT + F2 and run the following command (as in the screenshot above).
gksu gedit /etc/default/apport
  • Change value of "enabled" from 1 to 0 (instructions are provided in the text file itself).
Disable Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu
  • Save and exit. Now for changes to take effect, do the following in Terminal.
sudo restart apport
  • OR do a system restart. Both will do. Apport is supposed to be disabled in stable releases and yet I'm finding it enabled in almost all major releases since Ubuntu 12.04. More details and discussion about Apport can be found here.
Remove Unwanted Lenses from Unity Dash
  • NOTE: If you are new to Ubuntu 14.10 and Unity, you might not want to do this. Stay with default settings for the time being and find for yourself if Lenses are useful or not.
  • I have never found video, music or photo lens useful. I know where exactly my files are and I would simply use Nautilus file browser instead. Never been a fan of shopping lens either. All I need is a really fast loading Dash.
  • If you're like me, you might want to trade them for a faster responding Unity dash. Copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get autoremove unity-lens-music unity-lens-photos unity-lens-shopping unity-lens-video
TLP Power Management Tool
  • Jupiter used to be an easy to use hardware and power management applet for laptops and netbooks running Linux.   
  • I have had overheating problems in Ubuntu on several occasions. Jupiter came to the rescue every single time. Alas, Jupiter project is no more.  
  • TLP looks like a good alternative. Here's how you install TLP in Ubuntu 14.10.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
  • Just restart the system and you're done. There are no specific settings you need to do to make TLP work. Just install and forget. 
Install Preload
  • Preload has been mentioned a number of times here. It basically monitor applications you run, and by analyzing this data, predicts what applications you might run, and fetches those binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times. 
  • Installing Preload could drastically improve your overall Ubuntu Unity performance. To an extent, the kind of slickness you see in distros like elementary OS is because of Preload. Click Here to install Preload.
Other Popular Apps to Install:
    Also, Netflix works out of the box in Ubuntu 14.10 "Utopic Unicorn". No need for painful tweaks and trouble-shoots anymore! So that's it for now folks. More Unicorn news, updates, reviews and comparisons to follow. Stay tuned.