10 Top Tips for After You Install or Upgrade Ubuntu

1. Install software faster
As a commenter on Slashdot said:

I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if thousands of apt-get repositories had cried out in pain, and were suddenly silenced.

The Ubuntu software repositories can get really slow, and even stop responding completely around the time of a major Ubuntu release. Without a repository mirror, you can’t install software. The Synaptic package manager can help you find a faster mirror.

2. Install restricted extras (and enable the multiverse repository)

Install support for playback of many types of audio and video, web fonts, Java, Flash, and DVD playback all in one go. Ubuntu restricted extras allow you to easy install everything that Ubuntu can’t include by default for legal reasons.

Open Applications->Add/Remove. In the Show drop down box, select All available applications. This will enable the multiverse software repository, and give you access to the restricted extras and non-free software. Start typing restricted extras into the search box and check the box beside Ubuntu restricted extras when it appears in the results. Click Appy Changes to begin installing.

3. Silence the internal speaker beep

Some Ubuntu applications make heavy use of that annoying speaker inside your PC’s case, such as Firefox when you are searching in a page. It’s not difficult permanently or temporarily disable.

4. Clear partition icons off the desktop

I like to keep my desktop clean and free of icons. Ubuntu doesn’t, and will drop icons for other disk partitions on the desktop that you likely rarely or never need. You can change a setting using gconf-editor to fix this.

5. Remove old configuration files

If you’ve upgraded your Ubuntu installation, or use a separate home partition, all of your settings will be carried over to the new Ubuntu installation. Your desktop could look exactly the same as before! This can cause problems when newer software is loading older configuration files. To start fresh, you can remove the old configuration.

Open your home folder in the file browser, and select View->Show Hidden Files. Files and folders beginning with a dot are for configuration. Back these up first, and them remove them from your home folder. The next time you log in, you will see a pristine default Ubuntu desktop.

6. Remove old kernels

This is a tip for those of you who have upgraded from a previous version of Ubuntu or installed during development. Is your boot menu full of options for booting Ubuntu with older kernels? Mine was too. You can safely remove the ones you don’t need.

7. Give Ubuntu a cool new look

The default Ubuntu theme hasn’t changed, except for the wallpaper, in years. Why not find a new theme? Give Blubuntu a try, it’s an easily installable and complete blue alternative to the brown Human theme.

8. Run Windows applications with the latest WINE

New WINE releases arrive every two weeks; the version in Ubuntu 8.04’s repository is already out-of-date. To be able to run Windows applications as well as possible, you should stay with the latest WINE releases.

Open System->Administration->Software Sources, and select the Third Party Software tab. Click Add and paste in the official WINE Ubuntu repository:
deb http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt hardy main

When prompted, reload the repositories. Install the package wine from your package manager. Whenever a new version of WINE is released, you should see it in your Ubuntu updates.

9. Customize Compiz desktop effects

Ubuntu’s default Compiz desktop effects settings are pretty tame. Want the cube and burning windows? Install the advanced configuration software and tweak as much as you like.

10. Easily toggle Compiz on and off

You may need to run an application or two that doesn’t work properly with Compiz, or find that it slows down 3D games. Fusion-icon runs in your notification area and makes it easy to switch between window managers.


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