Ubuntu releases a new version every six months. However, most of the stuff you may need to do after installing the new version are generally the same. This article will guide you through enhancing your new system. No matter what supported version of Ubuntu you use, you can follow those steps.
Currently, the latest version of Ubuntu is 17.10. You can download it from the official Ubuntu website. If you like stability, you may download Ubuntu 16.04 LTS which is supported for 5 years starting from its release date.
Run a System Upgrade
This is the first and most important thing to do after installing any version of Ubuntu. You’ll have to update the package information and fetch it from the available repositories in order to be able to install new software. To do it:
sudo apt update
You also have to upgrade your system packages if possible. Sometimes, there might be some known bugs in the Ubuntu version you have. And maybe the developers have already released a fix. Thus, you have to make sure everything you have is already up-to-date before assuming anything:
sudo apt upgrade
Synaptic is the famous package manager for Ubuntu. It was default back in Ubuntu 10.04 (and 10.10?). The main feature of Synaptic is the ability to show you all the packages you are looking for in less than a few seconds. It’s very efficient to install/remove system packages.
Unfortunately, it was removed from the system in Ubuntu 11.04. But still can be installed from the official repositories with a single command (run it in terminal, Ctrl + Alt + T):
sudo apt install synaptic
Install GNOME Tweak Tool
Ubuntu 17.10 comes with GNOME desktop as default. If you would like to configure the interface’s options, you can install GNOME Tweak Tool:
sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool
You can add extra functionality to your GNOME desktop via “extensions”. Fortunately, there’s a special website where you can browse extensions and install them in a single click.
Here are some of our suggestions:
- User Themes: A must-have extension. In order to be able to use themes from your ~/.themes folder, you must install this extension first.
- OpenWeather: A simple panel applet which displays weather conditions automatically.
- TopIcons Plus: Transfers the notifications icons into the top panel.
- Axe Menu: Classic-looking menu replacement for the “activities” button.
- Extend Panel Menu: Nice extension which will move all the applets you have on the panel into status area.
- No Title Bar: Removes the top titlebar and inserts the window controls at the top panel.
Ubuntu 17.10 dropped Unity as a default desktop. However, if you are a fan of Unity, you can get it back via the following command:
sudo apt install unity unity-session
Install Unity Tweak Tool
Unity doesn’t come with a ready tool out-of-the-box to change the preferences of the desktop interface. This is where Unity Tweak Tool comes. It’s a very nice program to configure your desktop environment. Also available from the official repositories:
sudo apt install unity-tweak-tool
Get Better Appearance
Honestly, the default look and feel for Ubuntu is not that great. Fortunately, we are on Linux, where you can simply change anything with anything else if you don’t like.
There are hundreds of nice themes available on gnome-look.org. You can choose any one you like.
If you are downloading a GTK+ theme, make sure to extract it to /home/yourusrename/.themes folder. Or if you are downloading an icon/mouse cursor theme, extract it to /home/yourusername/.icons. Those two folders (.themes and .icons) are hidden in your home folder. You need to open your home folder and hit Ctrl + H to show them. If they don’t exist, simply create them.
After you download these themes and extract them in the correct location (or if you installed from their official repositories). You can start using them with GNOME Tweak Tool or Unity Tweak Tool.
Reduce Battery Usage
Some users – on some specific hardware – my notice a higher battery consumption rate on Linux than on Windows. This is explained in details with the solutions as well in our article: “7 Tips to Reduce Battery Usage on Linux“.
The main and easiest thing you can do to solve this problem on Ubuntu, is simply installing TLP. Which is a nice power management system working in the background to save battery power when possible:
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw sudo systemctl enable tlp
Then reboot your system.
Gamer? You should definitely try the available Linux games on Steam. Which are around 25% of the total games in the whole store. To install Steam on Ubuntu, download the .deb package from this link. Double click it and hit install.
Apport is the reporting system for crashes and failures in Ubuntu. It’s that small rectangular box telling you that there’s a system crash every few minutes. However, on the period of my usage for 13 different Ubuntu releases (from 10.04 to 17.04). Apport always used to show crash messages suddenly with no reason or real crash behind it. It never did its job.
If you find it annoying, you can simply remove it by:
sudo apt remove apport apport-gtk
Check Green Recorder
Since Ubuntu has switched to using Wayland by default, you may find some problems in using your old screen recording programs on the GNOME Wayland session (Ubuntu session). Wayland doesn’t support screen recording natively, thus, all the old programs won’t work with it.
Here comes Green Recorder, a screen recorder which supports GNOME Wayland. It also supports Xorg. You can install it on Ubuntu using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossproject/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install green-recorder
Enable Proprietary and Canonical Partners Repositories
By default, not all the available repositories are enabled on Ubuntu. Some of them contain closed-source applications and other copyrighted programs. Which is why they are not enabled by default.
However, if you want those programs (like Flash, codecs or Skype..). You can enable them. Simply open Synaptic, head to Settings —> Repositories. Make sure you have them activated like this:
Also make sure you enable this repository:
After you reload the package information (via Synaptic or sudo apt update command). You can now browse those repositories from Synaptic to see what software you may need:
Install Needed Drivers
Although I don’t personally like the closed-source hardware drivers. I have to admit that they – sometimes – give better performance. If you want this extra performance (especially if you are a gamer). You can install them from the drivers tab in Software Sources:
Some free drivers may be there as well.
Get Important Firefox Addons
Firefox is the default web browser in Ubuntu. Since you are – probably – going to use it everyday. It’s better for you to try a set of different addons and extensions:
- HTitle: This is a small extension which simply hides the window bar for Firefox. Making it more elegant and compatible with the system. Make sure to install it and mark the “Legacy Mode” option in the preferences.
- GNOME Theme: A nice theme for Firefox on theme. Giving it GNOME-like style.
- HTTPS Everywhere: The famous HTTPS protocol plugin. Must have for web encryption.
- gTranslate: A right-click (context menu) translation option which translates any word you want by Google Translate.
- Self Destructing Cookies: For a better privacy and anonymity on the Internet. It’s better to destroy the cookies directly after you close the tab it’s associated with. This is exactly what this extension does. Although it will directly end your sessions (you will have to login again each time), but it will give you a good privacy shield.
- uBlock Origin: The famous ad-blocker plugin. Please make sure to add us to the whitelist!
- Privacy Badger: Block tracking scripts and other 3rd-party online tracking software.
You may also check our article: “Get Better Firefox Look on Linux With These Extensions” to get a better customization. If you are planning to use Firefox +57, you can find a good list of extensions here.
Try Other Browsers
If you don’t like Firefox. You try many other available web browsers. Probably, the most famous alternative is Chromium. Which is actually Google Chrome, without the Google branding and built-in spyware.
You can install it via:
sudo apt install chromium-browser
You may also try Vivaldi, another web browser which is based on Chromium. However, Vivaldi offers a different graphical user interface beside a lot of other options for power users. You can download it from here.
Check Other Interfaces
Each interface has its own pros and cons. Just like tastes, everybody likes something different. You can check the look of each one of them to see which one is best for you.
Warning: Don’t install them all! Installing desktop environments like KDE and GNOME together is probably not a good idea on Ubuntu. Just install the one you would use on daily basis.
To install Cinnamon:
sudo apt install cinnamon-desktop-environment
To install KDE(with Kubuntu branding):
sudo apt kubuntu-desktop
To install Xfce:
sudo apt install xfce4
To install GNOME:
sudo apt install gnome-shell gnome-tweak-tool gnome-session
To install LXDE:
sudo apt install lxde
To install LXQt:
sudo apt install lxqt
To install Budgie:
sudo apt install budgie-desktop
Install Multimedia Codecs
Sometimes we may have different proprietary multimedia files and we would like to play them. Unfortunately, you will need to download another set of packages into your system. This is done via:
sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-addons
If you like, you can install VLC which will ease your life a lot in playing multimedia files and URLs and doesn’t require the previous proprietary set of addons:
sudo apt install vlc
Create a Backup Plan
Backups are very important. Even if you think that you may never need them. You will. If your system gets broken or if someone steals your laptop, you’re probably going to be in big trouble. Especially if you have some important files on it like your projects or books or family pictures.. Nobody would like to go through that.
There are many software which you can use. Dropbox offers a desktop-compatible software which you can install on your system in order to keep your files synchronized with your Dropbox account (it will create a folder called Dropbox in your home folder, store your important files there).
You can also use Google Drive if you want. The whole process of setting it up won’t take more than 5 minutes. Or if you are an experienced user and you have a server near you, you may try NextCloud to deploy your own private cloud on the Internet.
This was our list of stuff to do after installing whatever version of Ubuntu. The possibilities are endless. It all depends on your work and what type of software and functionalities you may need.
If you have any more things which you always do after installing the system, you may share us your thoughts in the comments!
Update 16, April 2017 @ 06:57 GMT+3: Ghostery plugin was replaced with Privacy Badger. A clarification about the drivers was added.
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