Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Things to do after installing Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin is scheduled to be released on April 26th, this review will give you a good idea on what to expect from this release. While it is a very nice and stable release, you might still need to tweak a few things to make it more usable for you. Here are a few things I would recommend.

Software Sources

As always on a freshly installed system, make sure that all the major official repositories are enabled in your Software Sources, choose a better server for updates and installation of packages if necessary, and configure the update options.

Unhide It

To go about that, you may first want to make the Software Sources tool easily accessible from anywhere else than just the Software Center, the Update Manager, or Synaptic (not installed by default, see below for that). That's because in Precise, Software Sources is hidden by default, as opposed to all previous versions of Ubuntu. But this can be easily fixed, we're just going to place a copy of its .desktop file (launcher) into your home directory, to protect it against any package updates, and change the concerning setting inside of it.

1. First, make sure the directory '~/.local/share/applications' exists:

mkdir ~/.local/share/applications

2. Then, run the actual commands:

cp /usr/share/applications/software-properties-gtk.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/
sed -i s/NoDisplay=true/NoDisplay=false/ ~/.local/share/applications/software-properties-gtk.desktop

You need to relogin for 'Software Sources' to show up in the Dash or the classic Gnome menu, respectively.

Enable Repos / Choose Better Server

Open 'Software Sources', either via 'Edit > Software Sources' from the Software Center, or if you've done the above step, simply via the Dash or the classic Gnome menu, respectively.

By default, a country-specific set of servers for updates and installation of packages is automatically chosen based on your location when installing Ubuntu. But if the chosen server set is too slow and you want to switch to a better, specific server, in the drop-down menu for 'Download from', choose 'Other'. In the new dialog window that pops up, click on 'Select Best Server' to start pinging the available servers. When it's finished, the most responsive server is displayed and selected, then just hit 'Choose Server' to confirm the selection.

Now, make sure that all four official repository channels under the same tab, 'Ubuntu Software', are enabled and the 'CD-ROM/DVD' source is disabled - by default, this should be already set like that after installation. Whether or not you also want to enable the 'Source code' for the chosen channels depends on you, of course. Additionally, make sure to enable the Canonical Partner repository under the 'Other Software' tab - this is not enabled by default. You can read more details about the official repositories, as well as the Software Sources tool, here:

Configure Updates

While we are already here, also set up the update options to fit your preferences, under the 'Updates' tab, obviously. I'd recommend selecting only the 'security', 'updates' and 'backports' channels under 'Ubuntu updates'. What you select under 'Automatic updates' is entirely up to you, though I'd recommend setting the update interval to 'Weekly' and both of the options below of that, controlling the update behaviour, to 'Display immediately', for a good balance between update frequency and control.

As an extra tip, you can set the Update Manager to not pop up its window when it finds any updates, but instead place a discreet but noticeable icon into the top panel. Therefore, just run this command:

gconftool-2 --set --type bool /apps/update-notifier/auto_launch false

Obviously, to revert it to the default behaviour, just replace 'false' with 'true' in the command.

Also, it's, of course, a good idea to use the Update Manager straight away after this to update your system to the most recent state.

Install Synaptic Package Manager and GDebi

GDebi was dropped some time ago and you might already know how to switch back to it. The same applies to Synaptic Package Manager, which was dropped with the release of Oneiric 11.10. Both of these, however, are still the first choice for me over the Software Center, and both can be easily installed from the official repositories.

So for GDebi, just run:

sudo apt-get install gdebi

And for Synaptic Package Manager, run:

sudo apt-get install synaptic

If unsure about whether or not you need the latter, please have a look at our earlier post here:

Check Additional Drivers

If you are using an Nvidia or ATI/AMD graphics device, definitely check 'Additional Drivers' for any available proprietary video drivers, as otherwise you may not even be able to run the regular Unity desktop or Gnome Shell, or the performance may be lower than possible. By default, a notification icon regarding that automatically pops up on the panel when running Ubuntu for the first time, but you know how it is...

Install 'ubuntu-restricted-extras'

The metapackage 'ubuntu-restricted-extras' contains nearly everything essential that you would otherwise need to find and install individually, as of now that is codecs, Flash plugin, Microsoft fonts and 'unrar'. Just run this command to install it:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Tweak Unity

By default, the Unity Launcher in Precise is set to 'Always Show'. If you want to auto-hide it, or adjust the size of the Launcher icons, right-click on the desktop and choose 'Change Desktop Background'. There, you've got these basic options under 'Look' and 'Behavior' tabs, respectively.

If you want to tweak Unity beyond these basic settings, MyUnity is one of the preferred tools. For installation and an overview of its features, please see this post:

Tweak Unity 2D

If the regular Unity doesn't work well for you, you can try Unity 2D by choosing 'Ubuntu 2D' as the session option at the login screen. And later, you might want to tweak a few Unity 2D settings which aren't otherwise offered the same way as for the regular Unity. For tweaking the Launcher's hide behaviour, desktop handling, and compositing effects, you can install our Unity 2D Settings GUI from our PPA.

For installing Unity 2D Settings, get to a Terminal and run:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:krytarik/tuxgarage
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unity-2d-settings


For more details, please take a look at this post:

More Unity Tweaks

For more tweaks regarding Unity, please have a look at our earlier post:

Enable the Desktop Cube

If you've been following Unity since Natty 11.04, and you are also a fan of Compiz' Desktop Cube at the same time, you probably have experienced how difficult it used to be to enable the Cube in earlier versions of Unity. Thankfully, you would be quite surprised that, now, enabling the Cube under Unity in Precise is as easy as it used to be in Gnome 2.x. You need CompizConfig Settings Manager (CCSM) for enabling the Cube. If you haven't already installed it, get to a Terminal and run:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Now search the Dash for 'CCSM' and open it. Under 'Desktop', simply tick the checkbox beneath the 'Desktop Cube' plugin. In the dialog that pops up, choose 'Disable Desktop Wall'. Compiz would reload in 10-20 seconds and you've now successfully switched to the Desktop Cube!

For having a perfect Cube, from CCSM, go to 'General > General Options > Desktop Size' and change 'Horizontal Virtual Size' to '4', and 'Vertical Virtual Size' to '1'. Additionally, you will also want to enable the 'Rotate Cube' plugin under 'Desktop' for rotating the Cube, obviously.

Install Gnome Tweak Tool

Since Oneiric 11.10, the built-in, default Appearance dialog, while simple enough, doesn't present you with many options to tweak the themes, fonts, etc. Gnome Tweak Tool is what you need for this stuff.

To install Gnome Tweak Tool, get to a Terminal and run:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Notice that it will show up as 'Advanced Settings' in the Dash or the classic Gnome menu, respectively, contrasting the name of its package and executable.

For more details, please see this guide:

Install XScreenSaver

If you want a 'real' screensaver, and not just a plain blank screen, as well as a somewhat nicer lock screen than the default one, you definitely gonna need to install XScreenSaver, an alternative to the now severely crippled Gnome Screensaver.

Please see this guide how to install and use it:

Tweak the Privacy Settings

You might want to take advantage of the newly added 'Privacy' settings and tweak them according to your needs, so that you don't end up with unwanted recent websites or files in your Unity Dash. Go to 'Power Menu > System Settings > Privacy' and choose which file type activities you want to log and which ones you don't. You can add folders for which you don't want to log any history, and under the 'Applications' tab, you can also add applications for which you don't want to record any activities.

Nautilus Tweaks

I always change a couple of settings immediately when running Nautilus for the first time on a freshly installed system, and there are also a lot of tweaks you can apply later on that aren't that pressing, including slick and handy file previews as also outlined below. Please see our earlier guide for the rest:

Install Gnome Sushi or Gloobus Preview

For slick and cool file previews in Nautilus (file browser), you currently have two equally popular options at hand: Gnome Sushi and Gloobus Preview. Both are very lightweight and are supporting a wide range of files of almost any type. And both can be brought up by simply hitting the <Space> bar after selecting the desired file in Nautilus. Just try which one works better for you.

Gnome Sushi

To install Gnome Sushi, get to a Terminal and run:

sudo apt-get install gnome-sushi

Gloobus Preview

To install Gloobus Preview from its PPA, run these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gloobus-dev/gloobus-preview
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gloobus-preview gloobus-sushi


For support of Libre/OpenOffice documents, make sure the 'unoconv' package is also installed:

sudo apt-get install unoconv

Enable Global Menu for LibreOffice

By default, Global Menu integration for LibreOffice is not enabled. That's because there are still some issue that might occur when using it. However, you can just try your luck with it and if doesn't work acceptably well, just disable it again. To enable it, just run:

sudo apt-get install lo-menubar

Obviously, you need to restart LibreOffice for the change to take effect.

If you want to disable it again later, just run:

sudo apt-get remove lo-menubar

Related Posts:

Installation , Precise Pangolin