10 Things to do After Installing Ubuntu Linux 06/15/09

My primary reason for using Ubuntu Linux, is that I find it a far more productive, cost effective and customizable system. Everyone has their own reasons and needs for any particular OS. That said, I’m often asked by new Linux (Ubuntu) users what things I do immediately after installing Ubuntu; to tweak it a bit more. I’m still using Hardy (8.04 64 Bit) as I prefer to stick with LTS releases – This means  another year to go with 8.04 before the next LTS (10.04). Until then, here’s the answers for the 10 things I do to customize a new Ubuntu Hardy installation:

Update June 16, 2009: Steven and Coder’s Wasteland has taken this post even further! In my opinion, he’s done a great job in providing a bash script that implements all the changes described in this post. Way to go Steven! You can read more about that (and get the script) at: Initial Ubuntu Install Items Script.

Update June 19, 2009: Steven and Coder’s Wasteland has migrated the script from a CLI to a GUI based one! Check it out at: Install Initial Ubuntu Items GUI.

1) sudo aptitude install sbackup

Nothing is worse that losing all your important data (pictures, email messages, music, documents, etc.) The above command will install Simple Backup Suite (more details found on Sourceforge). For me at least it’s a great desktop backup solution. I can select which directories I want backed up (full and incremental), then have backups automatically transfered to my external network storage. I play a lot with my computer, I often break something as a result. With sbackup, I can be more confident as it’s easy to restore data (in the event I have to reinstall an application or even worse… the OS itself). You can also install via:


2) sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras && sudo aptitude install w64codecs

If you enjoy music, videos, and so forth, you’ll want to install the extra media codecs and packages that will allow you to play almost any desktop media format (mov, mpg, avi, wmv, mp3 and so on). I wrote a detailed post:  “Build a Web Developer PC and Enable Most Media Playback Using Ubuntu Linux“, which provides a bit more of an in depth explanation of the above command (including editing the sources.list to include mediabuntu). Note: If you have a 32 Bit system, change the the “w64codec” part of the command to say “w32codecs” instead. You can also install these packages via:



3) sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts && sudo fc-cache -fv

I like having the same fonts used by Windows users. People often send me .doc files, so I want to ensure I have at least the core fonts they use. The above command installes the Microsoft core fonts and then reloads the font cache. I’ve posted about this before at “How to Install TTF and CTF Fonts in Ubuntu“, which contains far more detail. You can also install the core fonts via:


4) sudo aptitude install vlc

I prefer not to try juggling with the use of different applications to play different media types. VLC plays all the media types I access. For me at least, it’s the singular application I use to play everything from an MP3 file to a DVD video (and incidentally, vlc can stream your media to other computers, even to the television!). Of course you can click the apt link and install via:


5) sudo aptitude install k3b

Even though I use gnome, I still install k3b, which is (in my opinion) among the best DVD/CD burners around. I find the interface  intuitive and easy to use. There’s a post containing more applications at “Top 100 of the Best (Useful) OpenSource Applications“. Using apt links, we can also install k3b via:


6) Enable surround sound right away. I’ve an earlier post at Enable 5.1 Surround Sound on Linux – Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy, but the jist of the instructions is to edit

sudo gedit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf and change the line that says:

; default-sample-channels = 2

to say

default-sample-channels = 6

7) Use the “Windows” Key.

I prefer using keyboard shortcuts instead of the point and click mouse. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to turn your keyboards “Windows key” into an Ubuntu key.

Go to: System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts

Scroll down to the action “Show panel menu” and click on it. (The phrase “New accelerator menu…” will appear).

Now simply press your Windows key once. (You’ll see the accelerator now says “Super L”). Select the “Close” option and you’ll see that your Windows key now works. Note: If you ever want to change it back to the default (for Hardy 8.04), the original setting is Alt f1.
8) Make gedit remember more documents.

I often use gedit to quickly edit files in a GUI environment. I often wish gedit would remember more of the documents I edit. That way I don’t have to surf through the file system. There’s a simple way to ensure gedit remembers more of the files you edit:

sudo gconf-editor

In the window that appears (using the above command), select

apps -> gedit2 -> preferences -> ui -> recent

Select the “max_recents” key and change the default of 5 to 10

9) Increase the start speed of multi-core CPU systems.

This will slow down systems that  have a single CPU. For multi core CPUs, we can change the services to all start together (in parallel) during boot time. The command to do this is;

sudo perl -i -pe ‘s/CONCURRENCY=none/CONCURRENCY=shell/’ /etc/init.d/rc

and then reboot with

sudo shutdown -r now

10) Finally, I sometimes need to run application that are for another OS (not Ubuntu Linux). Virtualization is the answer and allows me to run the other application without using Wine ore rebooting into another OS. You can install Virtualbox:

sudo aptitude install virtualbox

If you’re interested, more information about VirtualBox can be found by visiting the about VirtualBox page. Again, here’s the apt link to install virtualbox:


A bonus tip!

I’m often asked how to uninstall a .deb package. The command to facilitate that is:

sudo dpkg -r package_name

I hope these tips help some of you out there! How strong is your Kung Fu? -> If you’ve any tips or tweaks you think should be here, please feel free to drop them in your comments below!

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38 Responses to this article

Nick the greek June 15, 2009 Reply

Last time I checked, installing ubuntu-restricted-extras also pulled in msttcorefonts.

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 15, 2009 Reply

@Nick the greek

Thanks, I was not aware that it pulled the fonts as well. That’s cool. If they don’t want restricted extras, using the comment from Paul (about msttcorefonts) will work. Also…

Also, Vista fonts…

sudo aptitude install cabextract

Download installer script

chmod a+x VistaFontInstaller.sh


sudo fc-cache -fv

Paul June 15, 2009 Reply

I like to also add the MS Core Fonts by:

$sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

make sure you have enabled the “Universe” repository in /etc/apt/sources.list for this to work.

Paul June 15, 2009 Reply

Doh can you remove my last post as I posted before reading the comment above. re the fonts.

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 15, 2009 Reply


Good point. Some people might not want to install the restricted, just the fonts. So they’d have to edit the sources.list and make sure that the Universe repository is enabled (just like you said). Then do:

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts && sudo fc-cache -fv

Vadim Peretokin June 15, 2009 Reply

Oy vey. Apturl links!

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 15, 2009 Reply

@Vadim Peretokin

Oh gosh YES!!!!
Editing the post right now. Eeek!!
Thanks for the heads up on that Vadim I remember you were the first one to get me using them too :)

mike June 15, 2009 Reply

Real nice post. Going to try some real soon.

Many thanks.


Stan Q. June 15, 2009 Reply

How do I change #9 back to the default? :) I am on Jaunty.

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply

@Stan Q.

I have a 32 Bit copy of Jaunty running in VirtualBox (still as a default install). I checked this file: /etc/init.d/rc and found the following code:

# Specify method used to enable concurrent init.d scripts.
# Valid options are 'none', 'shell' and 'startpar'. To enable the
# concurrent boot option, the init.d script order must allow for
# concurrency. This is not the case with the default boot sequence in
# Debian as of 2008-01-20. Before enabling concurrency, one need to
# check the sequence values of all boot scripts, and make sure only
# scripts that can be started in parallel have the same sequence
# number, and that a scripts dependencies have a earlier sequence
# number. See the insserv package for a away to reorder the boot
# automatically to allow this.

So… this is the default. You could sudo nano rc (or gedit it – Whatever works) as a quick way to change it back.

Greg Zenitsky June 15, 2009 Reply

Nice article! Thank you! What is the difference between apt-get install and aptitude install?

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply

@Greg Zenitsky

aptitude removes unused dependencies when removing a package. apt-get does not do that. Therefore, I can keep a cleaned system by using aptitude. As such, I try to use aptitude to install and then (if needed) remove applications.

Relst June 15, 2009 Reply

I did not knew the mulitcore speed thing, does that also work in 9.04?

Nice post, the most thing I do also when installing ubuntu. Maybe you can make your own personal remaster with reconstructor or so, then you just have to do it once… Or every week with updates ^^

Allen Sanford June 15, 2009 Reply

Right on man right on this blog is the bomb. I will profess that these are among the first things I do with a new fresh Ubuntu install.

Bathri June 16, 2009 Reply

Very useful package listing

Faisal June 16, 2009 Reply

Thanks for the tips, especially the one about increasing the start speed of multi-core CPU systems.



ql June 16, 2009 Reply

You forgot the elephant in the room:-

sudo aptitude purge libmono0 mono-common && sudo aptitude install gthumb zim

Important for me anyway.


UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply


What’s the scoop with mono (I don’t use it), I’ve seen a fair bit of flame wars over it. I appreciate that it can be removed. Why aren’t some people happy with that (the ability to remove it)? I guess I’m missing something there? I would think if nobody used it anymore (or the majority stopped using it) that it would go the way of the Dodo – No?

Kamil Maciejewski June 16, 2009 Reply

I always turn on top and bottom (application and status) bars autohide and disable their (IMHO stupid) 500ms animation lags (with gconf-editor).

Steven June 16, 2009 Reply

I was thinking about doing a similar list just this morning :)

For number 6, I’ve made a perl line that will edit it in place.

sudo perl -pi -w -e 's/; default-sample-channels = 2/default-sample-channels = 6/g;' /etc/pulse/daemon.conf

I’m also assembling a bash script that will do all this for new users or for sysadmins who want to quickly do it.

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply


I like your blog – It rocks! Nice job there! :) As to your recent post on that blog, I think OGG format is way superior in quality (but that’s just my opinion). ;)

Can you post the link to the bash script in the comments (when you get a chance to do that)?

Steven June 16, 2009 Reply

Here’s the link to the blog post with the script:


As the article says, it comes with no warranties but I have tested it on my system.

ql June 16, 2009 Reply

@UbuntuLinuxHelp on June 16, 2009 6:39 am

Yes, it’s currently a political hot potato, but, in my view, there is an issue about its use which is significant and should really be an informed choice to use or not to use. The debate is over-heated, with ludicrous statements on both sides of the fence. The fact that mono is largely Novell-backed doesn’t sit comfortably with the community at the moment, and the way that it is being pushed into the default installation of Ubuntu and Debian (Fedora have decided against it) via gnome is a judgement call with which some find inflammatory. It is a working of a current and critical Microsoft technology, whose legal status is, until MS chooses to clarify it, debatable. That’s enough to make me uncomfortable, but, on top of that, for me, I prefer zim and gthumb to the two apps that ship as default which require mono – tomboy and f-spot. The fact that by replacig those two apps, nearly 50MB of disk space is saved is a bonus.


UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply


Oh oh!!! Is there a replacement for Tomboy notes? I use it. Given the issues (and your clearer background explanation), I might want to move away from Mono based as well. Is there a Tomboy Notes app I can use instead? One that is simple and can import my Tomboy notes?

Matt June 16, 2009 Reply

I always install wine first thing (instructions at winehq.org/download) for the sake of interoperability… and I’m a gamer so normally I’ll have my .wine folder backed up so I can just install wine and boom I have my games back up and ready to play.

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply


Thanks! The only game I play when I want to blow a bit of working stress off is Nexuiz, so it’s good that you mentioned Wine of users of other “frag” games! ;)

Steven June 16, 2009 Reply

Thanks for all the traffic. My company has had to talk with Bluehost several times today about managing the traffic. I’ve uploaded the code to https://sourceforge.net/projects/ubuntutasks/ and you guys have inspired me to make it better and more robust. Again, thanks for the links.

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 16, 2009 Reply


Your idea to do that bash script was VERY cool! I am definitely going to keep an eye on your posts – I’ve already found several I like. :) – Cheers!

ql June 16, 2009 Reply

@UbuntuLinuxHelp on June 16, 2009 9:49 am

Replacements for Tomboy? Yes, there are several. One is a straight clone, written without mono – gnote. There is a ppa in launchpad if you want it as it’s pretty much the same as tomboy. I found tomboy great intially but them it ran out of steam when it came to organising notes, so I now use zim, which I find great. If you run kde, or are happy with some additional libraries under gnome, basket is also good, but zim does it for me, as you can nest notes in addition to linking them ala tomboy.

Regarding the background issue, I would feel more comfortable if mono was getting in on merit and by consensus, but I really don’t think it proponents have made a credible case for that. It’s this political dimension that I find hard to square, and so on balance, believe it’s an unhelpful issue at the moment to default to those libraries and applications.


Johannes June 17, 2009 Reply

Hi! Nice post :-)
I have also written a small “guide” to Ubuntu, maybe you’ll find some more ideas…

pavel June 18, 2009 Reply

You can also replace bzip2 by pbzip2 (parallel bzip2), making a symlink to it

ken June 18, 2009 Reply

It is nice to have all the tips together. Thanks

Eric Schulman June 18, 2009 Reply

11) rm -rf /* then install slackware.

** Note added by Blog Admin **
To all users the above command will destroy your system. I’m hoping the comment (above) was made in humour.

Steven June 19, 2009 Reply

I’ve updated my script from a CLI to a GUI
where you can select what items you do or do not want to install. Have fun!

Kartik Mistry June 19, 2009 Reply

It is always better to remove package by,

sudo apt-get remove PackageName

UbuntuLinuxHelp June 20, 2009 Reply

sudo aptitude install xxxxxx and sudo aptitude remove xxxxxx is perhaps, the better way to go as aptitude will remove the unused dependencies, whereas apt-get will not. ;)

Edward August 16, 2009 Reply

to get rid of orphans left behind after the install you can always do:

Sudo aptitude install deborphan

then deborphan

this will clean up any and all dependendency orphans left behind

the_guv October 11, 2009 Reply

this is nice, some top tips, appreciated.

1 alt tho .. not virtualbox, best to specify virtualbox 3 .. guess that’ll be the standard in koala repos tho?

also, clonezilla is worth a mention. then again, where do you stop ;)

er, yeah, have binned mono (and tomboy) for gnote, which does the same .. export old notes with ..

cp .tomboy/*.note .gnote/

.. very clean migration. the again, Zim is super-nice wiki-style for desktop notes

(tx to theOpenSourcerer for some of those ideas.)

then again, my breakfast’s gettin cold ..

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