Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.


Update: for Ubuntu 12.04, see: Things To Tweak After Installing Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

Back when Ubuntu 11.04 was released, we wrote a post about stuff you may need to tweak or fix. Some of those tweaks still work but since this is a new version, there are new things that need tweaking so I've decided to make a new post with some popular old tweaks as well as some new ones.

Read on!

General tweaks (for both GNOME Shell and Unity)

Change themes, fonts and more with GNOME Tweak Tool

GNOME Tweak Tool

In Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot you can only switch between the default GTK themes by default. Also, there's no built-in GUI to easily change fonts or icon themes. But you can do this using GNOME Tweak Tool:
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Once installed, GNOME Tweak Tool should show up as "Advanced Settings" in the menu. Besides changing fonts or themes, GNOME Tweak Tool can also be used to enable/disable GNOME Shell extensions, tweak the desktop, various windows behavior or GNOME Shell.

No screensaver in GNOME 3.2


GNOME 3 doesn't have a screensaver, just a black screen. If you want to use a screensaver, you can use Xscreensaver - install it using the following commands (this will also remove gnome-screensaver):

sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver
sudo apt-get install xscreensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-data-extra

Then search for "Screensaver" in the menu and tweak its settings to your needs.

To add Xscreensaver to startup, open Startup Applications and add "xscreensaver -nosplash".

Let's also make the lock screen work (CTRL + ALT + L):
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/xscreensaver-command /usr/bin/gnome-screensaver-command

Alternatively, instead of the command above you can open System Settings > Keyboard and on the "Shortcuts" tab, under "System", change the "Lock screen" keyboard shortcut from CTRL + ALT + L to something else, then under "Custom Shortcuts", click the "+" button to add a new custom shortcut, under "Name" enter "Xscreensaver" and under "Command" enter "/usr/bin/xscreensaver-command", then click "Apply". And finally, click next to the newly created shortcut and press CTRL + ALT + L to assign it to it (or use any other keyboard shortcut you want, but make sure it's not already assign to something else).

To be able to watch a movie properly, also install Caffeine:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:caffeine-developers/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install caffeine python-glade2

To revert the changes (go back to the black GNOME Screensaver screen):
sudo apt-get remove xscreensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-data-extra
sudo rm /usr/bin/gnome-screensaver-command
sudo apt-get install gnome-screensaver

If you've used the alternative method to assign CTRL + ALT + L to Xscreensaver lock screen, open System Settings > Keyboard again, remove the custom Xscreensaver command and assign CTRL + ALT + L back to "Lock screen" (under "System").

Nautilus search

Partially fix annoying Nautilus behavior that doesn't let you properly search by typing when there are a lot of files/folders: in Nautilus, select View > Statusbar.

Install Syanptic


Synaptic is not installed by default in Ubuntu 11.10 and while Ubuntu Software Center got many new features, it still can't do everything Synaptic can. Install Synaptic back using the following command:
sudo apt-get install synaptic

Disable Overlay Scrollbars

no overlay scrollbars

If you don't like the overlay scrollbars, you can remove them using the following command:
sudo apt-get remove overlay-scrollbar liboverlay-scrollbar3-0.2-0 liboverlay-scrollbar-0.2-0
Then, restart your computer (performing a logout only may not be enough).

To revert this change, install the packages back:
sudo apt-get install overlay-scrollbar liboverlay-scrollbar3-0.2-0 liboverlay-scrollbar-0.2-0
And restart your computer.

Missing features: web apps and file previewer

Two missing GNOME 3.2 features in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot (for both Unity and GNOME Shell) are the web applications and Sushi quick previewer.

Epiphany web app

The first requires Epiphany 3.2.0 which is available in the WebUpd8 GNOME 3 PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install epiphany-browser

Sushi file previewer

And the second - Sushi file previewer -, is available in the official Ubuntu repositories:
sudo apt-get install gnome-sushi

Longer battery life


I don't know if the kernel power bug is real or not, but many users have reported that using Jupiter or a tweak we've posted a while back, their laptop/netbook battery life increased. Install Jupiter using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/jupiter
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install jupiter

If you have an EeePC, also install the following package for SHE support:
sudo apt-get install jupiter-support-eee

As for the other tweak, see this post: Linux Kernel Power Issue / Overheat Workaround.

No more Sun/Oracle Java

The "sun-java6" package is no longer available in the official Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot repositories due to the removal of the JDL license. Java 7 won't be in Oneiric either, but you still have 3 options:

- Install OpenJDK:
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jre

- Or Oracle (previously Sun) Java 6 from the LFFL PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ferramroberto/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin

- Or use these alternative ways of installing Oracle / Sun Java JDK 7: install Java 7 (JDK) in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and Install Oracle Java (JDK) 7 in Ubuntu via PPA Repository

Fix for Nautilus crashing on start

If Nautilus crashes, chances are this is because of the "nautilus-open-terminal" package, so remove it:
sudo apt-get remove nautilus-open-terminal

Then restart Nautilus:
nautilus -q

Autostart items

Nautilus autostart items Ubuntu 11.10

Some applications/services that used to be in the Startup Applications dialog are no longer there. That's because they are hidden now but you can still find them under /etc/xdg/autostart . So if you want to remove the startup sound or other hidden applications from starting automatically, remove their .desktop files from /etc/xdg/autostart (you'll have to run Nautilus as root: "gksu nautilus"). But make sure you make a backup of the files you want to remove firstly!

GNOME Shell tweaks

Fix ALT + F2

Fix alt f2 GNOME Shell

ALT + F2 doesn't work by default in GNOME Shell under Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot. To fix it, open "System Settings" and under Keyboard > Shortcuts > System, click "Disabled" next to "Show the run command prompt" and press ALT + F2 - this should set ALT + F2 for running the command prompt.

Easily change GNOME Shell themes

To be able to easily change the GNOME Shell theme, besides GNOME Tweak Tool you'll also need the User Theme extension, available in the WebUpd8 GNOME3 PPA:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-user-theme

Then use GNOME Tweak Tool to activate the theme.

For more extensions, see: Official GNOME Shell Extensions Available In The WebUpd8 GNOME 3 PPA For Ubuntu 11.10.

Move icons from Message tray (bottom tray) to the Top Bar

GNOME SHell icons top bar

Some might find the notification area icons showing up in the Message Tray (at the bottom of the screen, hidden by default) annoying or confusing. But you can move the icon on the Top Bar using an extension:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-classic-systray

Then press ALT + F2 and enter "r" to restart GNOME Shell and enable the extension using GNOME Tweak Tool, then restart GNOME Shell once again.

No shutdown menu entry

Alternative status menu gnome shell extension

By default, there's no shutdown entry in the status menu and you must press and hold ALT to be able to shutdown your computer when using GNOME Shell. But this can be changed by installing Alternative Status Menu extension which adds "Power off" and "Hibernate" to the status menu, visible at all time (and not just when pressing the ALT key). Install it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/gnome3
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-extensions-alternative-status-menu

Then use GNOME Tweak Tool to enable the extension.

Fix Nautilus menu being displayed under the GNOME Shell top bar when using transparent GNOME Shell themes

Nautilus menu under gnome shell top bar

If you use a transparent GNOME Shell theme such as Zukitwo, the Nautilus menu shows up behind the top bar. You can fix this either by removing global menu (see below, under "Unity tweaks") or by disabling Nautilus from handling the desktop using GNOME Tweak Tool (under "Desktop", set "Have file manager handle the desktop" to off):

tweak tool handle desktop

Disabling Nautilus from handling the desktop means you won't have any icons on the desktop anymore. If this is a big deal to you, remove AppMenu (Global Menu) - but you won't have a global menu in Unity anymore (though that shouldn't be a big issue if you don't use Unity anyway).

To install GNOME Tweak Tool, see the first tweak in this post.

Automatic login to GNOME Shell instead of Unity

If you enable autologin, your computer will automatically login to Unity. But there is a way to get Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot to automatically login to GNOME Shell.

Firstly, enable Automatic Login: in System Settings go to "User Accounts", then click "Unlock", enter your password and click the button next to "Automatic Login". That will make Ubuntu automatically login to Unity. Let's make it automatically login to GNOME Shell instead:
sudo /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -s gnome-shell

Unity tweaks

Configure Unity (autohide, etc.)

CompizConfig Settings Manager UNity settings

Unity 3D can be configured through CompizConfig Settings Manager, but CCSM isn't installed by default so let's install it:
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Using CCSM you can configure the Unity Launcher reavel mode and timeout, the Unity Launcher autohide (autohide, dodge windows, dodge active windows or disable autohide), various keyboard shortcuts, the new ALT + TAB switcher behavior, blacklight mode, panel and launcher opacity, launcher icon size and more.

A few quick stuff I for one always tweak using CCSM (open CompizConfig Settings Manager and click the "Ubuntu Unity Plugin"):

To disable launcher autohide: on the "Behavior tab" under "Hide Launcher", select "Never".

To disable mounted devices from showing up on the Unity Launcher: on the "Experimental" tab, under "Show Devices" select "Never".

By default, applications that usually take 75% of the screen are maximized automatically on start. To change this automaximize value, on the "Experimental" tab, look for "Automaximize value" - tweak this to whatever value you want.

Configure Unity 2D

Dconf editor

Some Unity 2D settings as well as other tweaks can be performed using "dconf-editor", part of the "dconf-tools" package. Install it using the following command:
sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

Then press ALT + F2 and enter: "dconf-editor" to launch it. You can find the Unity 2D settings under com > canonical > unity-2d.

Re-enable the systray (notification area)


You no longer need to whitelist Qt applications but you may still need the systray for other applications such as Shutter, Jupiter, etc. You can whitelist the systray using the following command:
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist "['all']"

Then log out and log back in.

Disable Global Menu (AppMenu)

Disabled global menu ubuntu

Don't like the global menu? Get the menu back in the application window instead of using a global menu on the top panel:
sudo apt-get remove appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-gtk appmenu-qt

Then, restart your computer (performing a logout only may not be enough).

You can also disable the global menu without removing any package. See HERE.

To revert the changes, install these packages back:
sudo apt-get install appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-gtk appmenu-qt

And restart your computer.

Use a global menu for LibreOffice

Global menu libreoffice

By default, LibreOffice doesn't come with a Global Menu but you can manually install it:
sudo apt-get install lo-menubar

If you experience any issues with it, simply remove it:
sudo apt-get remove lo-menubar

Disable the user switcher indicator

No user switcher indicator

The user switcher indicator (or Me-User-Indicator or whatever is called) can be useful if multiple users log in on your computer but if it's just one user, you can get more space by disabling it. Presuming you've already installed the "dconf-tools" package: press ALT + F2 or open a terminal and enter:

user switcher

Then navigate to apps > indicator-session and uncheck the box next to "user-show-menu", then restat Unity (ALT + F2 and enter "unity --replace") or log out and log back in.

Something went wrong! How do I reset Unity or Compiz?

You can easily reset Unity or Compiz using the following commands (be careful when using these commands and only use them if you really have to!):

- to reset the Unity launcher icons:
unity --reset-icons

- to reset Unity:
unity --reset

- to reset Compiz:
gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/compiz-1
unity --reset

Using a different "shell"

By default, Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot uses Unity 3D (with Compiz). If you don't like it, you can try a different interface, while still using GNOME:

Unity 2D
Unity 2D

Unity 2D is installed by default and is used as the fall-back mode for computers that can't run Unity 3D. To use Unity 2D, log out and select "Ubuntu 2D" in the login screen:

Ubuntu Unity 2D


GNOME Shell is not installed by default but you can easily install it from the official Ubuntu repositories:
sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Once installed, log out and select "GNOME" from the login screen:

GNOME SHell session

Classic GNOME 3 session
Classic GNOME 3 session

You can also use the GNOME 3 classic session. Install it using the following command:
sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

And select "GNOME Classic" from the login screen:

Classic GNOME

I'll continue to update this post with more tweaks so keep an eye on it. If you've found some annoyance in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and know a fix / tweak for it, let us know in the comments! For more tweaks, also take a look at our previous post: Things To Tweak / Fix After Installing Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal.

Update: for Ubuntu 12.04, see: Things To Tweak After Installing Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

Tux image via tux.crystalxp.net; many thanks to everybody who contributed!