Daily Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

Ubuntu 13.04 will be available for download in a few hours and since many of you will be installing it as soon as it's released, here are 7 useful things you can do right after the installation.

Ubuntu 13.04 screenshot



1. Tweak Unity.


Unity Tweak Tool is a pretty new application that's available in the Ubuntu 13.04 repositories, which you can use to tweak Unity: change various aspects of the Unity interface such as auto-hide behavior, change the Unity Launcher icons size, color, and more, set up hotcorners, tweak the Dash search, change the GTK, icon theme or fonts and much more.

Unity Tweak Tool

Click the button below to install Unity Tweak Tool:

Download for Ubuntu

Or use the following command in a terminal to install it:
sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

If you use GNOME Shell, install GNOME Tweak Tool instead.



2. Privacy settings.


By default, Dash may display private files but there's an easy way to prevent this: open System Settings > Privacy and here, you can:
  • delete recent history
  • blacklist applications or folders / partitions from showing up in Dash

Here, you can also set Dash not to include online search results. This will disable the controversial Shopping Lens along with the other online searches performed by the Friends lens or the Photo lens.

Ubuntu 13.04 privacy

Ubuntu 13.04 privacy

If you don't want the Shopping Lens but want to be able to use the other online scopes / lenses, you can simply uninstall the Shopping Lens:
sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

And finally, if you constantly change the privacy settings (e.g.: often disable Zeitgeist logging; Zeitgeist is used to log the files that show up in Dash), you can use Privacy Indicator which lets you clear the Zeitgeist (and thus, Dash) logs, clear the recent files list (which shows up in the Nautilus "Recent" sidebar item for example), and quickly enable/disable Zeitgeist logging or the online search results. 

Privacy indicator


To install Privacy Indicator in Ubuntu 13.04, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:diesch/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-privacy


3. Solution for popular missing features: weather and calendar indicators.


Two features that Ubuntu lacks in my opinion are weather and calendar indicators. Hopefully, the Ubuntu developers will have some time to fulfill these popular feature requests soon, but until then we can use some third-party indicators that work great.

There's a weather indicator available in the official Ubuntu 13.04 repositories / Ubuntu Software Center, but it doesn't work properly so we'll use My Weather Indicator instead. To install it in Ubuntu 13.04, use the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install my-weather-indicator

My Weather Indicator

My Weather indicator supports OpenWeatherMap and Yahoo weather services out of the box and you can also use Wunderground or World Weather Online if you sign up to get your own API (see how to do that, HERE). Besides a cool indicator that gives you quick access to the current weather, weather forecast and a forecast map, the application also comes with (optional) desktop widgets:

My Weather Indicator desktop widget



Another feature that, at least in my opinion, Ubuntu lacks, is a proper calendar. I use Google Calendar and if you use it too, you'll love Google Calendar Indicator, an application that can be used to easily add new Google Calendar events, display your current events with notifications, browse your calendars and so on.

Google Calendar Indicator

Install Google Calendar Indicator using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install calendar-indicator

For more indicators, check out our AppIndicator tag.



4. Improve battery life, other important tweaks


Jupiter used to be one of the first things to install after a fresh Ubuntu installation, but unfortunately the application has been discontinued and the old version doesn't work properly in Ubuntu 13.04.

But, if battery life is what you're interested in, you can use TLP, a tool that you install and then forget about it because it automatically tweaks your system for better power usage / battery life.

To install TLP in Ubuntu 13.04, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
sudo tlp start

More about TLP.


If you're using an Nvidia Optimus laptop, also install Bumblebee or else both graphics cards will be powered on all the time, even though the Nvidia graphics card isn't used:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia

Currently, there's a bug with Bumblebee 3.1 and Ubuntu 13.04 (and version 3.2 which fixes this has been released a couple of days ago, but then removed from the PPA because it has a nasty bug and doesn't work at all in Raring, no fix has been found yet). This bug has been fixed in Bumblebee 3.2.1.

More about Bumblebee, using the Primus backend, etc.


This doesn't have anything to do with battery life is an important tweak nevertheless: if you're using a SSD, it's pretty important to enable TRIM so its performance doesn't decrease over time. There are quite a few steps to achieve this so I won't add instructions for how to do this in this post - you'll find them HERE instead.




5. Fix Google Chrome, Skype.


Fix Google Chrome Skype

Google Chrome has a bug and can't be installed on fresh Ubuntu 13.04 installations. The bug currently affects Google Chrome Stable and Beta (has already been fixed in Google Chrome Dev) and until Google fixes it (it's not an Ubuntu bug), you can easily get Google Chrome to install by downloading and installing the deb below:

Then, Google Chrome Stable or Beta should install in Ubuntu 13.04.


Skype currently crashes on start for Ubuntu 13.04 users that have installed the proprietary Nvidia drivers. The bug also affects some AMD / ATI proprietary graphics drivers users and some of them have reported that the fix below works for them too.

To fix this issue with proprietary Nvidia drivers (and possibly AMD) and Skype, use the following command:
sudo sed -i 's/^Exec=skype.*/Exec=bash -c "export LD_PRELOAD=\/usr\/lib\/i386-linux-gnu\/mesa\/libGL\.so\.1 \&\& skype %U"/' /usr/share/applications/skype.desktop

In case you want to revert the change made by the command above, use the following command:
sudo sed -i 's/^Exec=bash.*/Exec=skype %U/' /usr/share/applications/skype.desktop



6. Migrate / upgrade PPAs (advanced users)


Y PPA Manager

If you've upgraded from Ubuntu 12.10 to Ubuntu 13.04, all your PPAs were disabled in the process. Ubuntu 13.04 already has the latest version for most packages, but there are some that aren't the latest version or you may want to install some applications that aren't available in the official repositories / Ubuntu Software Center. Y PPA Manager can help you with this: it can automatically re-enable the PPAs that work with Ubuntu 13.04, leaving the others disabled. For this, open Y PPA Manager (installation instructions below) and under "Advanced", select "Re-enable working PPAs after Ubuntu upgrade" and wait until Y PPA Manager scans all your PPAs, checks if they work with Ubuntu 13.04 and if they do, it enables them.

We have a tip for fresh installs too regarding this: if you've backed up the PPAs you had on an older Ubuntu version (e.g. using Y PPA Manager), you can restore the backup in Ubuntu 13.04 and use Y PPA Manager to update the PPAs to Ubuntu 13.04, but only for the PPAs that actually work on Ubuntu 13.04, leaving the others as they are so you don't get any 404 errors. To do this, in Y PPA Manager > Advanced, select "Update release name in working PPAs", under "Current Ubuntu version" enter: "raring" (without the quotes) and under "Previous Ubuntu version" enter the Ubuntu version from which you've copied the PPAs from (e.g.: quantal), then click OK and wait for the application to scan all your PPAs and upgrade to Raring those that support it.

To install Y PPA Manager, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/y-ppa-manager
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install y-ppa-manager



7. Install codecs, Java.


To be able to play most audio and video formats, install Ubuntu Restricted Extras by clicking the button below:

Download for Ubuntu

Or install it using the following command:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

I suggest to also install the unrestricted versions of libavformat and libavcodec so you don't encounter issues with missing codecs when trying to use some video editors or transcoders - install them by clicking the button below:

Download for Ubuntu

Or by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install libavformat-extra-53 libavcodec-extra-53

You may also need Java, but you must figure out what you need. Most users will only need OpenJRE and the Java browser plugin which you can install by clicking the button below:

Download for Ubuntu

Or by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install icedtea-7-plugin openjdk-7-jre

For development, you'll also want OpenJDK which you can install by using the button below:

Download for Ubuntu

Or by using the following command:
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk

If for various reasons, you need Oracle Java (the package includes JDK, JRE and the browser plugin), you can install Oracle Java 7 by using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer


Now it's your turn. What are the first things you install or tweak after installing Ubuntu?
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