30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

And here we go again. Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail was released almost a month ago and unlike previous releases, this has been more of a silent affair. Mainstream blogs and news websites didn't cover much about the release. Ubuntu 13.04 is mostly an incrementally updated release and that could be the reason. But from a user-perspective, "Raring Ringtail" has a number of very important qualities, significant performance improvement being one of them. Leaving all that aside for now, lets discuss what all can be done to further enhance Ubuntu 13.04 for every-day use. 30 things to do after installing Ubuntu 13.04 raring Ringtail.

30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
Wondering what's new in latest Ubuntu? Take this screenshot tour of Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail. Everything you need to know about this release is right there. One of the most talked about issues with previous Ubuntu release (12.10 "Quantal Quetzal" ie.) was the fact that it simply didn't perform well. It was laggy and had serious stability issues. Raring Ringtail is no Project Butter either. But a lot has improved in Ubuntu 13.04.

Performance (at least for me) is right up there with the best of Linux. But there are things you could do to further improve Ubuntu overall. And there are also some very basic things which you need to do no matter what. Lets get down to business. I have tried to squeeze in every little detail possible into this post to make it as newbie-friendly as possible. 30 things I did after installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail.

First Things First: Installing Ubuntu Restricted Extras During Installation
  • Starting from Ubuntu 11.04 release, you can install restricted codecs package (which include Adobe Flash, MP3 codecs and such) during installation of Ubuntu OS itself.
30 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Notice the arrows pointing to the boxes in the screenshot above. If you tick both of them during the Ubuntu installation process (make sure you are connected to the internet before doing so), restricted extras package will be installed automatically and you will be able to play mp3's, avi's, mp4's etc. and watch flash videos (YouTube videos for example) right after Ubuntu installation is done with.
  • But there is a catch. If you have a slow internet connection (which is very rare these days), ticking the boxes shown in the screenshot above will unnecessarily lengthen the installation process. I for one prefer to do all that after installing Ubuntu. If you are like me, the next two steps are for you.
Update Repositories
  • After you install brand new Ubuntu 13.04, the first thing you need to do is to update repositories and make sure you have the latest updates installed.
30 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Search for Software Updater in Unity Dash and launch the Software Updater app. It will automatically check for updates available. Install the updates.
30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • OR you can do this entirely using command line. Open Terminal (Ubuntu 13.04 Keyboard Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + T) and copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  • Enter your password when asked and you're done. Your new Ubuntu 13.04 has been successfully updated and upgraded. 
Install Ubuntu Restricted Extras
  • Install the "ubuntu-restricted-extras" package. This will enable your Ubuntu to play popular file formats like mp3, avi, flash videos etc. CLICK HERE (to install directly from Ubuntu Software Center) OR simply copy-paste the following command into Terminal to install the package (You need not do this if you have ticked the 'right' boxes before).
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
  • Done.
Enable Full DVD Playback in Ubuntu 13.04
  • Though installing the restricted extras package will solve most of your problems, you may not be able to play dual layer dvds yet in your Ubuntu. Most commercial DVDs are encrypted with CSS (the Content Scrambling System), which attempts to restrict the software that can play a DVD. 
  • For that, you need to install libdvdcss2 package from medibuntu repositories. Simply copy-paste the following commands into Terminal.
sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update
sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2
  • Let the process complete, might take some time. 
Check for Availability of Proprietary Hardware Drivers

Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Additional Drivers is not a standalone application since Ubuntu "Quantal Quetzal". In Ubuntu 13.04, Additional Drivers functionality sits in a new tab inside Software & Updates (previously called Software Sources).
  • In my case, all the hardware drivers including graphics, sound and wireless drivers were enabled automatically. But this may not be the case for everyone.
  • If you are among the not-so-lucky, open Unity dash (Ubuntu 13.04 Keyboard Shortcut: Super key) and search for 'Software & Updates' application.
30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Check for additional drivers available and activate the ones you want. In majority of the cases, this will do the trick. If you're not able to get hardware drivers working yet, you'll have to do a fair amount of digging through ubuntuforums and askubuntu.
Unity Tweak Tool: The Insanely Good Tweaking Tool for Ubuntu
  • When it comes to tweaking Unity, there's no better candidate. Even the default Ubuntu Settings app is no match for Unity Tweak Tool.
  • Unity Tweak Tool is available in default Ubuntu 13.04 repositories. 
  • Click Here to install Unity Tweak Tool in Ubuntu 13.04 "raring ringtail".
  • Unity Tweak Tool has a lot of options to tinker with, about which we will discuss in detail later on in this post.
Display Current Date and Day on Top Panel

30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Trivial stuff, but something I've been doing for years with each new Ubuntu release.
  • By default, only time is displayed on top. By going to the Time and Date Settings, you can modify it to display both date and weekday along with time. 
Disable Online Search Results in Unity Dash

ubuntu1304 privacy
  • Online search results in Unity dash, sounds like a good idea on paper, but not in the real world. It unnecessarily makes Dash search slower (at least for me). 
  • To disable it, goto System Settings app and find Privacy category. 
Disable Record Activity Option in Unity Dash

ubuntu 1304 privacy on/off switch
  • Ubuntu by default will be recording your activity which is later used to refine searches in Unity and such. You can completely disable this feature by accessing Privacy category within System Settings application. 
  • You can optionally disable recording for a pre-defined set of files only like image, text, video etc. instead of completely disabling recording altogether (my preferred way).
Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 13.04

Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 13.04
  • If errors like that with titles such as "ubuntu 13.04 has experienced an internal error", "System program problem detected" etc. are common in your Ubuntu installation, you might want to disable Apport error reporting tool altogether. 
Disable Unnecessary Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu 13.04 raring
  • Hit ALT + F2 and run the following command (as in the screenshot above).
gksu gedit /etc/default/apport
  • Change value of "enabled" from 1 to 0 (instructions are provided in the text file itself).
Disable Error Messages from Appearing in Ubuntu
  • Save and exit. Now for changes to take effect, do the following in Terminal.
sudo restart apport
  • OR do a system restart. Both will do. 
Enable Workspaces for Ubuntu 13.04

enable Workspaces for Ubuntu 13.04
  • Back in 2007, one of the first "feature" that attracted me to Ubuntu was the multiple workspaces thing and all the cool animations you could do with it. I know, it's kind of silly but workspaces are still very important to me.
  • Ubuntu 13.04 by default disable workspaces. You can easily re-enable it by going to System Settings - Apperance window (see screenshot above for reference). 
Unlock/Remove Unwanted Stuff from Launcher

30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • A lot of apps are there in the Unity Launcher by default and this can be a problem if you're using a smaller screen device like netbooks. 
  • I almost never use apps such as LibreOffice Writer, LibreOffice Calc and even Ubuntu Software Center. Unlocking them from launcher makes the whole Unity experience a little less cluttered (Right Click - Unlock from Launcher). 
  • You can also re-arrange stuff in the Launcher by simple double-click and drag action. 
Learn the Essential Ubuntu 13.04 Keyboard Shortcuts

ubuntu 1304 keyboard shortcuts essentials
  • If you want to be a PRO Ubuntu user, you've to learn the shortcuts. And there's a ton of them for Ubuntu's Unity interface.
  • Press and hold the Super key (aka Windows key) and learn the basics. 
Install Compiz Config Settings Manager (CCSM)
  • Though severely limited when compared to its former self, CCSM still has some interesting tweaks up its sleeve. We will discuss more about that later. 
  • Click Here to install CCSM or do the following in Terminal.
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  • Done.
Remove Unwanted Lenses from Unity Dash
  • NOTE: If you are new to Ubuntu 13.04 and Unity, you might not want to do this. Stay with default settings for the time being and find for yourself if Lenses are useful or not.
  • I have never found video, music or photo lens useful. I know where exactly my files are and I would simply use Nautilus file browser instead. And I have rarely used gwibber and shopping lens, that too mostly for testing purposes. 
  • If you're like me, you might want to remove them for a faster responding Unity dash. Copy-paste the following command into Terminal.
sudo apt-get autoremove unity-lens-music unity-lens-photos unity-lens-gwibber unity-lens-shopping unity-lens-video
  • Done. 
Disable Animations and Fading windows
  • I am all for eyecandy, but it should not be at the cost of overall performance and responsiveness of the OS (Again, If you are new to Ubuntu 13.04 and the whole Unity experience, you might not want to do this.)
  • Disabling Animations and Fading windows from CCSM might make your Ubuntu look less attractive. But as far as I am concerned, it has a significant positive impact on performance. For me, that's all that matter at the moment.
Tweaks to Improve Unity Performance in Ubuntu 13.04, Ubuntu 12.10, Ubuntu 12.04
  • Launch CCSM, goto Effects category and deselect Animations and Fading Windows options. And you're done.
Install Preload for Faster Application Loading in Ubuntu 13.04
  • Preload monitor applications you run, and by analyzing this data, predicts what applications you might run, and fetches those binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times.
  • Installing Preload can significantly improve your overall Ubuntu Unity performance. To an extent, the kind of slickness you see in distros like elementary OS Luna is because of Preload.
  • Click Here to install Preload OR do the following in Terminal.
sudo apt-get install preload
  • Done. There might be a slight increase in boot up time after you install Preload. If that is bothering you, just uninstall Preload.
Install Synaptic Package Manager for Better App Management

30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Though the whole experience has improved by a lot, Ubuntu Software Center still has a lot of catching up to do. It is nowhere near what good old Synaptic Package Manager is capable of doing. It was understandable earlier on, but even after so many new releases, Ubuntu Software Center feels bloated and even unresponsive at times. 
  • Synaptic on the other hand is fast, responsive and packed with features. All it lacks is a bit of flashiness. I'll happily trade it for performance. 
  • Click Here to install Synaptic Package Manager (OR simply search for 'synaptic' in Ubuntu Software Center).
Install GDebi: The No-Fuss Package Installer

30 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Yet another application (like Synaptic) which got dropped with the arrival of Ubuntu Software Center. When command-line gives you some error while installing DEB files, GDebi is the first app I go back to and it never disappoints. 
  • Click Here to install GDebi from Ubuntu Software Center (OR simply search for it). 
Jupiter is No More, TLP Looks Like a Good Alternative
  • Jupiter used to be an easy to use hardware and power management applet for laptops and netbooks running Linux.   
  • I have had overheating problems in Ubuntu on several occasions. Jupiter came to the rescue every single time. Unfortunately for all of us though, Jupiter project has now been discontinued and there will be no official release for "Raring Ringtail".
  • In a spectacular coincidence of sorts, the overheating bug is back too. My Dell laptop now constantly runs on temperatures well above 50 degrees Celsius. TLP looks like a good alternative. Here's how you install TLP in Ubuntu 13.04.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
  • Just restart the system and you're done. There are no specific settings you need to do to make TLP work. Just install and forget. 
Install CPU/Memory Indicator Applet

cpu usage indicator ubuntu 13.04
  • Useful CPU/Memory load indicator applet that will reside in your top panel.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:indicator-multiload/stable-daily
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-multiload
  • Now, simply launch System Load Indicator from Unity Dash.
Change Launcher Behavior, Size

things to do after installing Ubuntu 13.04 raring
  • No need for third-party apps to do very basic stuff like changing Launcher icon size, behavior etc. You can now do all of that directly from Appearance window.
  • Right click on the desktop, select Change Desktop Background and Appearance window will pop up. You know what to do (see screenshot above).
Guake: Quake like Terminal Emulator for GNOME

guake terminal emulator ubuntu1304
  • Quake is a popular first person shooter game and design inspiration for Guake Terminal Emulator came from consoles in computer games such as Quake which slide down from the top of the screen when a key is pressed, and slide back up when the key is pressed again. Guake is originally inspired from KDE's Yakuake.
  • Bottom line is, if you use Terminal often, you'll love Guake. 
  • CLICK HERE to install Guake OR search for it in USC.
Enable Workspace Screen Edge Actions

30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • This is one of my favorite features which can be enabled/modified easily using Unity Tweak Tool. What it does is, you can set each corner of your workspace to do different tasks (which you can choose) on mouse hover action.
unity tweak tool for ubuntu1304
  • Launch Unity Tweak Tool. Select Hotcorners under Window Manager category.
Install Google Voice and Video Chat Plugin for Linux

google hangouts for ubuntu linux
  • I'm quite an heavy user of GMail and Google+, and use their hangouts feature very often. Fortunately, Google Hangouts plugin is available for Linux as well.
Download and Install Steam for Linux

steam for ubuntu1304
  • Steam for Linux was a dream come true for gaming aficionados. And Valve is not stopping there. They have been actively porting most of their popular gaming titles to Linux (follow our steam for linux category for news and updates).
  • Click Here to install Steam on Ubuntu 13.04 "raring ringtail" (or simply search for the same in Ubuntu Software Center).
Easy Shutdown lets you Schedule Shutdowns in Ubuntu Effortlessly

schedule shutdowns in ubuntu1304
  • EasyShutdown is an app that lets you schedule shutdowns in Ubuntu, plain and simple. It is well integrated into the Unity launcher with its own quicklist of sorts.
  • Double-click to install it. You can alternatively try 'open with GDebi package installer' option for a faster installation (if you've already installed GDebi ie.)
Freeing Up Disk Space in Ubuntu
  • When you install something in Ubuntu, package files are downloaded for installation but are not automatically deleted after installation is over. 
  • Instead the files will be used as a backup in case the application needs a reinstall in the future. But in most cases, this is a sheer waste of space especially if you are using a old laptop or a netbook with minimal amount of disk space.
30 Things I did After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • To see how much space is currently wasted because of package files, copy-paste the following command into Terminal (CTRL + ALT + T).
du -sh /var/cache/apt/archives
  • To clean up, run the following in Terminal. 
sudo apt-get clean
  • Done. See screenshot above for for further clarification. You can do the same thing using Synaptic Package Manager as well. Details here.
Manage your Online Accounts

30 Things todo After Installing Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail
  • Ubuntu 13.04 comes with a very powerful tool to manage your online accounts. You don't have to manually enter usernames and passwords for each and every app. You can even restrict a specific app (say Empathy IM for example) from using a particular online account of yours.
  • Just search for Online Accounts in Unity Dash (OR System Settings - Online Accounts)
Other Popular Apps to Install: