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Switching to Ubuntu from Windows might be a big step, but it’s one that you want to go as smoothly as possible. To this end, we’ve compiled a list of the five most important things that you need to do after making the jump.

Just as you might configure Windows and the desktop theme, install the latest updates and make tweaks to get things running to your preference, so Ubuntu can be updated and setup to aid your productivity.

Get Everything Updated

Sure, you’ve just downloaded and burned the latest Ubuntu ISO to USB Install Ubuntu On Your Computer Using a USB Flash Drive Install Ubuntu On Your Computer Using a USB Flash Drive Want to install Ubuntu but don't have a spare blank DVD? Don't worry! After downloadin the ISO file, you can use a highly-reusable USB flash drive to get the job done. Read More or DVD before installing it. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to update. While the OS itself is as fresh as a daisy, some of the apps packaged with it may not be.

For the best performance on your new Ubuntu PC and to avoid any potential stability and security issues with older applications, you should run an update immediately. Do this either by opening the Update Manager, checking the updates and clicking Install Updates, or by opening Terminal and entering:

sudo apt-get update

…to refresh your software repository information, and then:

sudo apt-get upgrade

With the second command, you’ll be prompted to press Y to confirm that the software is upgraded. Once everything is updated, you’ll be ready to start enjoying Ubuntu.

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(This applies to all Linux distros, incidentally.)

Install Video Codecs

Of course, if you’re planning on viewing a lot of video clips, you won’t be able to enjoy anything just yet. You’ll need to install some video codecs to make this happen, if only to enable DVD playback.

To add codecs, open the Terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

You can also install this from the Software Center

muo-linux-ubuntu5things-restricted

That should be it, but there is something else you can do. As with Windows, codecs aren’t really the answer – VLC is the answer 7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player 7 Top Secret Features Of The Free VLC Media Player That VLC pretty much plays everything that you throw at it is old news. It is also a media genie when it comes to other things apart from playing movies. We looked at some of... Read More . The Videolan player is stuffed with audio and video codecs, so entering the following to install VLC is perhaps the better option if all you’re doing is watching media:

sudo apt-get install vlc

Both of these options should work for you, and are far simpler than the old days of Ubuntu (and the case with several other distros). No longer do you have to go searching for codecs – they’re all available from one easy installation repository.

Configure (Or Change) Your Desktop

By default, Ubuntu comes with the Unity desktop environment, but this has proved quite unpopular, certainly in its default configuration.

muo-linux-ubuntu5things-vlc

To get it working in a more productive manner, you should install the Unity Tweak Tool, available from the Software Center or by opening a Terminal and entering:

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

All manner of options become available to you after installing this enabling control over the launcher and panel, the window manager, theme, icons and much more. Simply click the option you want to tweak, and make the adjustments in the following screen.

You may prefer to abandon Unity completely, however, and swap your desktop for Gnome, LXDE, KDE The New KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Is Gorgeous -- Here's How To Try It The New KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Is Gorgeous -- Here's How To Try It While the KDE Frameworks is considered to be stable, not all things KDE have been modernized. However, you can use other methods to try out KDE 5 until it's widely available. Read More , MATE or any of the other, smaller alternatives. We recently looked at the best alternative desktop environments It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments From Gnome to KDE, from MATE to Unity, there's a lot of choice out there. Where should you start? Overwhelmed? Start here. Read More , and how to install them.

Setup Your Cloud Account

A few years ago, Ubuntu shipped with Ubuntu One, access to your own cloud storage account. However, they have since abandoned this, which means that you’re now restricted to cloud accounts that work with Ubuntu. Of the most popular, only Dropbox provides a desktop app for Linux computers.

You can install Dropbox easily by opening the Software Center, searching for dropbox and installing it from the search results.

muo-linux-ubuntu5things-dropbox

If you don’t use Dropbox, or don’t want to, the cross-platform alternatives aren’t great. Fortunately, a handful of Linux clients Ubuntu One Is Doomed; Try These 5 Linux-Friendly Alternatives Ubuntu One Is Doomed; Try These 5 Linux-Friendly Alternatives Ubuntu One, the cloud storage and music service made specifically for Ubuntu users, is shutting down. Here are the best alternatives. Read More are available for cloud accounts, but on the whole, Linux support by the big cloud storage players is sadly lacking (we’re looking at you, Box.net).

Sync Your Smartphone

Whether you don’t trust cloud apps, or you just want to make sure you have everything you need on your smartphone and your Ubuntu PC, it’s important to establish a sync between the devices.

Forget talk of iPhones and iPads not playing nicely with Linux – as Danny demonstrated, there are ways to sync contacts and music between an iOS device and Ubuntu Can You Get An iOS 7 Device To Work Well With Linux? Can You Get An iOS 7 Device To Work Well With Linux? Having issues with connecting your iOS device to your Linux machine? Here's what you can do to get it working right. Read More . For Android users, things are easier still, although Windows Phone users might as well give up (and, well, move to a different platform).

That’s five things we think that you really need to sort out immediately after installing Ubuntu. But what do you do differently? Tell us in the comments.

  1. Justin Spurgeon
    November 5, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Just one note I'd make is that Dropbox isn't the only cloud service available to Linux users. Mega/MegaSync is supported on both Windows and Linux(no clue about OSX), with full desktop applications for both. Unlike Dropbox, they also give you 50GB for free, and seem to have better privacy policies than pretty much all of the other cloud storage providers.

    I'm using Dropbox currently, but only because they gave me an additional 48GB(on top of my initial free 2GB) for linking my new tablet to my account... but that expires in just over a year, after which point I'm switching to Mega as my primary cloud service.

    • Christian Cawley
      November 5, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Great suggestion Justin, thanks

  2. John Smith
    November 3, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Nice! :-)

  3. David Fernández Piñas
    October 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    I also install a weather applet on the panel, and configure it to autohide. Then I install SpeedCrunch calculator and SAGE (alternative to Mathematica and Maple) and Octave (alternative to MATLAB). I also install the FileZilla FTP client and WinSCP with Wine. Inkscape for vector graphics, GIMP to edit photos and Dia to draw diagrams that can be exported to LaTeX or PNG. I use Planner for Gantt diagrams. Kupfer allows you to quickly and easily launch your applications (Ctrl + type name). Install Artha to have an offline dictionary. Meld and diffuse to compare text files. Then BleachBit for periodic cleanup.

  4. Jimmy Naidoo
    October 8, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    If installing to a SSD that is not automatically supported, schedule a weekly cron job for FSTRIM...

  5. John McQue
    October 8, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I found it very useful as a web server and file backup. Great if you need somewhere to test some web development, and see it off site via your IP. And runs on the smell of an oily rag. I don't use it for anything fancy, that will happen with the next upgrade. Great OS.

  6. Tom Foley
    October 8, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Make sure you are using the best driver for your video adapter. Although controversial as some are not open-source the performance improvement can be dramatic. Thankfully Ubuntu will let you know if "other" drivers are available and allow you to choose.

  7. Marrio P (SuperMariop)
    October 7, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I also recomend creating a startup script that will run the apt-get update/upgrade/autoremove stuff on bootup or as a cron that runs at night.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 8, 2015 at 7:35 am

      Great tip Marrio!

    • David Catalano
      October 8, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Beware your pc's boot time could increase dramatically, specially if you're on a slow connection!

  8. William Vasquez
    October 7, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Contrary to popular belief, an antivirus is still a good idea. Try ClamTK, it's free. Also, try Minitube, a different way to watch Youtube that is low on computer resources, meaning it won't show slow or stuttering videos and no ads...and it's free on Linux, but they charge for Windows and OSX users.

    • Christian Cawley
      October 8, 2015 at 7:36 am

      Minitube is a great recommendation, William!

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