If you’ve taken the step to install a flavor of Linux such as Ubuntu, congratulations! Not only are you probably doing your computer a favor, but you can also gain a better understanding of your system while running Linux. Generally speaking, your computer is a very usable state right after a fresh installation of Ubuntu, but there are a few things you can do after the installation to get the operating system running really well on your computer.
Here are six different system tweaks you may be able to apply to get the most out of your computer while running Ubuntu.
After installation, there’s a good chance that the Ubuntu defaults for your laptop’s touchpad aren’t optimal. For example, you aren’t able to click on items by simply tapping on your touchpad, and the touchpad doesn’t turn itself off whenever you start hammering away on your keyboard. Thankfully, both of these features can be easily turned on by heading into the System Settings, and then choosing Mouse and Touchpad.
Under the Touchpad tab, simply click on the settings you’d like to apply. Now you can click by tapping as well as stop worrying about accidentally clicking on something while typing.
Since we mentioned the keyboard, Ubuntu’s high level of support for international systems allows you to easily change the keyboard layout to whatever you’d prefer (although it’d be advisable to stick with the same keyboard layout that your keyboard has). You should have been able to change this during installation, but in case you didn’t you can do so in the System Settings, and clicking on Keyboard Layout.
Additionally, you can also quickly change your language, both user-specific as well as system-wide. This is fantastic because Microsoft tends to charge to offer multiple languages for the UI, but it’s completely free under Linux. You can change the language by going into the System Settings and clicking on Language Support. The system will first have to download the appropriate language packs before they can be applied, so be sure to be connected to the Internet.
If your system (both desktops and laptops) have a dedicated graphics card in them from AMD or NVIDIA, you’ll most likely want to replace the default open source graphics drivers that come with Ubuntu with the proprietary drivers from AMD and NVIDIA. Not only do the proprietary drivers typically deliver faster performance, but they also support power-saving features which the open source drivers haven’t implemented yet (although the open source AMD drivers have shown progress).
To install them, open up the Ubuntu Dash, type in “software”, and choose the Software & Updates application. Then click on the Additional Drivers tab, and choose the latest proprietary drivers available. Install them, and restart your system for them to take effect! For more information, you can also check out this detailed guide on installing the proprietary drivers in Ubuntu as well as Fedora.
WiFi Not Working?
If your WiFi chipset isn’t working after installation, there’s a very good chance that it simply needs a proprietary driver in order to get it to work. This is pretty common for various Broadcom chipsets. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to somehow connect to the Internet via another method (whether it be via Ethernet, tethering to your phone, etc.), and then go to the same place where you can find proprietary graphics drivers (the Software & Updates application). If there is a proprietary driver available for your WiFi chipset, it’ll be shown here as well. It should work after another reboot. Otherwise, you’ll need to look up your specific laptop and see if other people are having troubles or successes with Ubuntu.
If you’re paranoid about power usage, there are a handful of things you can do in order to keep your power usage as low as possible and extend your battery life if you’re using a laptop. You can go through various settings in the System Settings –> Power area as well as System Settings –> Brightness & Lock to configure when your computer goes to sleep, lower the screen brightness, and such. Of course, make sure that you control your screen brightness as it’s usually a major source of power usage on a laptop.
Additionally, there are more technical things you can do to lower the power usage of your system. Ubuntu offers a great page of technical power-saving suggestions which you can apply if you wish. As Linux keeps changing, there are many different power tweaks available over time, so it’s good to check every now and then if it’s important to you. Do listen to the warnings that are displayed on that page and think twice before applying any of them.
Hopefully these six different system tweaks will be helpful to you in some way. I know for sure that the hardware-specific options will be very helpful to most, as most issues Linux users encounter are related to their hardware. There are also plenty of other things that you should most likely add after installing Ubuntu to make the most out of your system.
Don’t forget to also check out our Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide!
Please leave questions or feedback in the comments, and let us know if there are any other system tweaks that Ubuntu users should be aware of!