10 More Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home

Danny Stieben 08-08-2014

Not too long ago we gave you 12 tips on how to tweak your Ubuntu installation 12 Useful Tweaks To Make Ubuntu Feel Like Home We'll show you some great tweaks that can go a long way to achieving desktop zen. Read More . However, it’s been a little while since then, and we’ve come up with another 10 things you can do to make Ubuntu feel even more like home.


These 10 tips are quick and simple to do, so let’s get started!

Install TLP


We covered TLP a while back 7 Simple Tips to Improve Your Linux Laptop's Battery Life How can you squeeze more time from your battery and enjoy a truly portable Linux computing experience? Read More , which is a piece of software that can optimize your power settings so that you can enjoy a longer battery life. We talked about TLP in depth before, and it’s a good item to mention in this list as well. To install it, run the following command in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:linrunner/tlp && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y tlp tlp-rdw tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-tools && sudo tlp start

This will add the necessary repository, update the package lists so that it includes the new packages provided by the new repository, installs TLP, and starts the service.


System Load Indicator


Adding a system load indicator to your Ubuntu desktop can give you an idea of how much of your system’s resources are being used at a quick glance. You don’t have to add this if you’d rather not have technical graphs on your desktop, but it’s a good addition for those who are interested in something like this. You can install it by running the terminal command:

sudo apt-get install indicator-multiload

Then, find it in the Dash and launch it.


Weather Indicator


Ubuntu used to offer a built-in weather indicator, but since it switched to Gnome 3 as the backbone, this hasn’t been included by default. Instead, you’ll need to install a separate indicator. You can install it by running the command:

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

This will add another repository, update the package lists, and install the indicator. Then, find it in the Dash and launch it.


Install Dropbox or Other Cloud Storage Solution

Dropbox 2

One of the things that I have to install on all my Linux systems is Dropbox. Without it, it just really doesn’t feel like home, mainly because all of my most-used files are stored on Dropbox. Installing Dropbox is pretty straightforward, but it takes a bit more than just a simple command. Before you even start, you need to run this command to be able to see the Dropbox icon in the icon tray:

sudo apt-get install libappindicator1

Then you need to head to Dropbox’s download page and install the .deb file that you download. You should now have Dropbox going.


If you’re a bit tired of Dropbox, you can also try using Copy or even OneDrive How To Synchronize Files On Ubuntu With OneDrive Microsoft just bumped up the amount of free storage you get with OneDrive, so you might want to use it on your favorite Linux distribution. However, Microsoft doesn't have an official client for Ubuntu. Read More . Both services offer more storage for free, which is a big reason to consider using them. I recommend Copy more than OneDrive because Copy can work on all Linux distros.

Install Pidgin and Skype


It’s great to stay connected with friends, and if you use instant messaging, you’re in luck. Pidgin and Skype are both pretty good on Linux, and they are able to connect to all the major networks. Installing Pidgin is as easy as running the command sudo apt-get install pidgin. Installing Skype is also easy — you just need to head to Skype’s download page and get the .deb file under Ubuntu 12.04 multiarch.

Remove Keyboard Indicator


Having the keyboard indicator appear on the desktop can be annoying for some. For English speakers, it just shows “EN”, and it’s potentially annoying because a lot of people don’t have a need to change keyboard layouts or be reminded that they are speaking English. To remove the indicator, choose System Settings, then Text Entry, and then uncheck “Show current input source in the menu bar”.

Bring Back Classic Menu


Before Ubuntu made the switch to Unity, it had used Gnome 2 as the default desktop environment. This included a simple menu for accessing your installed applications, which had categories such as Games, Office, Internet, and more. You can get this “classic menu” back with another simple package. To install, run the command:

sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:diesch/testing && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y classicmenu-indicator

Install Flash and Java

While in the previous tips article I mentioned installing codecs and Silverlight, I should have probably included Flash and Java as they are also major plugins that people need, although sometimes they can be forgotten about. To install both of them, run the command:

sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:webupd8team/java && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer flashplugin-installer

The additional repository is needed for installing Java because Ubuntu no longer includes the proprietary version (which most people recommend for best functionality), but rather just the open source OpenJDK implementation.

Install VLC


The default media player, Totem, is pretty good but it relies on separately-installed codecs to work properly. I’d personally recommend you install the VLC media player, as it includes all codecs and supports virtually every media format under the sun. To install it, just run the command sudo apt-get install vlc.

Install PuTTY (Or Not)


Lastly, if you’ve used PuTTY for all of your SSH needs, you have two options: install PuTTY for Linux, or just use the terminal directly. Installing PuTTY can be done with the command sudo apt-get install putty if you want to install it using the terminal. However, there’s no direct need to install it, because you can connect to any remote host with the command ssh, where you replace “username” with the username you’d like to connect as, and replace “” with the host’s actual domain name or IP address — both work.

What Are Your Recommended Tweaks?

With these additional 10 tweaks, you should feel right at home in your Ubuntu installation, which can easily make or break your Linux experience. There are so many different ways to customize your experience to make it suit your needs; you just have to look around for yourself to see what you want.

What other tweaks and recommendations can you share with readers? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Home doormat Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Linux Tweaks, Ubuntu.

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  1. rustyraptor
    August 20, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Does TLP reduce performance?

  2. Joe
    August 13, 2014 at 3:55 am

    I want one of those door mats!

  3. Andy
    August 12, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Rather than use Putty, get hold of PAC Manager. Multi-screens, and really works well.
    Oh, well - they're pretty lightweight, so get both...

      December 27, 2015 at 11:05 pm

      Me Too!!

    • kashu
      April 27, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      Me too.

  4. jeffrey jones
    August 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    install debian! there is a reason more linux distro's are based on Debian than any of the others(this includes Unbuntu).

  5. John S
    August 11, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    experiment and look around

  6. Sukhen M
    August 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Some of the applications (e.g. stock trading platforms made only on MS Windows OSs by brokers with no support for any Linux) appear to slow down while applying wine.

    • Avijit
      August 11, 2014 at 6:47 pm


      All of them possibly commercial software like Meta Treader or something similar. They don't have any Linux version. You can Check some alternatives in sourceforge or Google it.
      And WINE is a emulator grab the hardware resources and the main OS first and then serve you other application on top of it don't expect much speed with low powered computer!


  7. zahi
    August 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Replace Mozilla with Chrome

  8. tony garza
    August 9, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    LXLE --- great right out of the box .... Then add VLC . It had everything I needed right off the bat - VLC was my preference but the video player it had worked fine ....

  9. Ankit
    August 9, 2014 at 6:15 am

    I am surprised by the fact that nobody mentioned Synapse ( or Golden dictionary ( And of course you can have a better terminal ( and text editor(SublimeText).

  10. Zhong J
    August 9, 2014 at 2:46 am

    laptop-mode-tools is useful on conserving and preserving your laptop's power hardware. In some measures, CPU Governor is the right choice to call on underclocking your CPU to expand the life of your hardware. I would also recommend users to perform every daily task from the terminal and let it become your boy or girl friend. XMMS2 allows you to import music files and play it on the terminal whilst there are variety you should try. Finch is the derivative of Pidgin in modest of its graphical interface, however performs exactly like Pidgin. Nano, my all time favorite text editor has risen to replace gedit, but remind yourself that Emac is also the Chosen One.

    What tweaks you'll do next is highly subjective and sometimes, you don't care. But it does matter if you do.

  11. dragonmouth
    August 8, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    With the US government claiming that any data cloud storage servers is part of company's business records and therefore fair game for government inspection, is it advisable to use Dropbox, or any other cloud storage solution for that matter?

    BTW Danny, I bet you look real cute wearing those white sandals. :-)
    Or are they your better half's?

    • michel
      August 9, 2014 at 12:31 am

      They don't even respect their own laws, it doesn't matter what they say. If you surf, email, post or use cloud services, they will snoop on you if and when they feel like it. The price of being on the internet is being under the all-seeing eye, and there's nothing anyone can do about it with legislation or technology. Accept it or not. Note: I'm not claiming I like or support this, I'm just saying it is what it is and people should be aware.

  12. Keith Sanders
    August 8, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Installed the Cinnamon GUI on Ubuntu and that made me a happy camper. You can configure the panel location and it has a more traditional "start" menu. But, I have gotten to used to having the panel at the top, that I've changed my Win7 computer at work to have the start menu at the top.

  13. Hector G
    August 8, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I did a typo and meant, had and do apologize. Please keep Linux alive!

  14. Hector G
    August 8, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Enjoy your comments and tips, however there is one common thread I have noticed among Ubuntu and Linux advice, from every editor. Everyone , seems to place commands, like the ones in this column in a single line. New user have a heard time understanding Linux commands. I don't but have had friends, who read these articles and have encountered errors. Could we please, space or explain for newbies, that one sudo command at a time. Just a though. Keep up the great work!

  15. Malcul
    August 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    As a Windows 7 user I periodically install a variety of trial linux systems, but the very first problem is the screen acreage. It always seems 'low resolution'. I use 1920x1200 in windows and cannot imagine doing image work in less. Why can linux not use the same resolutions as windows on the same monitor?

    • Kevin
      August 9, 2014 at 2:26 am

      That sounds like you're having driver issues. I run 1920x1200 no problem. What graphics card do you have?

    • Malcul
      August 9, 2014 at 6:06 am

      It's an old card, NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT, but, I think, a good one.

  16. ?????? ?
    August 8, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Install Mint ;) Almost tweaks is from the box

    • Terry
      August 8, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Thats what I do

    • Col. Panek
      August 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Mint is Ubuntu with less arrogance and more useability.

  17. michel
    August 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I would feel more at home in Ubuntu if I could move the panel to the bottom. I know it's just a personal preference, but I can't understand why they think having it on the side is a good idea. Also, why hasn't any third party developed a fix for this?

    • Zack McCauley
      August 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Try ElementaryOS. It has a 'plank' (dock) at the bottom instead of the side. It really is faster too. If you want some more tools for it though, you will have to add them manually. Some I recommend:
      sudo apt-get gnome-system-manager gnome-disk-utility gparted

      sudo apt-add-repository ppa:versable/elementary-update && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install elementary-tweaks

      Install chrome, it has the built in flash and is cleaner anyway. OpenJDK is less of a pain in the arse to setup than the proprietary anyway. I haven't seen any difference between the two anyway.

    • Rael
      August 9, 2014 at 12:14 am

      Because everyone has a widescreen and then at left is the more logical place then Windows?

    • michel
      August 9, 2014 at 12:37 am

      First, not everyone has a widescreen monitor. Second, why not the right side, then? Why does it have to be what they want instead of what the user wants? Windows allows you to put the taskbar on any side you like, and all you have to do is click and drag. Isn't Ubuntu supposed to be better?

    • dragonmouth
      August 9, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      "Why does it have to be what they want instead of what the user wants?"
      Being a Window Fan, you should be used to the developer(s) ignoring the users.

      " Isn’t Ubuntu supposed to be better?"
      It is and the developers will tell YOU what is best for you. Sounds so much like a certain company up in the US Northwest.

    • cliff
      August 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

      you can go to the software center and install the cairo dock. Its pretty customizable and then just hide your side bar. Ive never used apple but I think its more like apple than the bottom windows toolbar

    • Richard B
      August 13, 2014 at 2:12 am

      I just wish we could put it where ever we wanted. That's the only problem I have with it.