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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 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.
(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
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. 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.
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, MATE or any of the other, smaller alternatives. We recently looked at the best alternative desktop environments, 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.
If you don’t use Dropbox, or don’t want to, the cross-platform alternatives aren’t great. Fortunately, a handful of Linux clients 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. 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.