There are a lot of things that make people switch to Ubuntu. Perhaps it’s older hardware
that needs a refresh, or a complete loathing of all things Apple and Microsoft, or maybe
a desire to run all open or free source software. However, I would hazard a guess that
for many of us, a desire to tweak, alter, and otherwise change our desktop experience is
at the top of our lists of why we use Ubuntu.
But with all of the resources we have available in free software and the ability to dig into
the open source and change for our own tastes, we all occasionally run into a wall of
lack of inspiration of just what to customize, or what new usability tweak to try out. So
I’ve gathered up some of the things I’ve done to my Ubuntu system to help it look great
and work better for, as well as some other ideas and links to other guides we’ve done
on customizing Ubuntu. Hopefully some of these ideas and guides can help you out if you’ve run into a dry spell of inspiration, or as a place that you can point new users to get them started in Ubuntu.
Install Some Stuff
This is an obvious section if you’ve been using Ubuntu for any amount of time, and has been well covered in our previous posts on what to do after installing Ubuntu, but it still bears mentioning. Head to the Software Center and grab the Restricted Extra’s package, the Compiz Config Settings Manager, and maybe some apps like Docky, AWN, or Gnome-Do to help with app launching and such. Go to the websites and grab some .debs for Ubuntu Tweak, Skype, Dropbox, and other handy apps.
My must have applications are as follows:
- Chromium (In Software Center)/Chrome
- Comix (Software Center)
- Docky (Software Center
- Gnome-Do (Software Center)
- Synergy (Software Center)
- Getting Things Gnome! (Software Center)
- Customize Notification Bubbles
- Alter your Icon theme colors
- Customize your Panel Clock (I’ve gotten tons of questions about this one)
- Hack which Apps open on Which Workspace
- Theme your Grub Menu
- Native Firefox Notifications
- Lucid Conky Bar
- Use Alternative Menus and Panels
Other Random Tidbits
Eventually I’ll have more things to go here, as only one or two tricks pop into mind. But a nice quick trick for those of you with more than one computer and with some torrents to seed (and yes, there are perfectly legitimate uses for torrents besides piracy) than you can set up Dropbox and Transmission to give you headless control of your downloads.
- First of all, install Dropbox on the computer and set up an account if you haven’t already.
- Then, navigate to the preferences menu of Transmission. In the first check box, activate it, then direct it to your dropbox folder to watch for new torrent files.
- Then click over to the Web tab, and activate the web Client, and put on a password and such. Make a note of the settings, you don’t want to set it to only be accessible from an IP address you’re not using!
- Now all you have to do is download a torrent file, drop it in your dropbox folder, and it will automatically get synced over to the other computer, and just automatically get added to transmission! To check on the progress of your torrents or pause or what have you, open a web browser to:
- where the ip address is obviously the IP of the computer running transmission, and the port is whatever you had it set to in the settings (probably 9091)