Looking for a list of things to do after installing Ubuntu 18.04 LTS? Well, you’ve only gone and found one!
Our savvy selection of tips, tricks and ‘things to do’ help make Ubuntu 18.04 easier and more pleasant to use. The aim? To give you the best possible experience.
From common-sense suggestions and nifty tweaks to helpful advice and pertinent pointers, our list doesn’t care if you’re a bash-hardened stalwart or a fresh-faced newbie. There’s something for everyone.
Use the comments section at the bottom of the article to share you own post-install must-dos with other readers.
11 Things To Do after Installing Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
1. See What’s New in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is big update. It features a tonne of new features and significant changes. There’s a new desktop, a new Linux kernel, new apps — pretty much a new everything!
So before you do anything else you should get up to speed with what’s new in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.
And to help you do exactly that that we’ve put together the 3 minute 45 second video you see above.
2. Make Sure You’re Up-to-Date
Additional updates to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS may have been released since you made your install USB or disc.
To find out if any security fixes or bug patches are waiting for you you’ll want to check for updates manually.
Just tap the Windows/super key (or click the ‘apps’ button at the bottom of the dock) to open the apps menu. Search for ‘Software Updater’. Launch the app to check for updates, and install all of those that are available.
3. Enable Media Codecs
Ubuntu offers to install third-party codecs, restricted extras (like the Adobe Flash plugin) and proprietary drivers automatically as part of the install process.
But if you if you didn’t notice the tick box during install (or forgot about it entirely) you won’t be able to play MP3 files, watch online videos, or take advantage of improved graphics card support until you install all of the relevant packages.
4. Enable ‘Minimize on Click’ for the Ubuntu Dock
The Ubuntu Dock (the task bar that sits on the left-hand side of the screen) makes it easy to open, manage and switch between your favourite apps and those you have running.
I like to click on an app icon in the Dock to both restore, switch to and minimise it. This is the default behaviour in Windows.
But by default the Ubuntu Dock has this option turned off.
Thankfully you can enable minimise on click for the Ubuntu Dock easily, just by running this command in the Terminal application:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock click-action 'minimize'
The change takes effect instantly.
You can also move the Ubuntu dock to the bottom of the screen. To do this open Settings > Dock and set your desired position from the drop-down menu provided.
5. Unlock hidden settings with ‘Tweaks’
The Tweaks app (which used to be known as the GNOME Tweak Tool) is a bona-fide must have app for the Ubuntu desktop — no question!
Tweaks lets you access an array of settings and options that the standard Ubuntu Settings panel doesn’t.
Using Tweaks you can:
- Change GTK theme
- Move window buttons to the left
- Adjust mouse/trackpad behaviour
- Enable ‘battery percentage’ in the top bar
- Change system fonts
- Manage GNOME extensions
And a whole lot more!
For this reason we think Tweaks is an essential tool to have around. Better yet, you can install it with a quick click:
6. Enable ‘Night Light’ for Better Sleep
Most of us know that gawking at a computer screen before bed can affect our ability to sleep properly.
Ubuntu 18.04 ships with a “night light” feature built-in. When enabled this adjusts the colors of your display to appear warmer by reducing the amount of disruptive blue light your screen emits.
This, studies show, helps to promote natural sleep patterns.
You can enable Night Light in Ubuntu automatically from sunset to sunrise (recommended), or as and when you need it using the Status Menu. You can also set up a custom schedule to match your sleep patterns.
To try the feature out just head to Settings > Devices > Displays and check the box next to “Night Light”.
7. Laptop Tweaks
Ubuntu 18.04 makes a couple of minor changes to the way the OS runs on laptops and portable devices.
For instance, to right-click method on touchpads without a physical button you need to perform a two-finger click (just tap anywhere with two fingers). Clicking in the bottom right area of the touchpad no longer works.
If you don’t like this behaviour — and there’s a fair chance you might not — you can use the Tweaks app (see step #5) to change the setting.
You can also use Tweaks to:
- Change scrolling direction;
- Adjust right-click behaviour;
- Adjust power-off settings and;
- Enable battery percentage in the top bar
Let us know what you think about this changes in the comments.
8. Install a Better Ubuntu Theme
See the desktop above? It’s the same Ubuntu 18.04 install you have but it’s using a different GTK theme.
Ubuntu’s default theme is called ‘Ambiance’. It is perfectly pleasant but it hasn’t changed much since it was introduced…
Which was back in 2010.
So one of my top things to do after installing Ubuntu 18.04 is to change GTK theme to something that looks more modern.
And the easiest way to give Ubuntu a new feel is to install the Communitheme from Ubuntu Software.
Once installed you need to restart your computer, and select the ‘Ubuntu with communitheme snap‘ session from the login screen:
9. Explore GNOME Extensions
Ubuntu’s switch to the GNOME Shell desktop is, as we note in our Ubuntu 18.04 review, a big deal.
There are plenty of pros and cons, but one define pro is one if you love adding extra functionality to your desktop.
You can install and use of hundreds of awesome extensions that are available for free on the GNOME Extensions website.
Like web browser add-ons extensions for the GNOME desktop are a quick way to add extra features and other functionality. Or, if you’re more daring, even transform the way your desktop looks entirely:
You can install GNOME Extensions using your browser, too. This means you won’t need to tussle with tarballs or muck around with manual downloads.
To get started you’ll need to install 1) a web-browser add-on (the website will prompt you to do this) for, and 2) the chrome-gnome-shell host connector on your desktop (despite having ‘chrome’ in the name it works with Firefox):
Once done you can browse the GNOME extension website in Firefox or Google Chrome. When you see an extension you want to try simply slide the toggle button from ‘off’ to ‘on’ to prompt installation:
But there are plenty more available too.
There are some of the best GNOME Extensions available include:
- Dash to Panel – combines top bar and dock into a single panel
- Pixel Saver – reduces size of maximised window titles
- Arc Menu – add a traditional app menu to your desktop
- Gsconnect – connect Android to Ubuntu desktop wirelessly
- Screenshot Tool – take screens snippets and upload to the cloud
Feel free to share your favourite GNOME Extensions in the comments.
10. Stock up on Snap Apps
Snaps are a great way for app developers to distribute software to Linux users, regardless of which distro they use.
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS gives access to the Snap Store via Ubuntu Software center.
Snaps are a big deal on an LTS release because they allow app developers to release app updates more often than the standard repo allows.
You can install the latest versions of some well-known and popular software from the Snap Store, including:
- Spotify – music streaming service
- Skype – video calling
- Mailspring – modern desktop email client
- Corebird – native desktop Twitter app for Linux
- Simplenote – cloud-backed note taking
- VLC – the media player that needs no introduction
No more post-install PPA panic!
11. Future Proof your system with Flatpak
Snaps aren’t the only “universal” packaging format in town. Flatpak also lets app developers distribute apps securely and safely to Linux users.
Ubuntu 18.04 supports Flatpak but it is not enabled out-of-the-box. To use Flatpak apps on Ubuntu you’ll need to install the following packages:
Once done you’ll need to install the Flathub repository. This is the quasi-official Flatpak app store.
You can follow along to the official set-up guide on the Flatpak website. Alternatively, when you first download an app from the Flathub app store website the Flathub repo, the app you want, and any runtimes it needs to work are automatically pulled in.
Using Flathub you can install the latest versions of popular apps like (get ready for déjà vu) Skype, Spotify, LibreOffice, VLC, and Visual Studio Code.
Some other software is available from Flathub, including:
- Audacity – open-source audio editor
- Geary – open-source desktop email app
- Discord – closed-source voice chat
- FIleZilla – open-source FTP & SSH client
- Lollypop – open-source Linux music player
- Kdenlive – open-source video editor
If you’re starting fresh try to resist the temptation to add a load of PPAs and external repos as everything you might want can be snagged from Flatpak, Snap or from the main archives.
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