The must-dos for getting the most out of any Ubuntu system...rn
By Swapnil Bhartiya, CIO
The Ubuntu project recently announced the release of Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) and its official flavors such as Kubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, etc. Different ‘Ubuntus’ come with different desktop environments that have different sets of applications pre-packaged. But there are certain things that any Ubuntu user should do to get most out of the distro, regardless of the flavor. Here are a few of things I recommend you do after installing Ubuntu… any Ubuntu, for that matter.
#1: Keep your system secure
Many users believe that running Linux makes them immune to viruses and attacks. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s not true. No system is immune to vulnerabilities. It’s the practices we follow that makes it secure.
Linux vendors, thanks to the open source model, are very agile when it comes to patching holes. They release fixes in a matter of hours or days. When a bug is detected vendors patch it and release the fix, which users get in the form of ‘updates’.
Most users tend to ignore update warnings, however, which leaves their systems vulnerable to attacks. My advice to you: Always keep your systems updated.
The first thing you should do after installing Ubuntu is update it. Open the terminal and run these 3 commands:
sudo apt-get update
This command will refresh the information your system has on enabled repositories so that it knows which packages have updates. Then run the following command, which will actually install updates:
sudo apt-get upgrade
I also recommend running the following command, as the simple ‘upgrade’ command doesn’t install kernels and do more serious upgrades:
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Don’t be confused by the term ‘dist’ in there. It won’t upgrade your distro from one version to another. You can read more about the difference between the two commands here.
#2 Enable extra repositories
Ubuntu doesn’t come with many proprietary applications such as Skype or Adobe Flash, etc. To make it easier for users, Canonical has partnered with some of these providers and offers binaries through an additional repository called ‘Canonical Partners,’ which needs to be enabled. Once this repo is enabled users can install apps like Skype easily.
Unfortunately, different Ubuntu flavors use different tools for software management, which makes it hard to point to one solution for enabling the partner repository. You can either install yet another application called ‘synaptic’ that allows a consistent way to manage software across flavors or you can use the command line. Don’t worry. It’s easy.
First, we need to edit the source list file to add the Canonical Partner repository. Open the terminal app and run the following command to edit the source.list file using the nano editor (or you can use any editor of your choice).
sudo nano /etc/apt/source.list
In that file scroll to the bottom and add this line:
http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu wily partner
Then use Ctrl+X keys to save and close the file in nano. It will ask whether you want to save the file. Type ‘y’ for yes and hit the enter key.
Then refresh the repositories:
sudo apt-get update
#3 Install codecs
Now install some codecs and drivers. Once again, open the terminal, refresh the repositories (you must do this before installing any package or updating the system) and then run the following commands:
(Note: If you are running flavors like Kubuntu you can instead use kubuntu-restricted-extras kubuntu-restricted-addons).
These will install much needed codecs, such as gstreamer, and an installer for Microsoft fonts on your system (note: you will have to accept Microsoft EULA in order to install such fonts).
#4: Install Graphics drivers
By default, Ubuntu distributions come with free and open source drivers for the video cards or GPUs used on your systems. But using proprietary drivers will give you better graphics support.
Just open the ‘Additional Drivers’ tool on your system (on Kubuntu use Driver Manager) and let it scan the proprietary hardware connected to your system. It will detect all proprietary hardware installed on your system and offer available drivers. You can now choose the driver you want and install with one click.
#5 Install extra software
Different Ubuntu flavors come with different applications, so these may already be installed on your system. I routinely install VLC for video playback, Handbrake for video conversion, GIMP for image manipulation, and LibreOffice for word processing. To install these applications run the following command (after refreshing the repos):
There are many other commercial applications that are not available through official repositories. You can install Google Chrome (which is partially open source) and Dropbox (as there is no official Google Drive client for Linux) by downloading the .deb files to your system.
#7 Disable ads in Ubuntu
Ubuntu, despite heavy criticism, crams ads in the Dash. It’s not at all useful and is annoying. To keep the dash clutter free open the ‘System Settings’ and go to Security & Privacy. There, under the ‘Search’ tab, toggle the switch to ‘off.’
Under the ‘Files & Applications’ tab you can also fine tune what kind of content you want to see in Dash. I usually disable ‘Pictures’ as I don’t want family pictures to show up while I am giving a work presentation.
That’s pretty much what I recommend on a Ubuntu-based system. From among all of these understanding the security part and keeping your system updated is the most important thing you must do on your system, whether it’s Linux, Mac OS X, iOS or Android. Even fortified walls won’t protect you if you leave your doors and windows open.