How to fix Ubuntu 12.04 / 12.10

The latest version of Ubuntu is out.  Time to fix it up a little. This assumes a clean install of 12.04.

Basics

The first thing to do is to fix your software sources. Press the “Super Key” (a.k.a. the Windows Key of the Start Key) and type “software” (without the quotes).  Now pick the Ubuntu Software Center.  Once it loads, move your mouse to the very top-left of the screen and you’ll see a menu pop up.

  • Click on Edit –> Software Sources. Make sure all of the options on the first tab are checked (except the CD).
  • Where it says “Download from:” click the drop down and select “Other”.
  • Click “Select Best Server” and let it run a search.
  • Once it has found the best server, click Choose Server and Close.
  • On Other Sources tab, check Conical Partners and Independent.
Note:  For the items in grey boxes going forward,  you'll be typing these into a terminal.  Hit the Super Key, type "terminal" and click on it to launch the terminal.

When you’re done, close the Software Center, and execute the following:

sudo apt-get update

Install synaptic.  The Ubuntu Software Center is nice, but I don’t like all of the advertisements and non-free software.  I like to use good ol’ synaptic for installing software.

sudo apt-get install synaptic

Install vim.  This may be a true linux geek only requirement (optional for the rest of the world).  But I still find vim to be the quickest text editor in linux.  I’m surprised to find that it isn’t installed by default.

sudo apt-get install vim

Add aliases.  If you use the command line at all, these are nice little short cuts to help you save some key strokes.  I’m using gedit here, you can substitute your favorite text editor (vim, nano, etc).  You can add more aliases and modify the items below, as you see fit.

gedit ~/.bash_aliases

Insert the following to the new file:

alias cls='clear'
alias e='exit'
alias pico='nano'
alias h='history'
alias m='more'
alias cd..='cd ..'
alias df='df -h -t ext3 -t vfat -t reiserfs'
alias sag='sudo apt-get'

Save and exit.

Now, we should  bring back the hibernate option.

sudo gedit /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/hibernate.pkla

Add this text, then save and close (you’ll have to log out and log back in for it to take effect):

[Re-enable Hibernate] 
Identity=unix-user:*
Action=org.freedesktop.upower.hibernate
ResultActive=yes

Fix multimedia. Because of legalities, blah, blah, blah, this stuff can’t be installed by default.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Now, make sure even encrypted dvds will play. Check out https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats/PlayingDVDs for the full description.  Bottom line, you’re going to execute:

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

If you’re using one of the newer Intel processors, and you want to make sure your graphics information displays correctly (System > Graphics), install the following:

sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

Selecting a Desktop Manager…

Your first big choice with Ubuntu (and Linux is all about choices) is what desktop manager do you want to use.  You can stick with Unity (also called Ubuntu in the login manager) if you like and tweak it, or you can switch (as I prefer) to Gnome.  Which ever you prefer, follow the appropriate section below.

Unity

Install a Unity configuration tool. For this, you’ll want myunity.  This will allow you to do some pretty cool things with tweaking Unity.

sudo apt-get install myunity

With the Unity gobal menus, you can do a couple of things.  You can add it to LibreOffice:

sudo apt-get install lo-menubar

Or you can get rid of them completely:

sudo apt-get autoremove appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt

In Firefox, Go to ‘Tools’ –> ‘Add-ons’ –> ‘Extensions’ and Disable ‘Global Menu Bar integration’

One last thing to make Unity the way it should be, you can move the Min/Max/Close buttons back to the right.

sudo apt-get install gconf-editor
gconftool-2 --set /apps/metacity/general/button_layout --type string ":minimize,maximize,close"

 

Gnome 3

Or maybe Unity is not your thing.  You can always install Gnome(version 3.2.1 at the time of this post).  This should now install both Gnome-shell and what used to be a separate gnome-fallback-session.  Once the install is complete, log out, drop down the little circle to the right of your name, and select Gnome.

 sudo apt-get install gnome

If prompted during the install, I recommend you select lightdm over gdm.  You’ll be promoted if you are required to make this choice.  You can always change your mind using “sudo dpkg-reconfigure”.  

Now, restart and when the login manager comes up, click the little circle icon next to your username, and a menu will pop up.  Select Gnome and enter your password.  And it’s goodbye Unity, hello Gnome!

Now we need a configuration tool for Gnome.

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

Now that you have it installed, lets get all three buttons (min/max/close) back.

gnome-tweak-tool

Under ‘Shell’ -> ‘Arrangement of title bar buttons’ -> All.

Play around with some of the other options while you’re in there.

While this will fix most programs, some like Chrome will still need some work.  This can be accomplished with gconf-editor

sudo apt-get install gconf-editor
sudo gconf-editor

Under ‘apps’ -> ‘metacity’ -> ‘general’ look for ‘button_layout’ and edit it to say (without the quotes) ”menu:minimize,maximize,close” then press Enter

We can add a little eye candy while we’re at it.  This will add some Gnome icons and themes.

sudo apt-get install gnome-colors
sudo apt-get install gnome-themes-extras

Time to add some extensions.  Go to https://extensions.gnome.org/.  Installing an extension is as simple as finding one, clicking on it, then clicking the “On” button.  It will ask you if you want to install it, click ‘yes’.  You may have to use gnome-tweak (search for Advanced Settings or gnome-tweak using the Super key) to enable the Shell Extension.  Worst case, hit Alt + F2 then type ‘r’ (without the quotes) to restart gnome.  Extensions I consider worth installing.

Alternative Status Menu
Dash And Overview Click Fix
Remove Accessibility  
Advanced Settings in UserMenu
AlternateTab
Media Player Indicator
SettingsCenter
Advanced Volume Mixer
Battery remaining time and percentage
CPU Temperature Indicator

Once these are all installed, you can turn them off (and back on) through gnome-tweak-tool.   One of the extensions above added this to  your User menu (click on your name in the top right of the screen) and under Advanced Settings. Now, if you really want to dive into configuring the Gnome 3 (shell) interface, you can play around with the css that drives the layout (Advanced users only!).  I recommend making a backup copy first.

sudo gedit /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/gnome-shell.css

Programs

Each of these programs are optional, but I feel they add to a more functional Ubuntu machine.

Install Google Chrome web browser.  The quickest way is to download it from google:  https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/ When prompted, click that you want to Open the file.  Once it has downloaded, double click on the file and it should open the Ubuntu Software Center.  Click Install.

One of my favorite pieces of software is GIMP.  Think of it as PhotoShop, for free.

sudo apt-get install gimp

One media player that I think should come standard is vlc.

sudo apt-get install vlc

For any audio editing, a must have is Audacity.

sudo apt-get install audacity

You should also install Java.  Check out this site for detailed instructions: http://www.wikihow.com/Install-Oracle-Java-on-Ubuntu-Linux And, if you followed the instructions above, copy the following text into a script and then run it to enable the java browser java plugin (Firefox, Chrome, etc).  *You’ll need to do this for each user on your system.*

JAVA_HOME=/usr/local/java/jdk1.7.0_05/
MOZILLA_HOME=~/.mozilla
mkdir $MOZILLA_HOME/plugins
ln -s $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/i386/libnpjp2.so $MOZILLA_HOME/plugins

This allows you to resize images from the context (right click) menu of Nautilus.

sudo apt-get install nautilus-image-converter

The screensaver in Ubuntu 12.04 really leaves a lot to be desired.  A small step forward is to install xscreensaver.

sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver
sudo apt-get install xscreensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-data-extra

To make it autostart when you login

sudo gedit /etc/xdg/autostart/screensaver.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Screensaver
Type=Applicaton
Exec=xscreensaver -nosplash

Skype – Download from their website: http://www.skype.com/intl/en/get-skype/on-your-computer/linux/

Filezilla- An ftp client.

sudo apt-get install filezilla

Virtual Box – Run other operating systems in Linux.  Download from their website: https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Linux_Downloads

Remote Access

Now that you have this nice, beautiful Ubuntu machine set up you might want to access it from other computers.

The first thing to do is to make it so you can access files remotely to other Ubuntu and Windows machines.  For this, we’ll use Samba.  Setting up Samba is well documented, so I’m not going to cover it here.  Google is your friend.  The command to install Samba is:

sudo apt-get install samba

Install an ssh server so you can remotely connected via the command line (you’ll need an ssh client on the remote machine).

sudo apt-get install openssh-server

If the command line isn’t your thing, you can install a Remote Desktop sever.  This will let you connect to this computer just like you were sitting in front of it, only from a remote computer.  Note:  This method will only work with Ubuntu 12.10 or newer.

sudo apt-get install xrdp

You can also access the desktop remotely using a VNC sever.

sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

 

Software for Geeks (Advanced Users)

Install a LAMP server.  A LAMP server is everything you need to host a webpage from your computer.  This is not a common thing for a desktop, but could be very useful as a test server if you develop webpages or want to learn how to make webpages before investing in a hosting account.

sudo apt-get install apache2
sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5
sudo apt-get install mysql-server

You'll need to set up your mysql server, depending on your configuration.

Install gparted.  This is a partition editing tool and should be used with caution.  If you don’t understand disk partitioning, do not install this!

sudo apt-get install gparted

Summary

And there you have it. You should now have a fully functional Ubuntu machine capable of doing almost anything you need (and then some).

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