Ubuntu is perhaps the most popular Linux distribution on the planet. This is due to ease of use and a large number of programs available, but it is always possible to improve its user experience. That’s why I will show you these 30 things to do after installing Ubuntu 18.04.
You can watch the video tutorial or continue reading below.
1. Configure the update manager and repositories
In the first place, you must configure the software sources from which APT will take the packages that will be downloaded to your Ubuntu.
If you go to the application menu and search for updates, you will see this Software & Updates manager. Open it.
You should have the main, universe, restricted and multiverse options active but not the source code. These are the official Ubuntu repositories.
In the installation, Ubuntu selects the default server in your country to download updates, but not necessarily the fastest. However, you can switch to the fastest repository mirror.
Click on Download from, then on other, and finally on Select Best Server.
After the test is done, select the recommended server. To apply the change, you need to enter your administrative password. Now, you will be downloading the updates from the fastest server.
Next, I recommend enabling the repository of Canonical partners. Click on the Other Software tab and check Canonical partners.
Then, in the Updates tab, you can configure what to update and how often to check for updates. I do not recommend making changes in this section.
However, I recommend to sing up for livepatch, which is a technology developed by Canonical to allow installing Kernel security patches without the need to reboot the system. With this intention, you just have to click on the Sign in button and enter our Canonical account data. If you don’t have one, you can create it there.
Finally, you can now run the Software Updater from the launcher and install all the updates.
When you have finished installing security updates and patches, restart your operating system.
2. Install Drivers
After Installing Ubuntu 18.04, you can install drivers from the same Software & Update application. Go to the Additional Drivers tab and wait for some time while the program is analyzing your system. If you have any proprietary hardware, it will show you options for installing it. Install any suitable drivers. When finished, you need to restart the system.
3. Install Synaptic package manager
Synaptic is a grephical package manager that uses APT. It is not the most user-friendly package manager, but it is extremely reliable. Unfortunately, Ubuntu Software Center doesn’t work well all the time. In other words, Synaptic is a “rock”.
Search for Synaptic in your launcher and there should be an option to install it.
4. Install additional codecs, MS fonts, flash, and a few more useful packages
To be able to play all video and music formats, you need to install
ubuntu-restricted-extras package. I will use Synaptic this time.
Open Synaptic, and in the Search field, type
ubuntu-restricted-extra. Next, mark it for installation with right mouse button.
If you are going to play DVD, then install this DVD library
libdvd-pkg as well.
If you need to run Java applications, search for
openjdk-8-headless packages and install them too.
You can keep searching and installing as many packages as you want. When you’re done, click Apply.
However, during the installation the
libdvd-pkg package must be configured from the terminal. Copy that command that appears during the installation process as in the image above, and once the whole installation process is over, open a terminal and run it.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg
I also recommend you to install the
apt-xapian-index package, which is a quick search engine for Synaptic.
5. Install microcode
Microcode is the firmware for your processor, it is recommended to install for better performance and to receive the processor firmware updates. It is good to have it on your system.
Open Synaptic, and search for microcode. You will see two options:
amd64-microcode; you must choose according to your processor. I have an Intel processor, that’s why I will install the
6. Activate minimize to Dock
If you click on the icon of any application in the dock, it will not minimize. There are two ways to fix this issue: one through the command line interface and another in a graphical way.
Through the command line interface, you only have to open a terminal and run:
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock click-action 'minimize'
To do this graphically, you must install the
dconf-editor package through Synaptic.
Once installed, open Dconf Editor go to org -> gnome -> shell -> extensions -> dash-to-dock. Scroll down until you find click-action. Here, you switch off the default value and select minimize.
After this, when you click on the icon of any application in the dock, it will minimize and on the second click maximize. This is way better than the default behavior.
7. Decrease Swap Use
Swap is the space on your hard drive that is used to store the data when there is not enough RAM. It’s faster than your hard drive, so it is better to use it at maximum. By default, Ubuntu has a balance swapiness value of 60, but you can force the system to use as much RAM as possible and write to the disk only when most of the RAM is in use.
If you want to check your swapiness value, run in a terminal:
Next, edit the default value:
You must enter your password. Scroll down the file and in the end, add:
vm.swappiness = 10
Save the changes and finally restart your computer. Now, you Ubunut will start writing files from RAM to a hard drive only when the RAM use reaches very high level.
8. Enable Drive Cache
Usually, the program waits until the data is written to the disk and it proceeds to the next step only after the write event. However, you can force your programs to cache the data and write it to the disk with some delay.
For the purpose of enabling the hard drive cache, go to the menu and search for the Disks application and open it.
Select the disk where Ubuntu is installed. Open the menu and select Drive settings. Then, go to the Write cache tab and enable it.
This should slightly improve the performance of your hard drive.
9. Reduce SSD Writes
There are two things that are necessary for good performance and a longer lifespan of an SSD drive. The first thing is Trim and the second is to reduce write cycles.
Ubuntu 18.04 already has trim enabled, so there’s no need to do anything.
However, the write to SSD cycles is not reduced by default. But, there is an option to unable very easy.
Execute in the terminal:
Find your SSD partitions, likely it is the partition that has sda in its name. Find the right partitions based on their size. And add
noatime before the word
errors. But DON’T do it for the Swap partition.
Save and close the file. Write to SSD cycles are reduced.
10. Set up Firewall
Ubuntu is already very secure and activating a firewall is not an essential security measure. However, it is better to be extra safe and the firewall doesn’t use many resources of your system.
Open Synaptic and install the
Once installed, open it. During its launch, you will be prompted for your password.
The settings are very simple here. You just need to enable it. This should be fine for the most of the users.
Although if you needed to make a new rule, click on the plus button. For example, you may want to use KDE connect, select Allow, Both Directions and in the applications select KDE connect.
The process is the same with the rest of the applications.
11. Configure Ubuntu settings
In this section, I will configure a few things after installing Ubuntu 18.04 to improve the desktop experience.
In a first place, I will configure Dock. Select Dock in the Ubuntu Settings:
You can move the dock panel to the bottom and also decrease its size.
Next, go to the Region & Languages and add any additional input languages, if you are multilingual.
In the options, I recommend setting different inputs for each window.
Next, click on manage installed Languages and install the necessary packages.
Night mode will reduce the amount of blue light at night time. In other words, it is great for your eyes and sleep. To enable it, go to Devices -> Display and activate the Night mode option.
Change the name of your computer
Go back and in the About tab, you can change the name of your computer.
Set your profile picture
And in the Users section, you can also set your profile picture:
12. Move Applications menu in Dock
When the Ubuntu dock is at the bottom, the location of the application menu is not the most convenient. I suggest to move it to the left.
First, open dconf Editor.
Go to Org > Gnome > Shell > Extension > Dash-to-dock. Search for Show-apps-at-top and turn it on.
And your Applications button is at a much more convenient place now.
13. Install GNOME Tweaks
If you want to modify GNOME, you need to install GNOME Tweaks to improve the experience after installing Ubuntu.
gnome-tweak-tool in Synaptic.
If you open Tweaks, you will find many useful settings for the GNOME desktop. For example, selecting new themes, modifying system fonts, or configurations related to energy management. You are welcome to explore this settings, you will also see some of the later in these things to do after installing Ubuntu 18.04.
14. Install GNOME Extensions
In a first place, install the
chrome-gnome-shell package in Synaptic, doing that will allow you to install extensions for GNOME Shell in an easy and simple way.
Go to the Gnome Extension website and Search for extensions you like. I will choose Dash to Panel. Install the browser extension here as well. Click on Allow, next Add and finally Ok.
Now, enable Dash to Panel extension:
Once the new extension is enabled, it will be enabled automatically. On the other hand, if you don’t like it, you can disable it from GNOME Tweaks.
To uninstall any extension, you open Software Center -> go to Installed -> Scroll to the end and remove extensions you don’t like.
15. Install Arc Menu
In fact, Arc menu is another GNOME Shell extension, and it’s really cool. Install it.
Arc menu is a more traditional menu and if you don’t like the dashboard menu, you probably will like this one.
You can go to GNOME Tweaks and change its settings.
For example, you can change its appearance.
There is one problem, however. You still have the Dashboard application menu in the bottom panel. To remove it, open dconf Editor. Go to Org -> Gnome -> Shell -> Extension -> Dash-to-dock -> search for Show-apps-button. And disable it.
You can also integrate this Arc menu with Dash to Panel. Open GNOME Tweaks, and enable Dash to Panel extension. In the setting of Dash to Panel, go to Behavior tab and disable the Application icon.
Your desktop will look like this with Arc menu and Dash to Panel extensions:
16. Install additional themes
Ubuntu is a very customizable operating system, that is, you can install many themes and change Ubuntu’s appearance.
First, you have to install User Themes GNOME Shell extension from the web.
Now, you can install other themes, for example, install Flat Remix theme. One of the most popular themes. Open Synaptic, go to the settings of the repositories. Then, other software tab and here click add and paste this repository address.
You will be asked to reload packages cache. Do it.
Next, search for
flat-remix package in Synaptic and install
Close Synaptic and open Tweaks. Now, you should see flat remix theme among the available themes. Select it.
masalla_1.1_all packages. You can install such DEB packages simply by double-clicking on them and installing through the Software Center.
You can also find some themes in a tar.gz archive. For example, Gnome-OSC theme. Download it.
Extract the archive. To install such a theme, copy the theme folders.
Go to your home folder and show hidden files through the menu.
And place them into the
.themes folder. If you don’t have such a folder, you must create it.
Open Tweaks and choose the newly installed theme.
Similarly, you can install Shell themes. Just place them in the
.themes folder and then activate it from GNOME Tweaks.
To install icons, and cursor themes, you extract them into the
.icons folder, then apply the change in GNOME Tweaks.
You can read a more detailed post about how to customize themes, icons, and layouts of Ubuntu 18.04.
17. Change Firefox Settings
Firefox is the default browser in Ubuntu and many Linux Distributions. It stands out for being open source and it also is customizable in many many ways. However, in this case, I’ll show you two things I always do to improve the browser experience.
First, Open Preferences, in the section, When Firefox starts, enable Show windows and tabs from last time. With this option every time Firefox starts, it will show the tabs you had open before closing it.
Next, click on the Firefox main panel and select customize. And add search field. This search field will be very useful if you want to search in Google an email address because if you type it in the direction bar, it will open the email application that the system has by default.
18. Enable Netflix support in Firefox
By default, Firefox does not support video playback from Netflix but don’t worry, this can be easily fixed.
Navigate to Firefox Preferences and search for DRM. Activate the Play DRM-controlled content check box.
Close Firefox, and go to Synaptic. Search for
libavcodec-extra package, and install it.
With this, you can enjoy Netflix in Firefox without any problems.
19. Tweak LibreOffice
You can speed up the open process for LibreOffice by disabling Java. Go to Tools -> Options and in the Advanced disable Use Java run-time environment.
You can also change the panel view of LibreOffice, if you go to View -> Toolbar Layout, you will see three options Default, Single Toolbar, and Sidebar. Of the three, I prefer Single Toolbar. Try them and choose the one you like.
Some users may prefer Ribbon layout of LibreOffice, i.e. Microsoft Office-like look. You can activate it by going to the menu Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> check Enable experimental features.
Restart LibreOffice. Go to View -> Toolbar layout and select Notebook.
Finally, you can also change the icons of LibreOffice. Open synaptic and install
After the installation, open LibreOffice, go to Options -> View and select Icon style Sifr.
LibreOffice with Sifr icons will look like this:
20. Enable Google Drive Integration
Ubuntu has built-in Google Drive integration. To enable it, you need to go to Settings -> Online accounts -> click on Google.
Type your username and password. Next, give it a permission to access your data.
Now, you Google drive is available from the file manager. If not, try to reboot your system
21. Schedule Backups
It is a good idea to make backups of the system in order to preserve our documents and files that you do not want to lose. Ubuntu already has a simple backup program. Open it from the menu.
In the Folders to Save section, you can define what folders to back up. For example, I will back up the Documents folder.
The application also lets you set which folders to exclude from the backup in the Folders to ignore section.
In Storage Location you can choose where you want to back up. You can use Google Drive, Nextcloud, Network Server, or a local folder.
If you configured online account or your local storage is permanently connected to your computer, it makes sense to configure the backup schedule.
The program will ask to install additional packages. Install them.
You can also encrypt your backup with a password.
After these few steps, automatic backup is configured. If you want to be little more advanced, you can also make backups with rsync.
22. Remove unnecessary software
Removing unnecessary programs is a good way to save space on your hard drive, so it’s a good thing to do. Open the Software Center. Go to installed applications and uninstall all programs you don’t need. For example, I uninstall all the games.
If you are an experienced Linux user, you can remove even more packages through the Synaptic package manager. For example, you can remove Bluetooth packages if you don’t have a Bluetooth.
But be very very careful. You may uninstall some crucial packages as dependencies. So, if you are unsure, do not remove anything from Synaptic.
23. Turn off startup applications
You can define which applications you want to run at system startup. Search for Startup Applications in the menu and open it. As you can see there aren’t many applications. This is because most of them are hidden.
To show all startup applications in Ubuntu, run this command in the terminal.
sudo sed -i 's/NoDisplay=true/NoDisplay=false/g' /etc/xdg/autostart/*.desktop
Now, as you can see your system is loaded with startup applications.
You can disable some of them if you don’t need them. For example, I disable Orca screen reader.
Remember, if there are fewer applications running at startup, the system will boot faster. However, if you are not sure which applications to disable, leave them that way to avoid creating instabilities.
24. Clean system (Bleachbit)
An operating system with the time of use begins to fill with useless files. To keep your system clean, you can install Bleachbit. Open Synaptic and search for
When the installation is complete, open it. You can do some setting here. For example, the whitelist will be very useful if you don’t want to remove files form specific location ever.
In the panel located on the left side, you choose what you want to clean. In a first place, it is a good idea to select all APT options. APT is a software manager backend. You can also delete cookies from your browser as well as the cache of installed applications.
Next, perform this cleaning.
You can see how much space has been cleaned. If you see Permission denied errors when running Bleachbit, it is because to perform these tasks with the packages Bleachbit needs root user privileges. To fix this error, run Bleachbit as a root user. Go to Menu and open Bleachbit (as root).
And perform APT cleaning again. Now, it worked.
As I said, it is important to clean the system from time to time in order to have space on your hard disk and make the system faster.
25. Install VLC
VLC is probably the best video player not only in Linux but even in Windows and Mac. It plays all formats and it has a simple interface. Moreover, you can even extract images form video with VLC and them make a GIF from them.
VLC is so good that it is practically obligatory to install it. You can install through Synaptic, but I want to show you another graphical way to install programs in Ubuntu. You probably didn’t know about it.
Type in your browser:
apt://vlc. Press enter. Select AptUrl.
You can see in the description what is going to be installed. Install VLC.
With VLC you can get the incredible flexibility to play multimedia files. If you want, you can modify its appearance. It also has an equalizer that you can adjust as you like. VLC even has some less know features.
26. Install Google Chrome
I know that some users prefer Chrome over Firefox. There are some valid reasons for this. To install it go to Google Chrome website.
When you finish downloading, you can install it by double clicking on the downloaded DEB file.
27. Install Dropbox
Dropbox is a very popular cloud syncing application. Many people around the world use it on computers. If you still don’t have a Dropbox account, you can sign up here.
To install Dropbox in Ubuntu, open Synaptic and search for Dropbox. And install
nautilus-dropbox package, if you use GNOME, which is a default desktop for Ubuntu.
After the installation, you can start Dropbox. It will ask you to install a proprietary package. Install it.
When the installation is completed, a sign in web-page will open. You can also see the Dropbox icon in your system tray. It is already running, you only need to sign in with your account to start syncing.
After you signed it, you should see the message that your computer is liked with your account. The Dropbox icon should change to a syncing icon after that.
28. Install Skype
Skype is getting less popular but it is still widely used especially by new Linux users. Fortunately, Skype for Linus has improver lately. So, you can install it from the Software Center.
Your Skype should be available on the menu. Open it.
When it opens, you need to sign in and you can start using it.
29. Install Spotify
Spotify is also available in the Software Center. Install it from there.
Log in and enjoy it.
30. Laptop Tweaks
If you are a user of a laptop, you may want to increase and optimize your Battery Life. You can do that by installing
After the installation, open the terminal and start the program:
sudo tlp start
tlp will improve the battery life of your laptop.
And that’s it. Personally, I do all these tweaks after installing Ubuntu 18.04 to improve the user experience. What about you? Do you find anything of these 30 things to do after installing Ubuntu useful? Would you add anything to this list? Let me know below.