15 Things to do after installing elementary OS

I installed elementary OS Juno on my laptop a few months ago. During this time I have made many adjustments to make elementary OS fit my needs. I summarize these adjustments in the 15 things to do after installing elementary OS Juno.

Content

  1. Install Firefox
  2. Install Tweaks
  3. Disable single-click
  4. Disable natural copy-paste in terminal
  5. Add minimize button
  6. Disable GRUB delay
  7. Install LibreOffice
  8. Install Clipped
  9. Install Codecs
  10. Activate Night Light
  11. Install Drivers
  12. Install GDebi
  13. Improve Laptop battery life
  14. Enable tray icons for third-party apps
  15. Install Synaptic

1. Install Firefox

Epiphany, the default web browser of elementary OS, is well integrated into the Pantheon desktop environment. But it is inferior to Firefox. From my experience, it fails to play some full HD videos smoothly and it lacks some key extensions I use in Firefox. Firefox, on the other hands, has no problem with playing full HD videos and has plenty of useful extensions. So, the first thing I did in my elementary OS is I replaced Epiphany with Firefox:

sudo apt install firefox
sudo apt remove epiphany-browser

2. Install Tweaks

Next, I have changed many other settings using the terminal or Dconf editor, but later I discovered that you can do all these changes with the nice graphical program elementary OS Tweaks. So, as a second thing to do after installing elementary OS, I recommend installing elementary-tweaks:

sudo apt install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:philip.scott/elementary-tweaks
sudo apt update
sudo apt install elementary-tweaks

Tweak will be available in your elementary OS Settings after the installation:

elementary OS Tweaks in the Settings

I will show how I used it in the next things to do after installation of elementary OS.

3. Disable single-click

The file manager of elementary OS uses a single click to open files and folders by default. It is also the default behavior of Plasma 5. Some users seem to like this behavior, but I do not. I also believe many new Linux users are used to double-click. So, I disable the single click. This is when elementary Tweaks come to play. Go to Settings → Tweaks → Files, and disable single-click:

Disable single-click in elementary OS Tweaks

Now, you can use your mouse pointer click in a traditional way with one-click to select and double-click to open.

4. Disable natural copy-paste in terminal

Another non-standard behavior of elementary OS is that by default you can use Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V to copy and paste in the terminal. Elementary OS tries to be friendly for new Linux users and I understand that. However, these shortcuts are not standard and confusing for users who have some experience of using the terminal. For example, Ctrl+C is usually used to interrupt the process in the terminal window. But in elementary OS it copies text. I prefer to use the standard shortcuts and I think new users should learn them too.

So, to disable these natural copy-paste shortcuts in the terminal and return the standard ones, open Tweaks and in the Terminal tab disable natural copy-paste.

Disable natural copy-paste for terminal in elementary OS Tweaks

After that, you will have to use Ctrl+Shift+C and Ctrl+Shift+V to copy and paste in the terminal. These shortcuts may feel little awkward if you are new Linux user but believe me after you get used to them you will appreciate them. The major advantage you can now use Ctrl+C to interrupt the running process in the terminal.

5. Add minimize button

Elementary OS has only close and maximize buttons by default:

elementary OS default title bar buttons

The Elementary OS team argues that instead of the minimize button, you should use the close button and the application should stay pre-loaded in the memory after you close it, so next time you open it, it opens very fast. But it seems that only elementary-specific applications behave this way. I am also conservative in my habits, so I prefer to have the minimize button:

elementary OS with minimize button in the title bar

To add the minimize button, open Tweaks again and in the appearance tab select Minimize left layout:

elementary OS title bar buttons options in Tweaks

There available some other options, check them out. You can have buttons like in Windows, Mac OS, Ubuntu, etc.

6. Disable GRUB delay

When you start your elementary OS, you likely see this GRUB menu:

GRUB menu in elementary OS

Unless you dual-boot and need to switch between elementary and Windows often, you can disable this menu and speed up your boot by a few seconds.

To disable the GRUB delay, open the GRUB config file:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

And set GRUB_TIMEOUT to 0:

Setting GRUB_TIMEOUT to 0 in GRUB config

Press Ctrl+O and Ctrl+X to save and exit from Nano editor. Then, update GRUB:

sudo update-grub

Reboot your system, and you won’t see the GRUB menu anymore. Your system will good starlight into your elementary OS without a GRUB delay. If you need to see the GRUB menu again, press the ESC key during startup of the system.

Note: If you dual-boot, GRUB_TIMEOUT to 0 may not work and you will still see the GRUB menu after the reboot. I am also a victim of this bug, I tried to fix it with different approaches including setting GRUB_RECORDFAIL_TIMEOUT, but it did not work. As a temporary solution, you can set GRUB_TIMEOUT to 1. You will see the GRUB menu for 1 second which is still less than the default 5 seconds.

7. Install LibreOffice

As my office of choice, I installed LibreOffice. I believe it is the best office suite for Linux:

sudo apt install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk3 libreoffice-style-elementary

The latter two packages are required to make LibreOffice look native in elementary OS. This is how LibreOffice looks in my elementary OS:

LibreOffice in elementary OS

If you do not get this look out of the box, navigate to Tools → Options → View → Icon Style and select the elementary style:

LibreOffice view styles

8. Install Clipped

After I tried to use the clipboard manager in Plasma 5, I cannot imagine my computer work without it. In Plasma 5, it is a part of the desktop, but in elementary OS you need to install a third-party app to get this functionality. I tried different programs and only Clipped worked the best:

Clipped in elementary OS

To install it, run:

sudo apt install com.github.davidmhewitt.clipped

Next, I recommend do create a keyboard shortcut for it. Go to Settings → Keyboard → Shortcuts and add this command com.github.davidmhewitt.clipped –show-paste-window and assign a shortcut for it. For example, I use Ctrl+Space:

Assigning a shortcut to Clipped in elementary OS

So, if I press Ctrl+Space, I will see the list of strings I copied recently. I can select the one I need from this list and paste it where I need. Try this program, I promise you won’t imagine your work without it after you start using it.

9. Install Multimedia codecs

If you play different media file, you may want to install media codes for some commonly used formats:

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras libavcodec-extra libdvd-pkg

10. Activate Night Light

Night Light reduces the blue light emission of your screen at night time. This reduces eyes strain and helps to fall asleep. More and more distros include it by default and elementary is not an exception. Just go to Settings → Display → Night Light and activate it:

Active Night Light in elementary OS

Now, your screen will be reddish at night which is better for your eyes.

11. Install Drivers

There are different ways to install the essential drivers. The easiest way is to run this command and it will help you to install all the necessary drivers:

sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall

My system doesn’t require any proprietary drivers, so I cannot show you all possible options. This is also the reason I moved this thing to do after install to the number 10. Please, share your experience with installing the drivers this way.

12. Install GDebi

GDebi helps to install deb packages with a graphical interface. This is also not what I do on my system because I am fine with using the command line. However, I know that many new Linux users prefer installing programs with a graphical interface. So, if you will need to install some non-official programs in deb packages, you would like to have GDebi. Install it:

sudo apt install gdebi

To test GDebi try to install any deb package:

Testing GDebi in elementary OS

13. Improve Laptop battery life

I use elementary OS on a laptop. So, I installed TLP package that reduces the number of running tasks in the background and thus extends the battery life.

You just need to install and forget about it:

sudo apt install tlp tlp-rdw

I installed it on my Acer Swift 1 laptop and I get the battery life of 6-8 hours, which is compatible with what I had with Windows 10 on this laptop.

14. Enable tray icons for third-party apps

Dropbox, Skype, and some other third-party apps use some outdated code for their tray icons and this code is not compatible with elementary OS Juno. So, you won’t see the tray icons for these apps. To fix this incompatibility you first need to edit the indicator-application by adding Pantheon to OnlyShowIn=Unity;GNOME; line in /etc/xdg/autostart/indicator-application.desktop:

sudo nano /etc/xdg/autostart/indicator-application.desktop

Edit indicator-application in elementary OS

Then install the old panel indicator (wingpanel-indicator-ayatan) by downloading it from launchpad.net and running:

sudo dpkg -i Downloads/wingpanel-indicator-ayatana_2.0.3+r27+pkg17~ubuntu0.4.1.1_amd64.deb

Now, log out and log in. The Dropbox tray icon or any other app will be visible in the system tray now:

Dropbox tray icon is enabled in elementary OS Juno

15. Install Synaptic

I list “Install Synaptic” as the last thing to do after installing elementary OS because I think Synaptic is rather a software manager for advanced users. Although its interface is not the prettiest, Synaptic is extremely reliable and powerful software manager. You can see the real package names instead of user-friendly names you see in the Elementary Software Manager. You will also find all available packages in Synaptic, while in the Elementary Software Manager, you will see only the pre-selected packages. There are also more options for installation in Synaptic, and you will find more advanced information about a program. For example, you can see all the dependencies.

Synaptic package manager

So, if you want to have access to more advanced features in your software manager, install Synaptic:

sudo apt install synaptic

Final thoughts

This was my list of 15 things to do after installing elementary OS Juno. I hope it was useful. Let me know what things you do with your elementary OS after the installation. I will add the most useful things to this blog post as an update.

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Average Linux User
Average Linux User I am the founder of the Average Linux User project, which is a hobby I work on at night. During the day I am a scientist who uses computers to analyze genetic data.

Comments





Olmstead

Thanks a lot for your useful article! I have customized my ElementaryOS at its best. I will just add Alacarte application to modify/customize the Application Menu and will add too the possibility from an internet search to add it as a web application. My favorite search engines (mojeek, searx, whoogle) are now just clickable in the application menu.


Prakhar Pandey

Prakhar Pandey

Hello… Its very annoying whenever I switch to full screen video in youtube and it moves to new workspace, that time I am also not able to use super key to show applications menu… How can I fix it.. I use elementary OS as my daily driver

Please help…


Patrick

Hello, thank you very much for the tweaks, they are a great help!

A have new installed Hera and the primary clipboard (mark text for copy an middle Mouseclick for paste) is not working … this ist very annoying.

Can someone confirm this?


Ephemerid

Hi! I'm currently using Elementary OS 5.1.7 Hera and have found your article very helpful. I just want to know whether to use “apt” or “apt-get” command for installing applications via terminal. Many thanks!


gorgeous

I am using elementary OS 5.1.7 for my 9 year daughter's PC. I have installed it with an admin account and then created a regular user account for her daily usage (no admin rights). From my admin account, I have installed LibreOffice from flatpak [https://flathub.org/apps/details/org.libreoffice.LibreOffice] because I have realized this is the only option to keep the suite updated - LibreOffice updates every time I run “sudo apt full-upgrade “. So my problem is: how to make the already installed desktop shortcuts of all LibreOffice applications to appear in the Applications menu of my daughters user account? I am seeing them in my admin account, but not when she is logged on. Many thanks in advance!


macmpi

Hi, Trying to do this on Hera to get some tiny Wake-on-LAN utility on the status bar, but I can’t get it to show-up although I have installed the required pieces. It does show-up if I enable trayer:

trayer --expand false --SetDockType false --widthtype pixel --width 200 --align right --iconspacing 15

Any hint?

macmpi

Skype (flatpak) does and works as expected; Dropbox (flatpak) does not seem to (though I can see some gray icon with forbidden sign. clicking on it shows a sort of useless grey bar underneath)


Kurt Fitzner

Kurt Fitzner

Great article! Some other essentials for me are: 16) Enable Desktop Icons Bring back desktop icons and allow right-clicking on the desktop for various conext menu goodies: $ sudo apt-get install com.github.spheras.desktopfolder

17) Add basic build tools There are basic compiler tools that every Linux installation needs, even if you don't write any software. For example, if you want to run elementary OS on a VirtualBox virtual machine and want to install the guest additions, then you need a compiler. $ sudo apt-get install build-essential

And for anyone who loves the alternative Palemoon browser as much as I do, then: $ sudo apt-key adv –keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 –recv F9611EC6ADCFDD303362217A0FAD31CA8719FCE4 $ sudo apt-add-repository “deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/stevenpusser/xUbuntu_18.04/ /” $ sudo apt-get install palemoon

For any of the above to work, you need to follow the instructions in step 2 in the article to enable apt-add-repository: $ sudo apt install software-properties-common

And now a warning - elementary OS is pretty, but they are intent on hamstringing you into their own personal walled garden. Choice is not high on their list of objectives. I agree that inundating the user with a bunch of mandatory configuration is daunting. But also hamstringing the user by taking away the ability to choose is confining and (for the user) dangerous. They left out the ability to add other software repositories as a design choice. Be careful before you get on the elementary OS slippery slope.



qeyedaye

Did you install the Dropbox app from app center? Or something else? I tried to install Dropbox package from terminal using dpkg -i but it showed dependencies.

Sorry for my too beginner questions




Chris

have tried few types of Linux based OSes, 2 Android and Elementary OS.. have to say that its not worth my time. yes, i know it is customizable and have lot less virus than Windows. but, after trying of those, i am beginning to feel that i am just wasting my time. they are just NOT stable. 2 Android OS, 1 cant detect my wifi, 1 cant detect my bluetooth, overall smoothly is not satisfactory. i have trouble running external monitor from ALL of them, no option to switch off the internal monitor for Android OS, and problems doing it with elementary. they are just NOT convenient. well, i will stick to windows or mac os till when the LINUX problems is actually solved. sad to say, for now, u cant use these OS as daily driver. i like the look of elementary OS tho




Frank

almost everything worked, to those trying new systems out 5.0 is great out of the box if you're here more than likely you want more. My only gripe is not being able to access windows apps, yes I have wine and wineglass. IMO linux mint and elementary are the best 2. if you are used to mac go ele and pc go LM. Ubuntu mate is also pretty good

John-Patrick Lestrade

John-Patrick Lestrade

I find that Virtual Box works great with Elementary OS. I installed it so that I can still use Quicken and Infoselect. It was very easy. There is nothing like the former in the linux world and I cannot find a good replacement for the latter.

John Patrick Lestrade

John Patrick Lestrade

Hi ALU, Thanks for the comment – which I just came across (!). I have transitioned over to KMyMoney. It is not nearly as polished as Quicken, but I am so tired of the greediness of Quicken (Intuit?) that I am forcing it to work. So far, so good.

John-Patrick Lestrade

John-Patrick Lestrade

Looking into it further, I don’t think that Envelope will allow the user to track investments: stocks and mutual funds, stock splits, dividend payouts, etc. It looks like it is only for checkbook/savings accounts. My search for a Quicken replacement goes on….thanks again.


johnnytucats

johnnytucats

Keep the second wifi icon from showing by keeping the applet from starting, found here: /etc/xdg/autostart/nm-applet.desktop

I just changed the name of it so that it wouldn't run:

sudo mv /etc/xdg/autostart/nm-applet.desktop /etc/xdg/autostart/nm-applet.desktop.old


simrim1

Hello Guys. I have messed with Grub menu entries. Will someone please help me sorting this out by sending me their grub.cfg file so I can recover my installation. I am not looking for this file from live USB but the one after installation from your hard drive. Thx




Ray

Hi ….. I can't call myself an average linux user because I'm a senior and have been using windows forever. I've tried different versions of linux and can't get them to work. I tried Elementary OS, Zorin, LXFE?, and Linux Mint a few years back. I couldn't get the command lines to work. Directions (or users) said type in 123abcXYZ. So I did and then pressed the enter key. The command line came back like I hadn't typed anything. What I'd like to find is a Simple version of linux for non programmers that understands things from windows and just works right out of the box. I have too many unfinished chores to do (old house and two old cars). I'm no good at multitasking anymore :-( Thanks


Filipe

Hi again, I tested elementary OS 5.0 on my HP EliteBook 8440p and everything work fine.

On Grub I change: GRUB_TIMEOUT=0

and I put, GRUB_GFXMODE=1600x900 %my screen resolution GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX=keep

Using the command below Nvidia drivers were installed with no issue:

sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall

Regards

Filipe

Well, after install everything that I needed on ElementaryOS 5.0 sometimes the OS block. When it block any keyboard key works, just a forced restarted solved it. With Linux Mint 19.2 everything works OK.

Filipe

Well, I tested the following linux distros on my HP EliteBook 8440p:

  • Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS (Nvidia version)
  • Pop!_OS 19.04 (Nvidia version)
  • Debian 10
  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
  • Ubuntu 19.04
  • Elementary OS 5.0, and
  • Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.2

From the above linux distros, the one that everything works well, including Nvidia Drivers, is Linux Mint 19.2! The linux distros that Nvidia drivers worked well were:

  • Elementary OS 5.0, and
  • Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.2

However, Elementary OS 5.0 freezes sometimes. So, my linux distro of choice is Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.2!

Average Linux User

Average Linux User

So, I think you found your distro. I would recommend LM too. Elementary OS is a fantastic distro but it occasionally has some problems. Regarding the freezes, I only had my mouse pointer freezes. I fixed it by changig touchpad settings from “Advanced” to “Basic” in BIOS.


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