30 Things to do After Installing Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

In this post, we are going to explore 30 things to do after installing the most popular Linux distribution - Ubuntu. If you are eager to learn what Focal Fossa brought to the table as well as some other tips and tricks, stay with me!

Content

  1. Software & Updates Manager
  2. Install drivers
  3. Activate minimize to Dock
  4. Decrease Swap use
  5. Install Codecs and Microsoft fonts
  6. Install JAVA
  7. Install additional apps
  8. Install Password Manager
  9. Configure Theme and Dock
  10. Configure Hi-DPI Display
  11. Turn on Night Light
  12. Add Online Accounts
  13. Automatic Date and Time
  14. Xkill shortcut
  15. Add/Remove Dock Apps
  16. Move Applications menu in Dock
  17. Enable GNOME Extensions
  18. Install Extensions app
  19. Install Tweaks
  20. Install additional themes
  21. Set up Firewall
  22. Change Firefox Settings
  23. Enable Netflix support in Firefox
  24. Change the look of LibreOffice
  25. Schedule Backups
  26. Test Webcam and Microphone
  27. Connect Android phone
  28. Check Snap apps
  29. Clean system Ubuntu-Cleaner
  30. Laptop Tweaks

1. Software & Updates Manager

Ubuntu downloads software updates from the main server by default. Depending on your location, the main server may not be the closest to you. To make the update process faster, let’s configure Ubuntu to use the closest server to your location.

Open menu → Software & Updates → Download from → Other → Select Best Server → Choose Server → Reload.

Configuring server for downloading updates in Ubuntu
20.04.

2. Install drivers

The very next essential thing to do is to install drivers for your system. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do in Ubuntu.

Open menu → Additional Drivers → Select the recommended drivers → Apply Changes.

Installing drivers on Ubuntu 20.04

3. Activate minimize to Dock

The most annoying “feature” in the default Ubuntu installation is the inability to minimize open app window by clicking on the app’s icon on the panel/Dock.

We can change this behaviour by using the Dconf Editor.

Open Ubuntu Software → Search for Dconf Editor → Install.

Open Dconf Editor → Search for click-action → Click on /org/gnome/shell/ extensions/dash-to-doc/click-action → Disable default value and select “minimize” as a custom value.

Enabling minimize to dock on Ubuntu 20.04.

4. Decrease Swap use

One of the ways to boost your system performance is by decreasing swappiness value. This feature forces your Linux system to use your RAM, instead of your hard drive. If you are not familiar with Linux swap, check out our article.

Check the current swappiness value by executing:

cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness # 60 (default)

Reduce the swap usage to 10:

sudo echo "vm.swappiness=10" → /etc/sysctl.d/100-manjaro.conf

Reboot your system and check the swappiness value:

cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness # 10

5. Install Codecs and Microsoft fonts

Due to some licensing issues codecs & Microsoft fonts don’t come pre-installed on Ubuntu. Without codecs, Ubuntu won’t be able to play certain media formats. The absence of Microsoft fonts will likely cause you issues if you work with Microsoft Office files.

Install them by running the following commands:

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extra libdvd-pkg ubuntu-restricted-addons

sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg

6. Install JAVA

Java is a popular programming language which many apps rely upon. Thus, it’s crucial to have Java installed to be able to run those apps.

sudo apt install openjdk-14-jre

7. Install additional apps

Ubuntu bundles essential apps for an average user, but you likely use other apps outside of Ubuntu ecosystem like:

  • Chromium/Chrome
  • Celluloid
  • Audacious/Clementine
  • Dropbox
  • Gimp
  • Spotify
  • Skype/Zoom
  • VS Code/Sublime
  • Simplenote/Cherrytree
  • Steam

You can install all these apps in the comfort of Ubuntu Software. The only exception is Celluloid which you can install by running the following commands:

​ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xuzhen666/gnome-mpv
​ sudo apt update
​ sudo apt install celluloid

8. Install Password Manager

In today’s modern age, using a password manager is a necessity. With the rise of quantum computing and more powerful hardware than ever, we need to take great care of our passwords.

Luckily, we have an open-source and easy to use password manager - KeePassXC.

Open Ubuntu Software → Search for KeePassXC → Install.

First and foremost, you’ll need to create a database which will store all your passwords. This database is only accessible by a single master password. Make sure it is a good password and you remmeber it.

After completing the database setup, KeePassXC is ready to store your passwords. You can click on the “+🔑” button on the top menu to add a new credential.

When you need to log in to your account, you can right-click on the entry and copy your username and password.

Using KeePassXC on Ubuntu 20.04.

You should have very different passwords for all accaunts but you do not need to remmember them, you only need to remmember the master passord that enrypts all passwords stored in the KeePassXC database.

9. Configure Theme and Dock

Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa features three themes:

  • Light
  • Standard
  • Dark

You can try them out in Settings → Appearance.

Theme and Dock settings

Optionally, you could enable Auto-hide the Dock, set custom icon size of apps in the dock as well as change dock’s position on the screen.

However, you also can install additional themes as I show below.

10. Configure Hi-DPI Display

Newly introduced feature in Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa is Fractional Scaling. For those of you who have Hi-DPI screen, this feature allows you to configure the scaling of your screen. (Settings → Displays)

If you encounter a black screen, it means that your screen doesn’t support the selected scaling and will revert to the old one after 15 seconds.

Configuring fractional scaling on Ubuntu 20.04.

11. Turn on Night Light

Good news for night owls, Ubuntu offers built-in night light. It will reduce the amount of blue light at night. Night light helps in preventing eye strain and sleeplessness.

Open Settings → Displays → Night Light (tab at the top).

Enabling night light on Ubuntu 20.04.

12. Add Online Accounts

Online accounts can easily be configured with Ubuntu 20.04 by going to Settings → Online Accounts. If you are using Google account, you can sync your data (Mail, Calendar) & Google Drive files which are accessible from the default file manager.

Online accounts on Ubuntu 20.04.

13. Automatic Date and Time

Usually, date and time are set correctly by default. In case if they are not, you can change it in Settings → Date & Time.

14. Xkill shortcut

xkill is a Linux command primarily used to force-quit unresponsive apps.

You can configure the shortcut for this command in Settings.

Open Settings → Keyboard Shortcuts → Scroll to the bottom → Click on + button to add a new shortcut → Set name and command to xkill → Set Shortcut → Press keyboard keys to set shortcut (I use CTRL + Esc)

Configuring xkill keyboard shortcut on Ubuntu 20.04.

15. Add/Remove Dock Apps

To add an app to the dock:

Open menu → Right-click on the app that you would like to add → Click on Add to Favourites.

To remove an app:

Right-click on the app in the dock → Click on Remove from Favourites.

Adding and removing apps to dock on Ubuntu 20.04.

16. Move Applications menu in Dock

Applications menu in Ubuntu is located at the bottom left corner of your screen. Alternatively, you could move it to the top by using Dconf Editor.

Open Dconf Editor → Search for show-apps-at-top & enable it.

Applications menu moved to the top on Ubuntu 20.04.

17. Enable GNOME Extensions

GNOME extensions, as the name implies, allow you to extend the functionality of your desktop.

Open Synaptic → Search for chrome-gnome-shell → Mark for Installation → Apply.

Now, you can go to the GNOME Extensions website and install some extensions. Have fun with customizing your desktop! If you would like to know the extensions I use, check out this article.

Enabled weather GNOME extension on Ubuntu 20.04.

18. Install Extensions app

If you are extensionsholic, the easiest way for you to manage all your extensions is with the Extensions app.

Open Synaptic → Search for gnome-shell-extensions → Mark for Installation → Apply.

Extensions app on Ubuntu 20.04.

19. Install Tweaks

GNOME Tweaks is another desktop customization app that allows you to configure niche settings that are not available by default like:

  • Appearance (advanced)
  • Fonts
  • Startup Applications
  • Top bar
  • and many more!

Open Synaptic → Search for gnome-tweaks → Mark for Installation → Apply.

GNOME Tweaks app on Ubuntu 20.04.

20. Install additional themes

As I already mentioned above, Ubuntu comes with three default themes. Not a fan of either of them? No worries, the community’s got you covered.

User Themes extension will allow you to load custom GNOME themes. To install the themes, we’ll need another app - OCS-url.

Open Ubuntu Software → Search for ocs-url → Install.

Custom GNOME themes can be found on Gnome Look website. I’ll use the Tela icon theme & Flat Remix as my desktop theme. Click on files tab and click install under OCS-Install column.

Open Gnome Tweaks → Appearance → Select Flat Remix as applications theme & Tela as an icon theme.

Tela icon featured in Ubuntu 20.04 launcher.

21. Set up Firewall

While there are not many viruses for Linux, it’s advisable to enable a firewall which protects against network intrusions.

Open Synaptic → Search gufw → Mark for Installation → Apply.

Open the Firewall and enable it.

Firewall app on Ubuntu 20.04.

22. Change Firefox Settings

My favourite feature of Firefox is the ability to restore the previous session. This feature can be useful if you take breaks between long work sessions and would like to resume your work.

Open Firefox → Options (hamburger menu) → Preferences → Enable Restore previous session.

Enabling restore previous sessions in Firefox

The next thing we can do to improve the browsing experience in Firefox is to customize the toolbar. I like to remove the spaces around the default search bar and replace this space with another “true” search bar.

Switch to search toolbar in Firefox on Ubuntu 20.04.

The difference between the two search bars is that the first one doesn’t always behave like a search bar. Let’s say you would like to lookup an email address. The first search bar will open your default email client, while the second one will perform the actual search.

Lastly, if you use Firefox across multiple devices, you might find Firefox Sync feature useful. You can enable it by going to the hamburger menu (top right corner) and selecting Sign in to Firefox.

23. Enable Netflix support in Firefox

We can’t use Netflix with default Firefox settings. The reason for this is because Firefox comes with DRM-controlled content option disabled.

Open Firefox → Options (hamburger menu) → Preferences → Enable Play DRM-controlled content.

Enabling DRM-controlled content option on Firefox Ubuntu 20.04.

24. Change the look of LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a well-known office suite alternative for Linux. It comes with balanced default settings, but I’ll show you some tips to make it even better.

Open LibreOffice Writer → View → User Interface → Enable Single Toolbar & Tabbed interface.

Tab view LibreOffice Ubuntu 20.04.

Open LibreOffice Writer → Tools → Options → Icon style → Select Colibre.

Colibre icons in LibreOffice Ubuntu 20.04.

Now your LibreOffice’s UI is identical to Microsoft’s office. Optionally you could experiment with more styles. You can install them by opening Synaptic and searching for libreoffice-style.

25. Schedule Backups

Ubuntu comes with an easy to use Backups app for backing up your data. Simply, open Backups and enable it. By default, it will back up your home directory and ignore ~/Downloads and Trash.

However, you can add your directories that you would like to back up/exclude as well as configure the location of your backup.

Enabling Deja-Dup backup on Ubuntu 20.04.

26. Test Webcam and Microphone

If you have a webcam and/or microphone, it’s good to check if Ubuntu recognizes them. In Settings → Sound, you can check your microphone.

To test the webcam, we need to install an additional app. Ubuntu does come with webcam app Cheese, but it doesn’t recognize my camera.

On the other hand, Guvc recognizes it very well.

Open Synaptic → Search for guvc → Mark for Installation (guvcview package) → Apply.

Testing microphone and webcam on Ubuntu 20.04.

27. Connect Android phone

If you are using an Android device, you are in luck. GSConnect extension on Ubuntu together with KDE Connect mobile app lets you connect Android phone with Ubuntu.

Open KDE Connect and click on a network icon on Ubuntu → Mobile Devices → Mobile Settings.

Now, you can request pairing from KDE Connect and accept the request on Ubuntu. If you have Firewall enabled, GSConnect won’t be able to find your mobile phone (KDE Connect).

To whitelist KDE Connect:

Open Firewall → Rules tab → + button → Select KDE Connect as an application & policy to allow.

Connecting Android phone to Ubuntu 20.04 with KDE Connect and GSConnect extension.

28. Check Snap apps

Snap is a software packaging format developed by Ubuntu’s parent company Canonical. Still, the vast majority of users prefer regular deb packages. They both have their pros and cons, but I’ll show how you can replace Snaps with deb packages.

snap list # List of installed Snaps on your system
sudo snap remove <snap> # Remove Snap from your system

To differentiate between Snaps and deb packages look at Source entry in the Details section of the app in Ubuntu Software.

If the source is snapraft.io, it means that the package is in Snap format. Otherwise, it’s a deb package.

List of installed snaps on Ubuntu 20.04.

29. Clean system Ubuntu-Cleaner

After you’ve installed your apps and configured your system, you might want to clean your Ubuntu. I recommend Ubuntu Cleaner for this task. It’s a simple and user-friendly app that does the job very well.

You can install Ubuntu Cleaner by running the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gerardpuig/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install Ubuntu-cleaner

I tend to clean the application’s cache & old kernels from time to time.

Ubuntu Cleaner on Ubuntu 20.04.

30. Laptop Tweaks

If you are running Ubuntu on a laptop, I have some tips for you to optimize in the best possible way.

To squeeze more juice out of your battery 🔋:

sudo apt install tlp tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-dkms

You can also configure Ubuntu to show battery percentage:

Open GNOME Tweaks → Top Bar → Enable Battery Percentage.

Conclusion

These were my top 30 things to do after installing Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. I hope you’ve found them useful. Let me know what is your favourite feature in Ubuntu 20.04 in the comments section.

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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.