UBUNTU 16.04 or Xenial Xerus, the latest upgrade of the popular Linux distribution, became available as a free download last month, and early reviews have been favorable. Instead of upgrading my existing Ubuntu 15.10 system, this time I opted for a fresh install. I also decided to give the improved Unity 7 desktop a go, instead of installing my preferred alternative XFCE.
The installation process was trouble-free, but because I started from scratch, I had quite a bit to add and tweak after the OS itself was installed. To help others who are planning to install the newest version of Ubuntu, here’s what my to-do list looked like:
1) Check for updates and install them. The ISO image that you download form the Ubuntu website may not contain important updates. To check and download updates, find Software Updater from the Unity Dash (Super or Windows key and type “up”) and click on the icon.
2) Install proprietary drivers for the best graphics performance. To do this, open Software & Updates from the Dash, click the “Additional Drivers” tab and choose the appropriate driver to use. A caveat for Radeon users: Ubuntu 16.04 does not support the old AMD Catalyst driver (fglrx), so you might want to give this Ubuntu release a pass for now.
3) Install Restricted Extras. This will give you the codecs needed to play most audio and video formats. To get this, go to Terminal and type: sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras
The package is also supposed to include the Microsoft core fonts, but if you get an error message, you can fix it from Terminal by typing each of these lines and hitting enter.
sudo dpkg -P ttf-mscorefonts-installer
sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer
4) Tweak your interface. Install the Unity Tweak Tool from Ubuntu Software. This will give you finer control of how the launcher looks and behaves. To move the launcher to the bottom of the screen, however, you’ll need to go to Terminal and type:
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom
To move it back to the left, type:
gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left
You can also use Unity Tweak Tool to move the launcher around (in Appearance under the Launcher tab). The same tool can be used to enable “minimize on click” – which lets you minimize an open application by clicking on its icon in the launcher.
If you prefer menus to be displayed in the window title bar instead of on the menu bar at the top of the screen, go to System Preferences > Appearance in the Behavior tab.
Don’t like the wallpapers that comes with Ubuntu? Change them easily with a tool called Variety (available in Ubuntu Software), which lets you use or cycle through images on your hard drive or from websites.
For traditional access to applications, install the Classic Menu Indicator. Download the software from http://www.florian-diesch.de/software/classicmenu-indicator/ by clicking on the classicmenu-indicator_0.10.1_all.deb link and opening it with Ubuntu Software. Click the program icon on the menu bar to get a drop-down menu of your applications organized by category.
5) Install other software. Ubuntu 16.04 comes with a lot of software already installed, including the latest version of the office productivity suite LibreOffice. Find the extra applications you need in Ubuntu Software or download and install them using the Terminal. Here are a few that I find essential.
Gimp—A sophisticated image editing program similar to Photoshop—only it’s free.
VLC—I’ve always preferred VLC to most other audio and video players.
K3B—A CD and DVD burner (which I prefer to Brasero) that can come in handy every six months, when Ubuntu releases its latest OS upgrade.
Dropbox—Download and run the program from the company’s website (www.dropbox.com) to enable your free cloud storage and file synchronization service. Don’t leave home without it.
Skype—Video conferencing available free from the Skype website (www.skype.com)
Synapse—fast desktop search and launcher rolled into one. To install, type or paste these lines in Terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:synapse-core/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synapse
Column archives and blog at: http://www.chinwong.com