Ubuntu: Tips and tricks 1

January 4th, 2007

So, let’s say you’ve installed Ubuntu. Here are a few simple tips to get you going.

1. Customise the panel (taskbar)

Classic windows desktop in Ubuntu!
It’s the classic Windows XP desktop - In Ubuntu!!

Ubuntu includes the Gnome panel - this allows you to add or remove menu items in various ways to panels - they can be located on the top/bottom/left/right of screen, like XP’s taskbar - Unlike XP, you can have more than one taskbar in Ubuntu.

I like Windows XP’s menu system, so I’ve configured my system to be similar (single panel at bottom like XP taskbar). Here’s how I did that:

  1. Delete bottom panel: (right click over it, and click delete)
  2. Move top panel to bottom: right click, select panel properties, change orientation to bottom.
  3. Delete the various menu items you don’t need from the panel (I deleted all except the date) by rightclicking and selecting remove from panel).
  4. Add the main menu: Right click panel, select add to panel, scroll down to ‘utilities’, find main menu, click it and drag it to bottom left of panel.
  5. Add the show desktop button (under desktop and windows).
  6. Add tabs: to add a list of tabs for open windows, select window list under desktop and windows, and drag it to the bottom.
  7. Add the network monitor (or modem monitor if you use one).
  8. You can add any other icons you like.

2. Add the computer to your desktop

Not that you need to, but if you miss it, you can add it by dragging it off the places menu

3. Adding shortcuts

Ubuntu allows you to set up keyboard shortcuts - in this case I will show how to set up a shortcut for Terminal (some Ubuntu tasks need you to access the terminal). You can make a hotkey to it easily by going to System - Preferences - Keyboard Shortcuts, then select Run a terminal, and press the shortcut combination you want - e.g. alt+t, and click close.

4. Enable media playback

By default, Ubuntu does not enable playback of non open source media formats via its movie player. To re-enable this feature so you can play DivX, etc, by following the instructions here: (do whats described in the “how to make things work in a hurry” section.


5. Install Wine (Enables you to run Windows software under Ubuntu Linux!!)

MS Word under Ubuntu Linux, via Wine 
Microsoft Word under Wine - not really necessary as open office is already installed - but I did this to test the installation process on Wine - it works!

  1. Open synaptic package manager (System - Administration - Synaptic package manager.
  2. Enable all repositories (Settings - repositories - and tick the unticked ones)
  3. Reload (click reload).
  4. Click search, type Wine - scroll through the list till you find “wine” and doubleclick Mark the packages, then click apply
  5. Downloading package files wait for all files to be downloaded, follow the prompts to install Wine.

After you instal wine, you can run a program by clicking Alt F2 (run) and then type wine /path/to/application e.g. wine /media/cdrom0/setup.exe

You can now install many Windows applications on your Ubuntu PC, and even create shortcuts to them.

6. Reconfigure Screen (if it doesnt work properly)

Sometimes Ubuntu’s default installation won’t detect your monitor properly (e.g. you can’t select all the resolutions you had under XP), also if you change your monitor (e.g. from a CRT to LCD) or change graphic cards, you might find that ubuntu no longer loads properly.

You can fix this by reconfiguring the graphics setup by logging to terminal on startup (press esc when Grub loads and follow the prompts) then type:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

7. Pronounce the name right

For some strange reason, some people pronounce Ubuntu as U-BAN-tu. This is wrong. Ubuntu is pronounced as oo-BOON-tu, and if you don’t believe me, just watch the video about Ubuntu which features Nelson Mandela (included on the installation disk).

So, what are your favorite Ubuntu tricks? Please add them as comments

Need more tips and tricks? Check out the Ubuntu forum here:

Entry Filed under: IT, Linux

Leave a Comment


Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Popular Posts

OMG! Ponies!

Most Recent Posts

Recent Comments




December 2013
« Nov    


Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict