Xubuntu is a great distro, that combines the great Xfce desktop with the great Ubuntu. It presents the conventional desktop with a pleasant and rich looking user interface. Its fast and less resource intensive compared to Gnome shell, unity and kde variants of ubuntu.
Xubuntu 14.04 has just been released the same day with Ubuntu 14.04. So go ahead to install it if you prefer less of KDE and dislike ubuntu’s unity desktop. After the installation is done, do some necessary tweaks and installs shown below to make it even better.
1. Update the system
The first thing to do is to make your system uptodate with the online repositories. So run the following commands.
2. Install Aptitude, Synaptic and Gdebi
Ubuntu software center is there, but synaptic is faster, simpler and easier. The aptitude command is a great apt-get alternative. The gdebi command is very useful when installing deb files manually. It automatically pulls in the dependencies from the repos.
3. Install Chromium browser
Firefox is already there and another great browser is Chromium, the open source alternative to Google Chrome. If you want it, get it from synaptic.
If you need, google chrome go to http://www.google.com/chrome/ and download the deb files for your system. Or download them using the commands shown below.
4. Install flash player
Google Chrome has adobe flash player inbuilt, so you do not need to install flash player separately. The latest adobe flash plugin now runs inside Google Chrome using the Pepper API. The pepper api allows plugins to run entirely inside the browser without any dependency on the underlying OS. This means that you always get the uptodate flash plugin inside Google Chrome.
Check the plugin version and files by opening the following url in google chrome
Click “Details” on top right and then search for flash on the page.
libpepflashplayer.so indicates Pepper API based flash player. We can see that the latest version (184.108.40.206 at the time of this post) of flash is installed.
For Chromium browser installed the pepperflash package. It will download chrome browser and extract the pepperflash files and installed it for chromium.
For Mozilla Firefox we need to install the native flash player plugin for linux.
In Firefox open the url “about:plugins” to check details about the installed plugins. Search for flash. libflashplayer.so indicates the native flash player.
Now that the native flash player does not receive updates (except security updates) anymore. Version 220.127.116.110 was the last release. More details here.
5. Install Gnome System Monitor
The gnome system monitor is a simple tool that shows processes, resource usage (cpu, memory, network) and disk usage. Better than the Task manager tool that comes with xfce.
6. Install an Office suite
Xubuntu ships with office applications like Abiword, Gnumeric and Document viewer. However these are not sufficient when you need a full office suite. Get LibreOffice.
7. Install VLC player
VLC player is an excellent video player that can play numerous video/audio formats and dvds.
8. Install multimedia codecs
To enhance the multimedia functionality on xubuntu, install additional codecs from the “xubuntu-restricted-extras” package. These codecs enable multimedia apps to play many more audio/video formats. They are called “restricted” because the data formats processed by these codecs are proprietory and protected by patents laws in some countries.
9. Playing encrypted dvds
The libdvdcss library (part of the VideoLAN project) can be used to play dvds encrypted with “Content Scramble System” (CSS). To install it, first install the libdvdread4 package and then use the installer script.
The libdvdcss library is also used by VLC player.
10. Install Skype
Get skype from the following url. Choose Ubuntu from the distro list and the download should being automatically
To start the download directly, click here or here.
Or here is the direct download link for the deb file
Install the deb file with gdebi
11. Install Dropbox
Visit https://www.dropbox.com/install and download the deb file for Ubuntu. Make sure to select the correct architecture (64bit/32bit). It will download a 100kb deb file which is actually an installer. The installer will then download the complete dropbox application and install it.
Install the deb file
It will take only a minute to install. Next launch it from the Application Menu > Internet and it will ask to download the dropbox daemon which will install the full thing. The final installation takes few minutes, after which it should be ready to use.
12. Install Uget download manager
Uget is one of the best file download managers for linux. It lacks the feature to download files in multiple parts, but is quite stable.
13. Guake dropdown terminal
Dropdown terminals are very useful tools that provide access to the command line at the press of a single key. On xubuntu we can install the guake dropdown terminal.
Follow this article – How to install guake (dropdown terminal) on Xubuntu 14.04
14. Speed up the user interface
Create a file named .gtkrc-2.0 in your home directory and paste in the following lines
Save the file, close it, logout and login back. Now all gui elements like menus, buttons should be faster.
To speed up Xubuntu further, disable the compositor from “All Settings > Window Manager Tweaks > Compositor Tab”. It will save system resources from being spend on fancy desktop effects.
15. Tweak fonts
I developed these tweaks to make the fonts look a little better on the desktop and on webpages. The original post can be found here
16. Install additional drivers
If you have hardware components for which proprietory drivers are available, then you can install them to get the best performance. For example Nvidia graphics card work best with the proprietory drivers from nvidia instead of the free and open source nouveau drivers.
For Nvidia drivers follow this article Install the latest Nvidia drivers on Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr
For more hardware units like wireless cards, check the Additional Drivers section. Click the menu on top left, go to All Settings > Additional Drivers and install the ones that you need.
17. Install Gksudo
Gksudo is a gui tool to run gui apps as root.
To launch any gui app with root privileges, use gksudo
18. Get some more wallpapers
Xubuntu lacks good looking wallpapers. Other distros like linux mint and elementary OS have really nice wallpapers. So grab them for your desktop.
Download elementary OS 0.2 wallpapers here
Now extract and copy all the wallpapers in the following directory. Note that you need root privileges to be able to write inside that directory.
19. Make other partitions writable
If there are other partitions on the hard drive, most file browsers like nautilus, nemo, thunar would let you mount the partition and read it. However due to permission restrictions they are not writable by default. So either you open then with gksudo everytime, or make them writable.
The same needs to be done for your USB drives.
If any partitions existed previously and there are already many files on it, then you need to do some extra work. Find out the path where the partition is mounted. Simply open the drive in a file manager and check the location in the url bar. It should be something like /media/
Replace the “/media/
The Thunar file manager has the option “Create Archive” in the context menu that allows you to quickly create archive files in many different formats like 7z, tar etc. To add the option to create rar archives, install the rar package.
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21. Install Java browser plugin
The java browser plugin is needed to run java applets on webpages. Most modern sites no longer use applets in any form, but for those which do, you need to have java installed in your browser.
Installation is quite easy. Just install the package named icedtea-plugin
It will automatically install openjdk-7-jre and other necessary packages. After installation, close and relaunch a browser and open http://javatester.org/version.html to verify that java is working correctly. It would display an applet that should be able to load if java browser plugin is correctly installed.
22. Turn off Apport
If you encounter frequent error messages saying “System program problem detected”, then turn them off by disabling Apport.
Follow our previous article – How to fix “System program problem detected” error on Ubuntu
23. Tweak session settings
Go to “All Settings > Session and Startup”. In the “General” tab enable the checkbox for “Automatically save session on logout”. This will reopen the applications you were running previously.
Go to the “Splash” tab and select the “Simple” splash box. It will show an splash screen with text message every time Xubuntu logs in.
The next tab is the “Application Autostart” where those applications are listed, which need to start on every login. You may want to disable a particular service or application if you are sure you do not need it.
24. Configure Thunar custom actions
The Thunar file manager has a feature called custom actions that allow you to define certain commands and launch them using the context menu for any give file or an entire directory.
Here are some very useful custom actions that you can create for daily use.
1. Edit a file as root. 2. Open current directory as root. 3. Open root terminal in current directory.
The custom actions can launch any available command on a given file or directory. Check out the following pages to learn more about how to create useful actions in Thunar.