Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ubuntu 14.04.1 Post-Install Setup


This article serves as a guide for the user of a just-installed Ubuntu 14.04.1 PC or notebook to set up the system properly. It is applicable to both the 32-bit and 64-bit system.

After the installation of Ubuntu has been completed and the system boots up for the first time, the user will be presented with the login screen. Log into the system using the user name and password specified during the install process and, if successful, the user will be presented with the Unity desktop as shown below. Click on any item on the launcher to dismiss the keyboard shortcut pop-up window.

Now it's time to carry out the post-install setup of the system. The setting up will vary according to individual tastes - you do not have to follow all the steps outlined in this article. Simply view this article as a guide to setting up the system after installation. Keep this in mind - there is no "perfect desktop" for everyone - each desktop may differ according to the taste of the individual using the system. There are, however, some things that need to be carried out by everyone after installation - for example, updating the software on the system - the first task listed below.

Updating The System

If the user is connected to the Internet and if there are any updates available, a notification will appear after a while in the launcher as shown in the figure below (as indicated by an arrow in the figure).

If cursor is moved onto the item on the launcher, the tooltip will read "Software Updater".

Click on the software updater launcher and the following window will pop up.

Then click on the "Install Now" button and the updating process will start and the user will then be prompted to enter the password for authentication.

Enter the password and then click on the "Authenticate" button. The update process will start downloading all the updates from the server (as shown in the figure below) and then install them. Wait for the update to complete.

Once completed, the software updater will automatically display a notice that the system is up to date if a system restart is not required. If a restart is required, the window shown below will appear - click on the "Restart Now..." button to restart the system. Log in again and the user will be at the Unity desktop once more.

Disabling The Amazon Search

Canonical has done a lot to improve the Ubuntu desktop. However, the author feels that there are 3 major 'improvement' that will not be missed if they were removed or addressed. One of the 'improvement' is that Canonical has integrated Amazon (the American based international online commerce company) search result into the Unity dash - the overlay that allows the user to search quickly for information both locally (applications, files, bookmarks, etc.) and remotely and displays previews of results. The dash is opened by clicking on the first (topmost) item in the launcher and then the item to search for is typed into the search box.

Whenever you search for an application or file on your computer in the dash, your search is sent to Canonical's servers. They forward your request to Amazon and displays you the Amazon search results. If you click an Amazon link in order to buy anything, Canonical gets a commission.

A majority of Ubuntu users (including the author) does not like this feature and almost the first thing they do is to disable it. The easiest way is to use the "System Settings" window by clicking the gear icon in the launcher. The system settings will open as shown.

Click the "Security & Privacy" icon, then click the "Search" tab, and toggle the "Include online search results" option to "Off" (see figures below).

Note that using this procedure will also disable all other online search results in the dash. To remove the "Amazon" icon from the launcher, just right-click on it and select "Unlock from Launcher" and it is gone - RIP Amazon Search.

Tuning The System

While the "System Settings" window is open, now would be a good time to set up the system to your liking. The user should still be in the "Security & Privacy" part of the system settings (if the user have not exited system settings). Click on the "All Settings" tab to go back to the system settings main window.

From this window, it is possible to change the way the desktop looks, set up the various pieces of hardware to work with the system, set up backup for the system, etc. There are 3 main categories - Personal, Hardware and System - the user can explore each possible setting by clicking on the icon for the item. For example, click on "Details" to see details like default applications, etc (see figure below).

Using the author's desktop as an example, the following tasks were carried out:
  1. Using "Appearance", the wallpaper was changed from the standard purple coloured wallpaper to 'Beach' - a more pleasing (to the author) wallpaper

    Click on the "Behaviour" tab and a window similar to the one shown below will appear. From here the user can change another 'annoying' feature of Ubuntu (2 of 3) - click "In the window's title bar" under "Show the menus for a window" item. Menus for the focused window won't appear on the top bar (the default behaviour) if this is enabled. Instead, they’ll appear in the window’s title bar. This will make Ubuntu seem more familiar if the user are used to Windows and traditional Linux desktops. Be aware that this menu will only appear when the user hover the mouse over the title bar. This menu will be hidden most of the time.

  2. Using "Sound", the sound hardware for the system was set up. Items like volume, input, etc was set and tested.

    On the author's system, the output was set to the 'Analog Output', the built-in audio device (see figure above). The 'Input' was set to the Webcam C250 (a Logitec device) as shown in the figure below.

    The 'Sound Effects' and 'Applications' was set at their default values. Also set as shown was the 'Output volume' level. Note that the output setting can be tested by clicking on the 'Test Sound' button.

  3. Using "Language Support", the language selected was corretly set up. The screen shots may differ from those shown below if the user selected a different language during install.

  4. Using "Bluetooth", any Bluetooth devices can be 'paired' with an Ubuntu PC or notebook which have Bluetooth devices and services enabled. However, be aware that not all Bluetooth PC 'dongle' will work with Ubuntu. The author had several 'dongle' in his possession, ranging from old ones (which looks like a USB thumb drive) to the latest and very tiny 'dongle'. After testing all the 'dongles', the author found out that only a few worked - and those were the newer models. So, if your 'dongle' does not work with Ubuntu, try another one.

    Before attempting to pair a Bluetooth device with Ubuntu PC, plug in the 'dongle' (notebooks usually comes with Bluetooth, so ignore this if you are using Ubuntu on a notebook). Then check the 'notification' area on the top right corner of the screen - you should see the Bluetooth icon there if your 'dongle' works with Ubuntu (see figure below).

    If the Bluetooth icon is clicked, you should see that Bluetooth services is enabled by default (see figure below).

    The user can now proceed to pair a Bluetooth device with Ubuntu. As an example, the author has a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Android smartphone (model number GT-N7100 running Android version 4.4.2) which will be used as the Bluetooth device to pair with Ubuntu. Of course, the phone will need to have it's Bluetooth sevices enabled and this is easily done with the following steps:

    1. Touch "Settings"
    2. Then enable Bluetooth by touching the 'switch' to 'On'
    3. Then touch the 'Bluetooth' item and in the 'My device' screen, make sure that the GT-N7100 device is visible by enabling it - just touch the checkbox. While the smartphone is visible (a timeout timer will start on the smartphone), the following steps need to be performed on the Ubuntu PC or notebook.
    4. Click on the Bluetooth icon on the Ubuntu PC
    5. Select "Set Up New Device..."
    6. The 'Bluetooth New Device Setup' screen (shown below) will appear with the words 'Searching for devices...' on it. After a while (and if the visibilty of the smartphone has not timed out), the item "GT-N7100" will be listed as shown. Select the device by clicking on it and then the "Continue" button.

    7. The next screen (shown below) will prompt you to enter the indicated PIN number on the smartphone. At this time you will hear a 'beep' from the phone and you will be prompted on the phone to enter the PIN number indicated on the PC (or notebook) screen.

    8. Enter the PIN number on the smartphone, touch "OK" and the screen on Ubuntu will change to the one shown below - indicating success with the pairing (the PC or notebook name will also appear on the smartphone as one of the paired devices).

    The user can now easily exchange files between the phone and Ubuntu.

    By following the steps outlined above, the user can easily set up any Bluetooth enabled devices on Ubuntu.

    Just be aware that leaving the Bluetooth services enabled on the smartphone will drain the phone's battery faster - so remember to switch off Bluetooth after using it.

    To remove (or unpair) a Bluetooth device (the smartphone in this case) follow the steps below:

    1. On the smartphone, touch "Settings" and enable Bluetooth (if it is off), then touch the "Bluetooth" item
    2. On the screen that appears next, touch the gear icon to the right of the PC (or notebook) name, then touch "Unpair" (the PC or notebook name will be listed under "Available devices"). Exit from here
    3. On the PC (or notebook), click on the Bluetooth icon on the notification bar ans select "Bluetooth Settings..."
    4. On the screen that appears next, select the device by clicking on it (see figure below) followed by a click on the "-" (minus) button below. You will be prompted to confirm the removal (see figure below) - click "Remove" to remove the device

    5. The smartphone will be removed (unpaired) - close the settings window

    Any Bluetooth device can be easily removed by following the steps above - consult the device manuals if unsure of the unpairing procedure. Just remember that once a Bluetooth device is removed or unpaired, it need to be re-installed before it can be used again. Also remember that only paired devices are 'visible' to each other so there is no need to enable visibility on the devices.

  5. Using "Printers", the user can easily add printers to Ubuntu. Before using the "Printers" setting, make sure that the printer is connected to the Ubuntu PC or laptop and is powered up. Then click on the "Printers" item and you will see a screen similar to the one below.

    Click on "Add" and the screen as shown below will appear - if the printer is recognized, it will be listed as shown (an HP LaserJet Professional P1102 in this example). Click on that item and then on the "Forward" button.

    It will then start a search online for the correct driver for the printer and if found, the screen will change to the one similar to the one shown below. Click the "Apply" button and the printer will be installed.

    The next screen will prompt you to print a test page - do so and a "Submitted" window will appear (see below).

    Click "OK" and the "Printer Properties" window will appear (see below). You can now change any setting if desired - then click "OK".

    You will now be back at the "Printers" window (see below) but with the just installed printer listed.

    Note the green-colored checkmark - this denotes that the printer is the default printer so all print jobs will be routed to this printer. If you have more than one printer installed, the setting up of a default printer can be easily set up by using the printer properties.

Setting Up The Terminal

A terminal or console is useful for times when the user is required to execute commands on a line instead of using a GUI. Before using a terminal, however, it would be advisable to configure it to the user's taste. The author prefers the terminal to be of larger size and use a larger font. As mentioned previously, it will be up to the user to configure the terminal as desired - the procedure is the same.

First click on the dash and then type 'terminal' as shown into the search box. Then click on the 'Terminal' icon under 'Applications' - ignore 'UXTerm' and 'XTerm'.

A terminal will open up. Move the cursor to the title bar of the terminal window and the menu items for the terminal will appear as shown below.

Click on 'Edit' and 'Profiles' to open the profile window as shown below.

The 'Default' profile is already selected so click the 'Edit' button. You can now edit any items for the default profile (shown below) to suit your taste.

The author has chosen the Monospace 12pt font by removing the tick mark from the 'Use the system fixed width font'. The author also has increased the size of the terminal window to 110 columns and 34 rows. The final settings used by the author is as shown below.

Click 'Close' to close the settings window followed by another click on the 'Close' on the profile window. Notice that the changes made will not be reflected on the currently open terminal window. You need to close the terminal window and re-open it to see the changes but before we do it, we need to lock the terminal icon on the launcher to make it easier to launch a terminal. To do this, right-click on the terminal icon in the launcher, and the click on the 'Lock to Launcher' item. Then close the currently open terminal window. Click on the terminal icon on the launcher and the re-sized terminal window will open.

Installing Software From The Command Line

While the terminal is open, the following software will be installed using the 'apt-get' command on the command line. Type the following command as shown below:

  sudo apt-get install mc synaptic

You will be prompted to enter your password - do so and the command will execute and the screen will change to one similar to that shown below. Press the 'Enter' key to accept the default 'Y'. The various packages will downloaded and then installed.

The two packages installed are mc - a terminal based file management system and synaptic - an old-style software package management system. Note that a newer software package management system called 'Ubuntu Software Center' is installed by default and an icon is present for this in the launcher. The reason why the author chose to install this package is simply because he is more comfortable using this old-style software package management system.

If you recall from the figure shown above, there were old kernel files that can be removed from the system to free up disk space using the 'apt-get autoremove' command. Do so by typing in the following:

  sudo apt-get autoremove

The old kernel files will then be removed from the system. One last task before the terminal is closed and that is to bring back the old-style scroll bar back. If you notice, the new 'scrollbar' (in the form of a button), is normally hidden until you move the mouse pointer over the left side of a window. If the user is unconfortable with this (like the author), the old style scrollbar can be restored by executing the following command in the terminal.

  gsettings set com.canonical.desktop.interface scrollbar-mode normal

Note that the whole command should be on one line. After this command is executed, the familiar old style scrollbar should appear to the left of any window of appropriate size.

The terminal window can now be closed.

Installing Software From Ubuntu Software Center

As a last post-install task - that of installing the Dropbox software using Ubuntu's new Software Center. Note that the same task can be accomplished via the command line or the old style Synaptic Package Manager - the use of Ubuntu's Software Center is the new way to go. Follow the steps below for the installation:
  1. Click on the Ubuntu Software Center icon on the launcher

  2. Type 'dropbox' into the search box

  3. Click on the first item (Dropbox) in the list followed by a click  on the 'Install' button

  4. Enter your password to authenticate

  5. Wait for the Software Center to finished downloading and installing Dropbox (a rotating arrow will be shown along with a number 1 on the 'Progress' item in the top bar)

  6. To indicate the completed job, the 'Install' button will change to 'Remove'

  7. Close the Software Center and an 'Information available' window will be shown - since the Nautilus file manager is not open, this message can be ignored

  8. Click the 'Next' botton and the message will change to "Start Dropbox to finish installation' - click on the 'Close' button

  9. Click on the Dropbox icon in the launcher

  10. After a while, the Dropbox Setup window will appear. If you don't have a Dropbox account, click 'Next' and follow the on-screen instructions. If you already have an account (like the author), select 'I already have a Dropbox account' and click the 'Next' button

  11. Enter the correct email address and password information and then click the 'Next' button

  12. Select the setup type - the recommended one ('Typical') should suffice for most people

  13. You can now take the tour of Dropbox or you can skip it entirely by clicking on the 'Skip Tour' button

  14. Dropbox setup is now complete - click the 'Finish' button to exit setup and open the Dropbox folder

  15. If this is the first time you are using Dropbox, you will find that there very little contents in your Dropbox folder - however, if you are like the author (as shown below) and have lots of stuff in Dropbox, it will take time for Dropbox to sync with the cloud

  16. To make access to Dropbox easier within the Nautilus file manager, create a bookmark by clicking 'Bookmarks' and selecting 'Bookmark this Location' - Dropbox will now be found under the 'Bookmarks' section of the file manager

That's it - Dropbox is now installed on your Ubuntu system and you can now use it.

This concludes the basic post-install tasks of a freshly installed Ubuntu 14.04.1 system.


As a summary, the following steps are performed after installing Ubuntu 14.04.1:
  1. Update the system - reboot if necessary
  2. Disable Amazon Search using System Settings
  3. Tune the system using System Settings and fix menu display
  4. Set up the terminal and fix scrollbar
  5. Install other software as necessary
That's it - the Ubuntu 14.04.1 system is now ready for use. Enjoy!