Six must-have Ubuntu Unity tweaks

Out of the box, Ubuntu Unity is very efficient. However, you can use the Unity Tweak Tool to make it even better. Here’s how.

There’s a lot of reasons to love Ubuntu Unity. Out of the box, it’s an incredibly efficient and user-friendly desktop environment. Is it standard fare? Not at all. Is it hard to learn? Not even remotely. Are there necessary tweaks you have to make? Certainly. Depending upon your desire to tinker, you could find yourself tweaking the interface the entire time you use it. Thankfully, there’s a single tool — called the Unity Tweak Tool — that enables you to fine-tune the Unity interface so that it works exactly how you want it to work.

Let’s dig in and see exactly what you need to get that interface just right. The Unity Tweak Tool can be found in the Ubuntu Software Center, but I’ll show you an even easy method of installation.

Installing Unity Tweak Tool

This method of installation will demonstrate just how user-friendly Unity actually is. Here’s how you can install Unity Tweak Tool without even opening the Software Center or touching your mouse. Follow these steps:

  1. Hit the “Super” key (aka “Windows Key”)
  2. Using the cursor keys, navigate to the Application tab (at the bottom of the Dash)
  3. Hit Enter
  4. Type “unity tweak” (no quotes)
  5. Navigate to the Unity Tweak Tool and hit Enter
  6. When the preview opens (Figure A), hit Enter
  7. Type your sudo password and hit Enter
  8. Allow the installation to complete

Figure A

Figure A
Installing the Unity Tweak Tool from the Unity Dash.

You’ll know the tool is installed because the application button will appear on the Launcher.

Working with the Unity Tweak Tool

Now, it’s time to get to those tweaks. When you first open up the Unity Tweak Tool, it should look somewhat familiar (Figure B). The layout resembles the Unity System Settings tool (which offers a nod to OS X).

Figure B


Figure B
The Unity Tweak Tool in action.

1. Background blur

One of the first tweaks you might need to take care of will depend upon whether or not your hardware can handle the Unity Background blur. I’ve experienced older machines that can’t handle the compositing necessary to draw the blur. When opening the Dash, if you find that Unity starts to crawl and the desktop becomes distorted (or goes black in the Dash window), you’ll need to turn the Background blur off. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Unity Tweak Tool
  2. Click on the Launcher section
  3. Click on the Search tab
  4. Click the On/Off slider for Background blur to the Off position

Now, when you open the Unity Dash, chaos should not ensue.

2. Web Apps

The next tweak is one that I always take care of. Web apps integration is a nice idea — it creates a Launcher icon for certain apps that have web integration (such as Amazon, Google+, YouTube, etc) — but it’s more of a nuisance than anything. The problem, in my opinion, is that it’s quite unnecessary, because all of these web apps are actually web pages. So, when you have your browser open, with multiple tabs, and you open up one of the web apps, a new launcher for that tab will appear. These web app launchers add no extra functionality or efficiency (unless you’d like a quick access icon for, say, Google+ on your Launcher).

To disable this feature, do the following:

  1. Open the Unity Tweak Tool
  2. Click on the Launcher section
  3. Click on the Web Apps tab
  4. Click the On/Off slider to the Off position

That’s it. You’ll no longer be prompted to install web apps.

3. Workspace switcher

By default, the Workspace switcher (aka Pager) is set to off in Unity. To turn the Workspace switcher back on, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Unity Tweak Tool
  2. Click on the Workspace Settings section
  3. Click the Workspace switcher On/Off slider to the On position

From this same screen (Figure C), you can also configure the number of workspaces, the color of the current workspace, and even the key combination to start the workspace switcher.

Figure C


Figure C
Bring back the Workspace switcher.

4. Hotcorners

Hotcorners is another configuration you can add to the mix. You need to be careful not to configure a Hotcorner that interferes with Window Snapping. Personally, I like to configure a Hotcorner (generally the lower or upper right corner) to set off the Window Spread behavior (all open windows are thumbnailed on the screen, so the user can select which window they want to work with). To enable this Hotcorner, do the following:

  1. Open the Unity Tweak Tool
  2. Click the Hotcorners section
  3. Click the On/Off slider so it is in the On position (if necessary)
  4. Select Window Spread from either the bottom or top right drop-down (Figure D)

Now, when you hover your mouse at the newly-configured Hotcorner, all open windows will appear on the screen as a thumbnail image.

Figure D


Figure D
Setting up Hotcorners.

5. Window Controls

Window Control placement is a big one for many users. For years, people have gown accustomed to the minimize, close, maximize buttons being in the upper right corner of the window. Unity places those buttons in the upper left corner of the window. If you can’t seem to get used to that placement, change it back to the standard like so:

  1. Open the Unity Tweak Tool
  2. Click on Window Controls
  3. Select Right for the Alignment section (under Layout)

From this same section, you can also add a menu button to the window task bar. This menu button offers a number of handy options to the Window Controls, such as:

  • Minimize
  • Maximize
  • Move
  • Resize
  • Always on top
  • Always on visible workspaces
  • Only on this workspace
  • Move to workspace right
  • Move to workspace down
  • Move to another workspace

For those who use the Workspace switcher, the menu button might be a must-have, to help you easily move windows to different workspaces.

6. Auto-raise and focus

Finally, there is the Auto-raise and focus behavior. One of my favorite old-school behaviors is having both auto-focus and “focus follows mouse” set. With this, it’s very easy to give focus to a window simply by moving your mouse to a window (no mouse click is necessary to focus the window). To set these, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Unity Tweak Tool
  2. Click Additional
  3. Click the On/Off slider for Auto-raise until it is in the On position (Figure E)
  4. Select Mouse from the Focus mode drop-down
  5. Select Auto-raise delay to suit your needs

Figure E


Figure E
Getting the old school “focus follows mouse” back.

There are plenty of other tweak you can perform with the Unity Tweak Tool. How much mileage you get from them will vary on your needs. The tweaks listed here are some of the most popular and helpful. Unity is already pretty efficient, but with just a few tiny tweaks, you can make it even better.

What tweaks have you made to Ubuntu Unity? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

What is a Ubuntu PPA?


What is PPA?

PPAs are for non standard software/updates. They are generally used by people who want the latest and greatest. If you are going extra lengths to get this kind of software, then you are expected to know what you are doing. The selection in the Software Centre is ample for most human beings.

Command Line

On the command line you can add a PPA using add-apt-repository, e.g.:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwibber-daily/ppa

To remove a PPA remove the corresponding files in /etc/apt/sources.list.d (this does not remove the packages you installed from the PPA). To see the packages available from a PPA or remove packages installed from a PPA press the “Origin” button on the lower left of the Synaptic window and choose the PPA from the list.

With can use the usual Software Sources dialog and add ppa:gwibber-daily/ppa where it asks for a APT line and enable or disable them just like other repositories.

As anybody can create a PPA there’s no guarantee for quality or security of a PPA – just like with any other unofficial software source you have to decide yourself if a PPA it’s trustworthy or not. And like any other unofficial software packages from a PPA can cause all sorts of difficulties especially when upgrading to a new release of Ubuntu.

If you get an error that the add-apt-repository command could not be found:

  • On 12.04 and earlier, install the python-software-properties package:
    sudo apt-get install python-software-properties
  • On 14.04 and later:
    sudo apt-get install software-properties-common

How To Install Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr


This guide will describes the basic steps of installing Ubuntu Server 14.04 from beginning to end. As already we know, Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS with codenamed “Trusty Tahr” is the newest version operating system for server released by canonical on April 17 2014.

Come with LTS version Ubuntu Server 14.04 will be supported for 5 years by canonical, it also includes few apps such as ( OpenStack 2014.1, Puppet 3, Xen 4.4, Ceph 0.79, Qemu 2.0.0, Open vSwitch 2.0.1, Libvirt 1.2.2, LXC 1.0, MAAS 1.5, Juju 1.18.1, strongSwan, MySQL, Apache 2.4, PHP 5.5) that easily to deploy and orchestrate services in the cloud.

More detail about Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS you can found the full release notes at here.

Step by Step Installing Ubuntu Server 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Step 1. First, Download ubuntu server 14.04 lts from ubuntu official site or click the following link to download the Ubuntu Server:

Step 2. After downloaded, burn ISO image of ubuntu server 14.04 into cd or usb flash disk. Set your computer booting from usb flash disk or cd/dvd. the system will boot (start) from the cd/dvd or USB flash drive and it appears.

Select what language you would like to install. I am going to use English language

Ubuntu Server 14.04 language

Step 3. Select Install Ubuntu Server

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Install Ubuntu Server

Step 4. Select language that used for the installation process, default English

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Select language for Installation

Step 5. Select location that will used for time zone and also for example to help select the system locale

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Select Location

Step 6. Configure keyboard layout

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Configure the keyboard

Step 8. Select country of origin for the keyboard. I am going to use English (US).

Ubuntu Server 14.04 layout of keyboard varies per country

Step 9. Select the layout matching the keyboard for your machine. Default English

Ubuntu Server 14.04 select keyboard for machine

Step 10. Auto configure network

Ubuntu Server 14.04 loading addtional component

Step 11. Set Up users and password : Enter full name or real name for the new user, then select <Continue>

Ubuntu Server 14.04 setup users and passwords

Step 12. Set Up users and password : Enter name for your account, then select <Continue>

Ubuntu Server 14.04 setup users and passwords 2

Step 13. Set Up users and password : Enter password for the new user

Ubuntu Server 14.04 setup password

Step 14. Set Up users and password : Re-enter password for the new user

Ubuntu Server 14.04 re-enter password

Step 15. Set Up users and password : Answer <Yes> if you want to encrypt home directory. I recommend answer <No> because if your hard driver ever gets corrupted and you need to retrieve information it will be much easier to access it.

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Encrypt Home Directory

Step 16. Select your time zone

Ubuntu Server 14.04 time zone

Step 17. Partitioning Disks: In this case i will used partitioning methode LVM

Ubuntu Server 14.04 partition disk

Step 17. Partitioning Disks: Select Disk to partition

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Partition LVM

Step 18. Partitioning Disks: Answer <Yes> to write the change to disk and configure LVM

Ubuntu Server 14.04 configure LVM

Step 19. Partitioning Disks: Assign the size/amount of volume group to use for guided patitioning.

Ubuntu Server 14.04 lvm partition 2

Step 20. Partitioning Disks: Answer <Yes> to Write all the change to disk

Ubuntu Server 14.04 end of partition LVM

Step 21. Installing the System..

Ubuntu Server 14.04 installing system

Step 22. Configure HTTP Proxy: Select <Continue> unless you are using a proxy, in this case we are not.

Ubuntu Server 14.04 set proxy

Step 23. Configure Taskel: Select No automatic updates

Ubuntu Server 14.04 configuring taskel

Step 24. Software Selection: Select [*] OpenSSH Server by pressing space key on keyboard, then select continue

Ubuntu Server 14.04 ssh server

Step 24. Installing all Software.

Ubuntu Server 14.04 install software

Step 25. Answer to Install the GRUB boot loader on a hardisk

Ubuntu Server 14.04 install boot loader

Step 25. Installation is Complete, Select <Continue>

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Finishing Installation

Ubuntu Server 14.04 Trusty Tahr ready to use..

Ubuntu Server 14.04 is ready

The following video created by LinuxScoop and is describes basic steps how to installing Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS from begining to end. Original Video found here

Link Reference: