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Please note that many of these things are generic to multiple Linux distributions (especially Debian-based distros). Maybe I'll move them to another page someday.

Essential Packages

  • nautilus-open-terminal
  • vim-gnome - I'm used to typing vim, and I also like gvim from time to time


  • bless or okteta - hex editors
  • devilspie - find windows and perform actions on them
  • etckeeper - keep /etc in version control (defaults to Bazaar in newer versions of Ubuntu)
  • hamster-applet - time tracker
  • ssh - this is the server package
  • sshfs - mount directories over SSH
  • sshmenu-gnome
  • sun-java6-jdk (no longer available in Ubuntu 10.04) or openjdk-6-jdk
  • workrave


  • build-essential
  • dkms - not sure if VMware Tools actually makes use of this

Common Configuration

Missing Icons in Menus (Ubuntu 9.10+)

The latest version of Gnome disabled icons in menus and on buttons. There is an option for menu icons on the Interface tab of the Appearance Preferences.

In the version of Gnome that comes with 10.04, the option is gone. You can still edit the setting in gconf. The setting is /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons (and /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons if you like button icons, which I don't care about). Use gconf-editor or these commands:

$ gconftool-2 -t boolean -s /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons true
$ gconftool-2 -t boolean -s /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons true

It might also be worth checking out Ubuntu-Tweak.

See [SOLVED] No icons in context menu for 9.10; How to fix menu icons in GNOME 2.28; GNOME To Drop Icons in Buttons, Menus.

Slow Console (e.g. Ctrl+Alt+F1) in 10.04


Add the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-framebuffer.conf:

blacklist vga16fb

Weird-looking Large Fonts in Kubuntu

System Settings, Appearance, Fonts, Force fonts DPI → 96 DPI

Ugly fonts in Firefox

I noticed that some web pages, like Dokuwiki, looked pretty ugly. Installing the msttcorefonts package (Microsoft TrueType core fonts) remedied this. I rebooted afterwards, but presumably a logout and login would do.

Note: in newer versions of Ubuntu, it's now called ttf-mscorefonts-installer.

VMware Login Screen Resolution

To change the resolution of the login screen, it should be enough to put the following snippet in /etc/X11/xorg.conf (create it, on Ubuntu 9.10 or later), or possibly in a file in /usr/lib/X11/xorg.conf.d:

Section "Screen"
	Identifier "Screen0"
	SubSection "Display"
		# Increase resolution just enough to make the login screen
		# look correct.
		Virtual   1024 768

Anacron jobs for users

It looks like something like this will probably work:

sudo -H -u sam /usr/bin/podget

I put this in a script called podget in /etc/cron.daily. If I had more jobs, I might make it call another script or directory of scripts in my home directory.

Alternatively, maybe look at something like fcron.

Minimal installation / Low memory systems

This article has some suggestions on packages to use for a minimalist graphical environment, particularly suited for low-memory environments.


On the green desktop computer at home, where I was playing around with Ubuntu, it didn't give all the right resolutions. The nvidia-settings package worked well, providing something more like what I was used to in Windows.

LogMeIn (viewer)

It doesn't appear that the Firefox plugin will work. To get the Java viewer working (which is reasonably decent), it was enough to install sun-java6-plugin and associated packages (i.e. the Sun Java JRE).

"Reinstall Everything in Ubuntu"

dpkg --get-selections > installed.log


dpkg --set-selections < installed.log
dselect install

Open Terminal Here

Install the nautilus-open-terminal package.

Packages to look at

Probably stuff that I've installed on a whim after seeing in Synaptic. I figure that if I don't write them down, I'll forget about having installed them.

on them, such as resizing, moving to another workspace, or pinning them to all workspaces.

  • galternatives - GUI for update-alternatives (see linuxcommands)
  • logapp - log, trim, and colorize output before displaying it
  • makeself - self-extracting archives
  • mscore - MuseScore, a WYSIWYG music score typesetter (alternatives may be LilyPond and GUIs that export it)
  • mutt - simple mail reader
  • podget - simple podcast aggregator that I started using
  • postfix - installed as mail server (instead of sendmail)
  • regexxer - search/replace tool
  • sbackup
  • screen-profiles - interesting configurations for screen (Ubuntu server-oriented)
  • sshmenu + sshmenu-gnome - menu for ssh connections; made more useful by the following links:
  • symlinks - utility for symbolic links, can search for absolute links and convert them to relative
  • synaesthesia
  • tig - curses GUI for git
  • tilda - FPS-like (~) console
  • unp - perl script that automatically chooses the right archiver to unpack any given archive
  • wdiff - word-by-word diffs

Compiz Notes

I tried it again in 10.10, and it seems to be better. Now I can switch to a virtual terminal (Ctrl-Alt-F1) and back without killing Compiz.

This time (2010-10) I turned it off because it was placing some Java Swing windows at the very top of the screen, so their title bars overlapped with the panel. Perhaps there's some way to fix this, but I didn't want to take the time to mess with it.

OLD: 3D acceleration problem when using compiz

I still haven't figured things out. On 5-30-2008 I tried this sequence:

Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to restart X not working
Disable desktop affects in "Appearance" preferences working
Switch to normal effects seems to work
Switch to extra effects seems to work
Switch on desktop cube seems to work
Start Firefox, restore crashed session not working
Close some of the Firefox windows seems to work
Close everything else
Open blank Firefox windows not working

Conclusion: it works with 4 or less Firefox windows open, and doesn't work with 5 or more (other types of windows may or may not count; e.g. having synaptic open does not seem to make a difference).

Corruption when e.g. scrolling in Firefox (nVidia card on work computer)

I've been getting a "sometimes" issue on my work computer: corruption when scrolling or resizing in some programs, notably Firefox. It might be related to Launchpad bug #249099.

I installed the nvidia-180-modaliases package as suggested, then installed the new driver version through Administration → Hardware Drivers (I had to restart before it showed the new one, presumably since I'd run it earlier). We'll see if that fixes the problem(s).


See for some instructions. has some tips for getting the guest additions working.

If there is not a module released for the kernel version you have installed, then you can compile it:

sudo apt-get install virtualbox-ose virtualbox-source-ose

sudo m-a prepare
sudo m-a auto-install virtualbox-ose

I tried the version in Hardy Heron, but ended up installing the binary for 1.6 (non-ose), which fixed resizing of a Linux guest.

How to rename partitions / change partition label

For quick reference, the commands are listed here.

List devices:

sudo fdisk -l


sudo mlabel -i <device> -s ::
sudo mlabel -i <device> ::<label>


sudo ntfslabel <device>
sudo ntfslabel <device> <label>


sudo e2label <device>
sudo e2label <device> <label>

Apache Setup

Automatically mounting drives at startup (fstab entries)

You could edit the fstab manually, or you could install pysdm (PyGTK Storage Device Manager).

You may be able to specify "auto" for the filesystem type:

/dev/sda6       /media/foo   auto defaults        0       0

Partitions can also be mounted by UUID:

# /dev/sda6
UUID=xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx       /media/foo   auto defaults        0       0

To list partitions:

sudo fdisk -l

To get volume information, including the UUID (ID_FS_UUID):

sudo vol_id /dev/sda6

or for just the UUID:

sudo vol_id -u /dev/sda6

or to list all devices with labels, UUIDs, and filesystem types:

sudo blkid


Requires the ntfs-3g package.

/dev/sda6       /media/ntfs-h   ntfs-3g defaults        0       0

Hostname (of Linux box) not being resolved

After installing samba, Windows was able to resolve my Ubuntu hostname to its IP.

Man pages for development

The man pages for system and library calls are in the manpages-dev package.

Restart Gnome Desktop (nautilus)

Nautilus crashes when you try to open a terminal in a remote folder.

To restart, just run nautilus, e.g. from the deskbar applet.

Standby issues

Adding the option:

    Option      "NvAGP" "0"

to the "Screen" section of xorg.conf might have fixed standby (it remains to be seen) on my work machine, a Dell Precision T3400 525w with an Nvidia Quadro PCIe graphics card running Ubuntu 64-bit. This option was mentioned on a couple of threads in the Ubuntu forums:


To make it work from the Internet (without using a connection to a local machine or router software like DD-WRT), forward UDP port 9.

Workrave and gnome-screensaver

When you lock the screen during a rest break, then unlock it, the screen stays black until the break is over. Using xscreensaver seems to fix this, but I need to find how to activate the lock on demand (the Lock button on the rest break screen works).



Basically, look at the Remote tab of the Login Window settings under Administration.

Hardware Information

The hwinfo program (not installed by default) provides hardware information in the shell.

hwinfo --short | less

CHM Reader

Doing a "quick search" in Synaptic for "chm" shows several CHM viewers:

  • chmsee
  • kchmviewer - requires lots of KDE libraries; I didn't try it this time
  • gnochm
  • xchm
  • fbreader - oriented towards eBooks; was unable to read any of the CHM files that I tried

Some things are common to chmsee, gnochm, and xchm:

  • Unlike the Windows viewer, they don't show the full title when mousing over cut-off titles in the Contents

Another option: archmage converts CHM to a directory of HTML files, or a single file, or PDF.

Change Hostname

To change the hostname on Ubuntu, edit the hostname in /etc/hostname and the FQDN/hostname in /etc/hosts (generally FQDN comes first, with the short hostname as an alias).

Tooltips with Black Background (and Foreground)

Certain programs seem to provide the foreground color for tooltips (black) but not the background, making them unreadable in the default Ubuntu themes since 10.04. To fix, go to appearance preferences, select "Customize" on the Theme tab (with the desired theme selected), then on the Colors tab swap the colors for Tooltips. Some programs (e.g. Firefox) may need to be restarted before it takes effect.

File Associations/Icons

For editing filetypes, assogiate seems to work.

Change ethX

Most common case: changed MAC, possibly as a result of copying a virtual machine.

Edit /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules to set the new MAC address to eth0.

info/ubuntu.txt · Last modified: 2012-02-06 21:55 by sam