Ubuntu 11.10 – Oneiric Ocelot beta 1 is out now! Now it’s the time to install some necessary applications/packages to make the system useful for any common purpose such as Listening music, watching movies, playing videos over the web etc. or any specific purposes (e.g if you’re a web designer then you need to install some cool fonts, image editors, graphics designing tools etc).

Since Ubuntu 11.10 has already made some good changes in the selection of default applications (as compare to previous versions), but still a lot of efforts are required to customize the Ubuntu for your needs. Here is list of top 10 customization tips that I think is required for most of the users, feel free to add one if you feel it’s useful for Ubuntu users, through comments. Some of the packages are mandatory while some are recommended based on its popularity – if you don’t like any Apps, just swap it out with your favorite one.

Things to do after a fresh installation of Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

1. Update Ubuntu (Repository cache)

After installing Ubuntu 11.10, first of all, update the package information (you are always recommended to update your computer as frequently as possible but surely before installing any new programs so that you will get the latest one available in the repository). You can update your system either from command line

Open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + t) and execute the following commands –

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Alternate way – start update manager (it’s installed by default, just search for it) and click on install updates.

update-manager in Ubuntu 11.10
updating repository using Update Manager

2. Install ‘Ubuntu Restricted Extras’ – codecs/plugins

You need to install the audio mp3 (MPEG Layer 3) decoders as it’s required for playing your mp3 songs), similarly you need to install Adobe flash player on Ubuntu 11.10 for playing flash content such as YouTube Videos (although they are trying to replace the flash dependencies with HTML 5). You can install all these proprietary plugins/codecs by installing the package called ‘ubuntu restricted extras’. Open a terminal and execute the command –

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Restricted library/packages for playing encrypted DVD’s

Although you’ve installed ‘ubuntu-restricted-extra’, you still won’t be able to play any proprietary DVD (which is usually encrypted with CSS(Content Scramble System) ). Therefore You also need to install libdvdcss2, a free software library for unscrambling/accessing those DVDs. Open terminal and execute the following commands (You may need to reboot) –

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

3. Install Additional (graphics card and webcam) drivers

If you are using any graphics/video card (which is recommended for 3D effects in Unity or Gnome-shell, if your computer doesn’t fulfill the graphics requirement then you will be 2D version of Unity, in fallback mode). In most of the cases, Ubuntu will automatically detect and tell you there any additional hardware drivers are necessary or not, you just need to select the appropriate driver and click on Activate.


For any reason if your graphics card (probably NVIDIA or ATI) doesn’t get detected automatically then don’t be panic. Go to System Settings -> Additional Drivers and wait for the window to appear with driver options. Select the driver software you want to install and click on Activate. After installing the driver – restart your computer. That set.

install cheese – webcam software/driver for your webcam

If you want to use your webcam for taking pictures or recording videos then you must need a webcam software. Cheese is the most popular webcam software, and it’s already there in Ubuntu Software Center, or install it from terminal –

sudo apt-get install cheese

4. Install Chromium Web browser for faster browsing

Chromium – Browsing with Speed

Firefox is the default web browser in Ubuntu 11.10, which is slow and very unstable (if you’ve multiple tabs and add-on’s installed). On the other hand Chromium is pretty fast and it’s popularity is increasing exponentially. So it’s a must have Application on Ubuntu (or any other OS). Chromium supports all the extensions/themes that you use on Chrome. it’s one of the most popular software in Ubuntu Software Center. So you can install it in a single click from Ubuntu Software Center, or just type the command in terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T ) :

sudo apt-get install chromium-browser

You should install some codecs like FFmpeg for playing multimedia contents on web.

sudo apt-get install chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra

If you want to use chrome then go here – I’ve already explained about – installing Google Chrome on Ubuntu 11.10, in detail.

5. Install VLC Player

VLC player is one of the most popular open source media player. It is commonly called as – ‘all in one‘ media player, it has lot of features that you expect from a modern media player. On Ubuntu 11.10 – it’s a must have application – for video player it’s probably the best one. VLC player is capable of playing a wide range media formats such as mp3, avi, mp4, flv etc. Since it’s available in Ubuntu Software Center – you can either install it from there or type the command –

sudo apt-get install vlc


6. Install any Image editing program

An image editing/creating software is necessary for every one, by default no such program is installed. So you’re recommended to install an image editor.

GIMP is the most popular open source and free image editor, having features similar to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP has a lot of powerful features which allows you to create complex graphics designs/images. it is more suitable for intermediate users – those having some experience in image editing. To install gimp – either search in Ubuntu Software Center or install it from terminal –

sudo apt-get install gimp

For some extra set of brushes, gradients and plugins etc execute :

sudo apt-get install gimp-data-extras
sudo apt-get install gimp-plugin-registry


Pinta is a good image editing program – with some basic features. it’s very easy to use, so most suitable for absolute beginners. it looks very similar to MS paint program. To install pinta – use Ubuntu Software Center or execute the command –

sudo apt-get install pinta

7. Try Gnome shell

Ubuntu 11.10 uses Unity as the default UI/window manager but it’s based on Gnome 3 so you can install Gnome shell simultaneously (without breaking the Unity desktop, which used to happen in previous version of Ubuntu i.e in 11.04). Gnome shell has been developed from scratch for a totally new experience. The interaction and navigation has been evolved in Gnome shell – so it appears to be the next generation desktop. The Gnome shell is already there, in the official repository of Ubuntu 11.10 – so you can install Gnome 3 in one simple command (or from USC)

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

If you’ve any problem in using Gnome shell – then refer to my previous post about installing Gnome shell on Ubuntu 11.10 , where a little bit of extra information is there along with step wise installation instructions.

8. setup an online file backup program

You must keep an an online backup of your important files. Now a days- cloud backup is recommended. Ubuntu 11.10 has ‘Ubuntu One’ installed by default, in which you will get 2GB free storage and you can access (direct music streaming is also available) your files from anywhere. Most of the backup programs such as Dropbox offers sync features – which can also be used in collaborative projects.

Ubuntu One – backup with Cloud


Ubuntu One

it’s already installed in Ubuntu 11.10. You will get 2GB of free storage (in cloud). So you can easily synchronize your critical files using this application. Click on the Ubuntu One launcher in the panel and follow the instructions. Files can accessed from anywhere – and music streaming is also available on Android and iPhone.


File Sharing is Fun!

Dropbox is one of the most popular file sharing (as well as backup) program. Dropbox offers 2GB storage for free. You must have a dropbox account to start, if you don’t have then create an account first. Sync feature of dropbox is great! which makes it well suitable for collaborative projects (as files are secure and easy to share/collaborate, deleted files can be recovered up-to 30 days (in free plan)). In Ubuntu 11.10 – dropbox (integration script with Nautilus) has been included in official repository. So you can install it directly from Software Center or type the command –

sudo apt-get install nautilus-dropbox

9. install gnome tweak tool

Gnome Tweak Tool is a utility for Gnome 3 desktop for tweaking the desktop settings – and so it allows us to customize (windows look/behavior, theme, Fonts etc) the desktop as we want. The ‘appearance’ settings doesn’t have much option now (as it used to be in earlier version of Gnome) so Gnome Tweak Tool will do that.

Tweaking Ubuntu 11.10

To install Gnome Tweak Tool open terminal and execute –

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

10. Try cool themes / icons

The default theme in Ubuntu isn’t that cool. Right? I don’t know about you but many of us like to have cool/charming icons and themes. So find out some great themes and icons, and enjoy Ubuntu 11.10.

Radiamentary Theme for Unity

Download Radiamentary Theme

To install themes in unity, Extract and Copy the theme file to usr/share/themes ; then open Gnome Tweak Tool and select that theme (GTK, icon, window etc). That’s All.

Additionally, Ubuntu software center is there – so just relax and search for applications that you like, and find out your favorite applications or try something new. Have Fun!

Update! For latest stable version of Ubuntu – 10 things to do after installing ubuntu 12.10 guide!

Checkout my new web Application : Railyo – a private job board for rails developers!

Join the Conversation


  1. it doesnt sound so cool. i prefer mervelic meerkat (10.10) which is the best release ubuntu and partners have ever released.

    1. I do like Ubuntu 10.10 – very much, in fact, I would say “it was just perfect”. So I use it for dev purposes ..but for having some fun with latest version (specifically Gnome 3 – switching between windows/programs is so fast!) – I’ve installed Ubuntu 11.10 in a separate partition ..Give it a try ! – just For Fun! 🙂

  2. First thing to do is to remove Unity!
    Then rest of this artickle will work fine on Ubuntu-Ckassics w Gnome 2.xx

  3. hey, where did you get the big bang theory episodes from??? I’ve been searching for them to no avail =(

  4. But theme installation now needs for you to be root…

    Stupid gnome3 being uncustomizable without going through terminals and having to install software that should be packaged by default (gnome tweak tool)

    This makes 999 reasons why KDE is better.

  5. “Firefox is slow and unstable” what kind if fanboy statement is that? Truly. There is nothing wrong with FF for a long while now. I use it on several linux and Windows machines, along with Chrome/Chromium.

    1. Firefox’s performance on Linux based distro such as Ubuntu, is horrible! I’ve been using Firefox on Ubuntu for a while, I felt that – it’s very slow if you use plugin(s), if you have multiple tabs opened together, then it crashes frequently and sometimes it just becomes unresponsive.

      1. If you use plugins? How many and which ones are you using? I’ve got no problem with FF with around 40 tabs and a whole bunch of extensions and it’s amazingly fast. You must’ve installed some crappy extension.

      2. I have no problems with FF on a variety of systems. From underpowered (Athlon XP) to i5. All of them run Firebug, along with “standard” plugins (Java, Flash, etc.). It does not crash (not more so than other mature apps, ie. I do not recall the last time it crashed) and it does not become unresponsive. Flash was causing all kinds of problems (and still does), but things improved over the last year or so.

        I always have multiple tabs open at the same time and have had since the tab concept was introduced many years ago now. I forgot who was the first with this feature, Opera or Firefox.

        It seems that there is something truly wrong with your FF installation if you are genuinely experiencing “horrible” FF performance. In use on the same machines, I do not find Chromium any faster, so I do not use it as much as I see no point and I hate the ‘malfunctioning’ TAB key in Chrome/Chromium.

        1. hmm, Chrome (I’m not talking about chromium) runs faster with more site compatibility for me on Ubuntu… I never have an issue with the tab. Additionally, running 512 mb of ram in Vista, the only browser that would load was Chrome, and it did so nicely (Firefox and IE crashed it every time).  

      3. What the hell you are talking?? Firefox runs better in Ubuntu. I think you hate Firefox so that’s why are u talking so rude about Firefox. In terms of add-ons chrome cannot match with Firefox!!

        1. I use firefox as a secondary browser, I like firefox. When it comes to add-ons, you should know that most of the add-ons are incompatible due to version-crap (Frequent release of versions), although I do agree that in later versions of Firefox, its performance on Ubuntu has improved.

      4. FF isnt that bad, I have been using it for years, and at work I use Chrome (just because there was a day we have crossing browser issue and I have to spend days working with Chrome), I’ve been using chrome ever since. I can tell, it isnt much different from FF, doesnt matter if its in Linux or windows. When its slower, then I have opened way too many tabs, and too many add-ons were installed.

      5. FF worked better than Chrome & Chromium on my Ubuntu 11.04 because Cr was crashing too often for me (just some extensions by Google installed), dont know why. Perpaps the latest release has fixed it.

  6. Would love to go this route, but using outlook with exchange 2010 is just too much of a pain.

  7. E: Could not get lock /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (11: Resource temporarily unavailable)
    E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), is another process using it?

    am getting dis error..wat to do??pleade help me to get out of dis

    1. I too had this problem. After several tries, I simply restarted my PC which seems to have killed whatever processes were causing the obstruction.

      1. run command “lsof /var/lib/dpkg/lock” in terminal , then the processes that using that file will be list, kill those processes.

    2. sudo rm /var/lib/dpkg/lock should do it. Make sure there genuinely isn’t another process working on your packages though or you could really break it!

  8. Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity or Gnome 3 plus will most surely be a failure for any user with any appreciable ability with an OS, which, of course is the case with the vast majority of Ubuntu users.  Ubuntu 11.10 should have a release with faithful Gnome 2.

  9. This is awesome! When I get around To it… I will create a batch file based on your recommendations. So often I’ve struggled to get the individual codes (& codecs).  To have them all in one place is absolutely incredible! thank you and keep on keeping on!

  10. Hi, I’ve installed 11.10 just for The Gnome 3 and now I’m all day long with Unity 🙂

  11. You forgot the main one: Uninstall Ubuntu 11.10. I mean really, how can anyone like Unity? I miss Gnome 2.

  12. Superb article. Having a “one stop” list is great.
    One thing is missing for me… I have a netbook and extra (rather large) screen, and there is no way this is working with the default compiz setup of 11.10.
    So all I want to add to this excellent list is the fact that “simpler players” such as I should choose the “Gnome 2D” option before login (at the user/password step).
    By doing so, we remove Compiz and allow for bigger resolution on the second monitor of netbook setups.

    Thanks !

  13. ok i cant drag the new theme to the usr/share/theme folder because it has root permission how can i fix that

  14. firefox is probably the best web compliant browser avaliable in my opinion. deffinately better than IE, and chrome is good as a secondary browser, again – deffinately better than IE

    1. Don’t know if you got an answer yet but…you press Tab to select the OK then hit Enter 🙂 Should work.

        1. TOTAL newbie here and had the same issue – Thanks, as well, and I’ll confess I’m just getting bowled over by how much support and community is available here, even for the smallest of things. Just awesome, all…

  15. I appreciate this list, but I get stuck at step 2! The following message shows up in terminal, and seems to be waiting for my OK, but there is no OK button. How can I proceed?  Configuring ttf-mscorefonts-installer

  16. Ubuntu 11.10 the stable version has been released. Actually firefox in Ubuntu 11.10 is slow. I like Ubuntu and I have a dual boot with Microsoft Windows XP Professional and Ubuntu 11.10. If you want freedom and an open-source software then Ubuntu is the best choice and if you want gaming and entertainment and use Windows.
    Actually I think Windows is better then Ubuntu because it has a better interface then ubuntu. Windows is more stable than Ubuntu (There are a few bugs in Ubuntu) and with Microsoft Windows 7 and the upcoming release Microsoft Windows 8 it has attracted many users to it. Although Microsoft Windows Vista had some problems in the performance but it was the best operating system in security.

    1. ? what are you talking about. Yes, 11.10 isn’t really fast, and Unity uses a bit more ram than it should, but XP has a “better interface” than Ubuntu?? And Vista is the “Best operating system in security”? !?!

  17. Thank you, still FF is not unstable, but it is always a good idea have an alternative browser, best regards

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