Ubuntu 12.04 Top Tweaks

Ubuntu 12.04 is here and I’ve been using it for almost a month now. It’s the Long Term Support version so it’s going to be around for many years to come. Also Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, is doing a fantastic job of getting Ubuntu pre-installed on PC’s in favour of Windows. However, there are some significant changes to the UI that Ubuntu has introduced in the past year or so that take some getting used to. Here are some tips to get the most out of this latest version with the minimum sweat.


As TweakUI is to Windows, Unsettings is to Ubuntu 12.x. You need it, trust me. You can do any of the following if you want to (all option, hey, you might even like the New Way, somebody has to):

  • Disable the global menu
  • Disable overlay scrollbars
  • Add items to the systray whitelist
  • Tweak the launcher look and feel
  • Customise the ‘Start button’ (Dash)
  • Tweak fonts (size, antialiasing, etc.)
  • Put icons back on the desktop

Things I did straight away: disable the overlay scrollbars (these are a boon on a tiny netbook display but not worth the hassle if you have the screen real estate) and reduce the size of the icons on the launcher bar (mitigating the extra screen used by having nice old skool scroll bars).
In order to get Unsettings:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:diesch/testing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unsettings

Managing Icons in the Launcher Bar

This isn’t obvious. I’ve seen a bazillion posts talking about adding items to the Desktop in Ubuntu 11 and 12, but not to the launcher bar (that bar on the left with the icons, a.k.a. the Unity bar). It’s easy, once you know. Go to the Dash and start your app. This will show the icon for the app that you wanted in the launcher bar. Now right-click on the icon in the launcher bar and select ‘Lock to Launcher’. Now, when you close the app window, you still have an icon there to launch it again. The corollary applies (and is somewhat more intuitive) – you can remove icons that you might hardly use (like LibreOffice icons) just by right-clicking on the icon the launcher bar and selecting ‘Unlock from Launcher’.

Replace LibreOffice with OpenOffice

Use Ubuntu Software Centre to remove all LibreOffice stuff. Now, close Ubuntu Software Centre and go to the command line:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:upubuntu-com/office
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install openoffice

This, at the time of writing, installs Open Office 3.4.

PDF Printer

Open your terminal, then type these following command:
sudo apt-get install cups-pdf
Tada! Printing to PDF for all apps.

Enjoying Your DVD’s

You bought some DVDs and want to be able to enjoy that content in your own home with the stuff you have. In my case, I have Ubunutu PC’s and an LG Smart TV (also running Linux somewhere inside). The first thing you’re going to need is full and unfettered access to the copy of the material that you have a license to watch at home:

sudo wget
sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2