Ubuntu 14.04: Misc Utilities & Settings

This is part of my series on installing Ubuntu 14.04 on my laptop.  In the previous post, I configured my hybrid graphics card.  In this post, I am walking through various settings and utilities that I like to install to make the final tweaks on my installation.


I use file-roller for compressing files easily.  It comes already installed, but there are a few libraries that I like to install for extra types of installs.

  • 7zip
  • p7zip-rar

Run which 7z to make sure that it is installed.

Shutdown and Reboot from Unity

I used to use Gnome-Do.  It did much of what the Unity menu did just without the dash.  One thing it would do that Unity does not is shutdown or reboot by simply from the keyboard through the menu.  Now, I found in this article an option that allows Shutdown in the menu.

Here’s how to install it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install power-commands

Multi-Screen Setup

When at home, I have a monitor sitting on my left.  So, I normally change a couple of those things to make it work nicely with that monitor.  I opened the Displays program under System Settings, and here’s what I did:

  • Moved the “external” monitor to the left side to match the physical placement.
  • Turned off sticky edges (makes it hard to move the mouse between screens)
  • Set the launcher placement only on one of my screens

Displays Settings

Note: I had issues with these settings with I was using Nvidia Prime.  After installing Bumblebee, it seemed to work again.


I ran across TLP from several sources, so I thought I would give it a try.  It is supposed to manage power to make the battery last longer on a charge.  Here’s the description from the website:

TLP brings you the benefits of advanced power management for Linux without the need to understand every technical detail. TLP comes with a default configuration already optimized for battery life, so you may just install and forget it. Nevertheless TLP is highly customizable to fulfil your specific requirements.

I installed it with these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
sudo tlp start

I’m not sure how to a measure the improvement.


Previously, I had used alacarte (the “Menu Editor”) to add custom icons/launchers to my Unity menu.  It had bugs though, and on my last install, I found MenuLibre.  Now, on this install, MenuLibre is already in the repositories, and I just installed it directly from the Software Center.  The version it installed was 2.0.3.

Suspend Setting

I don’t like for my laptop to automatically suspend when I close the lid.  If I want it to suspend, I’ll tell it to with the power menu.  So, I changed it:

Power settings


Online Accounts

Under Settings > Online Accounts, I setup Facebook. That’s what allowed me to export pictures from Shotwell.


I installed Synaptic from the Software Center.  The software center is capable for installing and removing packages, but it is nice in case you ever have to do things like force a particular version or advanced dealings with packages.

Y PPA Manager

The Y PPA Manager is a nice-to-have tool for managing the repositories.   I installed it with these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/y-ppa-manager
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install y-ppa-manager

Compiz Settings Manager

The Compiz Settings Manager is a handy tool to tweak the compiz settings.  I installed the compizconfig-settings-manager package from the  Software Center.

In addition, I installed the compiz-plugins package from the Software Center.  To find that package, you have to click the “show technical items” link at the bottom of the Software Center.

I like the Wobbly Windows, so I enabled that.  It requires disabling Snappy Windows, which it will do for you.

Enabling Wobbly Windows

Update:  I also enabled the “Minimize Single Window Applications” option.  I found out about this on the Tech Drive-in blog.

CompizConfig Settings Manager

Unity Tweak Tool

I also installed the “Unity Tweak Tool” from the Software Center.  Under Unity > Panel, I changed the date settings so that I could see the date all the time by the clock:

Unity Tweak Tool


TRIM for my Solid State Drive

I am using an SSD for my root partition.  So, when I ran across WebUpd8’s article, I thought I would give it a shot.  First, I checked the compatibility:

skp@pistachio:~$ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda | grep "TRIM supported"
skp@pistachio:~$ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdb | grep "TRIM supported"
 * Data Set Management TRIM supported (limit 8 blocks)

Notice, sda is not compatible, but sdb is.  sdb is the drive holding the root drive, and it is my SSD.  I opted for the Daily cron job method.  I tested the command, and it worked fine:

$ sudo fstrim -v /
/: 3852005376 bytes were trimmed

I added the cron job with this command:

gksu gedit /etc/cron.daily/trim

Then, I placed this in the file:

echo "*** $(date -R) ***" >> $LOG
fstrim -v / >> $LOG

Finally, I made it executable.

sudo chmod +x /etc/cron.daily/trim


I saw this new setting that I really like.  It puts the menus on the title bar of the program rather than at the top of the screen.

Appearance Settings


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *