These tips are meant to help you on your way to breaking in Ubuntu. The tips found here are meant to be quick and easy to execute, and provide a small but marked difference in how Ubuntu operates. The tips should also not be overly simple, such as changing the desktop background, but rather be along the lines of changing how Ubuntu reacts. The important thing to remember is that whatever it does, it needs to make life easier in some way.

Tip #1 Hide Recent Documents


  • Places --> Recent Documents lists all the recently opened documents. If you wish to disable it, you need to do the following:


First, go to Places -> Recent Documents -> Clear list.

Then, open a terminal and type:

  •   sudo chattr +i ~/.recently-used.xbel

(This is add an "immutable" attribution to your recently-emptied list.)


  • If you have already disabled it, you can re-enable Recent Documents by opening a terminal and typing:
      sudo chattr -i ~/.recently-used.xbel

Tip # 2 Change Ubuntu Logo to Another image on Panel


  • Older versions of Ubuntu (before 5.10 Breezy Badger) came with the Gnome foot on the Applications menu. If you want you can change it follow these instructions as well:
    • App-button.png

    Following these instructions, you can put any image you want in that space - just create or find an image that suits you, and follow the steps below to put it in place.

Copy image to your PC

  • All you need to do is right click on one image below, select Save image as.. to a location you can remember and have permission to.

    • Gnome-logo-icon-transparent.png


From Command line

  • Now all you have to do is run the following commands:
      cd /usr/share/pixmaps/
      sudo mv gnome-logo-icon-transparent.png gnome-logo-icon-transparent.bak
      sudo mv /[path]/[image].png ./gnome-logo-icon-transparent.png

    replace [path] where you downloaded the image & [image] with the name of the icon.

    You need to restart Gnome by logging out and back in, or typing sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart or via sudo killall gnome-panel

  • (i) This also changes the icon of System->ABOUT GNOME

Tip #3 Keychain - Manage ssh keys


  • Instead of constantly starting up ssh-agent and ssh-add, it is possible to use keychain to manage your ssh keys. To install keychain, you can just click here, or use Synaptic to do the job or apt-get from the command line.

Command line

  • Another way to install the file is to open the terminal (Application->Accessories->Terminal) and type:

       sudo apt-get install keychain

Edit File

  • You then should add the following lines to your ${HOME}/.bashrc or /etc/bash.bashrc:
      keychain id_rsa id_dsa
      . ~/.keychain/`uname -n`-sh

Tip #4 Check for and fix filesystem errors on boot


  • This little tip turns on filesystem check to run at boot. It will check for and fix errors (similar to chkdisk found in Windows) but at the same time increase your boot time. Ubuntu automatically checks for errors after every 20-30 boots

Edit File

  • Open /etc/default/rcS with your text editor of choice (root permissions needed) and change this line:

Please note

  • To gain superuser powers for a graphical program for such as gedit you should not use sudo. Example of a incorrect command:

  •   sudo gedit

For Ubuntu you should instead use gksudo. Example:

  •   gksudo gedit

Tip #5 Some Gnome & Nautilus Tricks

Gnome and its file manager, Nautilus, have some interesting, useful but hard to discover tricks built in. Here is a short selection:


  • Dragging a file with middle mouse button will show a menu upon release, allowing you to select among move, copy, link to, and cancel. Similar to right-mouse drag in Windows.

  • Middle-click on a folder to open it in a new tab. Works for everything in the side-pane too.
  • Drag open tabs in Nautilus to re-arrange them.
  • Alt-left drag in any window will let you move that window, without having to hunt for the title bar. Just click anywhere in a window while the Alt key is pressed, and you can move the window.
  • Alt-middle drag allows you to resize a window without having to hunt for the edges of the window.
  • Alt-right click anywhere in the window will bring up the window menu (the one that is usually located by pressing on the top left corner of the title bar).
  • Double-clicking on the title bar will expand a window to full-screen.
    • This behaviour can be modified in System menu --> Preferences --> Windows. Look for the "Titlebar Action" section - the "roll up when double-clicked" version can be very useful to manage the palettes and toolbars of applications like the GIMP, Inkscape or Scribus.

  • To add an item to your Places menu, as well as to the Places sidebar in Nautilus, navigate to that location in Nautilus, and choose Bookmarks>Add Bookmark.

Tip #6 Change the Default program

Sometimes for whatever reason, the default program that opens when we double click a file is not the one we want.

Check first

  • First, check to make sure it's installed. If this is a new install, the program you remember having for a long time, may no longer be present, either because it is no longer pre-installed, or because your backup scripts didn't install it.

Changing the Defaults

  • To change the default program, right click the file, select Properties, and chose the Open With tab. Then click on one of the radio buttons to chose one of the programs that Ubuntu recognizes as a valid program to view/manipulate the file. If the program is not there, click the Add button, and chose from another, longer list of programs.

Extra step
  • If it's still not there, or you want it to be opened with special flags, try Use a custom command option to type in the command to the program. Then click Add

Final Step

  • Finally Close the properties box, and double click the file. It should now open with your program of choice. Please note that if you make the program, say VLC, open .flv files, it will not automatically open .mp4 files.

QuickTips (last edited 2011-04-12 01:40:15 by colinkeenan)