Things to do after installing elementary OS (Loki)

The purpose of this article is to share some tutorials I implemented after installing elementary OS Loki. It includes the installation of 3rd party applications that are not supported by the elementary OS team. I have included many tips and tricks but the main tutorials include…

  1. Installing video drivers, codecs and archive tools
  2. Making minor modifications to the dock and theme (dconf-editor)
  3. Replacing Epiphany with Firefox
  4. How to correctly install, dropbox, Steam, Spotify & Minecraft
  5. How to optimize your SSD
  6. Installing Virtualbox

My overall objective was to adopt as much out of the box elementary experience into my daily work-flow while attempting to be economical when installing 3rd party applications. I soon discovered utilizing the terminal, dconf-editor and adding PPAs is still unavoidable for a complete user experience. Thats OK for competent users but could be a little tricky for new users. Researching resolutions online continues to be hit and miss with blogs proclaiming top things to do after installing Loki (these are often incomplete, subjective and often half-baked).

My only issue is that some key applications do not work when installed from the App centre. Steam, Dropbox, Virtualbox to name a few. This is disappointing and makes for an incomplete and uncongenial experience for the end user. Also there is no clarity about 3rd party applications designed specifically for elementary OS found here if they have been abandoned or what their future is.These instructions represent what I did to resolve the above issue and get things how I wanted.

First… the essentials

You need to install these applications for these tutorials to work. Open the terminal and copy an paste.

sudo apt install software-properties-common gdebi git dconf-editor software-properties-gtk

Once installed go to System Settings > select About then > Check for Updates. Alternatively, if you prefer to use the terminal to check and install system updates then use this command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Install\u00a0 Graphics Drivers

  1. Make sure you run the first steps (above).
  2. Open the Applications menu and type “software-properties” in the search field.
  3. Open “Software & Updates” from the search results. (see screenshot below)
  4. Select the “Additional drivers” tab and wait for it to update.
  5. Select the presented proprietary driver and install.
  6. Complete the installation by rebooting your computer.

screenshot-from-2016-10-05-182125Follow the alternative instructions below for Nvidia if you wish to manage your drivers with the latest PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa


sudo apt update


sudo apt install nvidia-370


sudo reboot

Install multimedia Codecs

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras libavcodec-extra ffmpeg

Install essential Archiving Tools

sudo apt install rar unrar cabextract lzip lunzip arj unace p7zip-rar p7zip


Minor Appearance and behavior Changes

Assign the Super key to open the Application Menu

Open the terminal [ctrl-T] and run this command

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings panel-main-menu "['Super_L']"

Disable the default single-click policy

Open the terminal [ctrl-T] and run this command

gsettings set org.pantheon.files.preferences single-click false

To enable NumLock at login

Open the Pantheon Greeter configuration text file

sudo scratch-text-editor /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/40-pantheon-greeter.conf

Add the following line to the end of the file

greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on

When you log out then in again NumLock should be turned on

Change Plank (dock) Theme and Icon Size

I like smaller icons and a transparent theme for Plank.

To achieve…

Open the Applications menu in the search field type

plank --preferences

  1. Change icon-size to 36(replace with your preference)
  2. Type “transparent” in theme. (without quotes)

plank

Change the system Icon theme

A controversial choice I know especially as I love the elementary icon theme. The fact it is not a complete set for the applications I install makes some icons on my dock “fuzzy” and some icons in the Application menu ugly. My choice of icons (provide a system wide consistency) is the ever reliable faba-mono-icons as these inherit the beautiful Moka Icon theme.

moka

To install open the terminal (copy and paste 1 line at a time)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:moka/daily

sudo apt update

sudo apt install moka-icon-theme faba-icon-theme faba-mono-icons

To change the theme

Open dconf-editor in the Applications menu (slingshot)

  • Navigate: org > gnome > desktop > interface
  • Type “Faba-Mono” in icon-theme. (without quotes)

screenshot-from-2016-09-21-221915


firefox-nightlyFirefox – My Web browser of choice

sudo apt install firefox

In my opinion the elementary team made a wise decision making the capable epiphany web browser the default over Midori. Unfortunately I have been using the highly customizable Firefox for years and have all my mobile devices synced to it.

One useful Firefox add on for elementary users is addon-bar (restored). It allows you to move all the Firefox icons to the bottom status bar making the top-bar a somewhat acceptable integration into the elementary environment. Notice how clean the top bar looks in this screen-shot

screenshot-from-2016-09-23-064540

To learn more about my Firefox tips to enhance performance, privacy and behaviour, scroll to the bottom of this linked article


dropboxInstall Dropbox for elementary

This assumes you installed the “git” package in the first instruction above. If you have not then type sudo apt install git into the terminal.

Copy and paste the following line into the terminal (Answer Yes “Y” when prompted)

git clone https://github.com/zant95/elementary-dropbox /tmp/elementary-dropbox
bash /tmp/elementary-dropbox/install.sh

From the Applications menu open Dropbox and sign into you account.

To uninstall…

git clone https://github.com/zant95/elementary-dropbox /tmp/elementary-dropbox
bash /tmp/elementary-dropbox/uninstall.sh


logoInstall Spotify

To install open the terminal (copy and paste 1 line at a time)

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv-keys BBEBDCB318AD50EC6865090613B00F1FD2C19886

echo deb http://repository.spotify.com stable non-free | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/spotify.list

sudo apt update

sudo apt install spotify-client

minecraftInstall Minecraft

To install open the terminal (copy and paste 1 line at a time)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:minecraft-installer-peeps/minecraft-installer

sudo apt update

sudo apt install minecraft-installer

minecraft

steamInstall Steam

To install open the terminal (copy and paste 1 line at a time)

sudo add-apt-repository multiverse

sudo apt update

sudo apt install steam

notesInstall Notes-Up

Notes-Up is a great little note taking application designed specifically for elementary OS. While new features are continually added it provides a remarkable stable user experience and well worth supporting.

To install open the terminal [ctrl-T] and run these commands.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:philip.scott/projects && sudo apt update

sudo apt install notes-up


Other 3rd party Applications

I use elementary’s “out of the box” applications for everything else with the exception of the following list for which I have a strong use case for I will swap these if a suitable app “built for elementary” becomes available

1: Backup files to an external hard-drive

sudo apt install grsync

2: Cleanup your system -removes uneeded files

sudo apt install bleachbit

3: Organize the Applications menu

sudo apt install menulibre

4: Useful Vector Graphics & Photo Management Work-flow tool

sudo apt install inkscape darktable

5: Feature rich video editor

sudo apt install kdenlive

6: Organize your genealogy reseach (family history)

sudo apt install gramps

7: Create USB installation media

sudo apt install usb-creator-gtk

8: Manage your music collection tags

sudo apt install picard

9: Bit-torrent download client

sudo apt install transmission

10: Office Suite – Writer, spreadsheets, presentation etc

sudo apt install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk libreoffice-l10n-en-gb libreoffice-style-breeze mythes-en-gb hunspell-en-gb

11: Utilities to manage SSDs and Hardrives (Partitioning, mounting etc)

sudo apt install gnome-disk-utility gnome-system-monitor gparted

12: Alternative application management

sudo apt install synaptic

Notes

  1. To improve LibreOffice integration go to Tools > Options > Edit> and change the icon theme to “Breeze”
  2. When installing libreoffice you should install the thesaurus and spelling language packages to your corresponding region. You can find a list of regional options here.
    e.g. i installed hunspell-en-gb & mythes-en-gb for British English
LibreOffice Toolbar with the Breeze Theme activated
LibreOffice Toolbar with the Breeze Theme activated

Some System Optimizations & Performance Enhancements

Optimize Your SSD partions – TRIM

One way to optimize your SSD on elementary OS Loki is by adding the TRIM command to /etc/rc.local. This command will be executed automatically on every boot.

First disable the weekly trim

sudo mv -v /etc/cron.weekly/fstrim /fstrim

In the terminal open rc.local text file with scratch.

sudo -i scratch-text-editor /etc/rc.local

Above the line exit 0 in that file, add the TRIM command fstrim for every automatically mounted EXT4 partition on your SSD. It is important you do not add the command for partitions that are not auto-mounted, e.g. the swap partition or for the /boot/efi partition. Your rc.local should look like this below when done. I highlighted what I added to my mine as an example.

#!/bin/sh -e
# rc.local  # This script is executed at the end of each multi-user runlevel.
# Make sure that the script will "exit 0" on success or any other
 # value on error.  # In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution
# bits.
# By default this script does nothing.
fstrim /
fstrim /home
fstrim /archive 
exit 0

Save the modified file then reboot your computer.

Optimize Your laptops battery life

There is no substitute for manually turning off functionality not being used e.g. bluetooth when on battery power. That said installing tlp with its default settings provide a good balance between performance and power saving.

To install open the terminal [ctrl-T] and run this command.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw

sudo tlp start

Install Preload

Pre-loading is best used with large and often-used applications like your web browser or LibreOffice etc. The benefit is that preloaded applications start more quickly because reading from the RAM is always quicker than from the hard drive.

To install open the terminal [ctrl-T] and run this command.

sudo apt install preload


Install Virtualbox(5.1) on Loki

There are several ways to install Virtualbox in elementary OS but these instructions from the official repository for those who want to receive future updates via Software Updater.

vbox

Run the commands below one by one in terminal:

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian xenial contrib" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/virtualbox.list'

wget -q https://www.virtualbox.org/download/oracle_vbox_2016.asc -O- | sudo apt-key add -

sudo apt update

sudo apt install virtualbox-5.1

Add yourself to the vbox users group using your own user name

sudo gpasswd -a [your username here] vboxusers

example:

sudo gpasswd -a stephen vboxusers

Enable File Sharing between Loki and Guest OS

  1. Highlight your guest machine and navigate to settings > shared folders
  2. In the Folder Path field, select a folder on your host machine.
  3. Give it the name host_share\u201d
  4. Check Auto-mount to auto-mount the shared folder when the guest OS boots up. Click the OK button.
  5. Now start the Linux guest machine.
  6. In /media/ directory of the Linux guest, you will find a new directory called sf_host_share (or the name you gave it in step 3).
  7. By default, only root and members of the vboxsf group have read and write access to this directory. So you need to add your username to vboxsf group. In the terminal type

sudo gpasswd -a [your username here] vboxsf

  • Log out of the current session and log back in.
  • Now you can access the /media/sf_host_share directory.
  • Now create a soft link that points to /media/sf_host_share.

ln -s /media/sf_host_share /home/[your username here] host_share

Enable copy and paste clipboard between Loki and guest

  • To achieve this, open the settings window of your guest machine.
  • Go to General > Advanced.
  • Change the value of Shared Clipboard  to Bidirectional.
  • Then click OK.

Install Guest Additions on Ubuntu based Guests

Note: These instructions are only suitable for ubuntu based distro guests. For others (e.g. Arch, Fedora, OpenSuse etc) please refer to their relevant wiki page or forums.

Start the guest OS then open\u00a0 terminal and update the guest OS software using the following command.

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Reboot the guest OS.

sudo reboot

Install required packages for building kernel modules.

sudo apt install build-essential module-assistant dkms

Now prepare the guest OS to build kernel module.

sudo m-a prepare

From the VirtualBox menu, select Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD image.
Click Download when asked to do so
Note: as your host machine is elementary OS the guest additions disk image will be downloaded to ~/.config/VirtualBox/ directory.
Once downloaded, click Insert button
On the Guest OS a pop-up will appear asking if you would like to run it.
Click the Run button.

Enable 3D Hardware Acceleration

  1. Close the Guest OS but keep it highlighted then open virtualbox settings.
  2. Click Display on the left pane.
  3. In the Screen tab, use the slider and allocate 128MB video memory
  4. Check the Enable 3D Acceleration option
  5. Now Save your settings
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18 thoughts on “Things to do after installing elementary OS (Loki)”

  1. Hi! Nice post! Please, you know how I can show my username on the Wigpanel? I tried with “gsettings set com.canonical.indicator.session show-real-name-on-panel true” but don’t work with Loki.

    Like

  2. gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings panel-main-menu “[‘Super_L’]”

    <==

    This will lockup your system (requiring a reboot). Super_L is already assigned to lock the screen by default. And when you apply this setting on the cmd line, you won't get any warnings.

    Like

  3. Thanks for the instructions.

    When I install and configure a custom icon pack, the icons in the wingpanel will be large and it looks ugly.

    How can we reduce the icon size in wingpanel ?

    Like

  4. When we install and configure custom icon pack like Arc, the icons in the wingpanel will appear large.

    How can we change the icons to look normal size.

    Like

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