Friday, October 8, 2010

My list of tweaks - what I change and add after a fresh install

With the release of version 10.10 in a few days, this post partly serves as a reminder to myself what I have installed on my machine, and how it is set up. It will probably also make pause and reconsider doing a clean installation, when I look at the amount of configuration I would have ahead of me!

Programs not in Ubuntu repositories:

Crashplan - for backing up user data such as documents, music, photos. Not so much for system data - I use backintime for that.

Dropbox - for syncing some of my data between computers - e.g. between home and work PC.

A whole bunch of Google programs - Google Earth, Chrome, Picasa and Desktop. They probably now know more about me than I do...

conkyforecast - a part of Conky that supplies weather forecast info on the desktop, along with a bunch of other system stats that allow me to keep tabs on what's happening on the PC. One of the programs I consider essential. Working without it is like driving a car with no dashboard.

Photography/Image editing:

Flickr Uploader - I initially downloaded this because I stopped using F-Spot, as it was too damn buggy. When I was trying other programs, none of them had a way to upload photos to my flickr account. This utility is pretty handy, letting you tag photos individually or as a group.

DigiKam - I thought for a while before installing this, as it is a KDE program. Choosing to install this requires also installing a bunch of the KDE framework. If you are interested in keepiing a lean system, maybe this isn't for you. However, I was looking at some sort of photo management and editing software. Bibble and Adobe Lightroom are the main contenders. Bibble is a paid app, as is Lightroom, which has the downside of being Mac and Windows only. I thought, what the hell, digiKam is free, so I'll try this one first. So far, it has worked pretty well. It isn't quite as polished as the other two, but my wallet says it is just fine.


Rubyripper - an open-source equivalent of Exact Audio Copy for windows.


Bleachbit - does a similar job to what CCleaner does in Windows.

Virtualbox - for running virtual machines, testing other operating system installs. Good to tinker and learn things.

Deluge Bittorrent client. I prefer it to Transmission (which is installed by default).

HDParm: a later version, which includes a copy of the wiper script that performs garbage collection on solid state hard drives, marking sectors as deleted. The new version of Ubuntu should have this included by default (as well as the 2.6.35 kernel, that supports the TRIM command).


Since I have a solid state hard drive in my system (and I highly recommend them for anyone looking to upgrade their PC) there are a few SSD-specific tweaks you can do to get the best out of them. This site has an excellent guide. I didn't do all of them, just enabled the noop disk scheduler and mounted filesystems with the noatime flag.

There are a number of things to be done with regards to MythTV, one of which is setting up LIRC for the remote control to work. One thing I noticed with a bit of early tinkering with a later kernel was that the remote ceased to work with that kernel - that's a concern I have with moving to the new version.

Enabling the medibuntu repositories to allow MP3 playback, DVDs and a few other restricted formats. Version 10.10 apparently has an option to enable all of these at install time, which is welcome.

That's just a few things I've changed, no doubt I'll think of many more, especially if I do a reinstall from scratch. I'll let you know how I go: if I do an upgrade (quick, convenient, chance of hosing the system), fresh install (time consuming with all the re-configuring and reinstalling, but will be a nice fresh system), or staying with 10.04 (quickest of all, but missing out on new toys). I might hold out for a little while, but I'm sure I'll succumb to the allure of new and shiny...

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