Things to Tweak in Xubuntu 14.04

Xubuntu has become my favorite version of Linux.  It is good right out of the box.  It is even better if you add a few things and tweak a few things.  Here is my list.

Discover the Mouse menu – Click on the little mouse in the upper right corner of the screen. (This is your “start menu.”)  Notice that there are two columns in the menu box.  The right hand column contains categories of items.  When you click on any category, all the options in that group appear in the left column.  You can then select an App from the list on the left.  These are the default settings of the menu.  Practice with it a little, its easy.  I’ll call this menu “Mouse” but the correct name is “Whisker Menu.”

Increase Panel bar size – at the very top of the screen RIGHT click on the narrow task bar, a menu will appear.  Select “Panel” then “Panel Preferences.”  An Option box will appear.  Slide the “Row size” slide bar to increase the size of the panel.  Experiment with other options if you like.

Turn on Backgrounds –  Click on “Mouse”, then “Settings,” then on “Desktop.”  A large option box will appear.  Check the box that says “Change Backgrounds.”  If you like, reset the amount of time between changes.  The default pictures are pretty crummy, but you can use your own pictures.  Put some pictures of your choice into a folder of your choice then change the setting in the “Folder” box to point to your photo folder.  I recommend using a few good pictures in a folder of their own.  Don’t use your library of 10,000 snapshots.



Put the Web Browser on the desktop – Click “Mouse” then RIGHT click on “Web Browser.”  A box appears.  Click on “Add to Desktop.”  Add other things to your desktop if you like but don’t gum it up with stuff.  That’s why you have the “Mouse.”  The first time you try to use a new desktop icon, you will get a scary warning with three options.  Just click on “Mark as Executable” and it won’t happen again for that icon.


Adjust your “Mouse” favorites – The Whisker Menu (Mouse) is so flexible.  Take a look at all of the various Apps.  If you see one that you really like and that you will use regularly, you should put it into “Favorites.”  Simply RIGHT click on the option, the select “Add to Favorites.”

Adjust Light Locker – Light locker can be very annoying but it is useful too.  It controls when your monitor shuts off and other things like that.  “Screensaver” blanks the screen after the minutes you select… I use 17.  “Switch off display” turns the monitor completely off putting it in standby mode (most monitor support this, older ones not.)  If you enable “Lock the session” then you will have to type your system password when you return to your computer.  I leave this set to “Never.”   You decide for yourself.  I also leave “Lock on suspend” off.


Screensaver – There is currently NO excellent screen saver (one that displays photos etc) for Linux.  There used to be a really cool one, and you can still use it, but it is buggy now that Linux has advanced and support for the screensaver fell by the wayside.  So I recommend just using Light Locker combined with changing screen back grounds.  If you must have a photo slide show, there is a really cool program called FEH.  You can use FEH to make your own photo frame out of an old computer or you can use it to have a one button slide show on your every day computer.  Using FEH is an advanced technique so we will save that for later.

Wierd Names – This is really a brain tweak for you not the computer.  Linux programmers seem to like wierd names so just get used to it.  Instead of Photoshop, you get Gimp.  Then there is Feh, Thunar, Catfish, etc etc. You’ll get it.

Discover the Terminal – The terminal opens a small black Unix like command window that looks similar to a DOS prompt.  In this window you can type direct commands to install things and tweak things.  For now you just need to know how to get to it.  Click “Mouse”, then “Accessories”, then “Terminal Emulator”

Virus Checker – You don’t need one.  Really.  There is one called “Clam” with a user interface called “ClamTK.”  You can download it and use it if you like but you are wasting your time.  Browse responsibly and you will be safe.  The other day I came across one of those “attack” web sites that zaps Windows with false virus messages and pops up forever afterward.  No big deal.  It showed a message that immediately stalled out and then I went on browsing elsewhere.

Shut Down – How do you turn the thing off?  Click “Mouse” then in the lower rightcorner you will see a power button icon.  Click that and pick your option.


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