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Short Guide to Customizing Ubuntu 12.04 LTS : Part 2 (For Intermediate Users)

So last time we discussed how to customize the basic things in Ubuntu. But not everyone is just happy customizing their OS up to that extend only, there are many people who want to go beyond that. So just for guys like those here I have the part 2 of the guide which discusses some more advanced stuff that would help customizing Ubuntu more according to one’s needs and also other things that can affect usability.

I would be using two application here to change most of the settings which are not pre-installed by default. “Ubuntu Tweak” and “Compiz Config Settings Manager (CCSM).


Note: The article may seem a bit longer, but it is because I have tried my best to make it easy for people to change the settings by mentioning everything step wise.

Autohide The Launcher

The Ubuntu Launcher is Ubuntu’s way of managing open windows and a lot of other stuff when compared to the Panel of Windows or the Dock of Mac OS X , but some users like me prefer the real estate more over the Eye Candy that it brings to the desktop. So for Auto hiding the Launcher follow these steps:

1. Right Click on Desktop and select “Change Desktop Background”

2. A new Window will appear, look for “Behavior” tab and click it.

3. There you will find an option to “Auto-Hide the Launcher” turn that from “Off” to “On”.

4. Close the window and you will see that the launcher Auto-hides.

Note:- Sometimes when we change the “Reveal Sensitivity” , the launcher does not come up. To fix that slide the bar to the default value which is marked on the slide bar itself. And the problem goes away. And if that too does not fix this, then logout and login again.


Change What Icons To Show On Desktop

Now since we have got the real estate we needed time to remove/add more stuff from/to your desktop. To do that follow theses steps:

1. Open up “Ubuntu Tweak” and navigate to “Tweaks —> Desktop Icons”

2. There you will find many options like “Show ’Computer’ icon” and a few more. Select what you would like to see on your desktop and disable the one’s you won’t.


Bring Back The Old Scroll-Bar Back

Though, some poeple would like to have the new ”Overlay Scroll Bar” in Ubuntu, I personally do not like it. The reason for that is my scroll bar has not been working for many months and I have got more used to dragging the Scroll Bar and then scrolling nowadays, and maybe this might sound weird to some guys that I am still using that mouse, but since I am someone who used the 2 button mouse in childhood which did not had scroll bars, I have a pretty good habit of using it.


Anyways back to the topic. So you could change it for whatever reason you like, to bring back the old scroll bar back follow these steps:

1. Open “Ubuntu Tweak” and navigate to “Tweaks —> Miscellaneous”.

2. Find the Option named “Overlay scrollbars” and turn the value from “On” to “Off” .


Note:You may need to logout and login to see the changes.

Bring Back Icons On Menu Items And Buttons


Most OS uses icons in “Menu” and “Buttons” . This feature is disabled in Ubuntu by default. To enable it follow these steps:

1. Open “Ubuntu Tweak” and navigate to “Tweaks —> Miscellaneous”.

2. There are two options named “Menus have icons” and “Buttons have icons”.

3. Tick them and you shall start seeing the changes when you open any menu or say right click on the desktop.


Change Login Screen Background and Logo and Other Settings

Though some guys like me prefer having the same background in both my Desktop and Login Screen, but not everyone does. Some people might prefer having another background in the login screen. If that is the case, then no problem, just follow the steps below:

1. Open “Ubuntu Tweak” and navigate to “Tweaks —> Login Settings”.

2. On the left side of the search bar you would see an option “Unlock”. Click it and enter your password.


3. Then all the options are available for tweaking. Just change it as you like.

Note: You should give it your password as it is needed to change the login screen settings. Without the root access everything would be grayed out.


Installing and Setting Up CCSM (Compiz Config Settings Manager)

“CCSM” or “Compiz Config Settings Manager" is a tool that is used to configure the settings of Ubuntu’s Window Manager’s settings.


Note: It is an advanced tool that can potentially cause problems. If you do not have a general idea of troubleshooting your operating system using the Terminal or the console mode (Alt+Ctrl+F2) , you should probably stay away from this. To install compiz with all the effects and other plugins. Just open your terminal and type the below command aand give it your password.

“sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-fusion-plugins-extra compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-plugins”


So after you have installed compiz you are good to go. Just search for “ccsm” in the dash to open the “Compiz Config Settings Manager” . Or alternatively you can hit “Alt+F2“ on your keyboard and then type “ccsm" and hit Enter to start it.

Changing Window Animations

Now since you have installed the compiz, let’s kick off things by changing the window animations. To change the window animations follow these steps:

1. Open CCSM and search for “Animations” and then open it.

2. There are many tabs for settings like “Close Animation” , “Open Animation” and “Minimize Animation”.


3. To change the animation, just click on the respective tab and then under the “Animation Selection” option double click the animation and then change the Duration and Effect.

Enable Wobbly Windows

The wobbly window feature adds cool effects to the window when it is being moved, it may seem childish for some but it is a something that many people like. And it is the thing that many Linux users use to attract Windows users. So to enable wobbly effect, follow these steps:

1. Open up “CCSM” 2. Search for “Wobbly Windows” and enable that option by ticking the box left to it.


Open New Windows At The Center Of The Screen

One of the most annoying things I found at Ubuntu was that when I opened new windows it preferred to stick to some edge of the screen and I found myself dragging the window to the center every time when I opened it. I soon found a fix for that. To do that follow the steps below:

1. Open “CCSM” and search for “Place Windows”.

2. Open the “Place Windows” option and under the general tab change “Placement Mode” from “Smart” to “Centered”.


Enable Window Move Transparency

Another neat effect in Compiz is that when you can set what should the transparency of windows be when you are moving it. To enable it follow the steps below:

1. Open “CCSM” and search for “Move Window” and open that option.

2. After opening that option change the opacity value to the one you like. 100 means 100% opaque and similarly 80 means 80% opaque that is 20% transparent.


Note While Using Compiz : While changing some compiz settings with launcher auto-hide enabled sometimes the launcher does not snap back. To fix that just logout and login again. It is always recommended to logout and login again after changing compiz settings.

I guess now I have covered most of the stuff that people need to tweak the settings of their Ubuntu OS including from theme changing to the minor stuff like the “Icons on Menu” and other such stuff. I hope you like the 2nd part of this tutorial. If you have missed the first part of the tutorial, then go to… to read the first part.


Also, share what you other tweaks you use to customize Ubuntu your own way. I might add that up in the next part. If you need to share anything you like, the comments are always open for you. Also if i have missed something or you guys just have a suggestion for me then i would be happy to hear them in the comments below.


Happy Customizing and have fun :)

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