Opinion Ubuntu

Ubuntu 17.04 – My First Experience and Customization

Ubuntu 17.04 – My First Experience and Customization
Written by Martins D. Okoi

Canonical made the Zesty Zepus publicly available some time last year. Since then the major released changes came only to the alpha flavors. Even though I don’t pay much attention to alpha and beta releases I enjoy keeping myself abreast of Canonical’s moves.

I have the Xenial Xerus, the Yakkety Yak, and the Zesty Zepus (whose final release wouldn’t be available till April – remember it is 17.04) installed.

However, this article is a summary of the custom changes I made to my Zesty Zepus and my experience with the OS so far.

Straight Out of The box

The Zesty Zepus ships preinstalled with a good number of reliable applications including LibreOffice, Transmission, Firefox, Vim, and Rhythmbox, to name a few.

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Unity 7 icons, panels, and text are minimal in design and legible – that’s a good thing because the idea is to keep things average since the user is at liberty to tune them to his taste. So although the default UI isn’t worth writing home about, it isn’t bad either.

Snaps have been implemented in the Software Center and you will need an UbuntuOne account to download any of the supported Snap apps.

The Software Center has a polished appearance complimented by its search panel which begins searching for an app immediately you start typing and an effective categories feature.

You can see all the Snap apps installed on your system using:

sudo snap list

You can use Snap commands to view installed Snap apps, find, install, update, revert to the previous version, and uninstall apps. See the command list here.

Digital photo organizer, Shotwell, works smoothly with Unity even though it was designed for the GNOME Desktop Environment and that’s a plus. Also I’ve tested many other preinstalled apps, delivered a stable performance. But Ubuntu usually has stable app performance so this also doesn’t come as a surprise.

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Ubuntu 17.04 Customization

Following are few customization tips that I’ve done in my Ubuntu 17.04.

Application Preference

The first thing I did (after performing an apt update and upgrade, of course,) was remove Firefox via the CLI:

$ sudo apt-get --purge autoremove firefox

Then I installed Unity Tweak Tool, Google Chrome, VLC Media Player, Sublime Text, and Green Recorder (Desktop recording tool).

I don’t particularly have anything against Firefox but since one browser is all I need, Chrome makes it to my preference list because apart from it being (arguably) the best major cross-platform browser, I have been using it for a long time which makes it easy to seamlessly sync my details across multiple devices.

VLC is arguably the best Media Player you can think of and Sublime Text is the Vi/Emacs of my generation so my preference for them shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Ubuntu 17.04 Look and Feel

There are tons of themes you can choose from for Ubuntu and my favorite pick right now is Numix because of its uniform UI/UX across the system it is on. So, Next, I set up my Numix icons, theme, and add my wallpaper.

Numix Icon Theme on Ubuntu 17.04

Numix Icon Theme on Ubuntu 17.04

Install Numix Theme on Ubuntu 17.04 using the following commands:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install numix-gtk-theme numix-icon-theme-circle

To install the wallpapers enter:

$ sudo apt-get install numix-wallpaper-*

And finally, install Unity Tweak Tool to customize Ubuntu.

$ sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

Unity 7‘s dash is not as responsive as it should be and Unity 8 isn’t allowing me to use it so I gladly switched to the GNOME Desktop Environment. The Gnome Tweak Tool got installed by default.

if you decide to switch Unity for Gnome I advise that you remove the unneeded packages via your terminal:

$ sudo apt-get purge ubuntu-default-settings
$ sudo apt-get purge ubuntu-desktop
$ sudo apt-get autoremove

Bugs and Performance Glitches

After booting my system for the first time I got the “System program error detected” alert. What is it with Ubuntu and System program errors? This same error handling bug was present in Ubuntu 16.04 and 16.10.

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The annoying alert is easy to work around using this guide so I don’t know why Ubuntu hasn’t solved it once and for all across all its versions.

Unity‘s dash is sluggish – another issue that was present in Ubuntu 16.04 10 months ago. Canonical needs to to get this performance lag out of the way for good.

I could not try Unity 8 because switching to it halts my system with only the top panel bar active for me to interact with, leaving me with no option other than to restart my system each time I try to log into Unity 8. Seems like a major bug to me.

The Software Center had issues installing Chrome from the .deb package so I turned to GDebi Package Installer. Apparently, Ubuntu Snaps hasn’t been able to make things any better for 3rd party apps. (I will do a review on GDebi Package Installer soon so stay tuned).

GDebi Package Installer

Installing Google Chrome Using GDebi Package Installer

Final Thoughts

I like the changes in Ubuntu’s Zesty Zepus but the OS is not without issues. And even though I will be able to walk-through its issues, I cannot say the same for Linux newbies considering entering the Linux world with Ubuntu’s latest version. Maybe by April all the bugs and lags would have been sorted out.

I advise that you keep on using the Yakkety Yak, or better yet, the Xenial Xerus, for your professional work till the final Zesty Zepus is ready with all its awaited goodies.

Have you had an experience with the Zesty Zepus yet or are you waiting for its final release in April? Share your thoughts with us below.

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About the author

Martins D. Okoi

Martins Jr. (Dillivine) Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Web designer & developer, technical writer, and programmer.