elementary OS: Things to do after installation (Apps, Settings, and Tweaks)

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Buy Me A Coffee

In the following I will go through my post installation steps, i.e. which settings I choose and which apps I install and use.

Table of Contents

Basic Steps

Go through System Settings


  • Choose a Wallpaper
  • Choose Appearance
    • Default
    • Schedule ‘Sunset to Sunrise’
    • Accent: Mint
  • Text
    • Size 1.00
    • disable Dyslexia-friendly
  • Dock & Panel
    • Icon size ‘small’
    • Turn on Hide when ‘Any window overlaps the dock’
    • Turn off Hide when ‘Pressure reveal’
    • Turn on ’ Panel translucency'
  • Multitasking
    • Do nothing for the corners
    • Activate Move windows to a new workspace ‘When entering fullscreen’
    • Deactivate Move windows to a new workspace ‘When maximizing’
    • Activate ‘Window animations’

Language & Region

For some reason elementary OS installs a bunch of languages which unnecessarily increases the system updates. So to speed this up, I remove all the languages that I do not need and keep only ‘English’ and ‘German’. This takes some clicking and unfortunately the system settings don’t show the progress until you re-open the settings dialog. At the end click ‘Complete Installation’ to install missing language support for the remaining languages. Re-open the dialog and change:

  • Region: United States
  • Formats: Germany
  • Temperature: Celsius

Confirm with ‘Set Language’. Open a terminal and update the locales:

sudo locale-gen de_DE.UTF.8
sudo locale-gen en_US.UTF.8
sudo update-locale LANG=en_US.UTF-8


I leave everything turned on at the beginning and re-visit this settings panel for applications that bother me. Mostly I deactivate the ‘Sounds’ switch for those applications.

Security & Privacy

  • History
    • I enable it and check all ‘Data Sources’.
  • Locking
    • Activate ‘Lock on suspend’
    • Activate ‘Lock after screen turns off’
    • Activate ‘Forbid new USB devices when locked’
  • Firewall
    • As this is a desktop computer, I do not need the Firewall or adapt any settings
  • Housekeeping
    • ‘Automatically Delete’: ‘Old temporary files’ and ‘Trashed files’
    • ‘Delete Old Files After:’ 30 days
  • Location Services:
    • I enable this by default and re-visit this setting after installing other applications


I use a Thunderbolt Dock (either a DELL TB16 or a Anker PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1 or a builtin dock of my LG 38 curved monitor). Setting this up is sometimes a bit fiddly, so in this settings panel I try to arrange them correctly and check the ‘Scaling factor’. I also activate ‘Night Light’ mode with ‘Sunset to Sunrise’.


I change the behavior of the SUPER key to show the ‘Multitasking View’. Then I go through the Shortcuts page. I typically try to use the distro’s default shortcuts and change them only if I keep forgetting them or persistently use other shortcuts which are in my muscle memory. I don’t change the Behavior settings as they are fine with me.

Mouse & Touchpad

Go through the settings, but I usually stick to the defaults. For my external mouse I make sure that ‘Natural Scrolling’ is turned off, whereas for a Touchpad I like to turn it on.


  • Turn off display when inactive for: 15 min
  • Power button: Prompt to shutdown
  • Suspend when inactive for 30 min


My printer is connected to the network, so usually it is automatically detected.


  • Deactivate ‘Event alerts’


I don’t have a Wacom tablet.


On my Desktop computer I typically deactivate Bluetooth unless I really need it. Sometimes deactivating it in the system settings does not work, but from the panel you can deactivate it just fine.


Even though my computer is connected via LAN, I also enter my WiFi password.

Online Accounts

I add a CalDAV account pointing towards my Nextcloud.


I typically don’t use this feature and deactivate ‘Media Library’.

Date & Time

  • Time format: 24-hour
  • Time zone: deactivate ‘Based on location’ and choose Europe-Berlin-Germany (most areas)
  • Activate ‘Network time’
  • Deactivate ‘Show week numbers’
  • Show in Panel: ‘Date’, ‘Day of the week

Screen Time & Limits

I don’t use this feature.


Nothing to do here.

Universal Access

I don’t use any features here.

User Accounts

I change my profile picture.

Set hostname

When creating a user, you can also choose the name of your computer for better accessability on the network. If I forgot to do this, I change it with:

hostnamectl set-hostname green-lantern

Install Required Drivers

Not all drivers are installed, particularly proprietary drivers Nvidia GPUs or special WiFi drivers need to be manually installed to get the maximum performance from your system:

sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall

Install software-properties-common

In order to fully elementary OS I install software-properties-common, which allows to “easily manage your distribution and independent software vendor software sources”:

sudo apt install software-properties-common

In essence this allows to make use of third-party apt repositories by providing the infamous add-apt-repository command.

deb-get to install third-party software on Ubuntu easily

I am a fan of easy ways to install third-party software, Martin Wimpress has created a neat tool called deb-get which I use on Ubuntu-based systems such as elementary OS.

sudo apt install curl
curl -sL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wimpysworld/deb-get/main/deb-get | sudo -E bash -s install deb-get

Restore from Backup

I mount my luks encrypted backup storage drive and use e.g. rsync -avup $BACKUP/Documents ~/ to copy over my files and important configuration scripts. At the end I run

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /home/$USER

to make sure the permissions are correctly set.

Install updates and reboot

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt autoclean
sudo fwupdmgr get-devices
sudo fwupdmgr get-updates
sudo fwupdmgr update
flatpak update
sudo deb-get update
sudo deb-get upgrade
sudo reboot now


I mostly use the shipped browser; however, sometimes I do need Chrome, which can easily be installed via deb-get:

sudo deb-get install google-chrome-stable

and sync my Account, Settings and Extensions.

Fish - A Friendly Interactive Shell

I am using the Fish shell on all my systems, due to its user-friendly features, so I install it and make it my default shell:

sudo apt install -y fish
chsh -s /usr/bin/fish

You will need to log out and back in for this change to take effect. Lastly, I want to add the ~/.local/bin to my $PATH persistently in Fish:

mkdir -p /home/$USER/.local/bin
set -Ua fish_user_paths /home/$USER/.local/bin

Also I make sure that it is in my $PATH also on bash:

bash -c 'echo $PATH'

If it isn’t then I make the necessary changes in my /home/$USER/.bashrc file.

SSH keys

If I want to create a new SSH key, I run e.g.:

ssh-keygen -t ed25519 -C "elementary-on-green-lantern"

Usually, however, I restore my .ssh folder from my backup. Either way, afterwards, one needs to add the file containing your key, usually id_rsa or id_ed25519, to the ssh-agent:

eval "$(ssh-agent -s)" #works in bash
eval (ssh-agent -c) #works in fish
ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_ed25519

Don’t forget to add your public key to GitHub, Gitlab, Servers, etc.


Snap support

Enable snap support

sudo apt install snapd

System utilities


Bitwarden is my password manager of choice:

sudo deb-get install bitwarden


Flatseal is a great tool to check or change the permissions of your flatpaks:

flatpak install flatseal


In case I need to adjust the partition layout:

sudo apt install -y gparted

Open GParted, check whether it works.


I used to set up KVM, Qemu, virt-manager and gnome-boxes as this is much faster as VirtualBox. However, I have found a much easier tool for most tasks: quickemu:

sudo deb-get quickemu



I use Tailscale on all my systems to be able to connect them via Wireguard wherever I am. It is extremely easy to install. I use deb-get:

sudo deb-get install tailscale

Connect your machine to your Tailscale network and authenticate in your browser:

sudo tailscale up

That’s it, check your ip:

tailscale ip -4

I also chose (in the browser) to disable key expiry to prevent the need to periodically re-authenticate.

OpenSSH Server

I sometimes access my linux machine via ssh from other machines, for this I install the OpenSSH server:

sudo apt install openssh-server

Then I make some changes to

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

to disable password login, to allow for X11forwarding and permit root logins.


I have all my files synced to my own Nextcloud server, so I need the sync client. deb-get has the newer version, so:

sudo deb-get install nextcloud-desktop

Open Nextcloud and set it up. Double check the options.


I am a developer of Dynare and need these packages to compile it from source and run it optimally ob Ubuntu-based systems:

sudo apt install -y build-essential gfortran liboctave-dev libboost-graph-dev libgsl-dev libmatio-dev libslicot-dev libslicot-pic libsuitesparse-dev flex bison autoconf automake texlive texlive-publishers texlive-latex-extra texlive-fonts-extra texlive-latex-recommended texlive-science texlive-plain-generic lmodern python3-sphinx latexmk libjs-mathjax doxygen x13as

git is most important, as a GUI for it, I use GitKraken. Also to use lfs on some repositories one needs to initialize it once:

sudo apt install -y git git-lfs
git-lfs install
sudo deb-get install gitkraken

Open GitKraken and set up Accounts and Settings.

You can also use the flatpak version of Gitkraken, but one needs to add the following Custom Terminal Command: flatpak-spawn --host gnome-terminal %d.


I have a license for MATLAB, unzipping the installation files in the the Downloads folder and then run the installer:


Note that I do not use sudo but install MATLAB into my home folder into /home/wmutschl/MATLAB/R2022a and don’t create symbolic links (as this will be later done by the matlab-support package).

Once the installation process finishes, install matlab-support:

sudo apt install matlab-support

Activate MATLAB and make sure to select Yes to Rename MATLAB's GCC libraries as these are typically older than the one’s from the distribution.

I don’t have the shared resources-for-x11-graphics bug, if you do, follow the link for a solution.

Open matlab and I change some settings to use Windows type shortcuts on the Keyboard, add mod and inc files as supported extensions, and do not use MATLAB’s source control capabilities.

Visual Studio Code

I have transitioned to do most of my coding in Visual Studio code:

sudo deb-get install code

I keep my profiles and extensions synced using GitHub.


I write all my papers and presentations with Latex using the very powerful LaTeX Workshop Extension for Visual Studio Code as an editor. So let’s install all tex-related packages:

sudo apt install -y texlive texlive-font-utils texlive-pstricks-doc texlive-base texlive-formats-extra texlive-lang-german texlive-metapost texlive-publishers texlive-bibtex-extra texlive-latex-base texlive-metapost-doc texlive-publishers-doc texlive-binaries texlive-latex-base-doc texlive-science texlive-extra-utils texlive-latex-extra texlive-science-doc texlive-fonts-extra texlive-latex-extra-doc texlive-pictures texlive-xetex texlive-fonts-extra-doc texlive-latex-recommended texlive-pictures-doc texlive-fonts-recommended texlive-humanities texlive-lang-english texlive-latex-recommended-doc texlive-fonts-recommended-doc texlive-humanities-doc texlive-luatex texlive-pstricks perl-tk

Sejda PDF editor

Most of the times elementary OS’s pdf viewer works just fine. As an alternative, I find Sejda as an easy, pleasant and productive PDF editor:

sudo deb-get install sejda-desktop

Open it and check it out.



Our Dynare team communication is happening via Mattermost. Mattermost can be installed via snap, flatpak or deb-get:

sudo deb-get install mattermost-desktop

Open mattermost and connect to server.


Skype can be installed either via snap, flatpak or deb-get:

sudo deb-get install skypeforlinux

Open skype, log in and set up audio and video.


Zoom can be installed either via snap, flatpak or deb-get:

sudo deb-get install zoom

Open zoom, log in and set up audio and video.


Multimedia Codecs

Install and compile multimedia codecs:

sudo apt install -y ubuntu-restricted-extras libavcodec-extra libdvd-pkg
sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg


Still one of the best video players:

sudo apt install -y vlc

Open it and check whether it works.


To get a full-loaded OBS Studio version I install it with either deb-get:

sudo deb-get install obs-studio

Open OBS and set it up, import your scenes, etc. The snap version works also fine for me.

Misc tweaks and settings

Reorder Favorites on Dock

I like to reorder the favorites on the dock and add additional ones.

Go through all programs

Go through all programs, decide whether you need them or uninstall these.

Deactivate GRUB timeout

If you don’t want to see the GRUB menu, then change GRUB_TIMEOUT=0 in /etc/default/grub. You need to run sudo update-grub afterwards. I typically set GRUB_TIMEOUT=3.

Enable tray icons for third-party apps

Some/Most apps use outdated/different code for their tray icons and this code is not compatible with elementary OS, so one has no tray icons (top right) for these apps. To fix this incompatibility there are different approaches, I still have to find one that works easy and reliable. Please let me know which one you are using (e.g. old panel indicator approach)?

Security steps with Yubikey

I have two Yubikeys and use them

  • as second-factor for all admin/sudo tasks
  • to unlock my luks encrypted partitions
  • for my private GPG key

For this I need to install several packages:

sudo apt install -y yubikey-manager yubikey-personalization # some common packages
# Insert the yubikey
ykman info # your key should be recognized
# Device type: YubiKey 5 NFC
# Serial number: 
# Firmware version:
# Form factor:
# Enabled USB interfaces: OTP+FIDO+CCID
# NFC interface is enabled.
# Applications	USB    	NFC     
# OTP     	Enabled	Enabled 	
# FIDO U2F	Enabled	Enabled 	
# OpenPGP 	Enabled	Enabled 	
# PIV     	Enabled	Enabled
# OATH    	Enabled	Enabled 	
# FIDO2   	Enabled	Enabled 	

sudo apt install -y libpam-u2f # second-factor for sudo commands
sudo apt install -y yubikey-luks  # second-factor for luks
sudo apt install -y gpg scdaemon gnupg-agent pcscd gnupg2 # stuff for GPG

Make sure that OpenPGP and PIV are enabled on both Yubikeys as shown above.

Yubikey: private GPG key

Let’s use the private GPG key on the Yubikey (a tutorial on how to put it there is taken from Heise, YubiKey-Guide) and particularly Developer’s Guide to GPG. First, enable and start pcscd:

sudo systemctl enable pcscd
sudo systemctl start pcscd

My public key is available on GitHub and this URL is also specified on my Yubikey, so I can simply fetch that. Insert the Yubikey and then:

gpg --card-status
# If this did not find your Yubikey, then try to first reboot or look into the above references.
cd ~/.gnupg
gpg --edit-card
gpg/card> fetch
gpg/card> quit

Write down your keyid and export this into an environmental variable (this will always be the same):

export KEYID=91E724BF17A73F6D
gpg --edit-key $KEYID
echo "This is an encrypted message" | gpg --encrypt --armor --recipient $KEYID -o encrypted.txt
gpg --decrypt --armor encrypted.txt
# gpg: encrypted with 4096-bit RSA key, ID XYZ, create 2019-12-09
#        "Willi Mutschler <willi@mutschler.eu>"
# This is encrypted

If this did not trigger to enter the Personal Key on your Yubikey, then try to run echo 'reader-port Yubico YubiKey' >> ~/.gnupg/scdaemon.conf, reboot and try again. Also check the above references and enable pcscd.

Yubikey: two-factor authentication for admin/sudo password

Let’s set up the Yubikeys as second-factor for everything related to sudo using the common-auth pam.d module:

pamu2fcfg > ~/u2f_keys

When your device begins flashing, touch the metal contact to confirm the association. You might need to insert a user pin as well. Do the same with your backup device:

pamu2fcfg -n >> ~/u2f_keys

Now move the file into /etc:

sudo mv ~/u2f_keys /etc/u2f_keys

and make this a required action for common-auth:

echo "auth    required                        pam_u2f.so nouserok authfile=/etc/u2f_keys cue" | sudo tee -a /etc/pam.d/common-auth

Before you close the terminal, open a new one and check whether you can do sudo echo test and are required to touch your Yubikey. You can always deactivate this feature by commenting out the above line in /etc/pam.d/common-auth.

Yubikey: two-factor authentication for luks partitions

Let’s set up the Yubikeys as second-factor to unlock the luks partitions. If you have brand new keys, then create a new key on them (BE CAREFUL DON’T OVERWRITE IF YOU HAVE ALREADY DONE THIS):

ykpersonalize -2 -ochal-resp -ochal-hmac -ohmac-lt64 -oserial-api-visible #

First, I create an environmental variable to point towards my luks drive quickly (I installed on /dev/sdb3):

export LUKSDRIVE=/dev/sdb3

Next enroll both Yubikeys to the luks partition. Insert the first Yubikey and type:

sudo yubikey-luks-enroll -d $LUKSDRIVE -s 7

Insert the second Yubikey:

sudo yubikey-luks-enroll -d $LUKSDRIVE -s 8

Activate the keyscript in your crypttab:

export CRYPTKEY="luks,keyscript=/usr/share/yubikey-luks/ykluks-keyscript"
sudo sed -i "s|luks|$CRYPTKEY|" /etc/crypttab

Your crypttab should look similar to this:

cat /etc/crypttab
# data UUID=aa371a41-81f4-4f12-800e-8830a9afa8c8 none luks,keyscript=/usr/share/yubikey-luks/ykluks-keyscript,discard

Lastly, update the initramfs:

sudo update-initramfs -u -k all
# update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-5.13.0-51-generic
# I: The initramfs will attempt to resume from /dev/dm-2
# I: (/dev/mapper/data-swap)
# I: Set the RESUME variable to override this.
# update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-5.13.0-43-generic
# I: The initramfs will attempt to resume from /dev/dm-2
# I: (/dev/mapper/data-swap)
# I: Set the RESUME variable to override this.

Reboot and check whether the prompt has changed to “Please insert yubikey and press enter or enter a valid passphrase”. So I typically do two reboots to check whether I can either use your Yubikey (with the new passphrase you selected above) or the original luks passphrase.

If you want to deactivate this feature, remove the crypttab entry and update the initramfs.

To Do

  • Best way to disable single click?
  • Best way to add tray icons? for
    • mattermost
    • skype
    • zoom
    • nextcloud