elementary OS: Things to do after installation (Apps, Settings, and Tweaks)
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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
Go through System Settings
- Choose a Wallpaper
- Choose Appearance
- Schedule ‘Sunset to Sunrise’
- Accent: Mint
- 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'
- 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
- I enable it and check all ‘Data Sources’.
- Activate ‘Lock on suspend’
- Activate ‘Lock after screen turns off’
- Activate ‘Forbid new USB devices when locked’
- As this is a desktop computer, I do not need the Firewall or adapt any settings
- ‘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.
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.
I don’t use any features here.
I change my profile picture.
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
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
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 $PATH' #/home/wmutschl/.local/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/games:/usr/local/games:/snap/bin
If it isn’t then I make the necessary changes in my
If I want to create a new SSH key, I run e.g.:
ssh-keygen -t ed25519 -C "elementary-on-green-lantern"
Usually, however, I restore my
.ssh folder from my backup. Either way, afterwards, one needs to add the file containing your key, usually
id_ed25519, to the ssh-agent:
eval "$(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.
Enable snap support
sudo apt install snapd
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.
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.
Dynare related packages
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 related packages:
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
Once the installation process finishes, install
sudo apt install matlab-support
Activate MATLAB and make sure to select
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
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.
Latex related packages
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.
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
/etc/default/grub. You need to run
sudo update-grub afterwards. I typically set
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
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 trust 5 y quit 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>" # 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
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
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):
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.
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