Six things to do after installing Lubuntu

If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve successfully installed Lubuntu onto your hard drive and have gotten to know the user interface. You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed from the installation experience, so the idea of doing even more fiddling around might not appeal to you at this moment. However, there are several helpful things any user should consider after making a fresh install of Lubuntu.

#1: Update

This is probably the most important thing you need to do. Fortunately, it’s also one of the simplest. Go to the menu, hover your mouse over System Tools, and select Update Manager. Update Manager will then check the Ubuntu repositories for updates. If you didn’t update during the install or if any updates have appeared since then, a list of programs will appear. Click “Update” at the bottom of the screen and your computer will do the rest.

By default, Lubuntu will check for updates automatically. If any are available, it will bug you about it, so you probably won’t have to manually update the software unless you want to. It’s good to know how to do it, however, and it’s especially critical to download updates after installing Lubuntu so any bugs can be fixed.

#2: Check your screen resolution

In most cases, Lubuntu should automatically detect your monitor’s optimal screen resolution and set it appropriately, so you probably don’t need to worry about this. However, I put this on here just in case—I’ve had to jump through lots of hoops before just to get the correct resolution. Click the menu, hover your mouse over Preferences, and click on Monitor Settings. If you know what your monitor’s optimal resolution is—you can find it in your monitor’s documentation, or occasionally in one of the monitor’s menus—check to make sure the resolution listed is correct.

#3: Adjust the clock

By default, Lubuntu’s system tray clock is set to a 24-hour format. For those of us who don’t live on military time, this might be a bit confusing.

Unfortunately, changing the clock isn’t as simple as it should be. Right-click on the clock in the system tray, select “’Digital Clock’ Settings,” and a dialog box appears. The time format is determined by a bunch of codes. Have fun entering values from this site to get it looking the way you want. Or, you can just copy and paste %I:%M %p into the dialog box, which will provide you with a nice and standard “12:47 AM.”

#4: Install lubuntu-restricted-extras

When you installed Lubuntu, you had a chance to check a box enabling you to install restricted addons that enabled things like MP3/DVD/Flash playback. If you forgot to do this, you can still install these packages by opening the Lubuntu Software Center (version 12.04 and later) in the menu under System Tools. Search for “lubuntu-restricted-extras” and, when the selection loads, click “Install.”

NOTE: It may be a good idea to install this package anyway, even if you selected the addons during the installation. The reason I say this is that there are fonts and other potentially useful packages that are part of lubuntu-restricted-extras that apparently weren’t installed on my machine by default.

#5: Install additional programs

Lubuntu has pretty much everything you need out-of-the-box: a web browser, a music player, even a word-processing and spreadsheet program. However, Lubuntu is also designed to be lightweight, so some very useful programs, such as LibreOffice (an excellent suite of office software compatible with Microsoft Office), are left out in the interest of keeping things lean.

However, even older computers can run LibreOffice, which is more full-featured and familiar for many users than AbiWord (which is included in the default Lubuntu installation). If you’d like to install additional programs, you can do so quite easily by accessing the Lubuntu Software Center (found in the menu under System Tools). Simply search for the program you desire, such as LibreOffice, and click “Install.”

If you’re specifically interested in installing a new browser (such as Firefox), I’ve written a step-by-step guide that will walk you through the process. Although it’s primarily concerned with replacing Chromium with Firefox, the guide also serves as a good introduction to installing packages on an Ubuntu system.

#6: Change the desktop background

I’m actually fond of Lubuntu’s minimalistic blue background: It represents the distro’s lightweight nature perfectly. However, if you want to change it (as we all do at some point), the process is fairly simple: Right-click on the desktop and select “Desktop Preferences.” In the dialog that pops up, click beside Wallpaper. From here, you can choose between other official backgrounds, or you can locate another file on your hard drive to use.

Posted on April 4, 2012, in Getting Started with Lubuntu and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Hi there, Jesse.

    I’d like to change the desktop for lubuntu 12.04, and have found some very nice wallpapers that were designed specifically for this OS ( The problem is that I have no idea how to install them. The instructions talk about downloading them and then updating the package index, after which you have to install the deb package. There are also terminal commands, but I don’t know where or when to open the terminal to type them in.

    Anyway, I tried installing the wallpapers, and then went to the synaptic package manager to
    see if the artwork package had ended up there. But I could not access the help files for assistance as I don’t have the Gnome help viewer ‘Yelp’ installed (this is ANOTHER problem), as I’m not sure how to install this either. The few websites I see that offer Yelp for downloading are not really easy to understand, and it seems that the latest version of Yelp (3?) exists only in >Beta version.

    Can you give me a hand?

    • Michael,

      The wallpapers you’re referring to are actually already present in a default Lubuntu install–they’re in /usr/share/lubuntu/wallpapers. To use them, right click on the desktop and select “Desktop Preferences”. Click on the the currently selected wallpaper, which will bring up a dialog in which you can browse for other files. The directory where the default Lubuntu wallpapers are located should be showing already–if it isn’t, simply navigate to /usr/share/lubuntu/wallpapers. There are a number of different wallpapers there that fit in with the default Lubuntu color scheme. You can also use any wallpapers you download from other locations.

      As far as the matter of installing the packages from the website you mentioned, you typically don’t want to install programs from the Internet when you’re using Linux. It can be done–Lubuntu ships with a utility that can install .deb packages–but you really should check the official repositories first to see if your package is available there. In this case, the lubuntu-artwork package you were downloading is available in the repositories–in fact, it’s available in the default installation, as mentioned above. There are a couple advantages to sticking with the official repositories: 1. You have the security of knowing the package doesn’t contain malware (which, although unlikely, is a possibility elsewhere), and 2. You can install and update the software using Lubuntu’s built-in package manager, which makes things very simple.

      If you ever need to open a terminal, you can do so by launching the program LXTerminal (found in the Accessories menu). You can also launch LXTerminal by pressing Ctrl-Alt-T. It certainly comes in handy many times, but you want to proceed with caution–with the wrong command, you can literally wreck your entire installation. Basically, you shouldn’t just blindly copy-and-paste commands you find online without knowing why you’re entering them.

      If you have any more questions, I’d be glad to try to answer them. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for your reply, Jesse,

    there were actually only two wallpapers in the /usr/share/lubuntu/wallpapers folder, which is why I asked about downloading and installing the .deb package. I eventually managed to do this and set up the wallpaper that interested me, but now I have two separate usr/share/ folders, one in downloads, and the other in the normal position.

    I’m wondering if it is possible to move the downloaded wallpapers into the folder where I’d originally expected to find them, and then delete all the other downloaded folders and files: Is this a feasible solution? I can’t see much point in having duplicate folders and files unless this is absolutely necessary!

    • Interesting. In the past, I could’ve sworn there were more. For instance, in the 12.10 beta, there are 8. So yeah, not sure what the deal is with that…

      At any rate, yes, you can move the wallpapers from the directory they’re currently in to the usr/share directory. Open your file manager, navigate to the directory the wallpapers are currently located in, and copy all the files. Now, navigate to the root directory (/), which you can do by pressing the “up” arrow at the top of the file manager window (beside the address bar). Drill down to the /usr/share/lubuntu directory. When you’re there, go to the Tools menu at the top of the window and select “Open folder as root” (you need to do this because you need root/administrative access to write to any folders outside your home directory). This should open a new window. In the new window, paste the files, and you’re done.

      You can actually put the files anywhere you want, honestly, such as in your Pictures folder. Completely up to you, though. But yeah, in the future, I would recommend installing packages from the official repositories. In the case of desktop wallpaper, you can actually just download the individual files to your hard drive and set your desktop background using them–no package installation required.

  3. when i change themes in lubuntu the color of the window panel changes but never the part where the text is . how do i change this? Also how do i make windows transparent or change the opacity?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have a Lubuntu installation in front of me right now to experiment with–I’m currently running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. However, this page on the Ubuntu wiki appears to have a lot of information on it that may answer some of your questions.

  4. Thanks for the tip on formatting the time. It was a great help.

  5. I ve just installer Lubuntu 13.04.
    I m not sure if the step #4 is still relevant: in the Software Center, there is no “lubuntu-restricted-extras”, but “kubuntu-restricted-extras”, “ubuntu-restricted-extras” and “xubuntu-restricted-extras”.

  6. Goodness gracious – the time formatting tip was a lifesaver! I can’t tell you how many times I thought it was time to go home and realized it was only 3:00.

  7. In 13.04 to install restricted extras through the Lubuntu Software Center you must click the gear in the top right and turn on expert mode or the package will not be shown in the search. Then add it to your apps basked and install from the apps basket tab.

  8. For those commenting on the lubuntu-restricted-extras issue: This post was written a while ago, so that explains why certain things may be out of date. That said, I’ve had success installing lubuntu-restricted-extras from the command-line within the past couple of weeks, and according to Kapurnicus, it can be found in the Software Center by enabling expert mode.

    I should probably update this article, seeing as though it continues to get so many readers.

  9. why replace chromium? I always have two browsers installed. the default and Opera. Chrome and it’s variants has it’s uses particularly if you use googles services. It’s not private though, google store all your bookmarks and web habits, So it tends to take you to where you have been before. I keep it (or firefox) for general browsing where I return regularly to the same sites. For research work, where I don’t want google ‘customizing’ the results and where I’m going to have multiple pages open (particularly true when researching linux problems!) I use Opera as it much better at handing both google and as you can stack the tab bar multiple open pages. I’d also advise that one thing you should definitely install and it should certainly be on if not top of your list: gedit. Why is lubuntu shipped without this essential program? The same goes for gparted.. on the installer version but not installed?

    BTW nice article and blog… I’m exploring lubuntu but currently struggling to install a local server and wordpress installation…. so you might find me popping up in your blog every so often

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