Ubuntu 14.04 – Trusty Tahr – is the latest Long Term Support release of ubuntu from Canonical, this means that this release has 5 years of support and security updates. This makes it a great release to use for business purposes.
In this post we’ve provide some advice on what to do to configure your desktop for optimum use within a small business environment, to ensure you’ve got everything you need when you need it.
1. Install ubuntu restricted extras
Media and legal issues prevent ubuntu from distributing codecs for playing the most popular audio and video formats ‘Out of the box’. However, you are able to download and install all the codec you need from through the ubuntu software centre.
The ubuntu restricted extras will install;
- Support for mp3 and unencrypted DVD playback
- Microsoft TrueType core fonts
- Flash plugin
- Codec for common audio and video files
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
2. Enable Local App Menus and Workspaces
When the Unity desktop was introduced back in 2011, application menus have been located in the top bar of the screen. So if you wanted to access a particular menu for an application, you had to give focus to the app, then go to the top bar that application menu would be available. To be honest, this always kinda sucked for me, especially when you’re working with 3 or 4 applications open etc.
In ubuntu 14.04, you can enable localised app menu’s meaning each open window can now have it own menu available, which is cool. To enable this:
- Open up System Settings > Appearance
- Select the ‘Behaviour’ tab
- Go to section titled ‘Show Menus for a Window’
- Check the box next to ‘in the window’s title bar’
- While you’re there check ‘enable worksapces’ and ‘Add show desktop icon to the launcher’
Workspaces have been around in Ubuntu well before the switch to Unity. They basically provide you a way to group windows related to similar tasks together, as well as get “additional” screenspace.
In the accompanying video I will provide an example of how I use workspaces.
3. Install Skype
Skype is still a very popular communication tool for business uers worldwide. If you going to be doing business internationally it’s probably best option that you install Skype, this will enable you make phone calls, video conference and chat with clients & colleagues globally.
If you’re using a 64 bit version of ubuntu, you should enable multiArch if it isn’t already running.
sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
Add Canoncical Partner Repository to your repository list
sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://archive.canonical.com/ $(lsb_release -sc) partner"
then install Skype
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install skype
** Don’t download and install the package from the skype website, as the skype website points the users to the wrong pacakage for 64 bit systems of ubuntu
4. Install Copy
You’ll need a cloud storage facility to store files etc, for collaboration. There are loads of options out there these days. Previously I made use of Ubuntu One but unfortunately canonical have decided to shut this service down in July 2014. However there are loads replacement services these days including Dropbox, Google Drive. My new personal favourite is Copy It offers 15GB storage for free.
5. Install Dropbox
You can never have enough cloud storage. Especially these days as most suppliers are now offering huge free account storage space. Most suppliers are offering 15 GB free, so you if you sign up with all suppliers and strategically make use of all you free space you can get 60 GB of free storage space.
In my experience Dropbox is the service most people seem to be familiar with, and as a consequence drop box seems to be the defacto file sharing application for collaboration. If you install all the apps, you can seamlessly move files between cloud storage applications for collaboration and sharing. Creating folders between different users etc.
I generally recommend having at least 2 cloud storage accounts, and Copy and Dropbox are the ones I make the most use of.
6. Install FileZilla
Having cloud storage facilities is great for collaboration, but you can never under estimate the value of having a good FTP utiltiy to move large files around. There are always instances when you want to send large files to clients or colleagues i.e. Promotional Videos, application demo’s etc. Placing them in your cloud storage facilites can eat up your space. Filezilla is great FTP client and the best of all it is free!
FileZilla is available in the default respository for ubuntu.
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install filezilla
7. Protect your privacy and minimize disruption
In my opinion, one of the most annoying things about ubuntu is that it comes preconfigured to record file and application usage and amazon search results in the dashboard. I personally don’t like this, as I feel there is just far too much snooping on my online behaviour and just far too much information recorded. I really don’t want any more marketers to learn from my “anonymised” browsing data, in order to sell me more stuff I don’t really need. I know what I need when I need it, I don’t need other folks knowing too.
Fortunately it is pretty easy to turn this stuff off. The the Privacy & Security section of System Settings is where you’ll find all the tools, options and configuration options you need, including:
- Choose what apps & files can be searched from the Dash
- Whether to require a password on waking from suspend
- Disable sending error reports to Canonical
- Turn off all ‘online’ features of the Dash
8. Install Nixnote/Nevernote
One of the great things about ubuntu is that it comes pre-packaged with Libre Office & Thunderbird email client, so you don’t need to purchase any office productivity tools from the word go. However, it does lack a diary or journal system, but getting one is just a few clicks away. The best one I found for particular needs is NixNote/Nevernote
Nevernote is source clone of Evernote, and is Linux Client for evernote. Evernote lets you take notes, sync files across your devices, save webpages, capture inspiration, and share your ideas with friends and colleagues.
Instructions to get install nevernote can be found here
- Format your text bold, italic or underlined
- Insert Images, files and links to websites
- Links and mail addresses are recognized automatically
- Automatic saving
- Backup to zip archive
- Word Clouds with most often used words and tags
- Export the journal to PDF, HTML, Latex or plain text
- The data is stored in plain text files, no database is needed
- Translated into more than 20 languages
9. Install Blogilo
No doubt if you are starting a business you are going to need to write blogs and create content for your website. The chances are you are going to use WordPress for your blog or even your entire website. You may start off writing your blog posts using the online editor for wordpress, but in many cases this may prove to be a little inconvenient.
Blogilo is a blogging client, designed to simplify the creation
and maintenance of a blogs. As other specialized content management systems do, weblog applications support the authoring, editing, and publishing of blog posts and comments, with special functions for image management, web syndication, and moderation of posts and comments.
sudo apt-get install blogilo
10. Install Gimp
If you’re writing blogs and creating content for your website, you are no doubt going to need to manipulate images, in order to use on your website. GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
sudo apt-get install gimp