15 Must Have Ubuntu Enhancements

Posted July 27, 2015 By  Matt Hartley
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    Must Have Ubuntu Enhancements
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    Must Have Ubuntu Enhancements

    Linux tools to improve your Ubuntu desktop, from accessing and sending files to launching applications.
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    NitroShare
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    NitroShare

    When you're working with multiple computers, speed and convenience matter. I enjoy using Nitroshare to send files to specific computers because it's dead simple. Another added benefit is that, unlike syncing apps like Dropbox, I'm not forced to setup selective sync or otherwise concern myself with which computer the file will appear on. Network drives and Samba sharing are not appropriate for every situation. With Nitroshare, I simply select the file or directory in question, and send away!
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    X2Go
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    X2Go

    After using Nitroshare to send a file to another machine sometimes it's helpful to access the file so I can run it on a remote machine. This is where using X2Go comes in handy. Using the NX technology means that I can connect to my remote desktops without worrying about bandwidth or security. With a well-wired connection, I've found it to be extremely fast and responsive. The icing on the cake when using X2Go is that it makes connecting via SSH so easy. Compared to X11 Forwarding, X2Go is faster and easier to run with.
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    Project Hamster
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    Project Hamster

    For me, time tracking is a way of seeing where my day goes. Am I spending too much time on a single project? Perhaps instead, I need to slow down on one task to assign more time to another. In either case, Project Hamster is my personal go to application for tracking my daily work activity. I also love how this application provides me with the statistical data of where my time goes sorted by category, activity or task.
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    Synapse
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    Synapse

    To be frank, launching applications from a menu launcher or dock feels tired and dated. Therefore in my never-ending effort to keep my workflow moving forward, I use a keyboard application launcher called Synapse. By simply pressing the hot keys and typing in the first letter or two of the application I'm looking for, I can easily select the needed application. Going further than that, I also rely on Synapse to help me to find forgotten documents and pictures as well.
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    Redshift
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    Redshift

    The bright glow of a computer monitor can be hard on your eyes. To help combat eye strain, I rely heavily on an application called Redshift. The software adjusts the color temperature on your monitor(s) throughout the day. The adjusted color temperature helps to reduce eyestrain, by minimizing how much your eyes must compensate as the lighting changes. What I love about the software is that it relies on longitude/latitude. This helps to ensure that things are as accurate as possible when bringing the color temperature to the correct setting throughout the day. It's made a tremendous difference to my evening work.
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    Workrave
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    Workrave

    Running Redshift is helpful, but remembering to stretch and take breaks isn't that easy when you're elbows deep into a project. This is where Workrave comes into play. Designed to prompt you when it's time for a break, you can also setup the application up to offer arm and eye exercises to prevent issues with Repetitive Strain Injury. Features include micro-pause, regular breaks (including optional exercises) and a daily limit alert. I use all of these features and my fatigue and headaches have disappeared completely.
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    Tilda
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    Tilda

    I've tried a few pull down terminal applications in my time, but Tilda has proven to be the clear winner. It offers the same hot key pull-down functionality one might find with its alternatives, but it offers the benefit of running with much less memory. The advantage of using a pull-down terminal instead of opening up one of the desktop specific options is a matter of speed. Instead of launching an application, I simply hot key to Tilda and pound out my commands.
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    Clipit
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    Clipit

    I can't use a desktop environment without a clipboard manager installed. I've tried, but it's simply too painful for me. Often times I'm citing something I found on another page, and I prefer to simply grab the text from my clipboard than keep another browser window open. This is where Clipit fits my needs perfectly.
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    PulseAudio Volume Control
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    PulseAudio Volume Control

    I'd love to make the claim that the default volume control in Ubuntu works great. For sound output, it's fine. However when you want to router the Skype call microphone input from one microphone to another, it's best suited for PulseAudio Volume Control. The two tabs that make this app standout are Playback and Recording. Sometimes even with the Output and Input set to the right device, your application might not be using the right settings. By placing a Skype call and then looking to the Recording tab, you'll instantly know for sure which device is being used for audio input.
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    screenFetch
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    screenFetch

    What's the point of a cool drop down terminal window without being able to display cool ASCII art in the process? I use screenFetch for this purpose. It displays a wide variety of system information, ranging from the kernel in use to the available hardware resources. It's not only neat looking, it's helpful when you're trying to remember the kernel installed or which version of your desktop you're running.
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    Y PPA Manager
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    Y PPA Manager

    I love Ubuntu, but I feel their PPA system needs far greater accessibility without opening up a web browser to locate a repository. Thankfully, Y PPA Manager Manager addresses this need with flying colors. It not only manages my PPA repositories, it also provides a search function to locate PPA featured software!
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    Alltray
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    Alltray

    The modern Linux desktop offers us amazing software. Sadly, not all of it is dockable to the system tray. This is where I rely heavily on Alltray. When I have an application I'd like to run in the background, often times I prefer to use Alltray to dock it out of sight. It's lightweight and works with 99% of the applications you use it with.
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    Nitrogen
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    Nitrogen

    It's true that some desktop environments make using two different wallpapers on a dual monitor setup fairly easy. However for some desktop environments like Mate, a little help is needed to make this happen. This is why I use Nitrogen on my Ubuntu Mate desktop. By using a bash script set to run Nitrogen with xrefresh after a 30 second sleep cycle, I'm able to enjoy double wallpaper bliss.
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    Systemback
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    Systemback

    I've tried out a number of backup routines over the years. Usually I find myself running something that implements rsync at its core. But most recently I found Systemback and I can't get enough of it! The killer feature for me is the system restore points and being able to create a bootable ISO image with just a few clicks of my mouse. Where things really hit home is being able to select Full Restore, System files restore or Users configuration files restore. Each option is available from the GUI!
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    QuickSynergy
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    QuickSynergy

    Most of my day is spent in a Linux environment. However, there have been times where I need to provide support for someone in a Windows environment. This would mean connecting a keyboard and mouse to another PC and I honestly don't have the space for that. What I do have space for is another monitor. This is where QuickSynergy comes into play. After setting it up on Windows and my Linux host computer, I can virtually control both desktops with a single mouse and keyboard!

Anytime I'm forced to use Windows or OS X I instantly find myself missing the specific features I enjoy on the Linux desktop. More specifically, it's the post-installation enhancements that make using someone else's computer near painful.

In this slideshow, I'll share my favorite Ubuntu Linux enhancements and how I use them to get more value out of my desktop experience.



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