Leo:Ubuntu config

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This list gets updated as I remember or install new essentials for my Ubuntu environment.

A related list is my Ubuntu setup for a class

Private config

I have my private config in a SVN repository, so I can update my various workspaces. Some examples for stuff in my configuration:

  • startup scripts: .bashrc and various dot-files
  • aliases
  • ~/bin - various custom scripts
  • ~/lib - custom libraries
  • icons
  • work environment configurations, for example, custom menus in Nautilus

One could keep the configuration in Dropbox or similar cloud storage, but I choose not to because of security reasons.

Before setup, BACKUP!

Remember to back up your old machine before tearing it down or installing over:

  • home directory
cp -prx /home/myuser /media/backup/home/myuser
  • /etc
  • /var
  • machine ssh keys, if you want to preserve them (from /etc/ssh)
  • possibly mount points to other disks (from /etc/fstab)
  • mysql (and other) databases. May need to dump to files, or stop the server before backup. Also make sure you know the path to the database files, they may be somewhere else.
  • NFS config for the server or client, if you have one


Power button to shutdown, no prompts

sudo gedit /etc/acpi/events/powerbtn
  1. Add # to comment the line: # action=/etc/acpi/powerbtn.sh
  2. Add a new line: action=/sbin/poweroff
  3. Save file
sudo acpid restart

Restore machine key

Backup the old (source) machine keys (before the teardown or reinstall) from /etc/ssh, then copy to the target machine, same location. Modify the path below as needed.

cp -prx /etc/ssh /etc/ssh

System essentials

Communication, access

SSH server for remote access, subversion

sudo apt-get install openssh-server subversion

Desktop alternative

Gnome 3 and others

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

Tweak tools

The latest Ubuntu-tweak is not in standard repos, so add the latest:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

The other tweak tools:

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Development environment

Editors and IDEs

sudo apt-get install mc geany texinfo

Install Sublime Text editor from http://www.sublimetext.com/3

Build and test tools

sudo apt-get install build-essential gcc gtkterm


sudo apt install default-jre

or for JDK:

sudo apt install default-jdk


sudo apt-get install python python-pip python3-pip python-numpy python-matplotlib

Version control

sudo apt-get install git subversion rapidsvn meld

May also consider installing FreeFileSync for convenient file synchronization across directories or filesystems.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freefilesync/ffs
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install freefilesync
Set up git

Set up your username and email from CLI:

git config --global user.name "myusername"
git config --global user.email "myemail"

If you use HTTPS:// for github access and want to cache your credentials (remember password for one hour):

git config --global credential.helper cache
git config --global credential.helper 'cache --timeout=3600'

Alternatively, you can switch to ssh access URL and add your public key to github.

File transfer

sudo apt-get install gftp

Cloud storage

  • Back up the dropbox files
  • Download the latest deb from Dropbox
  • Install this for key verification
sudo apt-get install python-gpgme
  • Dropbox setup should start soon after reboot

Development for msp430

Install the toolchain for the msp430 tools

sudo apt-get install gcc-msp430 binutils-msp430 msp430-libc msp430mcu 

You may need to add your user to dialout group to access serial/USB ports:

sudo usermod -a -G dialout <myuser>

Documents and Latex

Latex tools:

sudo apt-get install texlive texlive-latex-extra texlive-xetex texlive-fonts-recommended texlive-publishers texinfo

PDF tools:

sudo apt-get install pdftk

Writing over PDF documents (filling forms, etc)

sudo apt-get install xournal


Photos and graphics

sudo apt-get install gimp

Audio playback and edit

sudo apt-get install audacious audacity

Video playback and edit

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras flashplugin-installer mplayer vlc

To get DVDs playing nicely

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4 
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

Media centers: Kodi/XBMC is now in Ubuntu repository. But I prefer the newer team-xbmc/ppa

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties pkg-config software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kodi

Common codecs:

sudo apt-get install gxine mencoder icedax tagtool easytag id3tool lame nautilus-script-audio-convert libmad0 mpg321

Windows stuff

sudo apt-get install wine
  • Create 32 bit wineprefix (as the default). I replaced the 64-bit one.
rm -rf .wine
WINEPREFIX=~/.wine WINEARCH=win32 wineboot

Then install windows programms as desired.

  • Irfaview
  • MS Office

Microsoft fonts

...so that MS documents look better.

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts
sudo fc-cache -fv

Virtual Box

Get the latest VirtualBox for Linux here.

After that, restore your saved VirtualBox images. The location depends on your current version and setup, but here are a few usual suspects: ".VirtualBox", "VirtualBox VMs"

Secured Filesystem

Cloud file storage such as Dropbox is nice. Even nicer if it is encrypted. Here is how:

Install prerequisites

sudo apt-get install encfs libpam-mount
sudo adduser <<yourusername>> fuse

For syncing you may want dvcs-autosync for syncing with your own servers:

sudo apt-get install dvcs-autosync

Set up the mount for secured filesystem

encfs path-to-mountpoint-dir path-to-storage-dir-for-encrypted-files

Enter the relevant parameters and the password (Same as for the logging in, if you want to auto-mount this at login). 'p' for paranoia parameters work, but 'x' for expert may yield better performance with the following options:

  • ‘1’ to use the AES cipher algorithm
  • ‘256’ for the key size
  • ‘1024’ for the block size
  • ‘1’ for block filename encoding
  • ‘y’ for filename initialization vector chaining
  • ‘n’ for per-file initialization vectors
  • ‘n’ for block authentication code headers
  • '0' for no random bytes to each block header
  • ‘y’ for file-hole pass-through

Note, the mounted directory may not be able to use hard links to files due to chaining enabled.

Setup auto-mount at login

sudo gedit /etc/security/pam_mount.conf.xml

Look for the line:

<!-- Volume definitions -->

Add this new line below:

<volume user="<yourusername>" fstype="fuse" path="encfs#/home/<yourusername>/<encfs-storage-dir>" mountpoint="/home/<yourusername>/<encfs-mountpoint>" />

Credit for this goes to this site.

Alternative: Add encfs password to keyring

Put the EncFS password into the keyring:

python gkeyring.py --set -n "Dropbox Private" -p encfs=dropbox --keyring login
> Password: <enter EncFS password here>

Mounting the EncFS folder with a Python script. Add this script to the list of start-up applications:


import os.path
import subprocess
import sys
import gtk
import gnomekeyring as gk

# paths constants:
PATH_ENCRYPTED = os.path.expanduser("~/Dropbox/Encrypted")
PATH_DECRYPTED = os.path.expanduser("~/Private")

# get the encfs-dropbox item:
    items = gk.find_items_sync(gk.ITEM_GENERIC_SECRET, {"encfs": "dropbox"})
    item = items[0] # clean up your keyring if this list has multiple items
except gk.NoMatchError:
    print("no entry in keyring")

# run encfs:
p = subprocess.Popen(cmd, stdin=subprocess.PIPE)
err = p.communicate(input="%s\n" % item.secret)[1]

# either there is an error or we are done:
if err:

Credit for this goes to this site

3D printing support

We have Ultimaper 3D printer in the lab, and need the "Cura" slicer software for it. This can be installed from github or the PPA, like this:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:thopiekar/cura
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cura

SSD tweaks

These may become obsolete as the new OS versions take in account the SSD particularities automatically.

  • Add noatime option for the partition on SSD in /etc/fstab
UUID=my-partition-key  /  ext4    noatime,errors=remount-ro 0       1
  • Create /tmp in RAM by editing /etc/fstab
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
  • Set the scheduler to deadline (as opposed to cfq) in grub
    • Check for the options:
cat /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler
    • Temporary change the scheduler
sudo su
echo deadline > /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler
  • Move Firefox cache to /tmp/...
    • open [about:config] in firefox
    • create new string browser.cache.disk.parent_directory and set value to /tmp
  • Check the read speed of your HD:
sudo hdparm -t /dev/sda