After you download and install Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa you may wonder what to do next or how to best customize your Ubuntu 20.04 system to make everything you do as efficient as possible.
This guide helps you to identify things to do after installing Ubuntu 20.04 that are right for your specific needs.
We list below our recommendations and link to other guides that provide you with more detailed instructions on how to achieve a specific system configuration or customization.
If you do not know much about the new Ubuntu 20.04 release, have a look at our Things to know about Ubuntu 20.04 article.
In this guide you will learn:
- How to customize your Ubuntu 20.04 desktop by, for example, using GNOME shell extensions and the GNOME tweak tool.
- How to configure your Ubuntu 20.04 system, which will include, enabling automatic login, changing timezone or adding more fonts.
- How to install software on Ubuntu 20.04 via command line, software manager and snap store.
- How to take care of your system’s security by regular updates and proper use of firewall or running system backups.
- How to set up cloud storage such us Dropbox or Google Drive.
- How to test the connection to external devices, including webcams and microphones.
- How to set up remote desktop sharing on Ubuntu 20.04 as well as how to share an Ubuntu 20.04 desktop with Windows 10 client.
When you install Ubuntu 20.04 it will come with the default GNOME 3.36 desktop. Gnome 3.36 is full of improvements and results in better performance and a more aesthetically pleasing graphical experience.
In this section we focus on customization of GNOME only. However, we also point you (in the last subsection) to articles that consider installation of other desktop environments which gives you even more options to chose from.
Customize your Dock Panel
GNOME is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu 20.04, and one of the first things you’ll see on your desktop is the dock panel to the left of the screen. The dock panel is highly customizable, so it’s easy to tailor it to your liking. For instance, you can move it to the bottom of the screen as displayed below.
Add Applications Menu to GNOME
If you miss the regular applications menu on your GNOME desktop you can install GNOME extensions to add the GNOME applications menu to your desktop.
Create Desktop Shortcuts
You will definitely want to add a shortcut launcher for a commonly used application to your desktop.
You might like to access terminal on Ubuntu 20.04. There is a variety of ways how you can do this which we explain in the guide below.
Many users will want to choose and set a wallpaper for their Ubuntu 20.04 desktops. We show you how to do this using command line. Additionally, we provide you with a tutorial that configures the Ubuntu 20.04 wallpaper background to change automatically between set amount of images.
Turn on Night Light
The emission of blue light from your screen is automatically adjusted by the Ubuntu 20.04 Night Light feature. According to research, it is important for you to turn on this feature to promote natural sleep pattern and reduce eye strain. In the morning your screen returns to normal settings.
Settings --> Screen Display --> Night Light
to switch this feature on as shown on the screenshot below.
Use GNOME Shell Extensions
Gnome Shell Extensions are plugins written by the community to extend and modify the behavior of the GNOME desktop environment. You can browse for and download these extensions much the same way you would install extensions for Firefox or Chrome.
Using GNOME shell extensions, such as the gnome-weather application is a great way to customize your desktop. An Ubuntu user can retrieve weather information for any location specified. The gnome-weather application is also incorporated into the default desktop calendar window.
Use GNOME Tweak Tools
GNOME Tweak Tool is another way to customize Ubuntu’s looks and behavior.
Change Desktop Theme
Another thing you can consider doing is changing a desktop theme. Different theme gives you an alternative visual option like, for example, enabling dark theme. If you were a mac user in the past you may also consider installing the mac operating system theme.
Experiment with Desktops
GNOME 3.36 is a default Ubuntu 20.04 desktop environment but this does not stop you to install and use other desktop environments. In fact, you can install a desktop environment with a single command!
For example, KDE Plasma desktop is a widget-based environment which makes it very adaptable. You can move, add or remove anything you like to make it suit your style as well as possible. Plasma is fast and efficient. It uses only few resources and is full of well designed features.
This system configuration section includes such improvements to your Ubuntu 20.04 system as enabling automatic login, changing timezone or adding more fonts.
We continue to use the default GNOME desktop to cover the most likely case of the Ubuntu 20.04 user but, hopefully, if you decided to use another desktop environment the below sections will also give you a strong guideline in how to proceed with your system configuration.
If you are sharing a computer with someone it is a good idea to add users to your Ubuntu 20.04 system. This will allow every user to enter a private session after login. You may also be interested in creating a guest session for someone who just would like to use your computer temporarily.
Enable Automatic Login
When you enable automatic login in Ubuntu 20.04, you as a user, will be able to enter your session without being prompted for your password. There can be only one user with automatic login.
Sync Time and Change Timezone
Time synchronization is an important part of keeping your system clock up to date and configuring timezones correctly. In this section we will show you how to setup time synchronization on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa and how to change timezone by using both the graphical user interface (GUI) and the command line.
Disable Middle Mouse Button
If you find the middle mouse button paste in Ubuntu 20.04 annoying you can quickly disable it by following the steps outlined in our How to disable middle mouse button click paste on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa Linux guide.
Disable MOTD and News
If you would like to opt out from receiving MOTD and news on Ubuntu 20.04 you can disable these messages by following some simple steps.
Disable Lock Screen
You may not wish for your screen to lock after a period of inactivity. If this is the case follow our instructions on how to disable lock screen on Ubuntu 20.04.
Add More Fonts
Adding more fonts to your Ubuntu system is relatively straightforward. You can achieve this easily using a font manager application or installing fonts manually. Whatever your preference, we’ve got you covered with both methods in our article below.
Change System Language
It is possible to change your Ubuntu 20.04 system language if English is not your preference.
Switch Keyboard Layout
Switching the keyboard’s layout will allow you to access the characters of another language and enable switching between multiple keyboards if you’d like.
If there is an application or software that you use frequently you may wish to autostart it on login to your Ubuntu 20.04 system.
Set Static IP Address
A static IP address is an IP address that never changes. Not everyone needs a static IP address but in some situations such as setting up a home file server, enabling access to a computer when away from home or sharing a printer over a network you will need a static IP address.
The amount of software you can install on Ubuntu 20.04 is huge. You can install any software you like via the Ubuntu snap store. You can also use Software Manager or Command Line.
In this section, we also show you how to install third party codecs and extras and pay extra attention to installation of graphic card drivers.
Use Snap Store
For any new freshly Ubuntu 20.04 downloaded and installed systems the Ubuntu’s snap store should be part of the system by default. However, for any upgraded Ubuntu 20.04 system you might need to install the Snap Store manually.
Make sure you also see the next section for recommendations of which software can be installed on Ubuntu 20.04.
Use Command Line and Software Manager
This section explores various software that you can install on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa in more detail.
There is a variety of things that can be installed on Ubuntu 20.04, hence we give some specific recommendations in our article Things to install on Ubuntu 20.04. We have divided all the software into such categories as desktops, browsers, email clients, communication and collaboration software, document editors, entertainment or scientific software.
We not only provide you with ideas of what can be installed but also link to tutorials that take you through the installation process.
Install Third-Party Codecs & Extras
Due to copyright issues Ubuntu 20.04 does not provide a default access to various media codecs. You can, however, easily install them by opening your terminal and executing:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras
With the Ubuntu Restricted Extras package installed you will be able to play MP3, MPEG4, AVI and some other media files.
Get the Most of your Graphic Card
Some of the Graphics Drivers you may wish to install on Ubuntu 20.04 is NVIDIA and AMD Radeon. In the article How to install the NVIDIA drivers on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa Linux we discuss various ways of installing this graphic driver. These include an automatic install using standard Ubuntu repository, an automatic install using PPA repository to install NVIDIA Beta drivers and a manual Install using the official Nvidia.com driver.
AMD graphic cards are well supported on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. The default open source AMD Radeon Driver is installed and enabled. However, since the Ubuntu 20.04 is a long term support (LTS) release the AMD Radeon graphic card users have few AMD Radeon driver installation options to their disposal.
If you’re planning on using an AMD graphics card with Ubuntu 20.04, we provide you with the install instructions in the article: AMD Radeon Ubuntu 20.04 Driver Installation.
If you are not sure you can easily check what graphics driver your system is currently using and what graphics card model is part of your system’s hardware.
You may also be interested in CUDA, which is a parallel computing platform and application programming interface model created by Nvidia. It allows software developers and software engineers to use a CUDA-enabled graphics processing unit for general purpose processing.
This section’s recommendations will make sure that your system is protected against vulnerabilities that may be exploited by hackers’ malicious software.
Check for Updates
Ubuntu 20.04 contains a variety of software that are obtainable through its software repositories via mirrors accessible around the world. After installing Ubuntu 20.04 you can also install a range of tools available for Ubuntu 20.04 over the Internet. To do so, select the fastest Ubuntu repository mirror, which is the closest mirror to your current location.
To set the fastest Ubuntu repository mirror navigate to:
Software & Updates --> Ubuntu Software -->
Download from --> Other --> Select Best Server
Ubuntu will automatically test all available package repository mirrors and will let you choose from the top responding servers.
It is crucial to regularly inspect your Ubuntu system for available updates, since keeping your system updated protects your device against vulnerabilities that may be exploited by hackers’ malicious software. Some users may opt to disable automatic updates on Ubuntu 20.04 but we do not recommend this option if you are a beginner user.
You can find details on how to update Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa in our article How to Update Ubuntu packages on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa Linux. In this article we consider two ways of updating your system. That is, the command line and the graphical user interface method.
By default the UFW firewall is installed but disabled on Ubuntu 20.04. You may like to check you UFW status by using the
$ sudo ufw status
To increase security of your desktop you may enable the UFW firewall from the command line or install
gufw which is a graphical user interface for UFW.
Run System Backup
You can use Timeshift to create a full system backup snapshot of Ubuntu 20.04 system. Furthermore, we show you how to restore from your previously created backup snapshot.
In this section we will show you how to check disk space on Ubuntu 20.04 as well as how to sync Google drive and set up Dropbox on Ubuntu 20.04.
Check Disk Space
There are a few tools at your disposal for checking disk space on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. These tools and commands can be used to check a hard drive’s capacity and the size of the files on it, or just to check the size of a particular directory or file.
We’ll show you how to get a visual representation of how the hard drive space is being used on your system, as well as a few commands that you can enter into the terminal to quickly find the stats you need.
Sync Google Drive
Here we direct you to instructions on how to install online accounts, set up and sync Google drive and access Google Drive on Ubuntu 20.04.
Set up Dropbox
This section explains how to install Dropbox using a graphical user interface on Ubuntu 20.04 and how to integrate Dropbox with the GNOME desktop.
If you are using a webcam or microphone you should test these devices before the first use.
The aim of this section is to show the reader a quick-start method on how to test a webcam on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa.
You can also easily test your microphone on Ubuntu 20.04.
Share Desktop Remotely
In this section we will show you how to set up a remote desktop on Ubuntu 20.04.
Remote desktop is here the Ubuntu 20.04 system feature that allows your desktop environment to be run remotely on one operating system while being displayed on a different client device.
Ubuntu 20.04 Server/Client
We will first consider Ubuntu 20.04 server/client remote desktop.
Windows 10 Client
We will even show you how to easily share an Ubuntu 20.04 desktop with a Windows 10 client.
These are all our recommendations. If you think this article is missing an important thing to do after installing Ubuntu 20.04 or you find an error please send your feedback to our forum using the comments and discussion section on the bottom of this page.