things to do after installing ubuntu

Ubuntu provides a great out-of-the-box experience. It caters to a wide range of users and is designed to ‘just work’ without needing much post-install input from the user. 

However, that’s not to say that customization isn’t possible. In fact, with Linux being the hands-on system that it is, customization is encouraged.

Ultimately, the exact customizations depend on your exact needs. On a gaming build, you’ll want to prioritize installing GPU drivers, installing Steam, Lutris, etc. If you’re a dev, you’ll want to set up a development environment with things like XAMPP, VS Code, and so on.

Update your Packages

A fresh install will have a lot of pending package updates, security updates, and bug fixes. The quickest way to install these updates is by entering the following command in the terminal: 

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Here, apt update updates your package index so that the latest package versions are available through apt. Then, apt upgrade downloads and installs the available updates. Meanwhile, sudo provides root permissions for both commands.

While it’s a good idea to get used to the terminal, Ubuntu does provide GUI-based methods for most tasks. For instance, you can install these updates using the Software Updater tool as well.

Enable Additional Repositories

Apt is the standard package manager in Ubuntu, and by default, it only installs packages from the Ubuntu Main repository. This repo stores canonical-supported free and open-source software.

But there are other official repositories too that you can manually enable. Doing so will allow you to install community-maintained software, proprietary drivers, copyright-restricted software, and the like using apt.

As usual, you can enable these repos easily from the terminal using the add-apt-repository script.

sudo add-apt-repository universe
sudo add-apt-repository multiverse
sudo add-apt-repository restricted

Or, you can do the same by opening Software & Updates and going to the Ubuntu Software tab.

Install Missing Drivers

In the same Software & Updates applet, switch to the Additional Drivers tab. Here, you’ll be able to install proprietary drivers such as NVIDIA GPU drivers, Broadcom WiFi drivers, etc.

Simply select the driver to use, enter your password if prompted, and follow the on-screen instructions to set up the driver. 

Install Useful Packages

This is where we actually get into customization. We’ve listed some commonly used Ubuntu packages here. You can pick which ones to install according to your needs, or feel free to try out all of them.


Metapackages install several sub-packages at once by marking them as dependencies. For instance, ubuntu-restricted-extras introduces support for various media formats through multimedia codecs. 

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras

Similarly, build-essential installs GCC/g++ compilers and related utilities required to compile Deb packages.

sudo apt install build-essential

Web Browser

Ubuntu ships with the Firefox snap by default. Most users prefer to either switch to the apt version of Firefox or install a different browser.

You can install Google Chrome by downloading the deb package from the official site and running

sudo apt install ./google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb

Similarly, you can search and install Brave from the Ubuntu Store.

We also have articles on installing other browsers like Chromium and Tor. All of these linked articles will guide you with step-by-step instructions if you want to install any of these browsers.

Media Player

Totem is the default media player on Ubuntu, and it’s a decent program in its own right. But if you need an alternative to it with better codec support and whatnot, VLC is a popular cross-platform option.

sudo apt install vlc-bin

System Monitor

Ubuntu has a graphical system monitor, and the top utility for monitoring the system state from the terminal. However, these tools are a bit simplistic. If you want a more capable and feature-rich system monitor, we recommend htop.

sudo apt install htop

Package Manager

By now, you’ve probably realized that there are a lot of ways to manage packages on Ubuntu from apt and snap to the Ubuntu Software app. If you prefer managing packages graphically, you’ll find that the Ubuntu Software app is very limited. 

Synaptic is a much better option as it lets you search, filter, install, and uninstall a much wider range of packages. 

sudo apt install synaptic


Possibly the most common reason users don’t want to switch from Windows to Linux is that certain software like the Office package, Photoshop, or games (mostly online) don’t work on Linux.

I like to use a VM for all my Windows needs. But for most users, the answer to the aforementioned dilemma is Wine. It’s a compatibility layer that lets you run Windows applications on Linux with native-level performance.

Learn to Remove Packages

Depending on how you installed a package, the steps to remove it will also differ. For starters, packages installed with apt can be uninstalled with the remove command.

sudo apt remove packagename

If you want to remove the package’s configuration files at the same time, you can use purge instead.

sudo apt purge packagename

After uninstalling a package, it may leave behind some orphaned dependencies that are no longer required. To remove these, you can use autoremove.

sudo apt autoremove

Snaps can also be easily uninstalled with the remove command.

sudo snap remove packagename

If you installed a .deb file offline, you can open the same .deb file in the Software Center to uninstall it.

Configure System Preferences

While you may not need to immediately change any system setting, it’s a good idea to skim through most of the tabs at least once. This’ll give you a good idea of what settings you can configure, where, and how. The major ones include:

  • Networking – Configure your IP Address, DNS, VPN, and similar settings.
  • Appearance – Visual preferences like the color scheme, icon, dock settings, etc.
  • Notifications – Do Not Disturb (DnD) mode, lock screen notifications, and app-specific notification settings.
  • PrivacyAutomatic screen lock, file history, location info, error reporting, etc.
  • Sharing – Device name and remote access permissions.
  • Sound – Select audio input and output devices here.
  • Power – Power plans, battery percentage, and related preferences.
  • Displays – Display settings like resolution, refresh rate, scale, night light, etc.
  • Keyboard – View and set custom keyboard shortcuts.
  • UsersAdd or remove users and change settings like passwords.
  • Default Applications – Set default apps like browser, media player, photo viewer, etc.

For those who frequently use DnD, you can easily toggle it on and off from the Notifications area.

You can also change the behavior of the dock to minimize and relaunch programs on click. Enter the following one-liner in the terminal to do this.

gsettings set click-action ‘minimize’

Tweak Ubuntu to Your Liking

If you want to make some minor customizations beyond what’s doable through system settings, GNOME Tweaks is the best tool for the job.

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

The main tweaks available by default include:

  • Changing advanced theme, background, and lock screen settings
  • Setting default fonts
  • Setting advanced keyboard shortcuts and configuring mouse/touchpad settings
  • Getting additional info from the clock and calendar
  • Configuring window title bar actions
  • Configuring advanced window preferences

Install GNOME Extensions

Extensions allow you to add new functionality to GNOME. We recommend installing the GNOME Shell Extension Manager as it’s the easiest way to browse for supported extensions and manage installed ones. 

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-manager

In the Extension Manager, you can manage the extensions and their configurations from the Installed tab. Similarly, you can find and install new extensions from the Browse tab.

Learn to Switch Display Servers

A display server coordinates the graphical components of the system (windows, icons, pointer movement, etc.). Wayland is the default display server on current Ubuntu versions. It’s modern and usually provides better performance and a smoother experience overall.

But there are scenarios where Xorg, the legacy display server, is a better option. Various programs (most screen recording programs, for instance) have issues with running on Wayland. NVIDIA GPUs also usually show better performance on Xorg.

In such scenarios, you can switch the default display server by logging out. At the sign-in screen, click on the cog and select the display server to start the session with.

Enable the Ubuntu Firewall

At some point, you’ll likely use Samba for file sharing, SSH for remote access, and so on. It’s essential to enable the firewall to protect your system from local threats in such cases. The easiest way to do this is with the ufw tool.

sudo ufw enable

Note: These were some generally useful things to do after installing Ubuntu. But you don’t have to perform all of these, and you don’t have to limit yourself to only these either. 

Pick the changes you want to make, and if there’s something you want to do that’s not mentioned here (perhaps you want to try a different desktop environment or set up content creation tools, and so on), don’t be afraid to experiment.

Anup Thapa

Senior Writer

Anup Thapa is a Linux enthusiast with an extensive background in computer hardware and networking. His goal is to effectively communicate technical concepts in a simplified form understandable by new Linux users. To this end, he mainly writes beginner-friendly tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Outside of work, he enjoys reading up on a range of topics, traveling, working out, and MOBAs.