12th April 2017, updated:10th May 2020

My own setup for Ubuntu

These are the steps I normally use to setup a Ubuntu desktop distribution, currently up to Focal Fossa (20.04). For previous Ubuntu distributions, see this previous version.

This setup only defines the initial installations and basic system configuration, not all the programs that I eventually install.


  • Choose minimal installation, without games, etc. Select the checkboxes to download updates during the installation and to install 3rd party software.
  • Install basic applications from the command line:
    sudo apt install -y gnome-tweaks dconf-editor guake vim curl exfat-utils exfat-fuse
  • Install sensors applications, from the command line:
    sudo apt install -y lm-sensors psensor
  • Install applications using the Ubuntu Software Center:
    • Authy
    • Gimp
    • Intellij Idea Ultimate
    • KeePassXC
    • LibreOffice
    • Thunderbird
    • VLC
  • Install applications using their own installers / instructions:
    • Brave browser
    • Chrome browser
    • Opera browser
    • Sublime text
    • Truecrypt


  • Regional format:I live in Luxembourg, but want to use standard English formats. I found that the best choice is to select English (Ireland) as regional format. Press the Super Key and enter in the search textbox 'Language support', then go to the Regional Formats tab in the application and choose English (Ireland), then apply system-wide. This step will require a logout / login.
  • Desktop configuration: open Teaks application
    • Extensions - desktop icons
    • Workspaces: Disable dynamic workspaces, enable 4 static workspaces
    • Keyboard and Mouse:
      • Overview Shortcut: Right Super. The original, Left Super, I use it better for switching workspaces, as it is done on Mac
      • Additional layout options:
        • Caps lock behaviour: Caps lock is disabled
        • Miscellaneous compatibility options: Numeric Keypad always enter digits
  • Disable usage of Super + Numpad as dock favourites shortcut: open dconf-editor application:
    • Navigate to org / gnome / shell / extensions / dash-to-dock, scroll down and find out line says hot-keys, and turn it off.
    • Navigate to org / gnome / shell / keybindings, remove switch-to-application 1...4: Use default value: off, custom value: [''].
  • Open settings application.
    • Appearance: Dock : Autohide
    • Search : Only enable files and calculator
    • Power : Power Button Action : Suspend
    • Keyboard shorcuts
      • Home folder: Windows E
      • Switch to next input source : Disable (backspace). Otherwise,it uses Super + Space
      • Switch to workspace 1: Super + 1
      • Switch to workspace 2: Super + 2
      • Switch to workspace 3: Super + 3
      • Switch to workspace 4: Super + 4
      • Move window to workspace 1: Shift + Super + 1
      • Move window to workspace 2: Shift + Super + 2
      • Move window to workspace 3: Shift + Super + 3
      • Move window to workspace 4: Shift + Super + 4
      Note that Super + S allows a workspace view
  • Cleanup dock: remove any applications not required, like Ubuntu software, help, etc, and add any new ones
  • Configure Nautilus
    • Remove from Nautilus entries to Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos and Desktop: Open the file ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs, and modify all entries that should not appear. For example, to have only a DOWNLOAD folder, this file should have the following content:
    • Show files as list in nautilus, in small size:
      gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-folder-viewer list-view
      gsettings set org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-zoom-level small
      killall nautilus
    • It is needed to reset nautilus:
      killall nautilus
    • Now, when Nautilus is open again, there will be entries for Documents, Music, etc, but right clicking on them shows the Remove option
  • Start guake at login: Open Startup Applications (use launcher), press add, enter Guake as name, and /usr/bin/guake as command
  • On a Mac keyboard, avoid having to press Fn to key F1 to F12:
    sudo -s
        echo options hid_apple fnmode=2 > /etc/modprobe.d/hid_apple.conf
        update-initramfs -u
  • Hide top bar in Gnome desktop: open a terminal, and enter:
    mkdir -p ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/
    cd ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions/
    git clone https://github.com/mlutfy/hidetopbar.git hidetopbar@mathieu.bidon.ca
    cd hidetopbar@mathieu.bidon.ca
    make schemas
    cd ..
    gnome-extensions enable hidetopbar@mathieu.bidon.ca
  • Final steps

    • Block notifications across the browsers:
      • Chrome: settings / Privacy and security / Notifications: set off Sites can ask to send notifications
      • Firefox: preferences / Privacy and security / Permissions: Notifications: set the chekbox Block new requests asking to allow notifications, then save the changes
      • Opera: enter the URL: opera://settings/content/notifications , then set Sites can ask to send notifications off
      • Brave: settings / scroll down to Advanced and press on Advanced / Privacy and security / Site and Shield settings / Notifications: set off Sites can ask to send notifications

    Finally, reboot the system for all configuration changes to take place.