The latest version of Ubuntu – Hardy Heron, comes with a lot of improvement and functionality over its predecessors. However, unknown to many, some of the best features are hidden and are not enabled by default. To really get the most out of Hardy Heron, you really need to uncover these features, activate and configure them to perform at its best.
UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall) is a tool for host-based iptable configuration. It allows you to set permission for incoming/outgoing connections easily. For anyone who want to add an extra layer of protection to their system (who wouldn’t?), UFW would be the right tool for it. (UFW comes pre-installed in Hardy Heron, but it is not enabled by default)
To enable UFW,
sudo ufw enable
To check UFW status
sudo ufw status
To enable logging
sudo ufw logging on
To block a connection from a IP address (say 111.222.333.444)
sudo ufw deny from 111.222.333.444
Ubuntu-unleashed has a great post on how to setup and configure ufw
Install Restricted Codecs (multimedia, flash, java)
Once again, due to licensing restriction, Ubuntu could not include the multimedia codecs, flash plugin and java runtime by default. To grab all these packages in one go, you have to enable the ‘backports‘ repository in your sources.list and install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
Uncomment the following two lines by removing the # in front
# deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ hardy-backports main restricted universe multiverse
# deb-src http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ hardy-backports main restricted universe multiverse
Save and exit
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
Get Weather Information on the top panel
Hardy includes a nice feature where you can view the weather condition in your location. To activate it, click the time/date icon on the top panel to display the calendar setting. Below it, click on the Location, follow by Edit. Enter your location. If you are connected to the Internet, you should see your weather information beside the time/date.
More Eye Candy For Your Desktop
While Compiz is pre-installed in Hardy Heron, there is only limited options and there is no way you can configure it. For some of the best eye-candy effects, you really need to install the Compiz configuration setting manager.
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
Find your files easily
Tracker, a lightweight and fast indexing agent, is a great tool to help you locate your files and emails easily. While it comes pre-installed with Hardy, I am curious why it is not enabled by default.
Go to System->Preferences->Search and Indexing. On the General tab, check on the box “Enable indexing” and “Enable watching“. Click OK. A dialog box will appear to prompt you to restart the tracker daemon. Click Restart and you should see the tracker icon on the top right panel.
Preload is a module that monitors applications that users run, and by analyzing this data, predicts what applications users might run, and fetches those binaries and their dependencies into memory for faster startup times. It is similar to Windows SuperFetch. The only difference is that preload exists long before Windows SuperFetch.
sudo apt-get install preload
No configuration is required.
What seems to be a simple task in Mac and Windows is almost impossible in Hardy without any configuration. Same as Gutsy and all previous version of Ubuntu, you still can’t watch DVD from your fresh install of the OS. For those who really can’t live without DVD, check out the installation guide here.
Until GNOME releases a new music player that is better than Rhythmbox, or one that allows me to transfer music to my iPod Touch, I will stick with Amarok. It is still one of the best music player around.
sudo apt-get install amarok
(Be prepared to download a bunch of KDE files since it is not GNOME based)
VLC: The most versatile media player
VLC still remains the most versatile media player around. It is the only player that can play whatever file formats I throw to it. (I wonder when will Ubuntu replace totem with VLC as the default movie player)
sudo apt-get install vlc
Needless to say, WINE is the only solution to install windows applications on Ubuntu. It is also the software that makes many new Windows users feel at home.
sudo apt-get install wine