This is a general guide to the some things that I like to remember whenever I reinstall, including a long list of packages that can be potentially removed.
This is based on Gnome, but some things should or can be common with KDE or Xubuntu.
If I have something wrong or you have any questions, feel free to let me know. I'll try to update this as much as possible.
Packages I install/utilize:
- Find power cycles (and more) of hard disk (the following command indicates if you have the hard drive bug, it's up to you if you think it needs fixing based on that information)
sudo smartctl -d ata -a /dev/sda | grep Cycle
- Though eog is installed by default, it seems to use a lot of memory. Gthumb also provides many useful basic functions such as cropping, mass resize/convert, and color adjustment.
- A GUI to configure iptables firewall.
- Free implementation of the Java environment.
- Very good audio editing program.
- For making video files from DVDs.
- Client and manager program respectively for distributed computing. You can install just the client and manage it remotely.
- Monitor temperature and fan speeds on the panel through acpi, lm-sensors, hddtemp, etc. You may want to set lm-sensors up with:
Nautilus has a few plugins available, notably:
- Provides options to rotate and resize images from the right-click menu.
- Provides on option to open a terminal from the right-click menu. Clicking on/in a directory opens a terminal starting in that directory, clicking on the desktop will open it in your home folder.
- Provides an option to open a file as root. Useful to not have to use the above plugin or root user Nautilus.
- Provides options to convert audio files from the right click menu. I haven't had much luck with it, but it could be useful.
- An alternative to Metacity that can handle transparency, very customizable, themes available here.
- Enable plugins and alter their settings for Compiz.
- Use Windows drivers for wireless cards. This has been my best friend through most of my time with Linux.
- Place customized information on your desktop. More info here.
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/5-a-day/ubuntu hardy main
- This is like the Mac OS X bar. Gdesklets has an attempt at this, too, but I have been very impressed at this program. It combines launchers with a window list, and can also have applets like the Gnome panel. Between this and Conky, along with a couple of short programs I wrote, I no longer need my Gnome panel.
- An email program. I've had problems every time I've used Evolution. Thunderbird is nice, but I've found Balsa to be very fast, and integrates well with Gnome.
- This is a very simple text to speech program that is installed by default. I think with a little creativity it could be very useful. For example, I had it read a warning when my processor got too hot.
- You can have it read a text file via
espeak -f /path/to/file
I have spent a lot of time trying to cut down Ubuntu installs to fit on 1.5 GB hard drives and into RAM, so anything that I can remove is helpful sometimes.
These are programs and packages that I have found I don't need. You may need them. I'll try to explain (to you and myself both) what they do. Based on that, it's your decision. If in doubt, don't remove anything. Aptitude will tell you of almost anything that will totally break your system or another package, but try to remember what you have done in case something breaks.
There are many guides on the forums about how to remove unused packages, and they can make a great second step to removing things from this list, especially gtkorphan.
If a package A depends on package B, then removing package B will also remove package A, e.g. removing apturl will remove ubufox
- This is what is called a "metapackage." It doesn't actually contain anything, it just makes sure that all of the default desktop applications are installed. If you remove something it depends on, it will be removed too. That's fine. When (if) you upgrade, it may be a good idea to reinstall it.
- If you search for this in Synaptic you will find that a lot of other language fonts are installed by default. If you don't plan an reading or writing with them, you can remove them.
- If you don't have Bluetooth capability, you can remove these packages.
- I'm not interested in using any pretty screensavers on my laptop. I just blank the screen rather than make it heat up or waste CPU time. Leaving gnome-screensaver retains the basic ability.
- An application for note taking that I have never used.
- Something like Skype, you can talk/conference over the Internet. I've never used it.
- Extra themes for your mouse cursor.
- All of these are metapackages that depend on all of the writing tools, general language support, and translations for English (or whatever language you have installed, the last two letters will be different).
- South African English dictionary.
- British English translation and help for OpenOffice.
- South African English translation for OpenOffice.
- Australian English thesaurus for OpenOffice.
- Help viewer. I choose to use the forums and the internet rather than any of the locally installed help.
- Help files for the Gimp. Again, I prefer online.
- User guide for Gnome. Again, I prefer getting anything I need online.
- Ever wanted to learn the Python programming language? This is the book for you! Check into it. Otherwise, you can remove it.
- General Ubuntu documentation. I prefer online.
- This Great Britain locale for Thunderbird is installed though Thunderbird isn't, which is odd. One of the language support packages depends on it.
- These are metapackages for the kernel versions and restricted modules respectively.
- This provides madwifi (Atheros), fglrx (ATI), nvidia, fcdsl2, fcdslsl, fcdslslusb, fcdslusb, fcdslusb2, fcpci (AVM ISDN), fcdsl, fcdslusba, fcusb, fwlanusb, fxusb (AVM ISDN x86 only). If you don't use any of these, you can remove it.
- These are only needed if you need to recompile the kernel.
- Used in modem and similar connections. Not needed for wireless or ethernet connections.
- Desktop search tool. I don't find it useful enough to keep.
- The default gnome games. I don't play them enough to keep them.
libchewing (thank you Wim De Winter)
- A way to set up input for languages with different alphabets.
- The nice Add/Remove Applications in the menu.
- This helps with the installation of flash and other plugins for Firefox.
- This is a dependency of ubufox, it allows packages to be installed with the syntax "apt : package"
- Mouse accessibility support.
- The Gnome magnifier. I'd prefer the Compiz plugin.
- Spam filter for use with Evolution or maybe Thunderbird.
- Sample files to use when testing/showing off Ubuntu.
- Evolution plugin for Microsoft Exchange mail.
- Evolution plugin for web-based calendars.
- Tools for PalmPilot devices.
- As I mentioned above, I prefer gthumb.
- The Deskbar applet for the panel.
- The contact lookup applet for the panel.
- The applet for switching users for the panel.
- This program is responsible for installing restricted drivers such as nvidia or b43.
- This is a driver for samsung laser printers.
- Printer driver for KonicaMinolta PagePro.
- You should be able to remove this metapackage, as well as everything but v4l, vesa, vga, fbdev, dummy, and the one you are using. If you are using a proprietary driver, such as nvidia, it might be a good idea to leave the open source driver, nv, just in case.
- For connecting to other machines remotely.
- Server that allows others to access your desktop remotely.
- A CD ripper, Rhythmbox takes care of my needs.
- For getting files via ftp using the command line.
- I think this is required for the Rhythmbox Cover Art and Lyrics plugins.
Control Processor scaling from the panel applet:
"Yes" to run cpufreq as root. Possibly a security problem, but I've risked it.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure gnome-applets
Change percentage reserved for root on filesystem. This is responsible for the difference between "Free" and "Available" space. (-m <percent>)
Run a script at boot
tune2fs -m 1 /dev/external
sudo chmod 755 something.sh
sudo update-rc.d something.sh defaults
Run in order of number XX.
Great Firefox addons:
- You can subscribe to lists that will block ads and content for you. I always add EasyElement+EasyList from the subscription site.
- Removes 99.99% of ads, depending on what sites you visit.
- You can also add wildcard filters to block items.
- A way to open a webpage or image without opening a whole new tab, in its own pseudo-window inside the browser. You can also bookmark pages in a similar temporary way.
- Windows/Mac only (for now, they say), but very cool way to browse pictures and movies from Google, YouTube, and some other sites.
- Until it's supported on Linux, searchme.com offers a similar interface that is web-based.
I'll end with a script to save battery power. This is placed in /etc/acpi/battery.d and /etc/acpi/ac.d, and I've named it 99-savings.sh. This causes it to run every time the system switches from AC to battery or vice versa, and the script knows which part to run based on whether it's on AC or battery. It's a combination of a script I found somewhere on the forums, the powertop suggestions. I added some processes that I don't really want running while on battery power that will be stopped but started again when back on AC.
I've tested it a bit, and I don't think that every line does exactly what it should. I think some other power management utilities write their own values in some of these places. All in all, though, I think it's worth it.
Update August 16, 2008 - Added xbacklight commands at the end of each section. You have to install xbacklight and tell Gnome power manager in the power settings not to manage your screen brightness for this to work. I was thinking that it would be nice if it would remember what your brightness was before going on battery instead of setting its arbitrary value, and then I thought - hey, I think I could do that! So with my usual odd variable and hackish methods, I think it can remember what your backlight was before you went on battery and reset it when you go back on AC. You can change the value after xbacklight -set from 30 to whatever percent you wish.
For some reason, every time I run xbacklight, regardless of what I have the setting at or whether it's as me or root, it reports 42.857143 when I run it. But the script seems to work. Go figure.
# Go fast. More or less Ubuntu defaults
if on_ac_power; then
hdparm -B 255 -S 240 -M 254 /dev/sda
mount -o remount,commit=5 /
mount -o remount,commit=5 /home
echo 0 > /proc/sys/vm/laptop_mode
echo 10 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_ratio
echo 5 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_background_ratio
echo 500 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs
echo 0 > /sys/module/snd_hda_intel/parameters/power_save
echo max_performance > /sys/class/scsi_host/host0/link_power_management_policy
iwpriv wlan0 power_profile 1
echo 50 > /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
echo 3000 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_expire_centisecs
hal-disable-polling --device /dev/scd0 --enable-polling
xbacklight -set $LINEBACKER
else # Save power
hdparm -B 1 -S 4 -M 128 /dev/sda
mount -o remount,commit=600 /
mount -o remount,commit=600 /home
echo 5 > /proc/sys/vm/laptop_mode
echo 40 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_ratio
echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_background_ratio
echo 30000 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs
echo 10 > /sys/module/snd_hda_intel/parameters/power_save
echo min_power > /sys/class/scsi_host/host0/link_power_management_policy
iwpriv wlan0 power_profile 5
echo 10 > /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
echo 0 > /proc/sys/vm/dirty_expire_centisecs
hal-disable-polling --device /dev/scd0
xbacklight > /tmp/xbacklightgot
xbacklight -set 30