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Linux pros use tweak tools to customize their OS, and so can you

Katherine Noyes | May 12, 2014
Where Windows has utilities, Linux has tweak tools. And whether you're a Linux pro or a recent refugee from Windows XP, they can help you make Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" (the latest and greatest offering from Linux distro pioneer Canonical) really start to feel like home.

Where Windows has utilities, Linux has tweak tools. And whether you're a Linux pro or a recent refugee from Windows XP, they can help you make Ubuntu 14.04 LTS "Trusty Tahr" (the latest and greatest offering from Linux distro pioneer Canonical) really start to feel like home.

Customizability has long been one of Linux's most compelling features — particularly when compared with proprietary alternatives such as Windows and OS X — but the tweak tools out there today let you refine the OS even further. And if you're making the migration to Linux on your workplace PCs, tweak tools can help ease the transition.

Here's how to make them work for you.

Unity Tweak

If you've opted to go with Ubuntu's default Unity desktop interface, try the Unity Tweak tool.

To begin, go to the Ubuntu Software Center on your PC — it's the icon like an orange shopping bag emblazoned with an "A" in the Launcher. Once you've selected it, type "Unity Tweak," or even just "tweak," in the search bar, and a tool by that name should be top among the results that pop up. Click on that entry for "More Info" or to "Install."

Once you've installed it, you can click on Ubuntu Tweak's icon to launch it, bringing up an overview of all the desktop facets it can customize. Under the "Launcher" option, for instance, you can tweak that portion of the software's behavior, appearance and icons. I changed the color and transparency level of mine, for instance, to better complement my desktop background.

Also available are ways to customize the software's search functionality along with its panel, switcher, Web apps, and more. Prefer 24-hour time over 12-hour time? No problem — that's an option. So, for that matter, are power indicators, preauthorized status for select domains, background blur, and more. Now that Ubuntu One is on its way out, for instance, I went ahead and removed it as a preauthorized domain under "Web Apps." I also changed the default document font in the "Appearance" category.

Tweak Tool

If you're using GNOME, you either downloaded it from the Ubuntu Software Center onto whichever Ubuntu version you've got, or you chose originally to download the Ubuntu GNOME version of Trusty Tahr.

Either way, Tweak Tool is the name of the customization tool for GNOME users, and it offers a way to adjust numerous GNOME 3 features that can't be fiddled with in the GNOME Control Center itself, such as the fonts and themes used in the user interface as well as file manager desktop icons and the icons used in menus and buttons.

 

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