Ubuntu Tweak 0.8.7 Review – The Best Way to Configure Ubuntu

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Auto Start Program Control
  • (4 more, see all...)

Everyone knows that Ubuntu is not one of the most customizable operating systems, which is one of the problems that often come up in the Linux community. This is where the Ubuntu Tweak software will really help its users make head or tails of the Ubuntu Linux distro in a way that very few applications can.

We covered an earlier version of this software a couple of years ago, but things have changed quite a lot in the Ubuntu ecosystem since then, and so did Ubuntu Tweak. It now comes with even more features and has become one of the must-have tools for all Ubuntu users.

The fate of the application was called into question back in 2012, when the development was stopped and its developer, Ding Zhou, said that he would abandon the project. It's unclear what made him change his mind but, since then, the application has got better, even if we don't get as many updates as we’d want to.

Even with all the updates that have been released in the past couple of years, Ubuntu Tweak hasn't really caught on to the public, but it doesn't mean that the developer sat around, doing nothing to improve the application. Quite the opposite; he managed to keep the software on pace with the latest Ubuntu releases.

Don't mind the application version number, it's just for show. Even if it doesn't seem like a stable piece of software, Ubuntu Tweak works great and you should consider it stable.

Installation

For some unknown reason you won't find the application in the official repositories, not even an older version like it's usually the case with the Ubuntu repos. This is only mildly strange, but the developer provides binaries and a PPA to remedy the situation. We tested the software in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and everything went without a hitch.

If you choose to download the deb file, all you have to do is to open a terminal, navigate to the folder where it's kept, and enter the following command:

sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.8.7-1~trusty2_all.deb
sudo apt-get install -f


The second line is only needed if the installation from the first command fails due to missing dependencies. Alternatively, you can also double click the deb file and let Ubuntu Software Center do all the work.

A PPA is also available and it can be easily installed from there. Open a terminal and enter the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

Usage

When you first open the application, you will notice that it features five distinct tabs: Overview, Apps, Tweaks, Admins, and Janitor. The first tab is also the most straightforward and the Overview shows details about the system the user is currently running.

The Apps tab is quite interesting and its options can't be found it in any other application. It allows users to install software for the Ubuntu system, but they will also find applications that are not available in the official repositories, like Google Chrome, for example.

The Tweaks tab is by far the most interesting feature of the application. It hosts a huge amount of options and it would be impossible to list them all. Users can choose what icons to display on the desktop (Computer, Trash, etc), manage the sound scheme, bring new wallpapers from online sources, change numerous Unity options, and even change the way the file manager works.

The Admins tab is a little bit more technical and deals with some features that should normally be left alone, unless you know what you are doing. You can change some of the default Folders in the Home directory, manage file associations, and even assign other commands for the existing applications.

Janitor is the last of the tabs and does exactly what you would imagine. It cleans up the computer and you would be surprised how many loose packages there are, including the ones left from upgrading the Linux kernel. I didn't have any problems when I deleted all the junk, but make sure you check what is being deleted before you hit that button.

The Bad

Some of the app's functions don't work as they should. For example, installing apps from outside the repositories sounds like a great idea, and it works some of the times. I managed to install Google Chrome, but other packages wouldn't install. It's probably just a matter of upgrading the sources, but that would mean that the software needs to be updated more often.

The Good

The software provides some options that can't be accessed in any other easy manner. Even if the application acts more like a GUI for some of the functions, it's still a great tool, especially if you want to clean your system of any leftover packages.

Conclusion

Ubuntu Tweak manages to demonstrate one thing above all else. It's not that hard to tweak Ubuntu, and even Unity can be made to bend to the user's will. Despite being considered too inflexible, Ubuntu is actually quite configurable, if you have the right tool – and that is definitely Ubuntu Tweak.


user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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