Ubuntu Tweak 0.6 Enters beta
There are a wealth of changes which can be made to an Ubuntu system that sit in a category that is half way between the obscure and the genuinely useful. Ubuntu Tweak is utility that exposes these options with a handy GUI.
At time of writing the Ubuntu Tweak 0.6 beta can be installed by using the PPA on the website (see this page).
Ubuntu Tweak may be runnable on other Ubuntu powered desktops or even other distros, but it’s clear that it is aimed squarely at users of stock Ubuntu who like to fiddle. There look to be about 100 options which are divided into three main categories which are then divided into further subcategories:
Startup (Login Settings, Session Control)
Desktop (Compiz Settings, Desktop Icon Settings, GNOME Settings, Window Manager Settings)
System (Nautilus Settings, Power Manager Settings, Security Related, Workarounds)
Version 0.6 has switched to an icon pallet interface rather than the list based interface of previous versions. The options themselves could all be classed as useful but not essential. For those of you who haven’t used Ubuntu Tweak before, I’ll pick out some features to give you a flavor of what’s available.
It’s possible to toggle the startup sound, alter the background image of the GDM login screen, remove the restart icon from the Gnome menu and suppress the restart confirmation dialog. The window manager tweaks move into KDE territory as you can tweak things like the actions of different mouse buttons on window title bars and other areas of the user interface. Under the System section, there are options to control whether the system should become locked when power management blanks the screen and you can force Nautilus to always use the location entry bar rather than the path bar.
Some some of the janitor tools. It's amazing how often purging a cache can resolve a problem. As ever with Ubuntu Tweak, one begins to wonder if these features should be made standard in Ubuntu.
There are many other options, and despite the level of detail offered, the actual navigation between them is perfectly simple thanks to the arrangement of sections and subsections.
In addition to the reorganization of the main interface, there are now four buttons which are somewhat analogous to tabs. To be honest, I think I’d prefer it if these were reimplemented as actual tabs as it might make the interface clearer. These buttons give access to the tweaks and also a system information page, system administration facilities and a suite of system cleanup tools.
The administration features include a desktop backup tool which looks handy. It basically backs up program settings sections of of the home directory in a selectable manner, and it can also handle recovery. I have long believed that this is an area in which desktop Linux is somewhat lacking as actually going in an carrying out this kind of backup or restoration, manually, can be a bit overwhelming at times.
The system cleanup tools allow the user to selectively purge various caches and temporary file areas in order to recover disk space, increase anonymity and perhaps to work around bugs that are affecting the system.
The new version of Ubuntu Tweak is not only aware of the Unity interface, it even features some integration with it. In addition this new version features a plugin system so that other developers can add their own optional tweaks.
The obvious question that Ubuntu Tweak poses is, “should these features be included as standard with Gnome/Ubuntu?” It’s a difficult question to answer because, for one thing, Ubuntu, Gnome and Unity all have the simplification of the user interface as part of their design brief. The collection of options that are offered by this utility are certainly complex and it would probably be a mistake to simply dump them onto the main preferences interface.
If you're a power user and find yourself working with standard Ubuntu, it's probably worth installing to browse the tweaks. You may spot something that you'd never though of tweaking!
The Ubuntu Tweak homepage
The page which details the 0.6 beta with instructions for adding the PPA.
UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.
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