Tweak your Ubuntu with Ubuntu Tweak

Jack Wallen introduces you to a handy Ubuntu tool that allows you to tweak your Ubuntu installation very much like the old TweakUI tool allowed you to configure/customize/administer Windows. It's a breeze to install and can make your Ubuntu life much, much easier.

Do you remember those days when every Windows user worth their salt installed TweakUI, in order to get as much tweaking and configuring as they could out of their PC? That tool really did a lot for the Windows OS and, believe it or not, there is a similar tool for Ubuntu. That tool? Ubuntu Tweak.

Ubuntu Tweak allows you to dig into configurations you may not have even known about...and do so with ease. That's right, there's very little "magic" or obfuscation involved with this's just straight-up configuration options that might have otherwise been hidden (or at least not as easy to find). With Ubuntu Tweak you can:

  • Update your system.
  • Add sources for packages.
  • Change startup settings.
  • Configure numerous hidden desktop settings (including desktop backup and recovery).
  • Set up default folder locations.
  • Manage scripts and shortcuts.
  • Gather system information.
  • Manage file types and Nautilus settings.
  • Configure power manager settings.
  • Manage security settings.

So, how does it work? How is it installed? Let's take a look.


You won't find Ubuntu Tweak in the Ubuntu Software Center. Instead you need to download the .deb package and install it manually (or let your browser open up the USC for the installation). I prefer the manual method, so that is what I will demonstrate.

Download the most recent .deb package from the Ubuntu Tweak main page. Once you have that file downloaded, follow these steps:

  1. Open up a terminal window.
  2. Change into the directory holding the newly downloaded .deb file.
  3. Issue the command sudo dpkg -i install ubuntu-tweak-XXX.deb Where XXX is the release number.
  4. Type your sudo password and hit Enter.
  5. Allow the package to install and then, when it is finished, close the terminal window.


To start up Ubuntu Tweak click on Applications | System Tools | Ubuntu Tweak. When you first start up the tool, it will give you a warning that you should enable the Ubuntu Tweak stable repository. Click OK to do this. Once that warning is out of the way, you can dig into the tweaking of your Ubuntu OS.

Figure A

Figure 1

The interface for Ubuntu Tweak is very well done (see Figure A). As you can see, the left pane is broken into categories: Applications, Startup, Desktop, Personal, and System. Some of these tweaks will require the use of sudo and some will not (depending on the nature of the configuration).

One very handy configuration in the Personal section is Templates. Here you can drag and drop files into the main window and those files will then be added as document templates.

From an admin standpoint, a very handy option is the Login Settings in the Startup section. In this section you can configure:

  • Disable user list in GDM.
  • Play sound at login.
  • Disable showing the restart button.
  • Login theme.

Obviously not every option is a gem, but the ability to hide the user list as well as disabling the restart button in the login screen can be very handy.

Finally you will want to take a look at File Type Manager in the System section. This allows you to manage all registered file types on your system.

I have only scratched the surface of Ubuntu Tweak - it really is an incredibly powerful and handy tool that any and all Ubuntu users/administrators should get to know. From this single window you have the ability to configure/administrate many items from the System menu.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


When will Mr. Wallen learn to indicate which repositories he is using? All his articles are useless as long as the programs he writes about cannot be found!


This looks like gnome-control-center-plus. Starting to get close to KDE systemsettings... as systemsettings stood about 4 years ago. The resurrected Mandriva team claims their goal is to integrate the Mandriva control center (mcc) with KDE's systemsettings. Not sure when, I'm guessing the easier items to move will make it into the 2011 release. I can see package management and printing going over first. But their goal is to have one place to do literally everything possible, fully integrated with KDE itself rather than a stand alone. There's not much more you need to do beyond what systemsettings and mcc provide, a couple of advanced server settings perhaps. But for 99.99999% of all users there promises to be, finally, "one stop shopping" for everything. Even without mcc integration, systemsettings has long been everything and more than this ubuntu tweak appears to be, minus the package management, but plus things like configuring an extra monitor. Sorry. Couldn't resist. Once ubuntu goes all bye-bye down the proprietary train to commercialville I guess any further comparison with "Linux" will be moot. =D


Jack, "Issue the command sudo dpkg -i install ubuntu-tweak-XXX.deb" I can understand enough of that to do it and apply it to other installs EXACTLY as written. But, where do I go to learn the details. What is -i? does it modify dpkg or install? That kind of command line info is not familiar to me in Linux and I want to know more. Maybe it could be part of your newbie series that you wrote of in an earlier post.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai I'm guessing Jack enables the regular Ubuntu repositories through to Metaverse. It would be handy to include that detail though. In the mean time, you can search Ubuntu's full package list to figure out what package contains a thing or what repository contains a package. (edit): The Ubuntu Tweak website Jack links to in the first paragraph also provides some details on how to install in the form of a big button labeled "download".


try man dpkg

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

My personal process would be like this based on wondering what command switches where available: try "dpkg -h" - for brief help summary try "dpkg --help" - for more detailed help summary try "man dpkg" - for the man page full details If those help pages do not clarify it's use then I move on to internet searches: search "dpkg manual" and see what websites come up search "dpkg man page" and see what websites come up search "installing programs with dpkg" and see what websites come up eg: $dpkg -h Usage: dpkg [ ...] Command: -i|--install ... --unpack ... -A|--record-avail ... So "-i" installs a package. If I need more details I try "dpkg --help". In this case, -h and --help return the same text so for yet more details "man dpkg".


Why didn't I think of that? Thanks for the reply and I will rtfm.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Glad it was taken as intended. I know it sucks when people through "rtfm" in one's face without any indication of where the "fm" might be found to "rt". :D

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