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.