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5 Things You Need to Know About Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

ubuntu-14.04-tips-and-tricks

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is the latest release of Ubuntu. Like other recent releases, there are no flashy big new features. Canonical has made some important changes, but they’re very easy to miss.

Overall, Ubuntu 14.04 has many under-the-hood improvements and new versions of software. It’s a solid upgrade, but nothing ground-breaking. Canonical is putting a lot of development effort into Ubuntu Mobile for smartphones and tablets.

You Can Disable Amazon Search Integration

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Ubuntu has integrated Amazon search results in the Unity dash for a few releases now, but Ubuntu 14.04 marks the first time that users who stick to the LTS releases of Ubuntu will see these results.

Whenever you search for an application or file on your computer in the dash, your search is sent to Ubuntu’s servers. They forward your request to Amazon and show you Amazon search results. If you click an Amazon link and buy anything, Canonical gets a commission.

The dash isn’t necessarily the best place for these results. If you’re just using the dash to launch applications, the Amazon search results can get in the way. You may also not want to send every search you make to Ubuntu’s servers.

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You can disable the Amazon search integration in one of two ways. The easiest way is to use the System Settings window (click the gear menu in the top-right corner and select System Settings). Click the Security & Privacy icon, click the Search tab, and toggle the “Include online search results” option to Off.

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This will also disable all other online search results in the dash. To only disable the Amazon search results, you’ll need to uninstall the unity-lens-shopping package instead. Run the following command in a terminal window to remove Amazon search results, but not other online search results:

sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping

Ubuntu also provides a quick link to Amazon on your launcher. Just right-click the Amazon icon and select Unlock from Launcher to remove it.

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You Can Easily Disable the Global Menu

Ubuntu now includes a way to toggle off the global menu without removing packages. Menus for the focused window won’t appear on the top bar if you enable this. Instead, they’ll appear in the window’s title bar. This can decrease the distance you have to move the mouse and make Ubuntu seem more familiar if you’re used to Windows and traditional Linux desktops.

Like the global menu, this menu will only appear when you hover your mouse over the title bar. The menus will be hidden most of the time.

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This option is also available in the System Settings dialog. To find it, open System Settings, click the Appearance icon, and select “In the window’s title bar” under Show the menus for a window.

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You’ll Need to Move On From Ubuntu One

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If you’ve followed the instructions in previous versions of Ubuntu, you probably created an Ubuntu One account. Ubuntu One was an integrated cloud storage service that provided a free 5 GB of storage space for your files and was even available on other operating systems.

Canonical is giving up on Ubuntu One — Google is offering 100 GB of space for $1.99 per month and Canonical can’t compete in this rush to the bottom. If you depend on Ubuntu One, you’ll need to move on to another cloud storage service before it shuts down on June 1, 2014. Ubuntu One software is no longer included with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Dropbox will probably be the best cloud storage option for Ubuntu users who formerly used Ubuntu One. Dropbox officially supports Linux and provides two gigabytes of free storage space. It’s even available in the Ubuntu Software Center for easy installation.

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Google Drive still doesn’t officially support Linux in spite of Google promising two years ago that it would be coming soon, while Microsoft’s OneDrive obviously doesn’t support Linux. If you want an encrypted cloud storage service — albeit one with a more complicated interface — you may want to check out SpiderOak instead.

Web App Integration Isn’t Working As Well

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Ubuntu’s web app integration has changed. When you create a web app for a service like Gmail, Ubuntu will now use the same browser used on Ubuntu Mobile. This theoretically makes web apps more consistent between the desktop and mobile versions of Ubuntu, but it’s a problem if you actually want to use these apps. This browser doesn’t work anywhere near as well and doesn’t even have access to the Flash plug-in.

If you want launcher icons for your favorite web apps, you should probably skip Ubuntu’s native integration features. Instead, install the Chromium or Chrome web browsers and use the Tools > Create application shortcuts menu option to create launcher icons and separate windows for your preferred web apps.

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We recommend Chromium or Chrome here because Firefox doesn’t provide this feature.

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TRIM is Now Enabled By Default

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We recently covered how previous releases of Ubuntu didn’t have TRIM support enabled by default. TRIM is an essential feature that ensures solid-state drives (SSDs) perform as quickly as possible. You don’t have to jump through any hoops to enable this on Ubuntu 14.04 — TRIM is now enabled by default. If you use an SSD but have never enabled TRIM in the past, you should get better disk performance on Ubuntu 14.04.

TRIM is only enabled by default on Intel and Samsung SSDs, as it can apparently cause problems on SSDs with buggy firmware. It’s probably best to leave TRIM disabled if Ubuntu doesn’t think it will work properly on your SSD.

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Dig deeper and you’ll find more changes. For example, switching between graphics cards on laptops with NVIDIA Optimus technology is supposedly now working better, although we haven’t tried this ourselves. Laptop battery life has reportedly improved, too.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 05/9/14