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Comfy ubuntu setup for science and such


I think this can also be done with But here is the apt method.

# Add the release PGP keys:
curl -s | sudo apt-key add -

# Add the "stable" channel to your APT sources:
echo "deb syncthing stable" | \
  sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/syncthing.list

# Update and install syncthing:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install syncthing

Now choose your autostart method. you probably want to do this as a user, not as a system service, because root access is from a different devops era.

But wait! Does it report your disk is full when you try to use filesystem monitors?

$ cat /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches
$ sudo sh -c 'echo 204800 > /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches'
$ echo "fs.inotify.max_user_watches=204800" | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf
$ cat /proc/sys/fs/inotify/max_user_watches

Google Chrome

If you want profile sync or some other features not in plain chromium, askubuntu says

sudo bash
wget -q -O - | \
    apt-key add -
echo "deb [arch=amd64] stable main" >> \
apt-get update
apt-get install google-chrome-stable


download julia as an install; it’s too unstable for anything else.


I give in, just run anaconda. It is easy for science stuff.

Bonus: then you get pytorch and and other such tricky-GPU-dependency packages without messing about.

conda install pytorch torchvision cuda91 -c pytorch


Not all the good editors are packaged up.

Also, a good CLI editor:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:neovim-ppa/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install neovim
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/vi vi /usr/bin/nvim 60
sudo update-alternatives --config vi
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/vim vim /usr/bin/nvim 60
sudo update-alternatives --config vim
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/editor editor /usr/bin/nvim 60
sudo update-alternatives --config editor

Non-packaged apps



sh -c "$(curl -fsSL"
test -d ~/.linuxbrew && PATH="$HOME/.linuxbrew/bin:$HOME/.linuxbrew/sbin:$PATH"
test -d /home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew && PATH="/home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew/bin:/home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew/sbin:$PATH"
test -r ~/.bash_profile && echo "export PATH='$(brew --prefix)/bin:$(brew --prefix)/sbin'":'"$PATH"' >>~/.bash_profile
echo "export PATH='$(brew --prefix)/bin:$(brew --prefix)/sbin'":'"$PATH"' >>~/.profile

Claims to support julia, but AFAICT that doesn’t work. node.js does, though.

Probably you want all the libraries which are too patent-encumbered or GPL’d to be bundled with your slightly-too-pure distribution. This means codecs and other content-related shit.

brew install libsamplerate libsndfile ffmpeg

Also linuxbrew will install fish, which is hopelessly outdated in e.g. Ubuntu 16.04.

Non-ubuntu-packaged apps

Is this even relevent any more? I lost track of which sandboxed app platform won.

Flatpak, Snaps, AppImages. Others? Here’s one author who mentions all three and gives some (not necessarily deep) intro to each. The explanation of flatpak in particular is vague. I need a better link.


flatpak enables many nice sandboxed apps via flathub and is shiny and gui-friendly, and seems to include update infrastructure.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alexlarsson/flatpak
sudo apt update
sudo apt install flatpak
sudo apt install gnome-software-plugin-flatpak
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub


[Ubuntu explains snaps and how they are used by lots of linuces and this is nice].( is the landing zone for this stuff.


Also there are .AppImage files around. See the site. AFAICT you don’t need to install anything to make this go.

Password manager

How painful is passwordstore? Because it looks like the best one in terms of supporting everything, albeit clunkily.

sudo apt-get install pass

To mention: keybase.

clipboard manager

diodon (ubuntu unity, therefore obsolete) and CopyQ (every desktop) seem most popular.


sudo apt-get install diodon

Or CopyQ:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hluk/copyq
sudo apt update
sudo apt install copyq copyq-plugins

CopyQ Keyboard shortcuts

Zazu offers a clipboard manager

These raise security questions, i.e. in CopyQ there is no way of marking passwords on the clipboard as secret unless they come from certain password apps, and that is quite tedious, and presumes you aren’t using a command-line passowrd manager, or a browser plugin.

See also clipboard managers.

Nice terminal

Hmmm. They are all a bit shit.

If you are worried that your current terminal doesn’t use enough RAM, you can use hyper which is a javascript app version of terminal. It’s not too bad for one of these web technology desktop app things based on electron or similar. It has lots of sexy features and nice graphics, to compensate for the obviously heft RAM usage.

terminator seems to be an acceptable default option for a pure native app without many frills.

There are many more half-arsed options available.

Switching applications, why can’t it be smooth like on a Mac did Apple patent intuitiveness?

One could use a custom launcher, e.g. Zazu.

A fully extensible and open source launcher for hackers, creators and dabblers. It comes with sane defaults to make it useful out of the box. But everything can be changed to fit your needs. Don’t let others tell you the best way to be productive, configure it to be perfect for you.

It’s another fucking electron app, so you can kiss your RAM goodbye.

Desktop could be nicer


For 16.04 this is useful. No longer default in 18.04.

Maybe you are using the keyboard shortcuts wrong? here are some usable ones.

The default OS switcher is configurable

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins

I simply don’t like the default Unity alt-tab application switcher. It may work for a lot of people, but it just slows me down. For me it’s faster to have a single application switcher that cycles through all open windows, possibly within one desktop, but I’m not sure about that. I am really not compatible with the default unity switcher that groups windows, for example terminals, together so when hitting alt-tab you can’t (in an effective way) switch between terminals. Having a different key combo for that slows my brain down. […] Open compizconfig-settings-manager with alt-F2, type ccsm.

Scroll down to “Ubuntu Unity Plugin”. Choose the tab “Switcher”. Disable the alt-tab and shift-alt-tab key bindings. (“Key to start the switcher” and “Key to switch to the previous window in the Switcher”. Click the “Back” button.

Scroll down to the “Window management” section. Here you can select another switcher. I enable the “Static Application Switcher”, resolve any potential conflicts by setting the setting for “Static Application Switcher”. Now you can tweak the switcher by clicking on it. I have changed alt-tab and shift-alt-tab to “Next window (All windows)” and “Prev window (All windows)”.

unity tweak tool does unity-specific tweaks of this kind of nonsense.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freyja-dev/unity-tweak-tool-daily
sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

See also the nifty run-or-raise hack.

Oh wait Unity desktop is over now I need to convert all that tweaking to GNOME

Make GNOME like Unity?

Don’t confuse Windows time/date when dual booting

Windows updates the time not the time zone. Who knew. Linux has to bear the compatibility burden on this bit of arse-backwardsery. Or, life hack: tell your window OS that it is in UTC.

timedatectl set-local-rtc 1 --adjust-system-clock

Possibly also this:

.. code:: shell

hwclock -w --localtime

Fish shell

If Ubuntu 16.04, Either use linuxbrew for an updated shell or use an updated PPA. (in 18.04 no longer needed)

The former: Add /home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew/bin/fish to /etc/shells. Then run

chsh -s /home/linuxbrew/.linuxbrew/bin/fish

The latter:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:fish-shell/release-2
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install fish
chsh -s /usr/bin/fish

Offline documentation

Zeal is not bad.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:zeal-developers/ppa


See comfy razer.

Oh arse I have to do design stuff

Install Scribus

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:scribus/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install scribus-ng

Virtual machines

You want to run virtual machines?? Be aware ubuntu may have special needs wrt config.

virtualbox is OK

wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo add-apt-repository ' contrib'
sudo apt-get install virtualbox virtualbox-ext-pack

Waaaah I miss OSX-style quicklook previews

Gnome Sushi does that

sudo apt-get install gnome-sushi

If only I could temporarily disable lock screen


Mounting that windows partition on login

By default the various disks that you plug in to your machine are visible in the sidebar, but util you click on them they are not actually mounted so you can’t use the files. “Clicking on stuff” is not a satisfactory workflow, especially if you have other scripts which depend on data on your external drive. So fix that.

Userspace mounting is not hard but the command is not at all obvious.

udisksctl mount --block-device /dev/disk/by-uuid/[uuid]

Or perhaps it is the slightly easier

/usr/bin/udisks --mount /dev/[sdc1 or something]

except that this one mounts it in the wrong place because otherwise it would be too useful.

But what is the UUID? Find it using blkid

sudo blkid

or if you are not root

ls /dev/disk/by-uuid

and apply some deduction.

NB: this could be slightly easier for external disks which have a label. Then it’s something like

udisksctl mount --block-device /dev/disk/by-label/[label]


Fiddly on linux. See VPN

Signal desktop

curl -s | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb [arch=amd64] xenial main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/signal-xenial.list
sudo apt update && sudo apt install signal-desktop

My screen never powers off even when laptop is idle

Weird, mine broke too. But no longer. I fixed it using dpms

xset dpms 0 0 600