Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 18:26

This article gives recommendations for beginners and first-timers to do after installing Kubuntu 17.10. This including short introduction to Kubuntu built-in apps, recommended apps and browser add-ons, common shortcut keys, and where to get help/documentation from inside Kubuntu. I hope this article helps anyone to get friendly and easy to use Kubuntu. Enjoy!

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What for What

Here’s a list for you to know what application for what purpose in Kubuntu:

  • Gwenview: to view pictures
  • Brasero: to burn CD and DVD
  • Dolphin: to explore files and folders
  • Kate: to write text file
  • KSysGuard: to show CPU and RAM usage
  • LibreOffice: to produce documents
  • Writer: word processor
  • Calc: spreadsheet
  • Impress: presentation
  • Discover: to install apps
  • Okular: to read PDF
  • KTorrent: to download torrent
  • Akregator: to read news from many sources
  • Konversation: to chat in IRC
  • KRDC: to remote another desktop computer
  • KDE Partition Manager: to create and resize partitions
  • System Settings: your “control panel”

1. Activate Touchpad Tap-to-Click

Kubuntu doesn't activate tap-to-click by default. To activate it: go to System Settings > Input Devices > Touchpad > make it blue "Mouse Click Emulation" > Apply.

To enable your touchpad ability

2. Add Shortcuts: Win+E for Dolphin, Ctrl+Alt+T for Konsole

Just recognize that 'Win' key is called 'Meta' key in Kubuntu. Sometimes it's also called 'Super' key. To add new shortcuts: go to System Settings > Shortcuts > follow examples below.

Win+E to open Dolphin File Manager.

Press Edit > New > Global > Command > add key at 'Trigger' tab > add command at 'Action' tab

Win+D to show desktop.

See Global Shortcut > KWin > edit the "Show Desktop" entry.

Ctrl+Alt+T to run Konsole terminal.

Enter the key 'Ctrl+Alt+T' at Trigger tab and enter 'konsole' command at Action tab

3. Put Your Apps on Desktop

Just like in MS Windows and Apple macOS, you can put your favorite app icons on desktop. Go to menu > find one app > drag the icon > drop it on desktop > select "Link Here" > done!

Icons can be placed on desktop

4. Change File Sorting Preferences

Go to Dolphin File Manager > press triple-line button > Sort By > Modification Date > Descending > done! This kind of sorting shows newest files at top and very efficient for most users.

Setting up the sorting in Dolphin

5. Change Language 

If you want to change language for time formats, as well as numeric and currency, go to System Settings > Regional Settings > Formats > change anything you want there.

Changing the language of "measurement units"

6. Using Cantata Player

Cantata (or specifically Cantata/MPD) is an audio player included in Kubuntu 17.10 to replace Amarok. You need to configure it before using it:

  • Run Cantata
  • Choose “Basic” from two choices
  • Press Next until Finish button (let the choices be default)
  • Now copy your MP3 and OGG files to your “Music” folder
  • Back to Cantata
  • Go to menu Music > Refresh Database > Refresh
  • You get all audio displayed on Cantata
Cantata: choose "Basic" setup

7. Alternative Audio Player

Use Amarok Audio Player instead if you find Cantata is not easy for you. If you like drag-n-drop MP3 files to player window, like in Winamp, Amarok suits you better than Cantata. It’s a legendary player also from KDE that predates Cantata. To install it:
$ sudo apt-get install amarok

Amarok playing OGG audio files

8. Configure KMail for Your Email

KMail is the default email client in Kubuntu. To setup it to read Gmail, we have KMail step-by-step tutorials for Gmail IMAP mode and Gmail POP3 mode.

KMail reading email from Gmail IMAP mode

9. Install Recommended Firefox Addons

Here are my recommendation for you:

  • uBlock Origin: to block ads, efficient to memory.
  • Disconnect: to block all trackers that are dangerous for you, save your bandwidth by cutting all unnecessary connections in every website.
  • Search Link Fix: give you the real URL when right-clicking > Copy Link Location in Google Search. So you don't have to 'Open In New Tab' first each time. No trash URL anymore.
  • HTTPS Everywhere: to force all connections to all websites and in all components in each of them to use HTTPS. So, if you visit CNN (the visible thing) your main connection to CNN will be secured using HTTPS and also every components inside CNN web (the invisible things) will also be secured.
  • Image Block: simply block all images before being downloaded, save you bandwidth a lot.
  • DownThemAll!: a download manager with resume and acceleration features.
Examples of best add-ons installed

10. Install Recommended Apps

We have recommendation for you here. For short, three among them are:

  • Synaptic: you can search for apps and games, install-remove-upgrade them with detailed info + progress bar so it's far more easier to troubleshoot later (Plasma Discover doesn't give you that).
  • Emacs: the text editor that is super-multipurpose, you can use it to produce elegant documents (article, web pages, PDF ebook, PDF presentation) and also programming in any language.
  • Persepolis Download Manager (PDM): to replace Internet Download Manager. I recommend you to integrate it with FlashGot add-on in Firefox.

11. Subscribe Your Favorite RSS in Akregator

You can subscribe to UbuntuBuzz latest posts, also many other website's posts (e.g. news, podcast, tutorial, etc.), by having the RSS feed address. We have a collection of a hundred RSS addresses of GNU/Linux websites here. What you need to do is only copy a URL and paste it to Akregator. Then you are subscribed to the latest posts!

Akregator collecting many news (left) and showing the news (center, bottom)

12. Manage Your Schedules in KOrganizer

We have the tutorials to sync KOrganizer with online calendar and Google Calendar. The online service is very useful when you have many OSes or computers so changing a schedule in one computer will change same schedule in all computers. If you don't use online service, then offline scheduling is also supported by KOrganizer. Personally, this is my favorite program that is very useful and I hope you'll find it useful too.

KOrganizer showing my schedule for one month

13. Use Dark Desktop Theme

Go to System Settings > Workspace Theme > Look and Feel > choose "Breeze Dark" > Apply. Many users prefer dark theme (perhaps you too?) and you'll find it's beautiful in Kubuntu.

Kubuntu with dark theme

14. Reduce Eye Strain from Screen

You may feel hurt in your eyes while looking at monitor in a long duration. Reduce that eye strain by using Redshift program. Read more about this awesome program here. To install it:
$ sudo apt-get install redshift plasma-applet-redshift plasma-applet-redshift-control

Bonus: Need Help?

Go to menu > type "help" > run Help. Here you can find everything you need to know in Kubuntu desktop. For example, you can read documentations about Dolphin, KMail, KTorrent, and another KDE Applications; you can also read manuals of command lines such as cp, ls, mv, etc.

The Help helps you when you need

Bonus: Common Shortcut Keys

Here are some keys useful for daily life in Kubuntu.

Super (or, Win key)
Open menu.

Switch between running apps.

Close current app.

Show multifunction box. Find apps, run any app, calculate numbers, even convert currencies.

Show help.


Split vertically (Dolphin).