Fixing some Ubuntu 9.04 annoyances

Ubuntu 9.04 is turning out to be a great upgrade from Ibex (unless you have Intel graphics) but there are some minor annoyances that need tweaking imho.

1. Enable “ctrl+alt+backspace ” to reset X.

For some reason that great, well know shortcut has been disabled. Apparently people were pressing it by accident. I know …

It’s been replaced by “alt gr + SysRq (print screen) + K”, which is a bad short cut in my eyes.

Open up xorg.conf and add this to the bottom of the document:

Section “ServerFlags”

Option “DontZap” “false”


Opening xorg.conf -> gksudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

xorg.conf open in Gedit

xorg.conf open in Gedit

This will only take affect on the next login or restart of the machine.

2. Restore normal Update Manager behaviour.

You no longer have an icon telling you there are update available in the notification area of the top panel.

Update manager will now just pop up once a week to inform you about the updates.

Again a bad idea in my opinion, but the boys and girls over at Canonical know best I guess.

Press “alt+f2” to summon the “run application” and enter:


Navigate to “apps -> update-notifier” and untag the box next to “auto-launch”.

Normal Update Manager behaviour!

Normal Update Manager behaviour!

3.  Fix the tooltip annoyance

When using the Workspace Switcher applet, tooltips might stay up until you press them.

It’s easy to fix using gconf-editor.

Press “alt+f2” to summon the “run application” and enter:


Navigate to “apps -> panel -> global” and untag the box next to “tooltips_enabled”.

This should have been done by default, Canonical.

This should have been done by default, Canonical.

4. Low sound volume

Loads of people on have complained about their sound not being maxed out.

Well this has been the case in every Ubuntu release (for me at least).

In a terminal enter:


and start maxing things out.

Ncurses interfaces, love 'em or hate 'em.

Ncurses interfaces, love 'em or hate 'em.

Have any more to add? Drop a line in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

    • Geochelone
    • April 28th, 2009

    I agree with you on that 2nd annoyance. Red update notification arrow is two folds nicer than new pop up dialog.

    It’s like having ads on desktop. Very distracting.

    Thanks for the tips 🙂

    • Dim
    • April 28th, 2009

    Why AlsaMixer in Terminal? Just use Gnome’s Volume Control, it has “Preferences” button allowing you to add more tracks to configure.

    • linuxowns
    • April 28th, 2009

    @ Dim:

    It’s easier to explain and works with other window managers as well.

  1. I’ve been mulling over whether I really want to upgrade to 9.04 for a few days now. I’m a relative newbie to Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular, and I’m concerned about losing applications, configurations or possibly even files if I do this. Besides the tweaks you mention above (excellent, btw), what are some basic issues I should expect in upgrading?

    • linuxowns
    • April 28th, 2009

    @ Adam G.:

    Update can leave you with an unstable system afterwards.

    I’m not saying it will do so, but there is a possibility.

    That is why I always do clean installs.

    Back up your data and try the upgrade, Ubuntu 9.04 is better than Ubuntu 8.10 on many levels.

    Upgrading Ubuntu to 9.04 should leave all your applications and configurations intact.

    But I can’t stress enough that you need to backup your data before doing so, in case something does go wrong.

    Remember that you won’t be able to enjoy Ubuntu 9.04 improved startup speed that much as you can’t use EXT4 when upgrading from Ubuntu 8.10.

    If you have Intel Graphics, you will have a problem with Ubuntu 9.04 (

  2. Do you know how to go about disabling those new notifications completely? Like Geochelone said, they are extremely distracting.

    • Bill Goldberg
    • April 28th, 2009

    @ Rob:

    Paste this in a terminal:

    sudo mv /usr/share/dbus-1/services/org.freedesktop.Notifications.service /usr/share/dbus-1/services/org.freedesktop.Notifications.service.disabled

    • Bill Goldberg
    • April 28th, 2009

    @ Rob:

    Restart is needed for it to take effect.

  3. thank you much =)

  4. Excellent post, thanks!

  5. Thanks!

  6. Thanks a lot for this post, it’ll help me a lot when I install Jaunty Jackalope!

  7. The first tip about Ctrl+Alt+Delete doesn’t work on my Ubuntu 9.04 machine. When I restart/log out, I just get an Xorg error and it goes back to default.

      • Andy
      • May 12th, 2009

      that’s because ctrl+alt+delete is windows, you should be using ctrl+alt+backspace my friend.

    • Mori
    • May 17th, 2009

    thanks for your great post!
    i have Dell Vostro 1310,i have problem with network manger!my wireless doesnt work!!!
    network cable is pluged but no IP!when i click on connection information, i get this message:
    No valid action connections found!
    but i have an ADSL connection,working!
    there is a little problem with my connection,every time i restart my Laptop, i have to configure my ADSL connection to work.

      • tty1
      • May 21st, 2009

      I installed sth like backports-drivers (sorry Im not by my ubuntu computer now) and that fixed an issue I had with the wifi not starting properly (intel one)

  8. Dude, Thanks a bunch for the “Low sound volume” fix!
    Man, I just have this lil ol custom config pc with Win7 64 & 9.04 64 on a dual boot (I dig it) and I’ve been trying to get to alsa. now Win7 & 9.04 are audio out level.
    Is bueno.

    ; > }

    • Mike
    • October 9th, 2009

    Does alt+sysrq+k do exactly the same thing that ctrl+alt+backspace used to?

    According to , alt+sysrq+k kills _all_ processes on the current virtual console.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought ctrl+alt+backspace just killed X.

    (Very helpful tips, btw, especially #2!)

    • Jason
    • June 1st, 2010

    Thank you for your tips! I recently upgraded to 10.04 from 8.04 and these all still apply. I posted to the Ubuntu forum regarding the update-notifier and searched the whole forum as well, but I did not find a solution. I thought the ‘auto-launch’ meant that the notifier on the top panel would automatically launch, not the whole update manager.

    Here’s another one for 10.04 if you’re annoyed with the movement of the title bar buttons to the left side:
    # move to right side:
    gconftool-2 –set “/apps/metacity/general/button_layout” –type string “:minimize,maximize,close”
    # left side (default in Ubuntu 10.04):
    gconftool-2 –set “/apps/metacity/general/button_layout” –type string “maximize,minimize,close:”

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