There aren't a tonne of system tweakers for Linux, but we have to give a shout out to the very useful Ubuntu Tweak. It can change many extra settings in Ubuntu, make applications easy to install for beginners and clean up unnecessary files on your system.
Platform: Ubuntu Price: Free
- View basic system information about your distribution, kernel, CPU, memory and more
- Tweak the session menu and the way Ubuntu handles logout, restart and shutdown
- Choose programs to auto-start at boot
- Quick install popular applications, including those not in the Ubuntu Software centre (and easily add new repositories)
- Clean up unneeded packages or cache to free disk space
- Edit the splash screen, desktop icons, mounted volumes and other visual tweaks
- Tweak certain window manager settings
- Much, much more
Ubuntu Tweak makes it really easy to fix some of the tiny annoyances Ubuntu can have, or just tweak certain things to act the way you like them. What makes it better than, say, the Terminal is not only its ease of use but the fact that you can "browse" through its menus and see if there are any tweaks you might not have thought of. It also makes installing applications super easy (and contains many not available in the Software centre), not to mention it has a few convenient system cleaning features. It's especially fantastic for beginners that don't know much about Linux and just want to fix a few tiny things or install new applications.
Ubuntu Tweak, like any tweaking application, can only do so much. Eventually you'll have to turn to the command line for certain tweaks, and while Ubuntu Tweak is great for beginners, one could argue it hinders them from actually learning how Linux works, which they'll have to do eventually. It also only works on Ubuntu, which is a big downside for users of other distros that don't get quite as much attention.
Ubuntu Tweak doesn't have a lot of competition from what we could find. A program surfaced a year or two ago called Ailurus that really gave Ubuntu Tweak a run for its money, despite its smaller selection of applications. It's available for multiple distros and has additional settings, but it seems to have been abandoned recently — so unless you're a version or more behind on Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, or Arch, it might not work on your system.
The command line is truly the best system tweaker on Ubuntu (though picking that for our App Directory entry would somewhat defeat the purpose). It can tweak anything on your system, as long as you look up how to do it, and the fact of the matter is that with Linux — unlike with Windows and its complicated registry — it's almost impossible to use without learning the more advanced ins and outs. So, while something like Ubuntu Tweak might get you by at the beginning, don't be afraid of turning to the command line when Ubuntu Tweak falls short.
Know of any Linux tweaking apps we missed? Let us know about them in the comments.
Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.