Updated: August 25, 2011
I added the word humor in the article title so you won't get angry after coming here, expecting seemingly good tips on tweaking your Ubuntu installation and discovering that this article does not offer seemingly good tips on tweaking your Ubuntu installation. What it does is it offers superb tips. Only they have nothing to do with Ubuntu.
Oftentimes, you come across articles suggesting tweaks and fixes and cools things that ought to be done after your successfully install Ubuntu. They are almost always related to software at hand, but with no strategy, and they are always personal. In other words, most of these articles should read: ten things I do after installing Ubuntu. Well, I'm going to break the monotony today and do something radically different. I'm going to be funny and helpful using a popular and populistic topic to delight the crowds. Ubuntu it is, helpful tips it is, funny style.
Thing 1: Take a short break
You've just spent some fifteen minutes starting at the slideshow and waiting for language packs to be downloaded and installed. That's such a laborious task. You ought to take a break, maybe grab a cup of coffee or do some yoga.
Thing 2: Bootchart your boot times
No fanboi is complete enough without a chart showing how quickly his hardware boots his favorite operating system. Be prepared to lament about the microsecond delay between plymouthd and dartmouthd. Then, spend nine days complaining in forums and flashing your BIOS trying to solve some inherent failure by design in hardware, software and both.
Thing 3: Checklist
You have skeletons in your closet, you carry baggage from your past, you have a checklist of things that annoyed you in the previous release of Ubuntu. Now, it's time to make sure those bugs are gone. If not, open a bugzilla item for each one, disregard duplicate bug suggestions, implore for a fix to something the developers are clearly ignoring. Make sure you get annoyed enough so your entire day is ruined.
Thing 4: Go to the forum
Wake up the next day feeling buoyant and cheerful. Forget the little bug from yesterday until you actually need to face it in a real-use situation. Head over to Ubuntu forums and post about your success. Make sure to point out all your good and bad observations in a single paragraph, so that people reading your post have a clear understanding of what Ubuntu offers. While you're there, take the experience poll. Marvel why 17.6% always find the latest version sucky, no matter the major and minor number increments.
Thing 5: Update system
Power up the Update Manager, let it work. Reboot. Complain about GRUB2 now listing two different kernels and two different failsafe entries, written in uname format rather than human language. At this moment, you contemplate about trying all kinds of speed tweaks that ought to pimp up your bootchart, but decide against it. Still too early to ruin the bootloader.
Thing 6: Try to configure your extra hardware
There's a printer to be installed. And there's the digital camera you want to try. Plug them in and shout with glee when things work as expected. Get sober when you realize that nothing ought to break between consecutive releases.
Thing 7: Check suspend & resume
You're brave enough to do that now. Close the laptop lid. Suffer a moment of panic when you remember you left Firefox open with all those non-bookmarked tabs, how are you going to find them if the system does not come up properly. Will there be any vital signs?
Make a winning gesture when the desktop session resumes without a hitch. Grumble with disgust if it does not, go back to forums, complain, consider alternatives. If you have an Nvidia card and it works well, make sure to gloat over anyone with an ATI card. If you have an Nvidia card and it does not work well, sit patiently and wait for the next update before getting really annoyed. If you have an ATI card and it works, bless your good luck. If you have an ATI card and it does not work, switch to Nvidia, see above.
Thing 8: Audio
Time to see whether your HD audio thing works as expected. Open the Audio preferences menu and stare stupidly at various bars and levels that mean nothing to nobody. If your sound volume goes from ultra quiet to sonic boom, you're all set. Now, this last sentence ain't my invention, credits go to LHB.
Thing 9: Spend an afternoon fighting Flash
Flash is your best friend and your worst enemy. If you're running a 64-bit version of Ubuntu, make sure you spoil your mood reading blogs that complain about Flash really being only alpha or beta quality for Linux and how those dreadful security vulnerabilities have not yet been fixed, so you're exposed like a little lamb.
If you're running a 32-bit version, complain about bugs that don't exist in the 64-bit version. If the playback is choppy, go back to forums and blast about Adobe, graphics cards and everything else.
Thing 10: Install something else
You're on the roll, exploring Linux. So why not grab another distro and have a go? You don't necessarily have to replace the existing installation, just partition that disk like mad and start heaping them up.
On a serious note ...
All right, here's what you need to do, in a nutshell. Update your system to the max. Install the programs you want or need. Tweak the layout. Once you're satisfied, create a full system image, so you have a clean baseline. Alternatively, use remastersys.
Fonts might also be important, especially if you use non-English but have opted for an English installation. Microsoft fonts might be something you want. If you're into using Windows software on top of your Ubuntu, consider using Wine and/or virtualization.
Security is less critical, but a firewall might be in order. Going back to basic, the most important thing is your data, and it has nothing to do with Ubuntu. In second place, image your system to protect against human errors and mechanical failures, which will ultimately, inevitably happen. And that would be all.
There's nothing you need TO DO after installing a new Linux distribution. Ubuntu, as well as many of its counterparts, offer a complete common experience, with a very decent set of programs, tools, drivers, and aesthetics. In recent Ubuntu versions, you get to install codecs and updates while installing, so there's even less fuss. A handful of useful applications has been removed from the default installation, like GIMP, but then, it's not meant for everyone out there. Regressions must never happen, but then again, this applies to every distro out there.
The only non-personal advice I can give you about your Ubuntu is to make sure your data is backed up, your system imaged and your hardware works up to its price tag. Other than that, it's a mishmash of I want and I need and I like. There you go, borderline black humor laced with true help. Jolly good.