Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus - Features, Upgrade and 20 Things to Do

Today, April 13, 2017 a new final version of Ubuntu 17.04 released by Canonical Ltd named as Zesty Zapus. Ubuntu releases continue with well know naming scheme of adjective and an animal starting with the same alphabet letter. We are at letter Z now and the name of Ubuntu 17.04 is Zesty Zapus. Animal named Zapus is a North American jumping mouse.

New Features in Ubuntu 17.04 release

  • Driverless printing. In this release, Common Unix Printing System does not require drivers for printing. Automatic detection is present on all printers, but if you have HP printer and scanner All-In-one, it is recommended to install driver anyway, because it won't scan without driver
  • Support for AMD Ryzen and Intel Kaby Lake. If you have newest processors, the Linux 4.10 kernel is included and supports them.
  • Swap partition in the default install is replaced by swap file. Now installer automatically makes a swap file in / partition.
  • Upgraded programs in base install including LibreOffice 5.3, GNOME applications bumped to version 3.24, except terminal and Nautilus which will stay at 3.20 and Software which is 3.22 for the time being.
  • Unity 8, the Canonical's next-gen desktop environment based on Mir display server is not default choice, but it is shipped and available to select in login screen. Maybe for the last time, as it is getting replaced by GNOME in the future.
  • For servers and workstations, there are handy Virtualization Technology improvements, namely QEMU is bumped to version 2.8 and libvirt is now version 2.5
  • For gamer audience, X server is updated to version 1.19.3 and Mesa 17.0.2.  This brings improved performance with Intel and AMD open source graphics driver, which come included. No need for install. Proprietary NVIDIA driver is as usual available.

How to upgrade

This is non LTS release, which means that it won't be supported as long as those releases that come out every two years. Like for example 14.04 and 16.04. So if don't upgrade often, you might want to opt to skip this release. If you are ok upgrading every six months, read on, here is how you upgrade. The first option would be to upgrade over the internet

  • Open the "Software & Updates" Setting in System Settings.
  • Select the 3rd Tab called "Updates".
  • Set the "Notify me of a new Ubuntu version" drop down menu to "For any new version".
  • Press Alt+F2 and type in "update-manager -d" (without the quotes) into the command box.
  • Update Manager should open up and tell you: New distribution release '17.04' is available.
    • If not you can also use "/usr/lib/ubuntu-release-upgrader/check-new-release-gtk"
  • Click Upgrade and follow the on-screen instructions.

The upgrade should take some time and after it, you should restart the computer and you are good to go.

If you decide you want to upgrade by wiping the hard drive and reinstalling using ubuntu 17.04 iso image, you can do that as well. We won't walk trough the entire install process, because nothing changed compared to the previous version. Nothing other than lack of need to create swap partition. Swap file gets created automatically, and here is how it looks on

swapon -s
Filename				Type		Size	Used	Priority
/swapfile                              	file    	969960	149120	-1

Swap file is, as you see, about the same size as RAM.

Note : Swap file is created only for new fresh installation. If you upgrade you need to keep your existing swap partition.

20 Things to do after fresh install

1. Doing the update

When installing OS fresh, you always need to install additional software to make your computer fully usable. Since every release of Ubuntu is somewhat different in this regard, we will have a rundown of most useful software you can install right away. First thing to do is to update

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

If you want to do an update from desktop not from the command line, so open "Softwares and Updates". You can also configure when your system must check updates, versions of Ubuntu (LTS or not) which must be notified

2. SSH server

Next in a row would be openssh-server.

sudo apt install openssh-server

This will enable you to have ssh connection from other computers, something that Canonical does not enable by default for security reasons.

3. Restricted extras

Next thing you would need is MS core fonts, libav codecs, unrar utility. This all is included in package called ubuntu-restricted extras.

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras

4. Java

You would probably need java as well so you can install OpenJDK with the following command.

sudo apt install openjdk-8-jdk

5. Content creation and engineering

To make your computer useful for content creating and/or engineering, you can install following packages.

sudo apt install kdenlive freecad librecad blender inkscape

6. Moving the launcher to bottom

Default desktop is still Unity 7. It is nice enough, but you might want to make it more useful to your specific needs. You might used to having the dash at the bottom rather than on left side, so let's first start from that. This command will move the launcher to the bottom.

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

If you change your mind and want it back on the left, this command will put it back

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Left

7. Installing Google Chrome

Next, you might want to have Google proprietary browser, Google Chrome. First, add the repository:

wget -q -O - https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub | sudo apt-key add - 
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64] http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-chrome.list'

Then install package

sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

8. Maintenance tool

If you want to simplify the tasks of deleting your browser cache, cleaning up broken packages and similar maintenance tasks, you can install bleachbit package.

sudo apt install bleachbit

9. A better mail client

To install Geary, a better mail client than one that ships with Ubuntu, use the following command

sudo apt install geary

10. Firewall GUI

Ubuntu comes with ufw, which is simple command line interface for netfilter framework. It is simple enough but you have to use the command line. If you want GUI, there is gufw, which we can install in a moment. It requires netstat to work properly, which is part of net-tools package.

sudo apt install gufw net-tools

11. Tweak Tool

To easily do more tweaks, you can install Tweak Tool.

sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

12. Cloud storage

These days cloud storage is all the rage. Google Drive does not provide linux client, instead you can use web interface. But Dropbox provides very good client and here is where you can get it. Install is straightforward whether you opt for headless install in command line or you download the deb and install it with GUI.

13. Synaptic

Moving over, we will add one more thing to install, and that is synaptic. Ubuntu Software (the rebrand of GNOME Software) is good for installing big programs, but if you search for little package or a library, you won't find it there. Synaptic is where you find it, and you can install Synaptic with the following command

sudo apt install synaptic

14. Popular messaging programs

To make you connected with your coworkers, friends and family, you probably need several different messaging programs. Skype, Viber and Telegram all have Ubuntu packages available and easily installed.

15. Battery monitor

If you are using laptop, you would want better battery indicator

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:maateen/battery-monitor -y
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install battery-monitor -y

16. The best movie program, VLC

You are probably used too VLC for watching videos. Ubuntu does not ship ot by default but it is easy to install it

sudo apt install vlc

17. Adding Canonical partner repository

To add Canonical partner repository, where you can find more useful programs, execute this sed command

 sed -i.bak "/^# deb .*partner/ s/^# //" /etc/apt/sources.list && apt-get update

If you want to add it with GUI, look follow those two screenshots:

18. Change the default applications

After installing your own applications like vlc, geary, google chrome, it is possible to use them as the defaults applications to open respectively the associated contents.

To configure it: Systems setting (All Settings) --> Details --> Default Applications

19. Lock the terminal to the launcher

It can be useful to lock the terminal to the launcher in order to use it easily if you don't remember the key shortcut to launch it. To do it, launch the terminal by a search on the dashboard, do a right click on the icon of the terminal to the dashboard and select "Lock to Launcher"

20. Enable workspaces and show desktop icon to the launcher

In Ubuntu and Linux in general, you have the possibility to have some workspaces. It is like virtual desktop that you launch to run an application independently. It is also a solution which can help you to best organize your activities without confusing; for example, you launch firefox on the workspace 1 while you are running jhipster on workspace 2 and you are playing a fun game like chromium-bsu on workspace 3. You can have a direct view of all the applications launched in each workspace. With desktop icon to the launcher, you can switch directly to Desktop from the current application or window.

Go to System Settings --> Appearence --> Behavior

Look the result

You can use combination "Ctrl + alt + directional keys" to switch workspaces.


So we have introduced the newest Ubuntu 17.04 Zesty Zapus. If you expected revolution and Unity 8 by default, you might be disappointed, especially with latest news, that Unity is getting shelved altogether in favor GNOME. But in as it is Zesty is a rock solid release with a decent amount of new features. I have updated all my Ubuntu machines to Zesty by the time it was beta, and there were no big showstopper bugs. Unity 8 and Mir are more useful as well, although not yet ready for production. Unity 8 remain most touchscreen friendly desktop environment for GNU/Linux. With that we close this review, thank you for attention and have a nice day.

About Mihajlo Milenovic

Miki is a long time GNU/Linux user, Free Software advocate and a freelance system administrator from Serbia. Got introduced to GNU/Linux in year 2003 on old AMD Duron computer, and since than always eager to learn new stuff about this system. From 2016 writes for Linoxide to share his experiences with wider audience

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