Second monitors that are connected to a machine with already one or more monitors installed are often set to serve as extensions of your desktop by default. In some cases, e.g. if your second monitor is a television and you want to watch a movie running on your computer, it might be helpful if your second monitor duplicates what's running on your first.
To accomplish this is really easy on Windows 7 and 8: Just right-click your desktop and select Screen resolution. If you connected both screens to your machine already, these are the options you'll see:
Under Multiple displays, select Duplicate these displays from the dropdown menu and click OK afterwards
One of the most unnecessary things that Windows 8 brings to desktop computers might be the lock screen you need to wipe away every time you start your machine - luckily it's also one of the things you can disable.
To do so, open the Local Group Policy Editor (as shown here).
Browse the left pane for Computer Configuration > Administrative Tools > Control Panel > Personalization and double-click Do not display the lock screen on the right pane. Enable the setting and confirm by clicking Ok!
Just as in Windows you have the option to rotate your screen into any direction in Linux, too. While in Windows you only need to press some keys, a key combination is not configured in Linux by default. But as you may have figured out, there are some terminal commands that let you do the exact same thing (you can configure shortcuts for these manually later on).
First, you need to find out how the screen that you want to rotate is labeled - to do that, use the following command:
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1366 x 768, maximum 8192 x 8192
LVDS1 connected 1366x768+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 344mm x 194mm
1360x768 59.8 60.0
800x600 60.3 56.2
VGA2 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
HDMI2 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
DP1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
You will get a list of connected monitors - I have only one here which is labeled LVDS1, it says connected next to the name. Determine the one that you want to rotate here. Next, we want to turn it around. For that, we use one of the following commands:
xrandr --output LVDS1 --rotate right
xrandr --output LVDS1 --rotate left
xrandr --output LVDS1 --rotate inverted
xrandr --output LVDS1 --rotate normal
Replace LVDS1 with your monitor label in the above commands and you'll be able to rotate the screen to your likings! This is especially helpful if you need to go through documents and can turn your physical monitor around.
In the age of widescreens, Windows offers a really helpful function for viewing documents, or just play pranks on your friends. With a simple key-combination, you can rotate your screen into any direction - flip it upside-down, or lay it on the side:
To rotate the screen, press Ctrl + Alt + Arrow key. The arrow you press determines what direction the screen will be turned. This feature is useful especially if you can set your screen resolution to fill the screen while it lies on the side - flip your monitor on the side afterwards and you've got the perfect size and resolution for viewing documents.
Screen brightness is an attribute that is reset automatically upon rebooting your machine on Ubuntu and all its fellow distributions. Lucky you if you find the settings okay, but on notebooks and similar machines, you might want to lower the brightness, you it doesn't suck your batteries dry.
To do that, open the following file as root via terminal:
sudo gedit /etc/rc.local
In there, enter the following line somewhere before the very last one that says "exit 0":
echo 0 > /sys/class/backlight/acpi_video0/brightness
0 is the lowest brightness setting. You can adjust it to your likings!
Ubuntu's login manager, lightdm, offers a guest login option by default.
Most of you won't use it anyway, so why keep it at all? You can disable that entry in the lightdm configuration file, which is /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf. Open it from a terminal using
sudo gedit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
At the bottom of the file, insert following line:
Afterwards, restart your machine and the guest login option will be gone. To bring it back, just erase the line again or set it to true.
Apart from the usual Bookmarks and Bookmarks Toolbar, the SpeedDial screen introduced a great visual option for quick access to your most commonly used websites. It currently is the main new-window-replacement on the Opera browser and can be downloaded as an add-on for Firefox.
It can be downloaded on the Mozilla Firefox add-on page here: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/speed-dial/
The screen is highly configurable in terms of when to show up, which actions to perform on click and keyboard input, largeness of panels, number of panels etc. You can also put them together to groups which are then displayed as tabs in a seperate group bar.
If you want to make your Ubuntu installation a little less purple and orange, but don't see a solution that covers the change of log-in screen background picture change, try Simple Lightdm Manager. It is a tool that lets you turn the log-in screen into any image you have on your computer. To install, open a terminal and enter the following commands (adding repository, updating sources, installation):
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:claudiocn/slm
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install simple-lightdm-manager
Afterwards open SLM and browse for an image you want to use:
Additionally you can alter the logo that is displayed on the log-in screen's bottom left corner.
Be aware though, that this does not work with images which are located in encrypted file systems!
While you needed third-party software on Windows XP to change nearly everything but your wallpaper, Windows 7 has made things quite a lot easier. To change your login screen, just create the following two folders:
Then open the Windows registry by typing regedit into a Run... prompt and browse the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background key on the left panel. Click it once and change the value of OEMBackground on the right panel to 1 (if the value is not already present, right-click the right panel and select New > DWORD-Value (32 bit)).
Afterwards choose a picture you want to have as your new login screen. It must be in the .jpg format and its size must be under 256 KB. Copy the picture into the created backgrounds folder and rename it to backgroundDefault.jpg.
Your login screen will now have changed upon your next log-off.
To boot your Windows machine faster, it is possible to disable the graphical user interface used during system start-up (the Windows logo loading screen). To accomplish that, hit Windows key + R on your desktop to call a Run prompt and enter msconfig. On the appearing window, go to the Boot tab and activate the No GUI boot checkbox. Hit Apply and/or OK and reboot the machine afterwards for the changes to take effect.