7. Set Up Hardware Devices And Storage
Now's the time to plug in those scanners, printers, cameras and external drives. It's best if you do this after adding any available updates, since some of those changes may need to be present for hardware devices to be recognized and to work correctly. Also note that some devices, like scanners, don't trigger any visible behavior when plugged in. Try putting the device to use as you plug each one in -- e.g., for scanners, fire up Xsane and see if you can acquire an image from the scanner.
You can also use this time to set up mount points for non-Ubuntu drives, such as Windows NTFS partitions. To do this, simply go to Places | Computer, right-click on the drive in question, select Mount, and check "Remember authorization" to allow the mount to be persistent across sessions.
8. Add Multimedia Codecs
Odds are if you have a music collection on your PC, it'll be in .MP3 or some other non-free-as-in-speech format. The bad news: Ubuntu doesn't play these formats by default, as a way to avoid potential patent-licensing issues. The good news: If you attempt to play such a file, you'll be automatically guided towards which packages to add to Ubuntu to enable playback.
Depending on where you live and what your local laws are like regarding the use of certain codecs, you might be best off simply paying for a commercial codec package, which yields the best results and indemnifies you from any possible legal entanglements.
9. Set Up Indexing And Search
Having all your documents in one place is no good if they're all in one big undifferentiated pile. By default Ubuntu's indexed search system will trawl through all the files in your user directory -- which should include files imported from your earlier Windows installation, if you migrated from one. Keep in mind that not all file types are indexed, but the most commonly used ones should be. By default, Ubuntu 8.10 uses the Tracker search system, but others (like Beagle) are also available if you happen to have a preference.
10. Customize Look & Feel and Fonts
Don't like Ubuntu's stock look? Bend it, shape it, any way you want it. Right-click on the desktop to change the background image, the default fonts for menus and applications, the color choices, and window look-and-feel. Adding your own fonts isn't hard: just copy them to the folder /usr/share/fonts . If you don't have a spare Windows installation you can snag fonts from, Ubuntu does supply a package called "Ubuntu restricted extras", which includes (among other things) the Microsoft Web fonts package that can be freely redistributed.
11. Customize Key Layouts
Many of Ubuntu's most convenient desktop features -- like switching between multiple desktops, or using Expos-style window meta-views -- are available through keyboard shortcuts. If you're not comfortable with the defaults, or you just want to explore what's available and how to get to it, go to System | Preferences | Keyboard Shortcuts to see what's already assigned, and change them if you so choose. Example: Windows users may want to assign the Winkey to the "Show the panel menu" action, so that hitting the Winkey brings up the main Ubuntu menu.
12. Spread The Love
And now that you've finished setting up Ubuntu on your own machine, help someone else make the jump, too. Burn them a CD -- or, better yet, if their machine supports booting from USB, use the utility in System | Administration | Create A USB Startup Disk to build a bootable USB version of Ubuntu on a flash drive. This can be used to run Ubuntu as a live filesystem, or as an installer. Note that you'll need an actual CD image of Ubuntu to build the USB image, and if you use a CD/DVD built from an earlier beta image of 8.10, you might run into this problem. Use the 8.10 production ISO or later.