How Does Ubuntu Linux Look and Feel?




Resources for the Washington DC area    


You may have heard about Linux from time to time, but never had a chance to use it. Here's a look at what some of the commonly used features look like in Ubuntu 9.04. Ubuntu is probably the best bet for the new Linux user. It's pretty easy to use, stable and quite secure. It can be easily installed on a computer with Windows on it, and have either Windows or Ubuntu available to the user. The easiest way to install it is using the Wubi installer (W for Windows, ub for Ubuntu, i for installer). Wubi lets you install Ubuntu like a regular Windows program. It can be uninstalled if you don't like it or want to free up space on your hard drive; Wubi takes a few gigabytes of hard drive space, at a minimum.


There are several browsers available, and lots of networking tools, particularly for wireless connectivity.


There's lots of free games available.


If you click on "System" then "Preferences", you'll find a lot of settings like you'd find in Windows Control Panel.


 Under "Administration" you'll find "Update Manager", similar to Windows Update.


If you have a computer with just Ubuntu on it, you can install Windows in what's called a virtual machine. Both operating systems would be running at the same time.


This is one you'll want to try out. Add/Remove Applications lets you access thousands of free programs. The default when Ubuntu is installed is to only look for a limited set of programs that conform to very strict standards of licensing. For instance, Adobe does not release their Flash player under the same licensing terms as a lot of the open source software like you commonly find in the world of Linux. If you set the drop down menu at the top to "All open source applications", you'll be able to download more programs. you want to be careful in doing this to avoid any software with security problems. but if you stick to very popular applications that you are familiar with, you should be OK. This feature is supposed to be replaced by a different package to install new software in version 9.10.


If your graphics card has enough memory in it, you can turn on enhanced visual effects.


You can simply turn on an all in one setting like
"Extra" in the "Appearance Preferences" window, or you can fine turn settings if you like.


Ubuntu is extremely secure as it comes when first installed (as long as you install all of the security updates). But a firewall called Firestarter is available. You'll need to be sure to top to click "All Open Source Applications" in the Add/Remove Applications window to see Firestarter listed.


If you are a super geek, you will love all the details about a laptop's battery that you can see.


This menu lets you change what starts up when the computer starts. You should be careful using this. But if your computer is older and runs slow, it can be helpful to turn off things you don't need, like Bluetooth and printing.


One thing that can be confusing in Linux is that there are often more than one way to do things. That's actually true about Windows. Synaptic is another way to install new software. A general rule in Linux is that if one package manager is running, and you start another one, the second one can't work at the same time. So if you ever get a warning like that, try closing Synaptic, Update manager or Add/Remove Applications to "unlock" the database.


Update Manager keeps your PC running safe and secure. Make sure you download all of the packages that say they are security related. It's also a good idea to update other packages because they often contain bug fixes to help keep your PC running more stably.


This is sort of the tip of the iceberg, it's a look at a lot of the common things you should be aware of. But there's so much more available if you want to learn about Linux, programming or just try out a ton of cool software. have fun.



























Helpful Windows shortcuts:

F11 - toggles between a normal window and full screen; works on most browsers.

hold "alt" key then press "tab" - toggles between windows. You can continue holding the alt key and repeatedly press tab key to get to the window you want.

F1 "Help window" for the program you're using

"alt" + "print screen" or "ctrl" + "print screen" will do a screen capture. It captures an image of either everything on your computer monitor or the active window. You can then paste it into a program like Front Page or some versions of Netscape Composer.

"alt" - highlights the "File" menu in the program you're using. Then you can use your arrow keys to move across and up and down through the menus. This can be helpful on a laptop that has an awkward pointing device. Pressing "Esc" gets you one level back on the menu, or out of it.

"Backspace" takes you back to the previous web page (on most browsers).


If you don't have antivirus software on your computer, you can do a virus scan online free from Panda:

Panda ActiveScan - Free Online Virus Check



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