Well, you have installed Ubuntu for the first time on your computer and now you need to know about the basics and system menu options and how it works and how can you tune your first Linux installation for better energy efficiency and for performance, or to make look the UI nice or how you can customize it, as you do it in Windows operation system. Then, you are at the right place at the right time, you can get all those answers to your questions here. Here is a “Noob’s guide to Ubuntu OS tips and hacks”.
Let’s look at a few things about Ubuntu, an Open Source Distribution of Linux, that you might want to take a glance as a new user.
Starting up the Ubuntu for the first time:
As you are booting up the Ubuntu for the first time, what you see is a ‘boot time’ flash screen which is named as ‘USplash’ and it shows you what is going on in the background while the Ubuntu is starting up. This is launched to show the users who are really wanted to know what are the processes started up in the background.
Ubuntu Login Screen
On the right-hand side of the login screen, you will notice the name (hostname) of the computer, current date and local time (if the time zone is set up correctly). On the left side of the screen, you can find the buttons and options, such as reboot, shutdown, suspend, hibernate, change session etc. Well, get ready to type in your username and password and type it carefully without any mistake (just to remember the username and password are case sensitive). After typing the credentials, hit enter key to log in. Now you’ll notice a splash screen displays what programs and ‘demons’ (‘Services’, in Windows’ term) are loading and in a few seconds the splash screen goes away and you are in the Ubuntu desktop. Welcome to Ubuntu Linux…I wish you would enjoy Linux!
Ubuntu’s Gnome Desktop, an Equivalent to Windows Desktop
The desktop environment that has been integrated on Ubuntu is the ‘GNome Desktop‘, an opensource equivalent to Windows’ Desktop. If your network is a DHCP enabled one, (automatic IP address) then you will be connected to the Internet as Ubuntu set-up network connections automatically and search for any pending software updates. If there are any pending updates, you will get a notification message in the right upper side of the screen that says something like “Software updates available”. Click on the icon (where the notification message appeared) and a pop-up window will appear on the left side of the screen. In this window you will see Ubuntu is making an intense and detailed search for the available updates and once all the information collected, you will be notified about the updates in detail. You can now click the Install Updates button to install the available updates on your newly installed Ubuntu Operating System. Since this is an administrative task which requires ‘root’ permission, and it’s safer this way; type your credentials and hit enter. The program, responsible for checking software & OS updates and keeps the system up to date is called ‘Update Manager’ and you will find it under System -> Administration menu. Update Manager will also notify you if there are new updates released. You will also notice another notification message that will ask if you want to install proprietary drivers for your graphics card or for any other legacy hardware. Just click the ‘Enable’ option to start the download and install the necessary drivers so all of your hardware will work flawlessly.
Task Bars (Panels) and Applets of Ubuntu Linux
Let’s learn a few things about Ubuntu’s so-called ‘GNome’ desktop. As you can observe, it’s not at all same as Windows desktop, as it has two separate Task Bars, one at the bottom of the screen and one on the topmost side. But what’s really make Ubuntu Desktop cool is that you can always configure it the way you want and it’s highly customizable, let’s look into this matter later. Both panels have options and configurations to archive the level of flexibility you always wanted.
On the bottom panel, there is a ‘Show Desktop’ button on the left-hand side; in the middle, you can find all the currently opened applications and programs. On the right side corner, a trash icon and the ‘Workspace Switcher’ is situated and this is something you don’t have in Windows (at least for the time being). The ‘Workspace Switcher’ is an amazing feature that allows you to have multiple desktops/workspace for the same user and switch to whichever workspace you wish to be working on. Do you wonder how to work with multiple desktops? It’s not very complicated as you think, for example, on the primary desktop, you have an opened program window (or more) and if you click on the second square thumbnail icon, (there are two desktops set up by default, users can add up to 36 separate desktops to a user) the window(s) will disappear and another set of windows will show up from the second desktop. and if you click the first square the window(s) from the previous desktop will re-appear. Go on, it’s not going to cost you anything to try it yourself to see how it works!
The upper side panel is a little more complex than the lower one. It contains a Main Menu on the left side, from where you can find all the programs and apps, System locations (User folders, Network shares etc..) and the system configuration tools. Right next to the Main Menu, you will see the software icons; these are shortcuts to access the different applications installed on your Ubuntu Linux and you can add more program icons, as many as you want, with a simple right-click on the panel and click on “Add to Panel” option. When the “Add to Panel” window pops up click on the “Application Launcher” button on the left-hand side and select the desired applications from the list available programs. On the right side corner of the upper panel you can see the network icon and the volume icon, the date, the clock and a shutdown button from where you can reboot, hibernate, suspend, log out, switch user, lock screen or shut down your Ubuntu system.
I think I have covered enough for now, to the customization of the Ubuntu desktop, the next part of the tutorial will include topics like how to install new software on Ubuntu Linux as well as how to make your desktop looks cool!