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
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 is 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 notifies 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 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 in to 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, (by default there are only two desktops set up, but you add up to 36 desktops to a user) the window(s) will disappear. This is because they are on the first desktop (you can even see them in the first square), and if you click the first square the window(s) will appear again. On the second (empty) desktop you can have other window(s). Come on, try it yourself to see how it works!
The upper panel is a little more complex. It contains on the left side the Main Menu from where you can access all the applications, different system locations (home folder, network places etc) and the system configuration tools. Right after the Main Menu you will see some software icons; these are shortcuts for different applications installed on your computer and you can add there as many as you want with a simple right click on the panel; then click on “Add to Panel” option and when the Add to Panel window appears hit the “Application Launcher” button on the left side and select your favorite applications from the list. On the right side of the upper panel you will see two icons (the network monitor and the sound volume), the date, the clock and a shutdown button from where you can reboot, hibernate, suspend, log out, switch user, lock screen or shutdown the computer.
I think this is enough for today, with respect to the customization of the ubuntu desktop and the next part of this tutorial will include topics like how to install new software on ubuntu linux as well as how to make your desktop cool and funky!