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An Introduction To GNU/Linux

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 08:02 PM

An Introduction To GNU/Linux

Caution! Please read for more information.
If you seek elaboration on something covered in this post, in most cases it will be better to start a new thread than to ask here.

The purpose of this post is to provide new users with some information I feel may help prepare them for GNU/Linux usage (as such this entire posting isn't about GNU/Linux). While there is some how-to styled coverage within, this not ment as technical how-to document, it is a pre-face to such kinds of documentation. Once a user starts using a GNU/Linux distro they will be self-teaching by reading documentation, or learning from others by asking questions on sites like this, to figure out how to use their new operating system. Figuring out what to read/ask is much easier if you know a bit about GNU/Linux, and computers in general, which is what this post aims to accomplish. As mentioned there is some how-to styled information provided, but it's provided for the purpose of giving an idea of what to expect. Everything was written with personal computers in mind, and if taken out of that context information could be false or misleading. Many terms are used; if you find yourself wondering, "What does that term mean? Why didn't he explain what it means?", the answer is likely that there is no need to know what it means. I probably only used the term because I needed some way to refer to what was being mentioned, so don't become overwhelmed.

Computers & Operating Systems:
A computer is a set of electronic hardware used to carry out digital operations (computations). In order for the computer to be operated a system is needed to control it, this system is called an operating system. Firmware is software on hardware that allows the hardware to be used. A driver is a piece of software that tells an operating system how to use the firmware so that the hardware can be utilized. The motherboard of a computer includes a special firmware system that provides some basic control over the computer's hardware, but more importantly enables the loading of a computer's operating system. The operating system has to support the type of firmware system used by the motherboard in order to be loadable by it. The 2 key firmware systems, used by motherboards, are BIOS, and UEFI. The implementation of these firmware system specifications varies by developer. BIOS is the old standard, UEFI is the new standard. UEFI includes the ability to emulate BIOS booting (this feature is called CSM, or legacy mode) so that operating systems that are designed for BIOS can be used on computers that have UEFI. Many current operating systems support both BIOS and UEFI, but are typically only configured to use the one that was in use when the operating system was installed. UEFI is continuation of EFI, which was developed by Intel. BIOS expects an operating system to store it's boot-programs (you likely won't see the name boot-programs used anywhere, I've used it to avoid getting over-technical, and because there are lots of potential ifs, ands, and buts depending on the OS and setup.) on the boot record (somes called the boot sector because on old drives it was 1 sector in size) of the storage device's master boot record partition table. UEFI expects an operating system to store it's boot-programs on an ESP (EFI System Partition). A storage device doesn't just have data dumped on it, it is divided in parts called partitions, and a table is used to keep track of these partitions. There are many different partition tables, but MBRPT (Master Boot Record Partition Table, often refered to as "msdos" or "MBR") and GPT (GUID Partition Table) are the two key ones. Anytime you update the partition table (eg: when creating, deleting, or adjusting partitions) you risk loosing all data on the drive, because if the changes aren't written successfully, the table can become damaged. Partitions have filesystems applied to them which keeps data organized. There are many different filesystems out there but fat32, NTFS, ext2, ext4, and linux-swap are the key ones. Think of a filing cabinet; a cabinet is a storage device, each drawer is like a partition, the collective envelopes inside each drawer create a filesystem, and the papers inside the envolopes are files. An operating system is a kernel (the kernel takes software requests and turns them into requests that hardware can understand) and a system of programs that when put
together make operating your machine possible. In the case of GNU/Linux, Linux is the kernel, and GNU is the collection of programs. Technically, GNU has its own kernel called Hurd (or The Hurd), which if used is a GNU/Hurd operating system, but this post about the GNU system when used with the Linux kernel, which is the more commonly used kernel of the two. Computer's have a CPU (Central Processing Unit), this is the piece of hardware that actually completes a task (computes something) as instructed by an operating system, but because there many types of CPUs, the operating system (and any other software you install) must be designed for the type of CPU in use or the instructions can't be understood. The two key CPU types (architectures) are X86-32 (often referred to as x86. It's a 32bit architecture.) and X86-64 (often referred to as x64. It's a 64bit continuation of X86-32). X86-32 is the old standard, and X86-64 is the new standard. Each CPU manufacterer has it's own implementation of a given CPU architecture, for example AMD64 is AMD's implementation of X86-64 and Intel's is Intel64. It is possible to have multiple operating systems installed on a single PC (eg: a single-boot is one OS, a dual-boot is two OSs, a triple-boot is three OSs, and a multi-boot is multiple OSs).

Most people say "Linux" rather than "GNU/Linux" even when they are referring to a GNU/Linux operating system rather than just the Linux kernel, it's shorter, so don't be surprised if you see people doing this. GNU/Linux isn't an operating system, it's a type of operating system. There are various GNU/Linux operating systems available, often referred to as GNU/Linux distros ("distro" being short for distribution.). Distros each have their own benefits, because the software that comes pre-installed varies, and the Linux kernel may not have been compiled (built) with identical features. For example, a GNU/Linux distro that is designed for older computers may include programs with lower system requirements, the kernel may be compiled with support for older hardware, and etc. There are thousands of GNU/Linux distributions ranging from those made by large companies to ones made by some made by individual people. The key GNU/Linux distros are: Ubuntu Desktop, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint Mate, Linux Mint Cinnamon, and Puppy Linux. You will come across the terms derivative, flavor, and fork, a lot. A derivative is a work made from another, each release being rederived, if it's not re-derived, then it's a fork. A fork is a work that was originally derived from another, but has gone it's own way. The terms derivative and fork are not limited to GNU/Linux distributions, they are applied to all sorts of software. A flavor is like a dervitive GNU/Linux distribution, except it's made by the same project that makes the original work, and is pretty much the same thing except it features a different desktop-environment. The CLI (Commandline Interface) is a text-only user interface for typing commands. Many distros provide a GUI (Graphical User Interface), made possible by a window-system (eg: X Window System), display-server (eg: X.org Server, and Mir), and a window-manager (eg: Mutter, which is the window-manager used by Gnome). While some window managers have menus, panels, and such things, for the most part a window-manager just provides the ability to have graphical content, because of this many distros provide a desktop-environment. A desktop-environment is a combination of a window-manager, additional tools that create the interface (eg: dock applications, widgets, panels), and other programs that provide key features (eg: power-managers, or system-settings managers). The key desktop-environments are: Gnome, Unity (a derivative of Gnome made for Ubuntu), KDE, LXDE, LXQT, XFCE, Cinnamon, and Mate Desktop. Most distros that provide a desktop-environment also provide a desktop-manager (login screen) so that you can login using the GUI rather than using the CLI. Software for GNU/Linux distros is distributed in two forms: source-code (which must be compiled into binaries in order to be used), and pre-compiled binaries. Some GNU/Linux distros require the user to compile software from source, but this is tedious and often complicated, because typically 1 program will require several others in order to work, and those others will have programs they depend on as well. These other programs that a program needs are called dependencies. Most linux distros provide a package manager, and use software repositories (online servers filled with software either as source-code or pre-compiled binaries). Package-managers are typically designed to handle the install process entirely. You tell it what program you want, and it downloads that package as well as any packages it depends on, then installs them all. Distros that provide such a package-manager usually have a set of default software repositories, but it may also be possible to add third-party repositories. Some package managers use pre-compiled binaries, others use source-code (in companion with install scripts). The key package-managers are APT and Aptitude which work with .deb files (.deb files are pre-compiled binaries, typically packaged for Debian, or Ubuntu). GNU/Linux distros typically support multiple user accounts, but the main account is the root account, which has full system access. On some distros (sometimes referred to as "sudo-distros") the root account is hidden (access may even be hindered) and instead a program called sudo (a tool for running commands under a different user account than the one you're logged in as) is used to run commands that need to be run as root (because they require elevated permissions to complete their task). On a sudo-distro the main user account (which has permission to use Sudo to run commands under the root account) is sometimes referred to as an adminstrator account. The key sudo-distros are Ubuntu Desktop, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Linux Mint Mate, and Linux Mint Cinnamon. Debian is not a sudo-distro by default, but does disable logging into the root account graphically using the desktop-manager. Instead the user uses a program called "su" which is similar to sudo, to access the root account. There are 2 types of GNU/Linux installations (actually this applies to any operating system): frugal-installation, and regular-installation (flat-installation). However you aren't likely to use or come across the term "frugal" often, and when you do, you will notice that not everyone agrees on it's definition. A regular installation is what most GNU/Linux distros provide. A frugal-installation is an install that discards changes (typically when rebooting the computer). Very few frugal-distros exist, and they typically ramboot (copy the operating system files into ram, and run it from there, which provides a huge performance boost). The key frugal-distros are Knoppix, Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux, TinyCore Linux, Porteus, and Slax. All distros use frugal-installations on their install media to run their installer program (they have to since CDs and DVDs are usually read-only medias). A frugal-installation that provides the ability to perform an installation using it's own files, is called a live-installation. If this live-installation is on a CD it's usually referred to as a live-CD, the same goes for other types of media (eg: live-DVD, live-flashdrive). If the frugal-installation provides the ability to install an OS from a different set of files, it's merely an installation-media (install disc). Regular installation-media are rare nowadays, most distros provide a live-CD or live-DVD as an ISO (a file that contains a backup of a disc's contents, typically called a disc image.) download. Distros are often described by class. There is no offical specification of class, but terms you are likely to come across are full-desktop, server, and, lightweight. Full-desktop refers to distros like Ubuntu Desktop, which work well on home computers, provide lots of pre-installed software, and make it easy to install a large amount of additional GNU/Linux programs, meaning they are fully fledged. When classifying as distro as "server" it just means the distro is meant more for running on servers (eg: CentOS, or Ubuntu Server). For a distro to be considered lightweight it will typically have a GUI that runs great on poor graphics processors, come with software that has low system requirements, and require very little ram (eg: TinyCore Linux).

Ubuntu 14.04 Desktop:
Computers in general, and GNU/Linux in general have been discussed, now lets get distro specific. In this section I'll be covering some basics of installing and using Ubuntu Desktop, specifically the 14.04 release, to give you an idea of what to expect, and to demonstrate a few basic common tasks.

Caution! Please read for more information.

This section provides specific instructions intended for a specific system setup. If your setup differs (it probably does), and you aren't sure how your deviations will affect your ability to complete these instructions, you should open a new thread detailing your system and asking how to proceed. These instructions are provided for introductory example purposes, NOT as a how-to for installing/using Ubuntu anyway! In these examples, a UEFI computer with a single blank hardrive was used. Ubuntu was installed from a live-flashdrive. The live-flashdrive was created on another computer, which was running Windows 10 Home.

1. Install a download-manager. While you could download the Ubuntu ISO using Internet Explorer, Edge, or your prefered browser, when downloading large files it is advisable to use a fully-fledged download-manager, because you will have less failed downloads. Windows 10 Home doesn't come with such an application pre-installed. The key ones (for Windows!) are Orbit Download Manager, WxDownload Fast Portable, and uGet. In this example I'll be using a portable verison of WxDownload Fast. This is a portable application, to uninstall it, just delete it's folder.

Open Edge (or your preferred web-browser), and visit "http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/wxdownload_fast_portable", and click "Download Now" (you will be redirected). Save WxDownload Fast Portable to your Downloads folder (this is the default save location for Edge).

Open Explorer, navigate to your Downloads folder, and double-click on the WxDownload Fast Portable executable.

The installer will open. When prompted, choose your language, and click "OK".

In the installer, when prompted to continue, click "Next".

In the installer, when prompted for an extraction location, click "Browse".

In the installer, while browsing, click on "Desktop", and click "OK".

In the installer, your extraction path should now be "C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\Desktop\wxDownloadFastPortable". Click "Install".

In the installer, when prompted, click "Finish". If you wish, you can now delete the downloaded installer from your Downloads folder, alternatively
keep it for future use.

2. Download Ubuntu 14.04 Desktop. Normally when downloading an ISO for a GNU/Linux distro you'll have to pick out the version that matches your CPU architecture. Releases for X86-64 CPUs are typically labelled as x64, 64bit, or AMD64. Releases for X86-32 CPUs are typically labelled as i386, i686, 32bit, x86, or Intel x86. Please note that not all of these terms are technically synonyms (words that mean the same thing). In this example I'm dealing with Ubuntu 14.04 Desktop for an X86-64 CPU so the AMD64 version will be downloaded.

Open Edge (or your preferred web-browser), and visit "http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/releases/14.04.0/", right-click on the download link appropriate for your system, and choose "Copy Link". Do not yet close your web browser, you may need to re-copy the link.

Using Explorer, browse the wxDownloadFastPortable folder that is on your desktop, and double-click on "wxDownloadFastPortable.exe" to launch WxDownloadFastPortable.

In wxDownloadFastPortable, go to "File", and choose "New Download".

In wxDownloadFastPortable, In the "New Download" dialogue, change the "Save to" path to your Desktop, paste the url you copied the link of into the "Address" field, change the "Segmented download" options to "10" pieces, and click "OK". When the download completes you can exit WxDownloadFastPortable.

3. Hash the Ubuntu 14.04 Desktop ISO download. After downloading files from the internet it is a good idea to hash them (if a checksum is provided), and compare the checksums (strings generated by the hashing process). This way you can confirm your file matches the one on the webserver (eg: It is a complete download, it hasn't been corrupted, it hasn't been tampered with.). You can use what-ever hashing program you like, but in this example I'll be using HashMyFiles.

Open Edge (or your preferred web-browser), and visit "http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/hash_my_files.html". Scroll down the page to the download links, righ-click on "Download HashMyFiles", and choose "Copy link". Do not yet close your web browser, you may need to re-copy the link.

Using Explorer, browse the wxDownloadFastPortable folder that is on your desktop, and double-click on "wxDownloadFastPortable.exe" to launch WxDownloadFastPortable.

In wxDownloadFastPortable, go to "File", and choose "New Download".

In wxDownloadFastPortable, In the "New Download" dialogue, change the "Save to" path to your Desktop, paste the url you copied the link of into the "Address" field, change the "Segmented download" options to "10" pieces, and click "OK". When the download completes you can exit WxDownloadFastPortable.

Double-click on the "hashmyfiles.zip" file, then drag "HashMyFiles.exe" to your Desktop. You can then close the archive browsing window. At this point you can also delete the "hashmyfiles.zip" file that is on your Desktop, alternatively keep it for future use.

Double-click on "HashMyFiles.exe" to launch it.

Open Edge (or your preferred web browser), and visit "http://old-releases.ubuntu.com/releases/14.04.0/" again, and click on "SHA256SUMS". There are several hash types listed (MD5, SHA-1, and SHA-256), but in this example I'm using SHA-256, which is why you're clicking on "SHA256SUMS".

In Edge, find the checksum for the ISO you downloaded, select it, and copy it.

In HashMyFiles, drag the Ubuntu ISO file from your desktop to the HashMyFiles screen. If it's hightlighed in green then the checksum HashMyFiles generated, matches the one in your clipboard (the one you copied from the internet). If it's red, they don't match, this means your Ubuntu ISO is either incomplete, or corrupt, and will need to be re-downloaded. You can close HashMyFiles, and if desired, you can delete both "HashMyFiles.exe", and "HashMyFiles.cfg" from your Desktop.

4. Create a live-flashdrive. An ISO is a disc image, used for re-creating the disc. You can burn the ISO to a DVD if you want, but in this example I'll be using a flashdrive-creator to setup the ISO's contents on a flashdrive (thumbdrive, usb-stick, etc). DVDs and CDs are a dated method of installing operating systems and distributing software. Flashdrives are becoming the new standard for this. In this example I'll be using a program called Rufus, because it's one of the few flashdrive creators, for Windows, that can create UEFI compatible setups.

In Edge, visit "http://rufus.akeo.ie/", scroll down to the download section, right-click on "Rufus 2.5 Portable", and choose "copy link".

Using Explorer, browse the wxDownloadFastPortable folder that is on your desktop, and double-click on "wxDownloadFastPortable.exe" to launch WxDownloadFastPortable.

In wxDownloadFastPortable, go to "File", and choose "New Download".

In wxDownloadFastPortable, in the "New Download" dialogue, change the "Save to" path to your Desktop, paste the url you copied the link of into the "Address" field, change the "Segmented download" options to "1" pieces, and click "OK". When the download completes you can exit WxDownloadFastPortable. You can also exit, Edge.

Get a flashdrive large enough for the ISO, in this case 2GB+, and connect it to your computer. Then double-click on "rufus-2.5p.exe" which is on your desktop. When prompted to check for updates, click "No".

In Rufus, click on the browsing button next to "ISO Image" drop-down, then browse for and choose the Ubuntu ISO which is on your Desktop.

In Rufus, select your flashdrive from the "Device" drop-down, choose "GPT partition scheme for UEFI" as the "Partition scheme and target system type", choose "FAT32" as the "File system", choose "32 kilobytes" as the cluser size, choose a "New volume label" of your liking (eg: Ubuntu Installer), check the "Quick format" box, check the "Create a bootable disk using" box, and uncheck the other boxes. Click "Start".

In Rufus, when prompted to choose a write-mode, choose "Write in ISO Image mode (Recommended)", and click "OK".

In Rufus, when prompted to confirm continuing click "OK".

In Rufus, when the creation process finishes, it will say "READY". You can then click "Close". If you wish, you can now delete "rufus-2.5p.exe" and "rufus.ini" from your desktop.

5. Boot your live-flashdrive Ubuntu installer. In order to install Ubuntu, the next step is to boot the flashdrive, and run the installer. In order to boot the flashdrive some setting changes may be required in your UEFI.

Shutdown your computer, disconnect the flashdrive, and connect it to the computer you're installing Ubuntu on.

You will need to enter your UEFI. Doing this means pressing the access-key when your computer first turns on, but hasn't booted any operating system
yet. This key varies by computer, but is typically one of these: F1, F2, F4, F8, F10, F11, F12, ESC. Your computer may tell you which key, or if you're using a laptop, the keyboard key may have a symbol on it to indicate it (eg: a cog wheel). If you don't know which key, you'll need to do some trial and error.

Once in your UEFI you'll need to find "Secure Boot" and disable it. Keep in mind that not all UEFI computer's have secure boot.

In your UEFI, find the boot order, and set your harddrive to the top of the list. Then save your changes, and exit.

Press "control" + "alt", and then "delete". This will reboot the computer again. Now press the appropriate access-key for your computer's quick-boot menu. This key varies from computer to computer, but is usually one of these: F1, F2, F4, F8, F10, F11, F12. You may need to do some trial and error to find it. Once you've found it, choose your flashdrive as the device you'd like to boot from, and press "enter".

7. Install Ubuntu. You will need an internet connection, because Ubuntu 14.04 doesn't include the UEFI files for Grub. If you install without an internet connection you will not be able to boot Ubuntu.

When Grub (the boot-manager on the live-flashdrive) appears, it will list several boot options. Choose "Try Ubuntu without installing" by using the arrow-up key on your keyboard, and pressing "enter". You can choose "Install Ubuntu", but since most people like to try an OS before they install
it, in this example I've chosen to try it first.

In Ubuntu, when the desktop appears, a "Keyboard Shortcuts" popup will come up. Click the x button, to close it. If you have trouble getting it to sodd off, click on the trash-can icon. You are now free to test out Ubuntu. Keep in mind it will be usually be slower than when it's actually installed, because it's running from a flashdrive, and usually flashdrives have slow read/write speeds which create a performance bottleneck.

In Ubuntu, double-click "Install Ubuntu 14.04 LTS", to begin the installation process.

In the Ubuntu installer, choose your language, and click "Continue".

In the Ubuntu installer, check the boxes for "Download updates while installing" (unless undesired) and "Install this third-party software" (unless undesired), and then click "Continue".

In the Ubuntu installer, click "Erase disk and install Ubuntu" (it should be selected by default if your setup matches this example computer's), and then click "Install Now". This is a prime example of a step that while applicable to this installation senario, may not be desired in other installation senarios.

In the Ubuntu installer, when prompted for your location (to determine your timezone), enter it (eg: Pacific), and click "Continue".

In the Ubuntu installer, when prompted, choose your keyboard layout. If you aren't sure, and live in Canada or the USA, and want English, keep the default choices. Click "Continue".

In the Ubuntu installer, when prompted, enter your name (alternatively you can enter the same name as your username), name your computer, pick a username for the administrative account that's going to be created for you, and choose a password for the account. Click "Require my password to log in", and click "Continue".

In the Ubuntu installer, wait while the installation process completes.

In the Ubuntu installer, when informed that the installation has finished, choose to "Restart Now". You can disconnect your liveflash drive while the computer reboots, or leave it attached. Some systems hang during this reboot! If that happens try pressing "enter". If that doesn't help, try pressing "control" + "x" and "delete". If that doesn't help, hold down the power button on your computer, and hope nothing get's corrupted by the sudden power-off.

8. Using Ubuntu. So the system is installed, now it's time to cover some common tasks.

When Ubuntu boots up, enter your password, and press "enter" to login.

In Ubuntu, once logged in. Click on the AppDash icon, and search "driver". Click on "Additional Drivers".

In the Software & Updates popup, if any drivers are listed, you may wish to download and install them. If not click "Close". If your system requires any other drivers you'll need to figure out how to install them. Many systems won't require you to install any drivers, but you may wish to install a graphics card driver to improve visual performance, if a proprietary driver is available from your graphics card manufacterer.

In Ubuntu, click on the "Ubuntu Software Center" icon, on the side-dock. You can use this to search for and install programs available in the software

While Ubuntu does come with a firewall it's not enabled by default, and it doesn't provide a GUI (graphical user interface), so I'll install a GUI application called GUFW which acts as a front-end for the default UFW firewalling application that Ubuntu has. Search for "gufw" in the search box, and click on "Firewall Configuration". Once highlighted, click on "More Info".

In Ubuntu Software Center, if you scroll down you can see user reviews, on the left you can see a screenshot of the application. There is also size information. Some applications may also list suggested add-on packages to install. Click "Install", and enter your password when prompted.

In Ubuntu Software Center, if an application fails to install, and you are advised to check your internet connection, you may need to update your package lists.

To update your package lists, close the Ubuntu Software Center, click on the AppsDash, search for "Terminal", and click "Terminal" (which will
open Gnome Terminal). Gnome Terminal is a terminal-emulator (a graphical program used to access the CLI).

In Gnome Terminal type:
sudo apt-get update
Press "enter", and enter your password when prompted. Updating your package list is an administrative task, as is installing software, which is
why you are being asked for your password. As discussed earlier, Sudo is a program for running commands under another user account, in this case the Root acccount. When entering your password you won't see anything being typed, but it is. This is a security feature.

In Gnome Terminal, once Apt-get finishes updating your package lists, you can close Gnome Terminal, re-open the Ubuntu Software Center, and proceed to install what-ever you're installing (in this case GUFW). Then close the Ubuntu Software Center.

In Ubuntu, to use GUFW, click on the AppDash icon, search "gufw", and click "Firewall Configuration". You'll be prompted to enter your password since this program requires root privildges.

In GUFW, change the status to "ON", and leave the default settings (unless you desire to change them). You now have your firewall up and running. You can close GUFW, the firewall will still be running.

Ubuntu comes with the webbrowser Mozilla Firefox pre-installed (you can update it using the Ubuntu Software Center, or Apt-get in the Terminal).
Alternatively you can install another web browser. To update to the latest available Mozilla Firefox, click on the "Ubuntu Software Center" icon on the side-dock, search "Mozilla Firefox", and click "Firefox Web Browser". Click "Remove", and when prompted click "Remove all". You'll be promted for your password. This will uninstall Mozilla Firefox.

In Ubuntu Software Center, click "Install". This will download and install the latest version of Mozilla Firefox available in the repos.

In Ubuntu, you can launch Mozilla Firefox by clicking on the AppsDash, searching for "firefox", and clicking "Firefox Web Browser".

Ubuntu comes with some applications from the LibreOffice office suite pre-installed (you can update them using the Ubuntu Software Center, or Apt-get
in the Terminal). Alternatively, you can install others like Apache OpenOffice. If you want to install LibreOffice in it's entirety, click on the "Ubuntu Software Center" icon on the side-dock, search "LibreOffice", and click "LibreOffice". Click "Install", and when prompted enter your password. This will install LibreOffice.

In Ubuntu, you can launch LibreOffice by clicking on the AppsDash, searching for LibreOffice, and clicking "LibreOffice".

Ubuntu comes with a text-editor called Gedit (which you can update using Apt-get in the Terminal). Alternatively, you can install others like Kate, or Leafpad. Do not uninstall Gedit, as it's parth of the "ubuntu-desktop" package. It won't harm your system to uninstall it, but it can affect your ability to upgrade. To update Gedit, click on the AppsDash icon, search for "Terminal", and click "Terminal".

In Gnome Terminal (referred to as Terminal within Ubuntu), type:
sudo apt-get install gedit
If there is a newer version available, it will be downloaded and installed.

In Ubuntu, you can launch Gedit by clicking on the AppsDash, searching "Gedit", and click on "Text Editor".

Ubuntu comes with the file archiver File Roller pre-installed, but you can install others like Xarchiver. To launch File Roller, click on the AppsDash, search "archive manager" and click on "Archive Manager".

Ubuntu comes with the audio/video player Totem pre-installed, but alternatively you can install others like VLC. To install VLC click on the Ubuntu Software Center icon on the side-dock, search "vlc", click on "VLC media player", and click "Install". You'll be prompted for your password.

In Ubuntu, to launch VLC, click on the AppsDash, search "vlc", and click on "VLC media player".

Ubuntu comes with a flashdrive creator called Startup Disk Creator, but it doesn't work in my experience. You can install others like Unetbootin, but most don't support UEFI. Ubuntu also comes with a tool called DD, which can be used as a flashdrive creator. As long as the ISO you use supports UEFI, the flashdrive created with DD will too. To use DD to create a flashdrive open Gnome Terminal, and type:
sudo dd if=/directory/file.iso of=/dev/sd@
Substitute "/directory/file.iso" with the path to the ISO file, and "/dev/sd@" with the path to your flashdrive. You can see a list of devices using the command:
sudo parted -l
Be careful when using DD as anything it overwrites is gone, don't make any typos! This is because ISO is a sector based image format, and so DD is just writing those sectors to the flashdrive's sectors. This is not how most flashdrive creators work, and though not the best way, it is the simplest, and most reliable.

Much like Windows, Ubuntu doesn't come with a dedicated download manager. There are several available for GNU/Linux. In this post I'll be installing uGet. To install uGet, click on the Ubuntu Software Center icon, search "uget", click on "uGet", and click "Install". You'll be prompted for your password.

In Ubuntu, to launch uGet, click on the AppsDash, search "uget", and click "uGet".

On Windows a pre-installed program called Explorer is used to browse files/folders, on Ubuntu a pre-install program called Nautilus is used. You can install others like Dolphin, PCmanFM, or Thunar. To launch Nautilus, click on the "Files" icon on the side-dock. Other partitions on your drive, and on other drives, will be listed in the "Devices" section, clicking them will automatically mount them (which must be done in order to browse them), and clicking the "eject" icon can be used to unmount them. Normally partitions will be mounted under "/media/YOURUSERNAME/THEPARTITIONLABELORPARTITIONUUID".

Ubuntu comes with a system settings area, which you can use to set power plans, adjust your screen resolution, and such. To launch System Settings click on the System Settings icon on the side-dock.

Final Words Of Advice:
When seeking advice, don't run commands unless you know what they do! Not everyone on the internet is trustworthy, and the ones that are can make mistakes, something best caught before you run the command in question. Choose a common distro so that it will be easier to find documention and get help while you learn. Checkout http://distrowatch.com/ , it is a great place to discover GNU/Linux distros. While nearly all GNU/Linux distro downloads are still being distributed as ISO images, in the real world, using a flashdrive to perform the install rather than a DVD is becoming the norm. Many GNU/Linux distros cannot even fit on CD these days. While graphical means of doing things is becoming more and more common on GNU/Linux distros, you should expect to use the commandline from time to time, because the Linux world still favors it. Unlike Windows, where you can go your entire life without using the commandline, while running a GNU/Linux distro, sooner or later you'll need to do something that can only be done from the commandline.

- This document's Ubuntu demo section, didn't demonstrate upgrading Ubuntu. While I would have liked to have included such, I cannot justify the bandwidth it would take.
- This document's Ubuntu demo section, didn't demonstrate backing up the system, or personal files. I'm not up on the latest file-backup tools so I'm not equipped to advise on that. I was going to cover doing a system backup, but I have been unable to download Clonezilla as the download hoster (SourceForge) is having issues lately.
- Some images were changed from being embedded to being only links, because I was over the image limit.

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#2 JR999


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Posted 10 December 2015 - 08:32 PM

Nice Job HF. I'll come back and read it - when I find an extra hour or two. I can't imagine the work that you put into this.


I'm at ground zero to start using Linux. I read a post by PC Punk a while back and I can't find it.

I think he was chatting about "persistence."


Anyway, someone replied that not all USB sticks are BOOTABLE. Is this true or not and how can I tell the difference?


I need a fresh one to download a Mint ISO. After I get That far, I'll work on the MD5Sum for the disk & ISO. (grd zero)


(I used an old Ubuntu 8.04 LTS disk from a Library book. I'm Duel booted - XP laptop & running 8.04. No sound or video for Youtube, which I see is a common occurrence. I'll save that question or fix for later).


Rather than upgrade Ubuntu, I'd rather format the space and load the up - to - date Mint.

Edited by JR999, 10 December 2015 - 09:45 PM.

#3 Guest_hollowface_*


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Posted 11 December 2015 - 12:11 AM


I'm at ground zero to start using Linux.

Cool. Welcome to the Linux side of computing.

someone replied that not all USB sticks are BOOTABLE. Is this true or not and how can I tell the difference?

All USB flashdrives can be booted, because booting isn't a capability of the device itself. That said, you may find some flashdrives won't boot on certain computers for one reason or another. For example, some USB2.0 flashdrives won't boot in a USB3.0 port. If you have a USB 2.0 flashdrive, there is no way to know if it has trouble booting from USB 3.0 ports, other than to try.

It's also important to remember that not all computers support booting from USB ports (more common with older computers).

Rather than upgrade Ubuntu, I'd rather format the space and load the up - to - date Mint.

Good plan. Linux Mint is highly recommended for beginners, and has good out-of-box hardware support.

If you change your mind, and decide to go with latest Ubuntu, please be aware that the latest version of Ubuntu runs an entirely different desktop environment, so appearance wise, everything will look different.

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