So now you have installed Ubuntu, and have logged in. Erm, but now what, this looks absolutely nothing like I am used to!

Don’t panic, I am here to turn you into an Ubuntu whizkid.

Firstly, let’s have a look at what you are looking at right now:

The Ubuntu 10.04 Desktop

The Desktop

Looks kinda empty don’t you think?
Well, this is really all you need right now, so let’s begin by explaining what everything is.

You have two bars, top and bottom, they are just long bars that you can use for shortcuts, for when windows are minimized or in the case of the bottom bar in the right-hand corner, you can look at the trash (like the Windows Recycle Bin).

The bottom bar contains the following, all the way to the left is an icon that will show your desktop when clicked on, it will hide all open windows so you can see your desktop. Then you get a lot of empty space for minimized or open windows so you can switch between them, followed by what looks like 2 small squares.
This is where it gets interesting. These are called virtual desktops, this means if you open windows while the left box is highlighted you can click on the right box, and open more windows in a new clean environment giving you twice the amount of space. It’s like having two monitors attached to your system. Right-clicking on these boxes also gives you the option to make the amount of virtual desktops more or less, but we cover that in the customization part of the tutorials.

The top bar is the most useful and interesting.

First all the way to the left you see an Ubuntu logo and ‘Applications’, go on, click on Applications.

As you can see this gives a list of categories and when one is selected it gives a list of software installed that falls under that header.
At the bottom is the Ubuntu Software Center. That is a program that is used to install software, I will cover that later in this post.

Next we have ‘Places’, go on, click on it.

‘Home folder’?

Yes, we have something called a home folder. This is basically your private folder a little like your user folder in Windows, here you will find all your own private stuff. Eventually anyway.
Next you get folders named ‘Pictures’, ‘Music’, ‘Documents’ and ‘Downloads’. I think they speak for themselves, it’s a way to organise your stuff and should be pretty much the same as Windows.
Then you have computer, a folder where you will find your CD-Drive and Root folder, the root folder should at this stage be of no use to you yet, and the CD-Drive gets a little icon on your desktop when there’s a cd in it, so there won’t be much use for it, I never use it.

The network icon will let you connect to your home network if there is one set up. If there is a Windows network, it can connect to that too.
You can also connect directly to a server if you click on ‘Connect to server’ (And they say Ubuntu is difficult).
And search for files allow you to do just that, you type in the name of a file your looking for and it will search for you, and of course the Recent Documents icon will list the most recent documents you have used.

Then we have ‘System’

This is for pretty much admin work and customization, I will not cover this too greatly here, until we really need it.

But let’s have a look at it anyway.
Clicking on here will give you the options ‘Preferences’, ‘Administration’, ‘Help and Support’, ‘About GNOME’ and ‘About Ubuntu’.

The bottom three are more documentation than anything else, clicking on ‘Help and Support’ will give you some options when you are stuck, clicking on ‘About GNOME’ will give you information about GNOME (That’s the name of the window environment we are using right now), and clicking on ‘About Ubuntu’ will give you some information about your current version of Ubuntu.

But, if you click on ‘Preferences’, you can change different options like changing how your windows look (Appearance), changing keyboard shortcuts (Keyboard Shortcuts) and sound preferences (Sound). Like I mentioned earlier, this list is about making Ubuntu comfortable for you to use.
If you click on ‘Administration’ you have some important entries. Some may be that you want a better support for your Nvidia graphics card for instance, then clicking on ‘Hardware Drivers’ will look for available drivers and suggest which ones are best for you. It also has an option of using ‘Synaptic’, this is another way to install software like the Ubuntu Software Center but without the beautiful icons.

After that you will find a few little icons which are shortcuts to Firefox, Help and Evolution (Email). And clicking on them will open them up.

Next, further to the right on the bar is the clock, but by clicking on it, you will also find a handy calendar which is linked to the calendar in Evolution.

All items which are in the startup options will be loaded and presented next to this next to the networking icon.

The networking icon will connect you to the internet and networks. If you are not plugged to the internet by cable, then chances are that if you click on this icon you will see a few entries with names of networks on it. Clicking on one of these entries will either just connect you to the internet, or ask you for your network password to connect. Here you can also create a VPN (Virtual Private Network: A network over the internet), connect to a network that’s hidden, or create a new wireless network.

Next to this is also a little envelope icon, clicking on here gives you the option to open some programs like Empathy (multi messaging client like MSN, Yahoo, ICQ), Gwibber for Facebook, Twitter and Evolution for email. This way you can get to the applications quickly and simply by clicking there, and it’s got another great feature which I will mention now.

You should also see a speech bubble and your username next to it, clicking on it gives your name, different states of events like ‘Available’, ‘Busy’ or ‘Away’, ‘Broadcast Accounts’ and ‘Ubuntu One’.

These states of events are connected to Empathy. This means that if your chatting to your friends on MSN and Yahoo and realise you need to just go out for a minute, clicking on your name and then ‘Away’ will set your messages on Yahoo and MSN automatically to ‘Away’, how cool is that hey?

But there is more, if you click on ‘Gwibber Accounts’ and then set up Twitter and Facebook for instance, and your doing some boring work for school, then click on your name, and in the white bar type in ‘I’m doing boring schoolwork’, it will send a twitter and Facebook message saying ‘I’m doing boring schoolwork’. This is the ultimate way to stay social and connected, but thats not it!

Ubuntu users automatically get 2GB of free online storage and this can be increased if you pay more, which can be set up by clicking on ‘Ubuntu One’, after which a folder will appear in your home folder for you to dump files into, it can be setup to be synced with Firefox bookmarks, Tomboy notes and even Email contacts so that your totally synced!

Have a look through your home folder, try out the applications and set yourself up, and when your ready we will start installing software!

Installing Software

Ubuntu like most Linux distros works differently to Windows.

Firstly, you can’t just go to a website and download an exe file and run it, Ubuntu won’t know what to do with it.
Secondly, we don’t even recommend using a website.

What we use is package management.
You can use three options, you can install using the Ubuntu Software Center, Synaptic, or the terminal.
But because this is a beginners tutorial we are going to use the easiest one which is Ubuntu Software Center.

Click on Applications, and then Ubuntu Software Center

Here you have