If you've only ever used Windows, getting to grips with a Linux OS can be an intimidating thought. So we've put together an easy-to-use guide to help you get the most out of this OS.
If those aren't enough for you, you can always add more. In fact, there's probably a Linux replacement for most of the Windows or Mac OS X software you're used to. At the bottom of the Applications menu you'll find an entry that says 'Add/Remove'.
Clicking on it brings up a browser window full of software that's available from the Ubuntu software repositories. Downloading and installing new applications over the internet is as simple as checking a box and clicking 'Apply Changes'. The new software will appear under the appropriate category of the Applications menu once it has automatically installed.
That easy installation method works only for the most popular software packages, but many more are available. When you become more experienced, you'll want to experiment with the Synaptic Package Manager - found on the Administration menu, under 'System' on the top menu bar - which offers more-fine-grained control over software installation.
As long as you're connected to the internet, the system will periodically alert you that new updates and security patches are available for your installed software. Applying updates is simple: clicking on the alert icon launches the Update Manager, which allows you to review the available patches, but downloading and installing them is really a one-click process. Often it doesn't even require a reboot.
- Visit PC Advisor's Linux News Spotlight
Configuring your System
We've talked about the Administration menu already. Between it and the Preferences menu - both of which are located under the System menu in the top menu bar - you can perform the majority of commonplace system-configuration tasks easily. The division between Preferences and Administration is somewhat arbitrary; just think of these two menus together as the equivalent of the control panels in Windows or Mac OS X.
For example, the Appearance panel (under Preferences) allows you to customise the look and feel of your desktop. You can adjust the shape and colour of window borders and buttons, change your desktop wallpaper, and pick new default fonts for windows and applications. This panel is also where you enable the snazzy 'desktop effects' of Compiz Fusion, if your graphics card supports them.
Look to the Printing panel (under Administration) if you're having trouble printing. Most USB printers will be detected automatically and the system will install drivers for you, but you'll need to adjust the settings here if you have a parallel or serial printer, or if you want to print over a network.
NEXT PAGE: Cross-platform computing