Read this chapter of A Practical Guide To Ubuntu Linux and bring yourself up to speed on the open source operating system's desktop and its root privileges, and learn how to work with the command line and control windows.
A Tour of the Ubuntu Linux Desktop
This section presents new words (for some readers) in a context that explains the terms well enough to get you started with the Ubuntu desktop. If you would like exact definitions as you read this section, refer to "GNOME Desktop Terminology" on page 105 and to the Glossary. The Glossary also describes the data entry widgets (page 1068), such as the combo box (page 1029), drop-down list (page 1035), list box (page 1045), and text box (page 1064).
GNOME GNOME (www.gnome.org), a product of the GNU project (page 4), is the user-friendly default desktop manager under Ubuntu Linux. KDE, the K Desktop Environment, is a powerful desktop manager and complete set of tools you can use in place of GNOME. The version of Ubuntu that runs KDE is named Kubuntu. See page 60 for instructions on installing KDE.
This tour describes GNOME, a full-featured, mature desktop environment that boasts a rich assortment of configurable tools. After discussing logging in, this section covers desktop features—including panels, objects, and workspaces—and explains how to move easily from one workspace to another. It describes several ways to launch objects (run programs) from the desktop, how to set up the desktop to meet your needs and please your senses, and how to manipulate windows. As the tour continues, it explains how to work with files and folders using the Nautilus File Browser window, one of the most important GNOME tools. The tour concludes with a discussion of the Update Notifier, the object that allows you to keep a system up-to-date with the click of a button; getting help; and logging out.
Logging In on the System
When you boot a standard Ubuntu Linux system, it displays a Login screen (Figure 41) on the system console.
At the lower-left corner of the screen is a small object labeled Options. Click this object or press F10 to display the Actions menu. The selections on this menu allow you to work in a different language (Select Language), specify a desktop manager (Session), log in remotely, reboot the system (Restart), turn the system off (Shut Down), suspend the system, or have the system hibernate. For more information refer to "The Login Screen" on page 132.
To log in, enter your username in the text box labeled Username and press RETURN. The label changes to Password. Enter your password and press RETURN. If Ubuntu displays an error message, try entering your username and password again. Make sure the CAPS LOCK key is not on (Ubuntu displays a message if it is); the routine that verifies your entries is case sensitive. See page 133 if you need help with logging in and page 135 if you want to change your password. The system takes a moment to set things up and then displays a workspace (Figure 42).
Mark G. Sobell is the author of best-selling UNIX and Linux books, including A Practical Guide to the UNIX System, UNIX System V: A Practical Guide, and A Practical Guide to Linux. He has more than twenty years of experience working with UNIX and Linux and is president of Sobell Associates Inc., a consulting firm that designs and builds custom software applications, designs and writes documentation, and provides UNIX and Linux training and support.