Giving Linux a spin for this first time - Part 2

This post follows up from Part 1, so read that first if you haven't already!

Now we have a nice new shiny Ubuntu disc booted and running. You might notice that at the moment Ubuntu feels very slow to respond and takes an age to boot. Don't worry, this is normal and it's not a problem with Linux. Remember, you're running the whole operating system off a CD, and accessing files off a CD is significantly slower than accessing files off your hard drive. If you do ever choose to install Ubuntu, rest assured that it is blindingly fast!

Having said that, let's have a quick explore around your new Ubuntu desktop.

Ubuntu desktop

Exploring the desktop

At the top of the screen, we have the menu bar. Unlike the menu bar at the top in Mac OS X, this doesn't hold the menus for each application (look for them underneath the title bar like in Windows), but provides some core functions that we'll need to use a lot of the time (the three menus up there provide functionality akin to the Start button).

The Applications menu is where you launch applications from. Clicking on it reveals a list of categories, and like any other menu just hover over a category to open it up, then click an app to open.

The Places menu gives a list of folders and locations you might frequent. Your home folder is the equivalent of My Documents in Windows, and is where you store all your personal files.

The System menu gives you options for changing preferences and doing admininistration tasks (think Control Panel), help and of course, how to shut down your computer.

On the right hand side of the top menu, you'll see a volume control, clock and an easy shutdown button.

Now, let's go down to the bottom. Just like on Windows, you have a taskbar which shows the open windows. You can use this just like in Windows.

To the left of that is the Show Desktop button. As the name suggests, this button will hide all the currently open windows and show the desktop. Another click will show your windows again.

To the right of the taskbar is the Workspace Switcher. Now as this isn't always an easy concept for new users to get around, so we'll leave it for now. If you do get lost by accidentally (or otherwise) clicking a different workspace, click back on the first one (you should see outlines of the open windows) to get yourself back to where you were.

Finally, on the right is the equivalent of the Recycle Bin.

Exploring files

If you want to have an explore round your files, click Places > Home folder to open up a file manager. It should be fairly straightforward to have a browse around (take a look in the Examples folder for some documents).

Remember once again that you're running this OS off the CD. Any changes you make to any files won't be saved when you turn off your computer. If you make any masterpiece documents (or just anything you don't want to lose!), make sure you save them to some sort of external storage, such as a USB memory stick. Plugging in an external storage device should pop up a window showing its contents and an associated icon on the desktop.

Start playing!

There you are, you're now hopefully equipped with enough information to have a good play around with Ubuntu. Provided you remember to save anything you create onto an external drive, you should be able to have lots of fun messing around.

A sneak peek into Part 3

In Part 3, we're going to assume you want to jump in at the deep end and install Ubuntu alongside an existing Windows XP operating system so you'll be able to use both on your computer (not at the same time, though!). Part 3 is now online and ready to read!

If you're not comfortable making that leap just yet, Ubuntu is perfectly usable, albeit a bit slow, off a CD, so keep using it. In fact, let us know how you get on in the comments below, and let us know what you think of this tutorial too!

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Giving Linux a spin for this first time - Part 2

  1. # Posted on 12 January 2007 at 06:16 AM

    [...] Part 2 and Part 3 are now ready for you to read! [...]

  2. # Posted on 19 January 2007 at 12:59 AM

    [...] Unlike some tutorials, it’s not necessary to have read Parts 1 and 2, but you can if you want as they’ve got some good background material and could help you a bit. [...]

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