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Introduction To Ubuntu Linux

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.

Chapter 4: Introduction To Ubuntu Linux
Introduction to Ubuntu Linux: chapter 4 A Practical Guide To Ubuntu Linux
This chapter is an excerpt from A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, by Mark G. Sobell, published by Prentice Hall December 2007

ISBN 013236039X
Copyright 2008 Mark G. Sobell.



Used with permission from the publisher.
Available from booksellers.
Book available at Informit

In this chapter:

  • Curbing Your Power: root Privileges/sudo
  • A Tour of the Ubuntu Linux Desktop
  • The Update Notifier
  • Updating, Installing, and Removing Software Packages
  • Where to Find Documentation
  • More About Logging In
  • What to Do If You Cannot Log In
  • Working from the Command Line
  • Controlling Windows: Advanced Operations




The Ubuntu GNOME login screen.
(click for image gallery)

One way or another you are sitting in front of a computer that is running Ubuntu Linux. After describing root privileges, this chapter takes you on a tour of the system to give you some ideas about what you can do with it. The tour does not go into depth about choices, options, menus, and so on; that is left for you to experiment with and to explore in greater detail in Chapter 8 and throughout later chapters. Instead, this chapter presents a cook’s tour of the Linux kitchen: As you read it, you will have a chance to sample the dishes that you will enjoy more fully as you read the rest of this book.

Following the tour are sections that describe where to find Linux documentation (page 124) and offer more about logging in on the system, including information about passwords (page 132). The chapter concludes with a more advanced, optional section about working with Linux windows (page 139).

Be sure to read the warning about the dangers of misusing the powers of root (sudo) in the next section. Heed that warning, but feel free to experiment with the system: Give commands, create files, click objects, choose items from menus, follow the examples in this book, and have fun.

tip:
root terminology
Most Linux systems include an account for a user named root. This user has special privileges and is sometimes referred to as Superuser. On a classic Linux system a user can log in and work as root by providing the root password.

As installed, Ubuntu has a root account but no password for the account: The root account is locked. The next section explains how you can use sudo and provide your password to run a command with root privileges. This book uses the phrase "working with root privileges" to distinguish this temporary escalation of privileges from the classic scenario wherein a user can work with root privileges for an entire session. See page 487 for more information on root privileges.

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