Freedom, Community & Sustainability

[VIDEO] Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Tutorial 1 - Simple Tasks (beginner)

April 22, 2012 -- Webmaster
Last modified on March 2018
Duration: +- 30 minutes

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#1 - Ubuntu simple tasks

1 - Set up the system language
2 - Connect to a Wifi network and browse the web
3 - Install new software
4 - Find files, folders and applications
5 - Check mail and manage contacts
6 - Chat client (MSN, Google talk, IRC, Facebook...)
7 - Office suite
8 - Play music and videos
9 - Images and pictures
10 - Backups

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Welcome to the first tutorial about the Ubuntu desktop 12.04 LTS for beginners. This tutorial is divided in 10 short videos that will take you through an overview of how to do simple tasks on Ubuntu. The videos are about two minutes each, focused on teaching simple tasks in an easy step by step manner. If you are watching this video on idilix.net you can see below the list of videos in this tutorial and a written transcript of each video. Each tutorial will gradually build up knowledge of your new environment. At the end, we hope you will be comfortable using your computer for most general purposes tasks. Since the videos are usually very short, so it's easy to spot just the things you are interested in and learn quickly to start using your computer right away. Click on one particular title if you want to watch only one video or keep watching the playlist to see all videos one after the other. Pause the video if you want to have time to practice or watch them again later.
We would also enjoy to have your feedback to help us improve. We hope to hear from you soon and thanks for watching.

1 – Set up the system language

The first thing you might want to do on Ubuntu is to set up your preferred language. The languages you install can also be used for spelling and grammar correction on other applications. To add languages, you will need to be connected to the Internet because language packages are downloaded from the Ubuntu servers. We will see on the next video how to connect to a wireless network, for now, the easiest thing to do is to connect your computer to the Internet through an Ethernet cable.
Now go to the on/off button at the top right hand corner of the screen, then system settings and then language support. At this point you might be asked to download packages for your currently installed languages, just accept and wait for it to download.
At the top of the window you have a list of the installed languages and you can drag and drop to set the order of preference. The language at the top of the list will be the main language of your system. If you chose a new language to be your default you can click on “Apply system-wide” to make changes to the entire system and not only to the current account.
To download more languages click on the button “Install / remove languages”, click the check-box of the languages you want and apply changes. Next time you login, you will be asked if these changes should affect the name given to the system folders like the documents or music folder. If you accept the changes, be aware that only empty folders will be renamed. If, for example, the folder “documents” is not empty, a new “documents” folder will be created for the new language and the old folder is preserved. It's a good idea to go to your home folder, merge the content and delete the folders you don't need.
On the Regional formats tab you can chose the format of numbers, dates, currency and apply it system-wide.
Now you can close this window, log out and log in again for the changes to take effect.
Next you will learn how to connect to a Wi-Fi network and browse the web.

2 – Connect to a wifi network and browse the web

Apart from Ethernet hard wired connections, Ubuntu comes ready to connect to a wifi network. Most wifi cards need a proprietary driver to work, check on the top bar if you have a notification to install additional drivers or go to System settings > Additional drivers to see if you need to install a proprietary driver for your wifi card. If new drivers have to be downloaded for your wifi card, you will need a wired connection to the Internet before being able to use your wireless connection.
If no driver is needed, your wifi is probably already working and you can see a wireless icon on the top bar of your desktop. Just click on it to see the available wifi networks around you. If your network doesn't appear, look under “more networks” or “connect to hidden networks” if your network is hidden. Click on your network, type in your password and you are ready to go. The system might ask you to type a keyring password to store your password on your computer, this way you won't have to type your wifi password every time you turn your computer on. However, if you choose to login automatically the system will ask for your keyring password before connecting. To avoid having to type your keyring password every time you log in, go to “Edit connections” on the network menu, then choose the connection you use and click on edit. At the bottom of this window check the box “Available to all users”.
Once this is done, click on the firefox icon and enjoy.
Some plug-ins are not included in FireFox out of the box because they are non-free software. These plug-ins may be useful to watch flash videos, animations or use web applications. If you need these plug-ins, you might have to enable the “multiverse” software source. We will see how to do this on the next video. You will then have to relaunch Firefox to use the new plug-ins. There are a lot of plug-ins available on the Firefox menu tools > Add-ons.
Next you will learn how to install new software on Ubuntu.

3 – Install new software

It's very easy to install software on Ubuntu but it might be different from the way you are used to, so pay attention to this tutorial, it might be very helpful.
On Ubuntu you have something called software center that is by default on the unity launcher. The software center is the place where you can find thousands of applications that are ready to be installed on your system. They are often tested and maintained by Canonical or by the Ubuntu community. You can either browse through the categories or type what you are searching.
Once you've found something interesting, click on it's line and then on install. Type your password and wait for it to be installed. Now you can find the software you just installed using the dash home (the icon with the Ubuntu logo at the top of the launcher). We will explain in detail how to find files, folders and applications in the next video.
If you don't see the install button as described before, you can check the software sources that you are currently using. By default, Ubuntu will search a Free and Open Source Software repository but you can also install proprietary software if you wish. If you are not familiar with the idea of software freedom you can learn about it in our website idilix.net/arti, it's worth taking a look at it.
To install restricted or proprietary software and drivers, launch the Software Center and go to the menu Edit > Software Sources and click the check-boxes “restricted” and “multiverse”. Now you can install these software using the Software Center. To play non-free media formats like Windows Media, Quicktime or Flash, search and install ubuntu-restricted-extras. To play protected DVD's press Ctrl+Alt+T and type the command that appears on the video (sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh). You only have to do this once to install the necessary software. Take a look at the page https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats for more information about restricted formats and to understand why they are not included by default on Ubuntu.
It is also possible to install software manually, without using the Software Center but we won't be talking about it yet. For now, the Software Center will do the job just fine.
Next you will learn how to find files, folders and applications in your computer.

4 – Find files, folders and applications

There are several ways to find files or folders on your Ubuntu desktop. The most intuitive way to do it is to go to your “Home folder” located by default on the unity launcher. It will open a window that displays the folders of your computer on the left column and the content of these folders on the main area, just like most operating systems. To customize how the Nautilus window shows your files go to the view menu and set your preferences. To find a specific file or folder you can click on the magnifying glass and type what you are looking for. Searches will look into the current folder but you can easily change this using the drop down list and reloading the search. You can specify a file type clicking on the plus button and choosing the file type you are looking for.
There are faster and easier ways to find files with the search function. Click on the Dash home, the Ubuntu icon located at the top of the launcher, and type your keywords. You can quickly launch the Dash home pressing the “Super” key on your keyboard, usually it's the key that has a Microsoft Windows logo on it. At the bottom of the search window you can specify if you are searching for applications, files, music or videos. For each one of them you can narrow the search using the filter and specifying other criteria like date, size, rating and so on. You will see the results divided in three rows, each one with a short description. Click on the description to browse through all the results. To view this in full screen, click on the maximize button at the top left-hand side of the screen. Click on it again to go back to the smaller Dash.
A new feature called HUD (Head-Up Display) was introduced in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS allowing you to search inside application and system menus. As an example, suppose you want to change the way files and folders are displayed in Natilus. Instead of going to the View menu and choosing the option “List”, you can press Alt and type “List”, the menu option “View>List” will show up in HUD and you can select it with the arrow keys. This is a simple example but there are many more complex situations where the HUD can be very handy. Mind that the HUD is still experimental software and is not yet perfect.
Next you will learn how to check you e-mails and manage your contacts with Thunderbird.

5 – Check mail and manage contacts

Ubuntu comes with a mail client integrated into the desktop. It is the equivalent to Microsoft Outlook on Windows or Mail on Macs. On the top bar you can see an envelope that will notify the arrival of incoming messages. To set up your mail client click on the envelope and then on Set Up Mail if this is the first time you are launching the software, or Mail in case you have already used Thunderbird on this machine. If no mail account is configured on  Thunderbird, it will offer you the possibility to create a new mail account. You can skip this if you want to use your existing e-mail address. On the configuration window that will appear, enter your name, e-mail and password, then hit continue. Your e-mail information is displayed for you to verify, then click on “create account”. To configure another account go to the Thunderbird menu edit > account settings > account actions > add mail account.
To import contacts, mails or other setting from another mail client, first export the information from your older mail client. The instructions to do this vary according to the mail client you use. Then go on the Thunderbird menu Tools > Import and follow the steps that appear on your screen. The contacts will then be available clicking on the Address Book button at the top of Thunderbird's window or in the “Contacts” option of the envelope menu.
Of course, you can also check your e-mail accessing your e-mail provider website with Firefox.
Next you will learn how to set up chat accounts.

6 – Chat client (MSN, Google talk, IRC, Facebook...)

Ubuntu is ready to handle most of the popular chat services directly from your desktop. It is located on the same menu we used in our last video, the envelope at the top menu. This time click on Chat in the envelope menu. Just like the configuration of your mail client, a window will appear to guide you through the configuration of your chat accounts. You will need to be subscribed to a chat service like MSN, Google Chat or Facebook chat before you can configure your chat client. Choose the account you want to configure, enter your user name and password and you are ready to receive and send chat messages. New chat messages will also be notified on the envelope icon. On the same envelope menu you can select your current state as displayed to your contacts.
We will see in the tutorial #3 troubleshooting and getting help, that Chat clients can be used to contact people from the Ubuntu community. There are many chat rooms for Ubuntu, including a beginners room where you can ask questions and receive an instant reply from another connected user. Let's first get familiar with the desktop and then see the IRC chat rooms in due time.
Next you will learn about the Free and Open Source office suite called LibreOffice.

7 – Office suite

The most common office applications included in Ubuntu already have a shortcut on the unity launcher by default. There you can see the text editor LibreOffice Writer (the equivalent to Word on Windows or Pages on Mac), the spreadsheet LibreOffice Calc (the equivalent to Excell on Windows or Numbers on Mac) and the presentation creator LibreOffice Impress (that corresponds to PowerPoint on Windows or Keynote on Macs). Just click on the one you want and start creating your document. LibreOffice is a complete office suite and works pretty much like other popular Office suites, if you are already familiar with office applications you will be comfortable using LibreOffice in no time. By the way, LibreOffice is cross platform and can also be installed on Windows and Macs. More office applications can be downloaded from the software center: LibreOffice Math, LibreOffice Draw, LibreOffice Base, Dictionaries, Sticky Notes, Organizers, Finance managers, printer and scanner drivers and many more. To learn in more details how to use programs from the LibreOffice suite, take a look at the official LibreOffice documentation page at www.libreoffice.org/get-help/documentation/.
Next you will learn how to play music and movies.

8 – Play music and videos

To enjoy your digital media collection you just have to go to the loudspeaker icon on the top bar and launch Rhythmbox.
Rythmbox is a complete media player solution with many features like Internet radio, pod-casts, on-line music store, play-lists, song rates, audio format conversion, mp3 player or ipod manager and more. To import files or folders to your library, go to the menu Music>Import file or Import folder. For the past few versions of Ubuntu, the default media player was Banshee. Although the decision to switch back to Rhythmbox was made, you can still download and use Banshee instead if you wish.
If you prefer something similar to Winamp, try Audacious or Amarok, they are both high quality software, available in the software center free of charge.
In case you just want to listen to one song or watch one movie without adding it to your media collection you can do this with Totem movie player. Its a very simple software that will just read a media file and stop. To launch Totem movie player go to the Dash home and type totem or movie player. Then go to the menu movie>open and choose the movie or song you want to play. You can also drag and drop a media file on Totem and it will work too. Totem reads a very large number of audio and video file formats, including windows media file format .wmv, Apple's iTunes format .m4v, free formats like .ogg or .mkv, plus CD's, DVD's and BluRay. Alternatively you can use VLC that is anther popular Free And Open Source Software to read media files.
Next you will learn to organize and enjoy your pictures.

9 – Images and pictures

Picture libraries are managed by Shotwell. It is similar to Windws live photo gallery, Picasa or iPhoto to let you import and organize your pictures. To find it you can either type “Shotwell” in the dash or search applications and use the filter to see graphics applications.
Shotwell can import pictures from your computer, from an external drive or directly from your camera. When you plug in a camera, a window will appear to ask you what to do, at this point you can tell it to open Shotwell. Once there, you just need one click to import your pictures. The first time you launch it, an assistant will help you to build your library. After you have imported your images you can easily rate them, reject them, view by event or by date just to name a few ways to enjoy your pictures. The most common actions can be triggered by right clicking on the picture but many more options can be found on the menu at the top.
If you just want to view images but don't want to add them to your image library, just double click on an image that is sitting on your desktop or inside a Nautilus window and it will open in Image viewer. This is integrated into the desktop so you don't have to do anything special, it just works as you would expect.
Next you will learn how to back up your files.

10 – Backups

Backing up your files is essential to prevent data loss. Always back up your files and rest assured that your information is secure. It's important to back up your files on an external disk because if your internal hard drive fails you will still have your files on the external one. So plug in an external drive and launch the Backup application from the Dash home. Alternatively, you can launch the Backup application from the system settings. If this is the first time that you launch this software you will be greeted with a window that offers the option to restore from a previous backup or view the current settings. Check out the current settings in order to set up a regular and automatic backup. On the overview tab, turn on the “automatic backups” switch. This will ensure that backups are made without having to worry about it. If for some reason the application does not succeed to backup automatically, you will be notified. On the storage tab, choose the backup location. If you are using an external disk, choose local folder in the drop down list and then choose a folder in your external disk where you want to store your backups. This is the easiest way to make backups but there are also other options to store your backups on the cloud using UbuntuOne, an FTP server or WebDAV. UbuntuOne is free of charge up to 5Gb of data and usually backups exceed this limit. It's possible to purchase more space on UbuntuOne or to set up your own storage server but that's something for another tutorial. We will talk about UbuntuOne in the second tutorial. On the folders tab you can choose to include or exclude certain files and folders from the Backups, the default options should be ok for most users. Finally, on the schedule tab, chose how often you want to backup and for how long you want to keep the backups. Old backups are kept for the desired amount of time or until the backup location is full.
To recover information from your backup just launch the software and this time click on Restore on the “Overview” tab.
We have finished the tutorial about simple tasks. You should be ready to do most of the everyday work with your computer. Find out more about Ubuntu features and customizations in the next tutorial and  visit our website for more information related to Free Communal and Sustainable Technologies.

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