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Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Ubuntu, like many other Linux distributions, is a community-developed operating system. In addition to getting involved and submitting patches, there are a variety of ways you can provide useful feedback and suggest features to Ubuntu.

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While Ubuntu One might seem like a Ubuntu-only file synchronization service, it’s more than that – you can use Ubuntu One on Windows, Android, iOS, and from the web. Ubuntu One offers 5GB of free storage space to everyone.

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You may have seen instructions that tell you to “uncomment” or “comment out” lines in a configuration or source code file. This is a simple process, but may not be self-explanatory to people that don’t understand the file’s structure.

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AppArmor locks down programs on your Ubuntu system, allowing them only the permissions they require in normal use – particularly useful for server software that may become compromised. AppArmor includes simple tools you can use to lock down other applications.

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AppArmor is an important security feature that’s been included by default with Ubuntu since Ubuntu 7.10. However, it runs silently in the background, so you may not be aware of what it is and what it’s doing.

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VPNs and SSH tunnels can both securely “tunnel” network traffic over an encrypted connection. They’re similar in some ways, but different in others – if you’re trying to decide which to use, it helps to understand how each works.

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VLC includes a fairly easy-to-use streaming feature that can stream music and videos over a local network or the Internet. You can tune into the stream using VLC or other media players.

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Ubuntu and Linux Mint come with a “Guest Session” account, which anyone can log into from the login screen – no password required. If you’d rather restrict access to your computer, you can disable the guest account.

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One of the defining features of Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems is that “everything is a file.” This is an oversimplification, but understanding what it means will help you understand how Linux works.

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Ubuntu’s Update Manager keeps your packages at the latest version, but occasionally a new package version may not work properly. You can downgrade an installed package and lock it at a specific version to prevent it from being updated.

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Linux logs a large amount of events to the disk, where they’re mostly stored in the /var/log directory in plain text. Most log entries go through the system logging daemon, syslogd, and are written to the system log.

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Private Browsing, InPrivate Browsing, Incognito Mode – it has a lot of names, but it’s the same basic feature in every browser. Private browsing offers some improved privacy, but it’s not a silver bullet that makes you completely anonymous online.

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There are several ways to change your default applications on Ubuntu. Whether you’re changing the default application for a particular task, file type, or a system-level application like your default text editor, there’s a different place to go.

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If you’re using Linux, you don’t need VirtualBox or VMware to create virtual machines. You can use KVM – the kernel-based virtual machine – to run both Windows and Linux in virtual machines.

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Installing software on Linux involves package managers and software repositories, not downloading and running .exe files from websites like on Windows. If you’re new to Linux, this can seem like a dramatic culture shift.

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The Nautilus file manager included with Ubuntu includes some useful features you may not notice unless you go looking for them. You can create saved searches, mount remote file systems, use tabs in your file manager, and more.

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If you’re coming from Windows, the Linux file system structure can seem particularly alien. The C:\ drive and drive letters are gone, replaced by a / and cryptic-sounding directories, most of which have three letter names.

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Steam’s offline mode is notoriously problematic. To ensure it will work properly, you should perform a series of steps while online. If you don’t, Steam is supposed to prompt you for offline mode – but this doesn’t always work properly.

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An IP address (or Internet Protocol address) identifies each networked computer and device on a network. When computers communicate with each other on the Internet or a local network, they send information to each other’s IP addresses.

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VLC includes a web interface, which you can enable to access your VLC player from a web browser, controlling playback from another device – particularly useful for a media center PC. VLC also offers a mobile web interface for smartphones.

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PowerShell Remoting allows you to run individual PowerShell commands or access full PowerShell sessions on remote Windows systems. It’s similar to SSH for accessing remote terminals on other operating systems.

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People often “tether” their computers to their smartphones, sending their computer’s network traffic over the device’s cellular data connection. “Reverse tethering” is the opposite – tethering your Android smartphone or tablet to your PC to use your PC’s Internet connection.

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Ubuntu One, Ubuntu’s built-in cloud file storage service, allows you to make files publically available online or share them privately with others. You can share files over the Internet right from Ubuntu’s file browser.

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Like CCleaner on Windows, BleachBit frees space by deleting unimportant files and helps maintain your privacy by deleting sensitive data. And, just like CCleaner, there’s more you can do with BleachBit than just clicking a single button.

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Use Nautilus-Actions to easily and graphically create custom context menu options for Ubuntu’s Nautilus file manager. If you don’t want to create your own, you can install Nautilus-Actions-Extra to get a package of particularly useful user-created tools.

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