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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like most things on Linux, the sudo command is very configurable. You can have sudo run specific commands without asking for a password, restrict specific users to only approved commands, log commands run with sudo, and more.
Ubuntu doesn’t use a separate /home partition by default, although many Linux users prefer one. Using a separate home partition allows you to reinstall Ubuntu without losing your personal files and settings.
Whether you plan on using Windows 8 or not, everyone buying a PC in the future will end up with the Microsoft-driven Secure Boot feature enabled. Secure Boot prevents “unauthorized” operating systems and software from loading during the startup process.
If you have a single wired Internet connection – say, in a hotel room – you can create an ad-hoc wireless network with Ubuntu and share the Internet connection among multiple devices. Ubuntu includes an easy, graphical setup tool.
You’ve probably noticed that Ubuntu comes with a Public folder in your home directory. This folder isn’t shared by default, but you can easily set up several different types of file-sharing to easily share files on your local network.
Access an encrypted home directory when you’re not logged in – say, from a live CD – and all you’ll see is a README file. You’ll need a terminal command to recover your encrypted files.
Ubuntu offers to encrypt your home directory during installation. The encryption has some drawbacks – there’s a performance penalty and recovering your files is more difficult. If you change your mind later, you can remove the encryption without reinstalling Ubuntu.
Ubuntu offers to encrypt your home folder during installation. If you decline the encryption and change your mind later, you don’t have to reinstall Ubuntu. You can activate the encryption with a few terminal commands.
Ubuntu can quickly encrypt USB flash drives and external hard drives. You’ll be prompted for your passphrase each time you connect the drive to your computer – your private data will be secure, even if you misplace the drive.
Ubuntu is pretty snappy out-of-the-box, but there are some ways to take better advantage of your system’s memory and speed up the boot process. Some of these tips can really speed things up, especially on older hardware.
If you’re a Linux user, you’ve probably heard that you don’t need to defragment your Linux file systems. You’ll also notice that Linux distributions don’t come with disk-defragmenting utilities. But why is that?
Ubuntu includes its own firewall, known as ufw – short for “uncomplicated firewall.” Ufw is an easier-to-use frontend for the standard Linux iptables commands. You can even control ufw from a graphical interface.
Ubuntu and Linux Mint are two of the most popular desktop Linux distributions at the moment. If you’re looking to take the dive into Linux – or you’ve already used Ubuntu or Mint – you wonder how they’re different.
Ubuntu and many other Linux distributions use the GRUB2 boot loader. If GRUB2 breaks — for example, if you install Windows after installing Ubuntu or overwrite your MBR — you won’t be able to boot into Ubuntu.