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Using and Abusing Devices and Media

With the increasingly cheap prices of hardware and media, typical computer users are burning more and more CDs, using more USB sticks, and rarely reverting to the old floppy disks that have dogged computing for so long. The lack of floppy drives in modern computers has really symbolized the death of the rather limited, slow, and restrictive floppy disk.

Using these newer kinds of devices in Ubuntu is simple and intuitive. In the vase majority of cases, you just plug them in and they work. Each device needs to be mounted before it can be used, but Ubuntu automatically mounts it for you. The main point to remember is to always unmount the device before you remove it. Even floppy disks should be properly unmounted before they are removed. Unmounting a device ensures all data has been copied to it before you pull it out.

If at any time you are unsure which devices are plugged into your computer, click Places > Computer to see a list of the drives available.

Using USB Keyring Drives

In the last few years, USB keyrings, pens, and sticks have taken over as the commonplace solution for moving files between different computers. These cheap and often high-capacity little devices offer a simple and efficient way to carry your files with you. Although these USB storage devices come in many different shapes and forms, they all basically work the same way in Ubuntu.

Using USB storage devices in Ubuntu is a piece of cake. Just plug them in and an icon to the device appears on your desktop. A file manager window also appears to display the contents of the device. You can interact with the device and the files as you would with the files on your hard disk.

When you have finished using your USB device, right-click the device icon that appeared on your desktop and select Unmount. When the icon disappears from your desktop, you can safely remove it from the USB port.

Burning CDs

Burning files is simple in Ubuntu with its built-in support for CD writers. Simply pop a writable CD into the drive and an icon appears on the desktop. Double-click the icon, and an empty file manager window appears. Now drag the files to be burned into this window. When you are ready to burn the CD, click File > Write to Disk.

A dialog box appears, and you can configure a few items before the disk is burned. Enter a name for the disk in the Disk Name box, and use the Write Speed combo box to select the best write speed for your drive. If you have an old or unreliable CD writer, you may want to select a slower speed to prevent a burn error. Finally, click the Write Disk button to start the burn.

Burning a CD from an Image

With more and more people downloading open source software, installation disks are often released as downloadable .iso files. When you burn these files to a CD, the files from the disk image are restored and the resulting CD looks just like a normal CD.

To burn an .iso file to a CD, simply right-click it and select Write to Disk.

Using Floppy Disks

To use a floppy disk in Ubuntu, insert the disk in the drive and then select Places > Computer. Now double-click on your floppy drive to mount it and display the files. When you have finished using the disk, right-click the floppy drive and select Unmount.

Using Digital Cameras

When you plug a digital camera into your computer, a device icon automatically appears on your desktop, and Ubuntu pops up a window asking if you want to view the photos from your camera. You can then view the photos and drag them from the photo viewer window over to a file manager window to save the photo.

Always remember that the majority of digital cameras are just USB devices, and you can access the photos like any other USB device from within the file manager.

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