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The Official Ubuntu Book, 7th Edition: Becoming an Ubuntu Power User

This chapter looks at a variety of advanced subjects related to running and managing your Ubuntu system, including. installation, removal, and upgrade of software using the Ubuntu Software Center as well as hardware installation.
This chapter is from the book

Chapter 4. Becoming an Ubuntu Power User

  • Administering System and User Settings
  • Understanding How Linux Stores and Organizes Files
  • Learning Unity Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Using the Terminal
  • Working with Windows Programs
  • Installing Software from PPAs
  • Compiling Software from Source
  • Summary

Ubuntu is relatively straightforward to set up and use for the common day-to-day tasks. With time, though, most users want to learn how to be more efficient performing their tasks on that computer. It is this efficiency, this elegance in the way tasks are performed, that forms the basis of the separation between beginners and power users. Those who are content to learn just enough to get a task done need not read this chapter. Those who want to perform these tasks more easily, more quickly, or more smoothly and with a deeper understanding of what they are doing and why are the target audience here. This chapter is not about customization; for that see Chapter 6. This chapter is about understanding and learning how to use what you already have to its fullest potential.

Administering System and User Settings

To begin, search for Settings in the Dash and open System Settings (Figure 4-1).

Figure 4-1. Click System Settings to begin.

From here you can adjust many aspects of your system, as shown in Figure 4-2.

Figure 4-2. Choose from among many options in the System Settings window.

Click an item to select it and modify its settings. When you are done, you may close the window or click All Settings in the upper left to return to the menu. Some settings require you to unlock them by clicking the Unlock button at the upper right and entering a password before you can modify their settings (Figure 4-3). You must have administrative privileges to do this.

Figure 4-3. Click All Settings to return to the main menu or Unlock to continue.

User Settings

Let’s begin with a look at available user settings. Once you unlock the window shown in Figure 4-3, you can click the + symbol at the bottom left to add a new user, click the – symbol to delete a user, or click on a user account to modify its settings. Click on any item shown at the right to modify its settings, as in Figure 4-4.

Figure 4-4. Items have either menus or their own pop-up windows.

Privacy Settings

The privacy menu is new and allows you to carefully manage what information is recorded about you when you use Ubuntu (Figure 4-5). For example, when you open programs, Ubuntu records what you use most often and will list it first in the Dash as you search. Most users appreciate this feature. However, in some instances, this could be insecure or undesirable. You can manage history, files, applications, and other privacy features here. You can even turn the entire feature off.

Figure 4-5. Want to delete information recorded only in the last hour? Easy.

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One is very similar to the commonly known and used Dropbox, which allows you to store data in the cloud for use on multiple computers. This feature is built in to Ubuntu and does not require any additional software to be installed, but you do need to register so that your information can be kept secure (Figure 4-6 ).

Figure 4-6. You need to log in or create an account to use Ubuntu One.

Once you have logged in, you can use Ubuntu One to store data, settings, and other information, as in Figure 4-7. It can automatically sync these settings across multiple computers, if all of them are running Ubuntu, and you can control or revoke access by any of these devices using this menu.

Figure 4-7. Ubuntu One has many menus to make setup and use easy.

In addition, any music you purchase from the Ubuntu Music Store using the music player will also be stored in Ubuntu One and accessible from a Web interface through your username and password using any computer and Web browser as well as by any device you permit to access, including Windows computers and Android phones. Access for more operating systems is in process and may be available by the time you read this. See https://one.ubuntu.com for more details.

Default Settings

Default settings generally make sense for most users. However, what if you want a different program to open when you try to play a certain media file? Click the Details icon in the System Settings menu to change from the default settings, as in Figure 4-8. Select different items from the menu at the left for other options.

Figure 4-8. Changing your default applications is easy: just make sure you install what you want to use before you try to tell Ubuntu to use it.

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