The Linux operating system Ubuntu from Canonical was initiated by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth with the aim of providing a comprehensive and easy-to-use desktop system for everyone free of charge. The success was there, so that Ubuntu is now one of the most popular and user-friendly Linux distributions and therefore suitable for Linux beginners. The old-established Linux distribution Debian serves as the foundation, which is particularly noticeable in the package management, which includes application software as well as the entire security updates for the operating system.
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A mature operating system like Ubuntu naturally needs application software. Unlike Micrososft Windows, it is included in the Linux distribution of Canonical. Also on board are the Firefox and Chromium browsers, the Thunderbird e-mail client, the Pidgin chat client and the VLC Media Player. They are supplemented by the document viewer Evince and the complete Office package LibreOffice with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing program. The software is partly pre-installed or can be installed in the Desktop Edition via the software manager from the package sources of Canonical. Compared to Windows, this is a security gain, because you get software from a secure source.
In addition, users can install Ubuntu software that is not in the package sources of Ubuntu. The installation files for Ubuntu have the extension DEB, because Ubuntu is based on the Debian distribution and uses the same package manager. The computer administrator can start the installation in the terminal with the command
sudo dpkg install (Installationsdateiname.deb) to perform the If a vendor offers package sources for a software like VirtualBox itself, they can also be integrated into Ubuntu according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The advantage here is that the software can be updated so easily.
When updating, Ubuntu distinguishes between security updates and other updates – for example, for application software. The settings for the update behavior can be changed in the system settings, which can be opened by clicking on the icon with gear and wrench. Under “System > Applications & Updates” and the tab “Updates” an administrator of the computer can make changes. The factory settings are usually the optimal solution, as the security updates are downloaded and installed automatically. You should only change this if Ubuntu is running on a notebook that uses a mobile connection on the road. In this case, the “Show now” setting is better, but you will need to manually install the updates later.
If updates are available, the “Update management” icon appears in the starter bar, which must be clicked to update the system. The tool shows the pending updates after the start and waits for the update confirmation by the system administrator. The update not only updates the system software but also the application software if it was installed via the package sources. The cumbersome individual updating of the programs as under Windows is no longer necessary. During the update you can continue working with Ubuntu and finally the “Update Management” will inform you if the computer needs to be restarted. This is not necessary with every update and compared to Windows it is really only a restart, without the usual Windows configuration steps.
Ubuntu Versions and Variants
Canonical offers Ubuntu as standard version and LTS version. The standard version comes out every six months and is updated every nine months. The LTS version is updated every two years and is updated every five years. How long the individual versions are supported depends on the support of the kernel used.
Based on Ubuntu, there are further distributions, which differ optically mainly by the Linux desktop. Ubuntu has been using Unity as its default desktop since version 11.04, which changed in 2017, when Canonical stopped developing Unity. Since version 17.10 the Linux desktop Gnome is used, which was already used by Ubuntu before Unity. However, the desktop’s appearance has been adapted to Unity and does not look like the typical desktop of Gnome 3.
In addition there are the distributions Kubuntu with Desktop KDE, Xubuntu with XFCE, Lubuntu with LXDE and Ubuntu MATE with MATE, a Linux desktop that emerged from GNOME 2. Ubuntu GNOME with Desktop Gnome 3 wanted to offer the user another alternative to Unity. Since Ubuntu now ships the LTS version from 18.04 with Gnome 3 itself, the project has come to a standstill and is only available in the older LTS versions 14.04 and 16.04.
Additionally, for special purposes and users there is “Edubuntu” with software for education, “UbuntuStudio” with software for audio and video editing, “Ubuntu Kylin” for Chinese users and “Ubuntu Server”, which is delivered as a server system without GUI. Ubuntu Touch” was another Ubuntu-based operating system for tablets and smartphones that was discontinued in April 2017. A fate that also hit the Ubuntu Cloud “Ubuntu-One” in 2014.
Unlike Windows, Ubuntu is usually not pre-installed on the computer, unless you buy a computer from Tuxedo Computers in Königsbrunn or Dell.
To install Ubuntu on your desktop computer or notebook, first download the appropriate ISO file and burn it to a DVD. Alternatively, the ISO image can be copied to a USB stick or SD card, which can be done under Linux with the command “dd” and under Windows with the program UNetbootin.
Ubuntu is now only available in the current version for the Desktop edition as a 64-bit version, which supports main memory with more than 4 GB. If you still have a computer with a 32-bit processor or little RAM, you can use the Xubuntu and Lubuntu distributions, which require less computer resources than the Ubuntu desktop environment with Gnome 3.
The installation also runs without an Internet connection. The latter is necessary for updates as well as for the installation of software and other languages such as German. Detailed installation instructions can be found in our article Ubuntu for Beginners: Download and Installation.
Getting Started After Installation
If Ubuntu is on the computer, some work is necessary at the first start. These can be done in the system settings, which are hidden behind the icon with the gearwheel and wrench.
The complete conversion of the language from English to their own is probably important for many users. This can be done under “Settings > Region and Language > Manage Installed Languages”. Via “Add/Remove Language…” the desired language can be selected and installed via “Apply”, which requires administrator rights. The new language is now at the bottom of the list and can be moved up by holding down the mouse button. You must then log out and log in again to use the language.
The next step concerns the time. “Settings > Information > Date and time” allows the selection of the time zone as well as the manual time setting or alternatively the use of time servers on the Internet. Problems often occur when not only Ubuntu is running on the computer, but also Windows. Because Windows sees the time of the hardware clock of the computer as local time and Ubuntu as world time (UTC). This problem can be solved in the terminal on the command line by entering the command “timedatectl set-local-rtc 1”, so that also Ubuntu interprets the computer time as local time.
Very important is the update management, which ensures that Ubuntu is provided with updates and thus the system remains up-to-date. In the update management settings you can change the defaults. This is useful if you work over a mobile phone connection and therefore prefer to update manually, which you should not forget. Usually you can accept the default settings, but you should still open the update management now and then and download and install the displayed updates by clicking “Install now”.
Support and Help
Even though Ubuntu is beginner-friendly, it is not a pure user system. You are not forced to work with graphical tools. Linux whiz-kicks and pros can work on the command line and change the system as they like. If you can’t get any further, you can find help in the forums and at the Ubuntu Community. The German Wiki of ubuntuusers.de, which offers many tips and tricks among other things to printer, scanner, network, SSH, Samba, dd or TexLive, is to be emphasized. Users who want to get involved in the community are welcome to do so. The possibilities offered by the Ubuntu Community can be found on their website.
WLAN WPA2 vulnerability
In mid-October 2017, a security vulnerability became known that affects the WPA2 encryption in WLAN. It is particularly relevant for Linux systems, which are used on rooters, mobile devices and desktop computers. The manufacturers of devices have commented on possible updates. And for Ubuntu there is a workaround to correct the problem. With version 18.04 Ubuntu should no longer be affected.
Tips & tricks for Ubuntu: