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Learning Linux for Windows Users - Part 3

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22 Aug 2012CPOL
A series of articles to guide you through the basics of installing and using Linux if you have only ever used Windows.

This is a follow up to

When we last parted ways we left you with Gnome running on your desktop. In this article we will be
taking a quick look at the filesystem and a bit more detail on how to navigate your way around Gnome.

One of the biggest differences between how Windows and Linux works is that with Linux there is no Registry.  Instead all off the configuration for all of the programs and various settings are located within the various configuration files. They are for the most part completely independent of each other and located within the /etc folder.  So what are all the folders for? Well this is something that I particularly find annoying with Linux. The file system within the various Linux variants differs. Sometimes even between the same Distro with different versions you can get different locations. I’ll walk you through the Files System with Ubuntu.

First things first to view files you can use the gui program called Nautilus. With Windows you have Explorer… with Gnome you have Nautilus. 

To run nautilus you can click on the Places Menu.

You will get a drop down of a bunch of shortcuts to common paths. You can add or remove shortcuts if you wish but for now just click on Computer

Image 1

You should see the following. 

Image 2

You can see down the left hand side you get some more shortcuts to familiar predefined folders, These should remind you of you Documents folders within Windows

Double Click on Desktop
Right click on the empty space and click New Folder
Then type in Linux Articles and hit enter
You should see that folder appear behind Nautilus on your desktop
Image 3

Double click on the Filesystem link on the left hand side
Image 4

This is the root of the filesystem. All of the Devices and partitions get “mounted” to a folder or path off of the root path. You will notice a folder called cdrom.. yes this is your actual cdrom. You don’t have drive letters in Linux. I mean really who cares if its C or D or E as long as it works and you can get to it.

The Basics of how this whole mounting thing works with linux is that the root location or directoy is known as "/". Off of "/" you have all of your various partitions, folders and devices mounted and accessable through folders.  When you first install ubuntu workstation you get the following setup.

/bin – User command binaries or applications
/boot – This is wehere the boot loader stores its files(similar to the system files in Dos msdos.sys etc..)
/cdrom – This is  a mounted folder of your CD Rom drive
/dev – Device Files
/etc – This is where the config files are located for almost every application and operating system setting or variable. You will spend a lot of time in /etc this is a file based version of the registry in windows
/home – User directories.. similar to c:\users in windows
/lib – Shared Libraries for Kernel type stuff
/lost+found – essentiall the recycle bin location like in windows
/media – if you have a removable device like a USB key fob or removable disk drive, camera etc.. it gets mounted in here
/mnt – If you create a temporary files system its mounted here
/opt – Add on application packages
/proc – This is a virtual Filesystem that documents the kernel and prcess status are text files
/root – The user directory for the root user
/run – A location for binaries used early in the boot process
/sbin – System Binaries.. in other words applications the operating system runs
/srv – data for services from the system
/sys – a bunch of files that relate to the system
/tmp – Temp Files
/usr – Location of user based aplications…similar to c:\Program Files
/var – storage location for files that are used by applicationsif the files are not static…. For example this is where the webserver will store its files.

Wow ok so you have no idea what any of these mean? That’s ok I have been using linux successfully for years and I don’t know what they all mean either. Here are the ones you will likely run into on any sort of regular basis. 

/var – variable files for any applications
/home – Put all your files in your home folder
/root – If you use the root account put all of the root files in here
/etc – This is where all the config files should be
/cdrom – This is your cdrom drive
/media – Mounting point for your usb devices

I do appologize for that overload of information, but now that you heard it once we don’t need to talk about it anymore. If you're still with me go get that coffee you earned.

Navigate yourself back to your Desktop in Nautilus and go into the Linux Articles double clicking your way. When you are inside the Linux Articles folder right click on the empty space and click “Create New Document” and then click “Empty Document”

Type in Filesystem and hit enter.
Now double click on the Filesystem file and it should open in Gedit. Gedit is a program simillar to Notepad. Gedit can also be found in Applications > Accessories.  Feel free to type in whatever you like in here and click File and then save, then File and then Quit.

Here are some cool keyboard shortcuts for both Nautalus and Gnome in Ubuntu to help you navigate your way.
Ctrl + H shows any hidden files, pressing it again hides them
Ctrl + N will open up a new windows of whatever application you are currently on, be that Gedit, Firefox, Natulis etc…
F3 while in Nautilis opens up a second pane… awesome for moving and copying files around. Pressing F3 again closes it.
Alt + Tab switches between tasks just like in windows
Ctrl + Alt+– D  minimizes everything
Ctrl + L opens up the Location or Address bar so you can type in a path, url etc…

Another awesome thing with Gnome(also in most other linux gui’s) is the ability to have multiple desktops/workspaces at the same time. For this example Open up Firefox by clicking on Applications > Interent > Firefox Web Browser and go to any website. Then open up the Mines Game by clicking on Applications > Games > Mines

Now right click on the top bar of one of them and Move it to another Workspace.  And do the same for the other one and send it to a different workspace

Image 5 

Now in the bottom right right corner you will see the different workspaces you have, you can click on one to open it.

Image 6

All of your other apps will continue to run, just not be visible. I find this a wonderful feature. Of course there is a shortcut to toggle between them you don’t have to click your way through… Ctrl +Alt + the Left and Right arrow keys.

Ubunutu Workstation comes with a free office productivity suite called Libre You have Libre Writer(similar to Word), Calc (similar to excel), Presentation(similar to Powerpoint) and Draw(similar to Visio)

These will all import and export to the most popular file formats as well they will natively export them to PDF. If you can use word, excell, powerpoint or visio you can use these as well.

In the next article I will guide you through how to configure some more operting system type settings like networking and printers.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


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GeneralFound something to do with it Pin
ledtech317-Sep-12 3:17
Memberledtech317-Sep-12 3:17 
GeneralRe: Found something to do with it Pin
Vince Yonemitsu17-Sep-12 3:27
MemberVince Yonemitsu17-Sep-12 3:27 
GeneralRe: Found something to do with it Pin
ledtech317-Sep-12 3:33
Memberledtech317-Sep-12 3:33 
GeneralRe: Found something to do with it Pin
Vince Yonemitsu17-Sep-12 3:35
MemberVince Yonemitsu17-Sep-12 3:35 
GeneralRe: Found something to do with it Pin
ledtech317-Sep-12 14:55
Memberledtech317-Sep-12 14:55 
GeneralCaught up Pin
ledtech37-Sep-12 6:26
Memberledtech37-Sep-12 6:26 
GeneralRe: Caught up Pin
Vince Yonemitsu7-Sep-12 10:06
MemberVince Yonemitsu7-Sep-12 10:06 
GeneralRe: Caught up Pin
ledtech37-Sep-12 11:26
Memberledtech37-Sep-12 11:26 

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Posted 22 Aug 2012

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