Introduction to Ubuntu Linux

Week 1


  • All HCC machines running Ubuntu Live CD (CD's given to participants who have brought their own laptop) so people can see and try out.
  • LOGIN member's machines with examples of Ubuntu eye-candy and apps
  • A box ready for an installation to run during class (up front)
  • Clipboard passed around for people to put down name and email address if they emails and links.


  • All tutors introduced by lead-tutor (all wearing LOGIN name tags)
  • Explain clipboard for notes and start to pass around.
  • Arrange people close to a computer and able to see big screen.
  • Warn them not to press the “Install” icon.
  • Say “Try to follow along as we go through the talk. There will be time for questions at the end of each section.”
  • Start the installation

a. Overview


On projector

  • boot up to log in
  • tour the desktop
  • taskbar (what icons mean), menus
  • start a program
  • show terminal
  • open file manager and show file system

File structure

(from Ubuntu help

This file structure is almost identical across all machines running Linux

Linux and Unix file systems are organised in a hierarchical, tree-like structure. The highest level of the file system is the / or root directory. In the Unix and Linux design philosophy, everything is considered a file - including hard disks, partitions and removable media. This means that all other files and directories (including other disks and partitions) exist under the root directory.

For example, /home/jebediah/cheeses.odt shows the correct full path to the cheeses.odt file that exists in the jebediah directory which is under the home directory, which in turn, is under the root (/) directory.

Underneath the root (/) directory, there is a set of important system directories that are common across most Linux distributions that are used. The following is a listing of common directories that are directly under the root (/) directory:

    /bin - important binary applications
    /boot - boot configuration files
    /dev - the device files
    /etc - configuration files, startup scripts, etc...
    /home - local users' home directories
    /lib - system libraries
    /lost+found - provides a lost+found system for files that exist under the root (/) directory
    /media - mounted (loaded) removable media such as CDs, digital cameras, etc...
    /mnt - mounted filesystems
    /opt - provides a location for optional applications to be installed
    /proc - special dynamic directory that maintains information about the state of the system, including currently running processes
    /root - root user home directory, pronounced 'slash-root'
    /sbin - important system binaries
    /sys - system files
    /tmp - temporary files
    /usr - applications and files that are mostly available for all users to access
    /var - variable files such as logs and databases



(Illustrate on the projected machine)

All of the files on a Linux system have permissions that allow or prevent others from viewing, modifying or executing. The super user “root” has the ability to access any file on the system. Each file has access restrictions, user restrictions and have an owner/group association.

Every file is secured by the following three sets of permissions, in order of importance:

    user - applies to the user who is the owner of the file
    group - applies to the group that is associated with the file
    other - applies to all other users

Inside each of the three sets of permissions are the actual permissons. The permissions, along with the way they apply differently to files and directories, are outlined below:

    read -	files can be displayed/opened
	directory contents can be displayed
    write -	files can be edited or deleted
	directory contents can be modified
    execute - executable files can be run as a program
	directories can be entered

To view and edit the permissions on files and directories, open the Places in Home Folder and right-click on a file or directory. Then select Properties. The permissions exist under the Permissions tab and allow for the editing of all permission levels, if you are the owner of the file. Questions??

Root And Sudo

The root user in GNU/Linux is the user which has administrative access to your system. Normal users do not have this access for security reasons. However, Ubuntu does not include the root user. Instead, administrative access is given to individual users, who may use the “sudo” application to perform administrative tasks. The first user account you created on your system during installation will, by default, have access to sudo. You can restrict and enable sudo access to users with the Users and Groups application

When you run an application that requires root privileges, sudo will ask you to input your normal user password. This ensures that rogue applications cannot damage your system, and serves as a reminder that you are about to perform administrative actions which require you to be careful!

To use sudo when using the command line, simply type “sudo” before the command you wish to run. Sudo will then prompt you for your password.

Sudo will remember your password for a set amount of time. This feature was designed to allow users to perform multiple administrative tasks without being asked for a password each time.

Be careful when doing administrative tasks, you might damage your system!

Some other tips on using sudo:

  • To use a “root” terminal, type “sudo -i” at the command line.
  • All of the default graphical configuration tools in Ubuntu already use sudo, so they will prompt you for your password if needed.


What is Linux, Free Software and Open Source?

(Adapted from Linux Australia:

Linux (also known as GNU/Linux) is a computer operating system, Q: What are 2 other computer operating systems? (Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS).

Unlike those two, however, Linux is built with a collaborative development model. The operating system and most of its software are created by volunteers and employees of companies, governments and organisations from all over the world. Q: Do you know of any companies or government contributing to Linux? (US Gov security, Sun, IBM, Google, ideas from LOGIN crew)

The operating system is free to use and everyone has the freedom to contribute to its development. This co-operative development model means that everyone can benefit. Because of this, we like to call it Free Software, or Socially Responsible Software. Closely related is the concept of Open Source Software. Together, Free and Open Source Software is collectively abbreviated as FOSS. This contrasts with the proprietary (or closed source) development model used by some software companies today.

Many of the principles behind FOSS are derived from the axiom of “standing on the shoulders of giants”, most famously used by Isaac Newton, which has guided scientific and industrial development for hundreds of years.

Transparency of the code and development process means that it can be participated in and audited at all levels. Q: What benefits can you think of from this transparency? (Fast development, find and fix bugs quickly)

Software is just another form of information, and people have the right to have full control over that information. In the same way that you are free to share cooking recipes with your neighbour, you should also have the freedom to share and change software.

Linux has many other benefits, including speed, security and stability. It is renowned for its ability to run well on more modest hardware. Linux comes from the venerable UNIX family of operating systems, and so has been built from the ground-up with Internet-style networking and security in mind. Hence, viruses, worms, spyware and adware are basically a non-issue.



UNIX was originally developed by Ken Thompson at Bell Labs, the legendary research arm of AT&T (the former U.S. telecommunications monopoly) in 1969 and was substantially improved at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) during the 1970s and 1980s. Many variations were subsequently developed, and they are collectively referred to as Unix-like operating systems. Unix-like operating systems are widely regarded as the best operating systems ever created in terms of several criteria, including stability, security, flexibility, scalability and elegance.

Linux was started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, then a student at the University of Helsinki in Finland, because of his dissatisfaction with MS-DOS and his desire to obtain a free version of UNIX for his new computer. Linux quickly became a global project with programmers from around the world participating in its development via the Internet. Its performance has improved continuously, and this has been paralleled by the swift growth in its usage around the world by individuals, corporations, educational institutions and governments.

Linux is superior to other Unix-like operating systems in several respects. One is that it is completely free, in contrast to the costly proprietary (i.e., commercial) versions of UNIX.

This freedom is made possible by the fact that Linux is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GNU project was begun by Richard Stallman in 1983 for the purpose of developing a completely free, high performance, Unix-like operating system. It has provided many of the most critical utility programs for Linux, and thus it is sometimes suggested that the most appropriate name for Linux is GNU/Linux. Another advantage of Linux is that it can operate on a much wider range of hardware than most other operating systems. It can run on notebook computers, desktop computers, workstations, mainframes, supercomputers, handheld devices (including some mobile phones), game machines, industrial robots and even a wristwatch!

You have already used Linux and FOSS:

  • Apps: Firefox, OpenOffice, Thunderbird
  • Sites: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and most web sites
  • Devices: ADSL modems, set-top boxes, kiosks, satnav


b. Pros and cons of Linux

(15 min)

(based on:

Basically it comes down to choice. If you can think it, you can probably do it.


  • Runs on just about any hardware. Linux actually has broader driver support than Windows or OS-X. But the latest and greatest hardware doesn't come to Linux first. For most things this isn't a problem for the same reason it isn't a problem for OS-X. Just be aware of the issue before running out to buy the latest add on.
  • More options than any other system. This is a pro and a con. If you want to change anything in Linux, you can. The limiting factor is your desire to figure out how.

Way more secure than Windows XP and even OS-X.

  • Everything is free. But it's good to donate to your favourite projects.
  • If you choose to, you can always be on the cutting edge of computer science. All the new ideas in development on college campuses across the world are tried on Linux first and then the “best” of those filter down to Apple and Windows but, what's best is subjective, so Linux leaves you with a choice. Apple and Windows limit you.
  • Full access to the free, open source library of software. Great full featured, compatible, and free replacements for your proprietary software.
  • Linux management, for example patch management, is much easier. Typical one command or wizard has to be invoked in order to update everything vs. Windows where you have to get OS patches from Microsoft and third party patches from each individual vendor.

(Install a program - that the audience choose)


  • The latest and greatest hardware is typically slower to reach Linux. Unless the manufacturer decides to write Linux drivers or release protocols.
  • The sheer number of options can be daunting to a non-technical user. Although, like OSX, the distribution you select will determine the level of complexity presented or hidden from the end user. For instance, my mom would have no problem using Ubuntu but, only the uber techies among us would opt for the Gentoo Linux distribution.
  • Limited support for proprietary applications. Although you can use Microsoft Office for Windows on Linux by using an open source version of the Windows application programming interface called WINE, I wouldn't recommend it for the non-technical user. Instead use Open Office, which comes with the Ubuntu distribution, for creating documents compatible with Microsoft Office.
  • Limited vendor support. This is getting better. Dell now offers systems with Ubuntu pre-installed. As for software support, even though this is under cons, I can't really say this is a bad thing. In 20 years Microsoft has never answered a question when I have bothered to call them. I may spend hours searching their knowledge base to find an answer to my question. On the other hand, Linux has a massive community of people willing to help. A quick search of the Ubuntu forums will generally reveal an answer, and if not, then a quick post to the forum normally gets a response.


c. Demonstrate programs

(45 min)

try to keep to 5 minutes each and watch the clock

  1. - writer, calc, draw,
  2. Firefox
  3. Email Thunderbird, Evolution
  4. Pidgin
  5. Gimp
  6. Music
  7. Games

show linuxalt


d. Give out plan for following weeks and ask participants


  • What particular programs, processes do you want to use Linux for?
  • What do you usually do with your computer?

(record on projector computer)

e. Explain installation options and give each class member a Live CD

(15 min)


  1. Full install
  2. Wubi
  3. dual boot
  4. swap hard drives
  5. run Live CD ie. don't install

Plan for Next Three Weeks

Week 2

Install and problem solving night - we help you install Ubuntu Linux on your machine or bring your problems along if you have already installed.

Detailed explanation of installing new software including:

  • the Ubuntu repository
  • using
  • how to un-install programs

Week 3.

Problem solving and Demonstrate programs and processes asked for in Week 1 and extended demonstration (20 minutes each) of:

  • OpenOffice
  • Firefox
  • Email clients

Week 4.

Problem solving continued, with extended demonstrations (20min) of:

  • the Gimp
  • Music apps
  • other programs requested.

Assess interest in setting up a Linux Learners Group and invite to LOGIN meetings.

full_course_outline.txt · Last modified: 2017/07/24 20:08 (external edit)
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