Ubuntu Linux Resources

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

What is this?
What is Ubuntu?
Who are you?
Why did you make this?
How often do you update this site? Are there any out-of-date tutorials?"
Can I translate or redistribute the tutorials here?
How can I donate to this project?
What other Ubuntu resources are there?
Can I use this for other Linux distributions?
How do I contact you?

What is this?
It's a collection of tutorials designed to help new Ubuntu users, in particular those coming from a Windows-using background.

What is Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is an operating system based on the Linux kernel. There are many operating systems that use the Linux kernel (sometimes these are called "Linux distros"), and Ubuntu is only one of hundreds of these. I don't recommend Ubuntu to everyone, but here are some things that make Ubuntu unique among Linux distributions:

  • Ubuntu is guaranteed to be cost-free. Other Linux distributions tend to be cost-free as well, but there exists no subscription or member fee that gives you extra in Ubuntu. There is no "enterprise edition." Ubuntu is Ubuntu, and it's free.
  • Ubuntu and the software it includes are free in two ways—they're cost-free and non-proprietary. You won't be bogged down with all sorts of licensing issues, and if you know something about programming, you can take a look at the source code of the applications and modify them as you see fit. On the one hand, this is an advantage, as you won't have limits on how many computers you put Ubuntu on. On the other hand, you may rely (much more than you may be aware of) heavily on proprietary software and wonder why you can't immediately do something you used to be able to do. In Ubuntu, the enabling of proprietary hardware drivers and software multimedia codecs can be a matter of a few clicks. (In Ubuntu 10.10 and later releases, you can actually activate proprietary codecs with one checkbox before you begin installing the Ubuntu Linux operating system.)
  • Ubuntu tries to make the installation of the operating system as simple as possible—one user (at least initially—you can add more users later), one password, one application per task, one CD for the entire operating system.
  • The forums have quick response times, helpful users and staff, and a lot of good customization tips and tricks. It's a friendly, supportive environment, in accordance with Ubuntu's philosophy of being "Linux for Human Beings"—humanity to others. The forums are run entirely by volunteers and fellow users. They are not paid employees of Canonical.
Some people view these characteristics as advantages. Others view them as disadvantages.

Even though Ubuntu comes with a lot of productivity software—an office suite, a music player, a photo editor, an instant messaging program, an email client, an internet browser, etc.—many people like their proprietary software to "just work" out of the box. That won't happen in Ubuntu. If you want to play commercial DVDs, have MP3 support, or view Flash movies in your internet browser, you'll have to enable proprietary software that Ubuntu does not include by default. There are guides (like this one) for enabling these proprietary codecs. Ubuntu has easy codec installation, making the process of enabling these codecs... a little easier.

Of course, there are also several other Linux distributions that have proprietary formats built into them: Linux Mint, Mepis, and PCLinuxOS, for example.

Regular release cycles generally mean improved software. Regular improvements breed instability, though. Even if you upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7 or from Mac OS X Snow Leopard to Mac OS X Lion, you may notice some glitches here and there. Likewise, if you upgrade your Ubuntu operating system every six months, you may find the upgrade process a bit wearying, especially if you upgrade on or before the official release day. For those who like a Linux distribution with a lot of stability and infrequent upgrades, Debian may be a better choice than Ubuntu. Ubuntu also has LTS (long-term support) releases that will receive security updates for three years, so you don't have to upgrade every six months if you don't want to. (By the way, non-LTS Ubuntu releases get security updates for 18 months.)

I think a lot of Ubuntu advocates will agree with me when I say you should use the operating system that best suits your needs. Ubuntu may be that, but there are other Linux distributions out there, and you may be better off with a non-Linux operating system (a Windows or Mac operating system, for example).

If you think you might want to try a Linux distribution other than Ubuntu but aren't sure where to begin, you can take this online Linux Distribution Quiz.

Who are you?
I'm just another Ubuntu user. I don't represent Canonical. I'm a regular on the Ubuntu forums, but that doesn't make this page in any way officially associated with Ubuntu.

Why did you make this?
Some of the documentation out there isn't step-by-step enough for new users. I try to make my tutorials what I feel is a good mix between comprehensive and simple.

Other guides and documentation projects also tend to have too many tutorials—to the point where it's actually difficult to find the tutorial you're looking for. I've tried to include only what I consider questions that are asked frequently enough to warrant a special guide or that do not have documentation in other places.

How often do you update this site? Are there any out-of-date tutorials?
Ubuntu itself has a new release every six months (once in April, once in October of each year). After a new release, it usually takes me a couple of weeks to get the tutorials on this site updated to account for new features in Ubuntu.

If I don't consider the changes worth significantly modifying my tutorials over, I will still make sure the tutorial isn't obsolete.

The tutorials linked directly off the sidebar navigation of this site should all work on the latest version of Ubuntu, even if the screenshots are slightly old. In most cases, I will even include a disclaimer telling you exactly what is outdated.

Can I translate or link to the tutorials here?
I've had numerous requests asking if people can link to or translate the Psychocats Ubuntu website. The answer is yes. You can link to Psychocats without asking my permission. If you want to translate Psychocats Ubuntu, you may do that as well (please let me know, though—I'm just curious to know what's going on), and I encourage spreading the knowledge.

I haven't officially licensed the documentation, but the closest I've found to what I'd say embodies the spirit with which I'm giving Psychocats Ubuntu to the community is the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. If you would like to mirror Psychocats, you may do so, but please send me a link to the mirrored site, so I can know to refer people there also. And make sure you keep the mirror up to date!

How can I donate to this project?
This documentation project isn't currently taking donations directly. It is funded by Google ads, which pay for the server and domain costs (and not a lot more).

If you feel the need to reward me for this work, though, you can do so indirectly, by donating to one of the following charities. These are organizations whose work I really believe in and for whom a couple of US dollars (or the equivalent of that amount in other currency) can make a huge difference:
ACCESS Chinatown
Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group
Delancey Street Foundation
Excelsior Community Food Pantry

What other Ubuntu resources are there?
I'd highly recommend these links:
The Ubuntu Forums
Ubuntu Manual
Ubuntu Community Site
The Ubuntu Guide

Can I use this for other Linux distributions?
Not as is. A lot of this stuff applies conceptually to other Linux distributions (particularly Debian-based ones), but practically the steps and commands are slightly different.

How do I contact you?
If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please post in this Ubuntu Forums thread or leave a comment on my blog.

Keep in mind that I do not take all suggestions given, even though I appreciate all the input I've gotten so far. Usually suggestions I don't take are outside the scope of this site. Psychocats is not intended to be a comprehensive tutorial site on everything related to Ubuntu. It is meant to be digestible and is also targeted at some of the most frequently asked questions from new users.

They are also all my tutorials (though some people have been kind enough to contribute a paragraph or two to fill in some missing gaps in my knowledge). I don't feel comfortable giving tutorials on subjects I know nothing about (for example, employing hacks to play Windows video games, setting up dual-screen monitors, tweaking desktop effects, or configuring Fluxbox).

Last updated 10/13/11 10:37

If you have suggestions or corrections for these tutorials, please post in this Ubuntu Forums thread or leave a comment on my blog.

I will not give help to people posting in the above places. If you require technical support, start a support thread on the Ubuntu Forums. That is the appropriate place to ask for help.