Introduction

Welcome to Ubuntu Unleashed! This book covers the free Linux distribution named Ubuntu and includes a fully functional and complete operating system produced by the Ubuntu Community, sponsored by Canonical Software.

Ubuntu directly descends from one of the oldest and most revered Linux distributions ever: Debian. Those of you who know nothing about Linux will likely not have heard of Debian; it is enough to know that it is considered to be one of the most stable and secure Linux distributions currently available. Ubuntu benefits directly from many contributions from free software developers across the world.

If you are new to Linux, you have made a great decision by choosing this book. Sams Publishing's Unleashed books offer an in-depth look at their subject, taking in both beginner and advanced users and moving them to a new level of knowledge and expertise. Ubuntu is a fast-changing distribution that can be updated at least twice a year. We have tracked the development of Ubuntu from early on to make sure that the information in this book mirrors closely the development of the distribution. A full copy of Ubuntu is included on the enclosed disc, making it possible for you to install Linux in less than an hour! No longer an upstart, Linux now has an enviable position in today's modern computing world. It can be found on machines as diverse as mobile phones and wristwatches, all the way up to supercomputersin fact, Linux currently runs on more than half of the world's top 500 supercomputers.

Do not let the reputation of Linux discourage you, however. Most people who have heard of Linux think that it is found only on servers, looking after websites and email. Nothing could be further from the truth because Linux is making huge inroads in to the desktop market, too. Corporations are realizing the benefits of running a stable and powerful operating system that is easy to maintain and easy to secure. Add to that the hundreds of improvements in usability, and Linux becomes an attractive proposition that tempts many CIOs. The best part is that as large Linux vendors improve Linux, the majority of those improvements make it into freely available distributions, allowing you to benefit from the additions and refinements made. You can put Ubuntu to work today and be assured of a great user experience.

This book provides all the information that you need to get up and running with Ubuntu. It even tells you how to keep Ubuntu running in top shape and how to adapt Ubuntu to changes your own needs. You can use Ubuntu at home, in the workplace, or, with permission, at your school or college. In fact, you might want to poke around your school's computer rooms: You will probably find that someone has already beaten you to the punchLinux is commonly found in academic institutions. Feel free to make as many copies of the software as you want; because Ubuntu is freely distributable all over the world, no copyright lawyers are going to pound on your door.

After an introduction to Linux and Ubuntu, you will find out how to get started with Ubuntu, including installation and initial configuration. We also take you through installing software, managing users, and other common administrative tasks. For the more technically minded, we also cover some starting steps in programming across several languageswhy not pick one and try it out? Throughout this book, you will also find information about multimedia applications, digital graphics, and even gaming (for after-hours when you are finished tinkering). After you make it through this book, you will be well equipped with the knowledge needed to use Linux successfully. We do assume that you are at least familiar with an operating system already (even if it is not with Linux) and have some basic computer knowledge.

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