A Free Operating System with Virtually No Viruses? Getting Started With Ubuntu

Ubuntu is an open-source operating system.

It is free of charge with consistent release cycles. 

Ubuntu is suitable for desktops or servers.

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What can I get for free?

This advantage of getting started with Ubuntu is monumental.

People across the globe who have access to a reasonable computer can enjoy Ubuntu and many of its apps for free.

The History of Ubuntu

Thinking of getting started with Ubuntu?

Ubuntu is an African word referring to humanity.

The concept is often paraphrased as “My humanity is tied to yours.”

The African concept of Ubuntu puts the product into perspective.

They mean it to be free to all people, compassionate to all languages and shared with the world.

Some say “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

zulu tribal warriors doing some native dance

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In 2004, Mark Shuttleworth assembled a team of developers interested in free and open source software to found company Canonical.

Shuttleworth was a South African internet aficionado who founded the VeriSign company.

He eventually sold that company for roughly a half billion dollars.

Canonical developed the Linux desktop called Ubuntu.

Ubuntu was free to all people and entities, regardless of their station and calling, from children in Africa to attorneys in New York City.

children in a 3rd world country

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Shuttleworth also raised $10 million toward The Ubuntu Project, a foundation to secure Ubuntu’s future.

The First of Its Kind

Ubuntu’s fixed, six-month schedule of new releases was the first of its kind.

It included a two-year cycle offering long-term support for major deployments.

Another unique quality of Ubuntu was that it did not divide itself between a free and paid version as others.

Every aspect of the product was free to every user.

free sign

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Today Ubuntu is a shared work among companies, including Canonical, and countless volunteers who are determined to do their part in maintaining an operating system for all of humanity.

Getting started with Ubuntu is for everyone.

Backed By A Global Company

canonical logo

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Canonical has evolved into a global organization.

They are the primary service provider for Ubuntu, and the money made in Ubuntu support by Canonical goes toward the continued work of the free Ubuntu product.

Canonical’s services include design and consulting for Ubuntu’s use on large-scale deployments.

Through a service agreement, projects receive management software and 24/7 support from Canonical.

These activities are crucial to the free availability of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Basics

Ubuntu sees itself not only as a free, open-source platform but as a community.

group of volunteer doing a teamwork gesture

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Getting started with Ubuntu is essentially becoming part of a collaboration among millions using a free desktop operating system based on Linux.

It is powered by free software.

Most software is controlled by a single company, but free and open source desktops use software from an array of developers worldwide.

Ubuntu:

  • Is free
  • Is easy to use and novice-friendly
  • Is professionally styled
  • Has no major viruses such as trojan horses
  • Is continually updated
  • Is supported through a global community

The Complete Package

Ubuntu is fully equipped to run an entire organization or to serve you at home.

An office suite, email, media, and thousands of applications are ready to serve your needs.

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Getting started with Ubuntu is not just adding a supplement; Ubuntu is a complete operating system.

When Ubuntu debuted in 2004, it did not take long to claim its spot atop the Distrowatch rankings.

Users loved its easy installation and ease of operation.

Unity was the desktop environment within Ubuntu, and at the time it was considered a strong, modern environment.

Jump to the future and Unity is soon to be obsolete, with GNOME taking over as the default environment.

ubuntu logo

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Along with GNOME, LXDE, XFCE, KDE, and MATE are other environments available.

A Look at The Desktop

Ubuntu desktop

The Ubuntu desktop features a launch bar on the left and an upper panel.

You will need to utilize the Super Key (equivalent to the Windows Key) often.

Holding the Super Key will also display a list of keyboard shortcuts that will be useful to you.

Pressing and releasing the Super Key will display the Ubuntu Dash.

A search box appears to help you find anything you need.

Clicking the internet icon on the top panel will display a list of wireless networks; ethernet connections will connect automatically.

Apps and More Apps

Getting started with Ubuntu means thousands of apps available for the Ubuntu Desktop, and most of them are free.

LibreOffice logo

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Those with business needs can find a professional assortment of documents, spreadsheets, and slides within LibreOffice, a free office suite that’s compatible with Microsoft Office.

The primary LibreOffice icons are found in the launch bar.

From Ubuntu, you can still manipulate Word, Excel, and PowerPoint quickly and easily.

Browsing the Web is a cinch with Firefox, Google Chrome, or other browsers.

Audio/Video

Many of Ubuntu’s free apps allow you to edit and share photos taken from cameras or phones.

No extra drivers are needed.

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Go a step farther by editing your photos or business illustrations.

Videos can also be viewed, edited, and shared.

Totem is Unbuntu’s common video player.

Press and hold ALT + F2 and type “Totem” to enter your email for the first time as you are getting started with Ubuntu.

Rhythmbox is the primary package for audio.

It allows you to import music, create playlists, enjoy life radio, and connect to other external devices.

With a little extra effort, Rhythmbox allows you to play music on your computer from your phone or other device.

Rhythmbox logo

CC0 Creative Commons by The Rhythmbox developers Image via Wikimedia

Press and hold ALT + F2 and type “Rhythmbox” to enter your email for the first time.

Are games your thing? Enjoy many, from chess to sudoku.

Gaming?

While offering Mozilla’s Thunderbird email right on your desktop, your favorites including Gmail and Hotmail are still readily available.

Press and hold ALT + F2 and type “Thunderbird” to enter your email for the first time as you are getting started with Ubuntu.

Security Is Key

Ubuntu offers first-class virus protection and a built-in firewall, making it an incredibly safe operating system.

Long-Term Releases come with a guaranteed five-year security net.

Ubuntu gives users low privileges to keep individual users from corrupting the operating system.

To prevent hackers from disrupting the environment, network ports remain closed.

A Little Privacy, Please

Are proprietary systems better? That is a fair question.

Proprietary operating systems, like all products, have several concerns, including their privacy settings.

It can be a confusing undertaking to ensure you are not sharing your private information with too many people.

Getting started with Ubuntu, you will find privacy settings always err on the side of caution.

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Trojan horses and malware have been virtually non-existent on Ubuntu, whereas they can drive you crazy in traditional operating systems.

Ubuntu was created with the best intentions for novice users susceptible to privacy issues and dangerous navigation.

An Upgrade to Subtlety?

When circumstances keep you from wanting an immediate upgrade, messages and pop-ups from the proprietary companies can drive you crazy.

frustrated person with hands on head

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With Ubuntu, you can choose to keep your current operating system for as long as you’d like.

When getting started with Ubuntu, you will receive notifications when updates are available, but unlike some proprietary operating systems, you maintain full control over how often the updates are applied.

You can also adjust how often you are notified of updates.

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A Long-Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu comes with a guaranteed support system for at least five years.

You may miss newer versions in the meantime, but you will still receive updates on your preferred version, and you will not be harassed to upgrade.

Readily Available

Canonical works to ensure that Ubuntu is compatible with the latest and best devices.

Ubuntu is available across Asia and Latin America.

Ubuntu is available in over 50 languages, because the Ubuntu mindset is that computing should be available to everyone regardless of location or other identifiers.

Ready to Give It A Try?

Before you install Linux, be sure your computer is Linux-capable.

You will need a 2 GHz dual-core processor, 2 gigabytes of RAM, 25 gigabytes available on the hard drive, and a minimum 2GB USB port.

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On a 2GB thumb drive, save the Ubuntu ISO file at

https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop

Choose to download the file through the link and then click “download now.”

Boot your designated computer from the USB. Proceed to install Ubuntu.

If you are adding Ubuntu to a computer that already has an OS, you can download Ubuntu at

https://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop 

You can choose from an assortment of versions to meet your needs and preferences.

What Flavor Sounds Good?

Like making a big decision at your favorite ice cream place, Ubuntu is offered in unique flavors. Some flavors include:

couple  eating ice cream in a cone

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Kubuntu

Kubuntu is Ubuntu with the K Desktop Environment (KDE). KDE Plasma 5 is very powerful. Kubuntu is often preferred by folks previously preferential to Windows XP or Windows 7. Some may find it old fashioned, but others will be comforted by that very thing.

Lubuntu

Lubuntu is a good choice for those wanting something fast and simple. This user-friendly flavor on the LDXE desktop is reduced to the essential elements. Some may not flock to its no-frills basics, but others will appreciate its simplicity.

Mythbuntu

Mythbuntu is all about the creation of a home theater. Be aware, however, that Mythbuntu requires specific hardware and a more complex installation (choosing how to set up the frontend/backend as well as setting up your IR remotes), so be sure to research the requirements before settling on Mythbuntu.

Ubuntu Budgie

Ubuntu Budgie offers a chic and polished interface. The desktop is practical, but it is also clutter-free with features such as a hideable sidebar. If you like the refined and simple, you will like Ubuntu Budgie.

children eating ice cream

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Xubuntu

Xubuntu has many similarities to Lubuntu, but on the Xfce desktop, it can be a bit more business-minded. Xubuntu comes with LibreOffice office suite.

Ubuntu MATE 

Ubuntu MATE is a simple and elegant Ubuntu flavor that seeks a classic, traditional desktop.

Ubuntu Kylin

Ubuntu Kylin is focused on the needs of Chinese users.

Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu Studio is all about multimedia needs. It is focused on the audio, video and graphics users, or professionals. So if artistic or communicative media is your thing, Ubuntu Studio may be the flavor for you.

Ubuntu

Among the many flavors, the flagship product is still one of the most enticing. With Ubuntu, the high level of community is at its fullest with forums, documentation, and other communities.

Also, GNOME continues to be a time-tested desktop that proves extremely reliable.

Desktop Environmentally Friendly?

There is one major difference between the Ubuntu flavors: desktop environment.

The flavors look and act differently, and most of the differences are determined by the desktop environment each flavor utilizes.

cluttered office desk

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With any operating system, your hardware is controlled by a kernel.

The kernel communicates between your software and your hardware, causing your hardware to function properly.

The kernel is the most important part of the operating system.

When getting started with Ubuntu, the average user, though, the kernel is not something we think about.

Our interaction with the computer happens primarily in the desktop environment where we open files, arrange our desktop icons, open new windows, watch videos, and other things.

Personalization

With Ubuntu’s flavors, you can choose your personal preference for appearance, offerings, and user experience.

You opt for a certain look or a good match for your hardware.

disposable coffee cup on the side of a computer

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Some Ubuntu flavors are particularly effective at allowing older hardware to perform at a higher standard.

If you do bring technical know-how to the table, you can create your own custom Ubuntu desktop environment from among the choices.

For the average user, the standard flavors offer a more-than-sufficient selection.

You can even install multiple environments and toggle between them each time you log in depending on your needs for the day.

computer themed

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Some noteworthy environments include:

Xfce

The Xubuntu flavor comes with Xfce. Xfce is meant to be fast while not overusing system resources. This makes Xubuntu a good choice for older machines. Xfce can operate with only 1GB of RAM.

Budgie

Budgie is not as lightweight as Xfce, but it is not heavy either. Considered a middleweight, Budgie is found in several distributions, including Ubuntu Budgie.

It is considered a very chic interface. While its appearance can be adjusted with Budgie settings, Budgie is based on GNOME.

GNOME

The GNOME environment comes with Ubuntu. GNOME provides easy access to the items you need. It attempts to keep all your needs in one location and to cut down on cluttered desktops.

It offers easy integration to online accounts and adjacent windows to view multiple projects at once.

MATE 

Ubuntu’s GNOME environment is actually GNOME 3. For those who preferred GNOME 2, the MATE desktop environment was a continuation of GNOME 2. While GNOME now sits untouched, MATE continues to evolve and improve.

KDE Plasma

Widgets allow KDE Plasma to offer a personalized environment in the Kubuntu flavor. They can be moved, added, removed, and personalized to match your exact needs and wants.

Some believe it also makes a smooth transition for Windows users.

LXDE

Another lightweight environment, LXDE is Lubuntu’s default environment. It is known to be extremely fast but lacks the aesthetic appeal of an environment such as Budgie.

What Next?

You have installed your favorite Ubuntu flavor and are ready to roll.

Check for updates.

There could have been fresh updates since you downloaded the IOS to our thumb drive.

Begin an Activity Overview from your computer’s primary menu and launch the Software Updater.

Ubuntu storage files/areas are referred to as repositories.

Repositories such as the Main Repository and Universe Repository house open-source software.

Other repositories house proprietary software and devices.

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From the Activity Overview, to Software and Updates.

Within the Ubuntu Software tab, check the Main, Universe, Restricted, and Multiverse repositories.

Enable the use of media files by installing media codecs.

These are found in the Repositories but do not automatically download.

The Software Center

As you continue getting started with Ubuntu, it is time to choose your software.

Within the Software Center, you will find many choices divided by categories.

The Ubuntu Software Center is the hub for installing software in Ubuntu.

“Synaptic” is typically one of the first pieces of software to download because it makes ensuing downloads faster and easier.

The Best Software to Install

Choosing software to download requires a personal inventory. 

What are your needs and pleasures? 

Below are a few of the commonly sought software downloads.

Java

At some point, most of us want to play a game online or chat with a loved one far away. Others will seek to watch videos or enjoy similar multimedia. In these cases, you will probably need Java.

java logo

Image by Freepik via Flaticon

Java is a programming language needed for many Web applications, including some that will be mentioned below.

Dropbox

You may be familiar with storing files in particular folders on your PC. Dropbox is similar, but when a file is stored in Dropbox, it syncs online to other devices in your network. You can store a report in Dropbox on your home computer and open it in Dropbox the next morning on your office computer.

Google Drive

Google Drive shares similarities with Dropbox. Files stored in Google Drive are kept in the cloud where they can be shared by other users. Together, individuals can work collaboratively to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and other files.

Telegram

Telegram Messenger is a messaging app that works over the internet, just like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. That means you can send messages for free by using a wi-fi connection or your mobile data allowance (providing you have enough data).

VLC

VLC is a media player capable of playing many different types of multimedia files. With VLC, users can also play DVDs and CDs. VLC is another free, open source.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome has become a commonly used web browser since its release in 2008. Unlike other proprietary browsers, Google Chrome is an open-source browser.

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Skype

Many people had their first video call on Skype, a telecommunications app that provides traditional and video calls between computers, mobile devices, and smart devices. Skype is also an instant messenger.

Flashplayer

Flash Player allows users to stream videos, play audio, and enjoy multimedia and Rich Internet Applications (RIA).

Ubuntu Cleaner

This practical open source product removes private information from your browser while freeing disk space. It removes cache items and other unnecessary elements from your computer.

Geary Email

Email options are plentiful with Ubuntu, from the default Thunderbird option to the availability of Hotmail and similar products. However, a personal favorite of many Ubuntu users is Geary.

Geary has rich features and a wizard to help with setup. Some fin Geary feels similar to Gmail.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a lock screen inhibitor. With passwords requiring so many numbers, letter, capitals, and special characters, it can be a bear to enter over and over again.

For others, it is frustrating to have your screen lock in the middle of necessary inactivity, such as listening to a song or lecture—Caffeine a great remedy for such nuisances.

Franz

Fanz allows users to engage in messaging services such as Facebook Messenger without the use of their browser.

Corebird

Similarly, Corebird allows users to engage on Twitter without the use of their browser.

twitter logo

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For troubleshooting help, the Ubuntu Software Center is available.

And for The Kids

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A number of educational apps for children are also available, so if you have young ones, consider these applications.

KDE Edu Suite

This is an entire software package for children’s learning. It can serve grade school students through college graduates.

Celestia

Learning about space? Celestia’s 3D rendering of the universe can’t be beaten.

GCompris

The children’s learning app not only features games, puzzles, alphabets, math, and more, it also teaches computer basics to the students.

student with backpack

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Learn about the keyboard, mouse, and using a touchscreen.

GeoGebra

Enjoy math, geometry, algebra, calculus, statistics, and more.

Getting the Most Out of Ubuntu

Ubuntu offers a multi-million member community of users. 

Community members are able to help each other through problems; you have probably not experienced any difficulty not already solved by another community member.

huge mass of people

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Some Ubuntu communities meet in person while others communicate online.

Ubuntu Local Communities, known as LoCos, meet within a region to promote and experience Ubuntu together.

Finding a LoCo may be a great way to receive meaningful advice and support.

Meaningful Change

The active Ubuntu communities, such as regional LoCos, help facilitate meaningful change and improvement.

Because Ubuntu upgrades and improvements are always free, there is no need to change for the sake of change.

The Local Communities, or LoCos, begin with a LoCo Council of elected members.

The members are diverse in backgrounds but dedicated to the Ubuntu community.

The LoCo Council governs LoCo teams by guiding, helping, and leading by example. The council exists to:

  • Assess and reassess teams
  • Communicate with Ubuntu governance boards about LoCo needs and achievements
  • To unbiasedly resolve disputes among teams
  • Govern LoCo resources and allocations
  • Helping to guide the Ubuntu Project
  • Motivating and holding LoCos to a high standard

Ubuntu Advantages

Openness

You know there are many advantages of using Ubuntu for newer users. The crafty veterans have a lot to be excited about too.

To those who know what they’re doing, Ubuntu’s open source approach allows us to look at the source code of the Ubuntu OS.

Languages

Again, for advanced users, Ubuntu supports most programming languages. Developers and programmers consistently sing its praise.

welcome in different languages

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Flavors

Ubuntu offers a variety of flavors from which to choose.

Community

Do not overpay for the local computer shop to help you out before you have exhausted your Ubuntu community. It is a hard community to exhaust.

Security

Let’s face it; we all get sick of viruses and computer hacking. The security of Ubuntu is unmatched, particularly when compared to the proprietary products. No third-party antivirus vendors are needed.

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No reboot!

Update and install without rebooting.

Price Tag

There is no better price than free.

The Ubuntu Way

The Ubuntu Mission is to “bring free software to the widest audience.”

Their website states, “In an era where the frontiers of innovation are public, and not private, the platforms for consuming that innovation should enable everyone to participate.

zulu women

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That is the vision for Ubuntu and Canonical, which motivates us to enable a wide diversity of open source communities to collaborate under the Ubuntu umbrella”

https://www.ubuntu.com/co??mmunity/mission

From the Zulu tribes of South Africa, Ubuntu philosophy identifies a truth that we are all connected to each other through an invisible web of interdependence.

We share the world in which we live, and an individual’s struggles affect many people.

In a real sense, we are all on the same team. We strengthen ourselves when we strengthen others.

Ubuntu informs our commitment to treat everyone we encounter with deep respect.

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Ubuntu is a way of being; likewise, getting started with Ubuntu OS may be just the right decision for you.

Everything You Need to Know About MKDIR Linux

The mkdir (make directory) command is pretty universal as far as command languages go. And, in fact, you will find it in UNIX and UNIX-like systems as well as used in scripting languages. You will even find it used in the MS-DOS vocabulary of command.

Normal usage of mkdir is pretty straightforward, and basic arguments can be stated by using the following syntax:

laptop with cup of coffee

mkdir name_of_directory

It is worth note, however, that unless the location of the directory is specified in the argument mkdir will create a new directory inside of the directory you call the command in. The mkdir command can even handle the creation of multiple directories, separated by a space in the argument.

Like many commands, mkdir LINUX returns no status if everything executed successfully and an error if things happened to go wrong. This command is extremely powerful, though it is rather singular in its purpose, and the -p (parents) switch will allow users to create a directory anywhere in the filesystem, even if the parent folder does not already exist.


?MKDIR LINUX Nuts and Bolts

mkdir-p

So, that is the skinny on mkdir, but say you wanted to make a new directory in your home folder but did know the entire path. Well, by default, the Terminal or command-line is set up to use your home folder, and if you ever find yourself needing to refer to it quickly the shortcut cd ~ will get you there in the blink of an eye.

But let us assume we are already there and ready to start using mkdir. Just type the following mkdir LINUX command to make your first folder:

mkdir commonstuff

That’s it. But, say you wanted to see the permissions on that new folder you just created. Well, thanks to our friends at Lifewire, we have an answer. If you run the ls command with the -l and -t flags (long format sorted by timestamp), it will list the contents of your current directory (which your new folder should be in) and each folder’s read-write access.

That readout would look something like the following command return:

drwx------+ 4 jack staff 136 Jun 4 2016 Music


Now, setting permission gets to be a little tricky, and that is beyond the scope of this blog, but, basically, it is a three-digit number that can be understood by noting that 7 is equivalent to full permission and 0 equals no permission, with the understanding that the first number is for the owner, the second for the group, and the third for everyone else.

So, say you wanted to make sure everyone had full permissions to the folder because you were going to share it. Then you would use chmod (change mode) and the three-digit number we just talked about in an argument that looks like the following:

chmod 777 commonstuff

 

?LINUX MKDIR Works Well with Others

Documents Data

But what does all of that have to do with mkdir? Well, mkdir works fine on its own, and it is a very powerful tool, but, when you combine it with other commands, you, hopefully, begin to see the broad scope of its application.

Sure, you can spend all day practicing using mkdir and learn all of the flags and switches, until you become so familiar with it, you began to dream about little mkdir’s jumping the fence in your dreams, and that would be fine. But, it wouldn’t impart any practical knowledge.

However, since we are on the subject, let’s have a look at those switches. One you know about already, and that is the -p or parent switch, which creates a parent and directory if there is not one. And the other is -m or mode, which allows you to set permissions when you create the folder.

If you are awake and facing the right way, you will recall that we were just talking about chmod and ls, and how you could use them to set permissions and further define directories and folders. Well, as you may be able to guess, there is a slightly more efficient way, as you can set permissions when you create folders.

Before we move on to an example of that, it is worth noting that mkdir LINUX will create a new folder or directory inside the default folder of the command-line (most of the time, the user home folder) unless you tell is otherwise.

It should also be no surprise that the new folder you create will inherit the permissions of the home folder unless you tell it otherwise. So, let’s go ahead and do that now with the -m switch.

mkdir -m777 commonstuff

Data and eye glasses

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Of course, this LINUX blog also reminds us the switch -v (verbose) can also be used to squeeze a little more info on the command-line. The verbose option, in fact, is somewhat universal and can be used as a flag with many commands, so it is not what we would call linked to mkdir LINUX.

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?MKDIR Examples and Tips and Tricks

Data in computer screen

So, we have shown you a few examples already, but let’s use the universal medium of music to help us cement why mkdir and so many other commands via the command-line are so powerful and simple to use once you get the hand of them.

This following command-line scenario is presented with help from our friends at Computer Hope. Say you wanted to create a music directory with folders for genres and artists for the download and storage of your favorite tunes. Say you had four artists you wanted to start with.

While you could spend a few minutes in the GUI setting a music folder, naming it, setting up the different genre folders and naming them rock, rap, and jazz, and setting up the four artists folders and naming them, why not let mkdir LINUX do the heavy lifting for you in one quick command line argument?

We will use the -p switch to create the parents, and we will use add multiple folders to our directory as well. Remember ~/ means home.

mkdir -p ~/music/rock/CCR ~/music/rock/nickleback ~/music/rap/rm ~/music/jazz/louisarmstrong

Poof. Like that, you have to start of a music directory. If you open up your file manager, you will find a music file with the files “rock,” “rap,” and “jazz” inside. Inside of the genre folder, you’ll find folders with the appropriate artist’s names.

Of course, experienced LINUX command-line hounds will probably say, “well that could have been written even more elegantly,” so something like that, but you get the point, to be sure. And, hey, this is a tutorial. There is no shame in learning as you go. Plus, writing in the command-line more than you have to is a great way to learn it more quickly.

 

?LINUX RM Wrap-up

Linux Logo

So, we have learned that the quickest, most efficient ways to make files and directories is to use mkdir LINUX. Even if you are more comfortable using a GUI file manager, executing a few lines of code in Terminal is always faster.

We know we have barely touched on what mkdir can do, we hope we have given you a taste of the power of the command line. A word of caution when learning to use permission, though. Always set a folder to full permissions until you get a good handle on what you are doing.

There is nothing worse than having a eureka command-line moment with mkdir LINUX only to discover you can use the folder you have just created. Of course, the beauty of the command-line is that it is usually easy to correct your mistakes if you are a user with elevated privileges, and you can just use chmod to reset permissions should this happen.

One thing that we did not talk about at all in this piece is the partner to mkdir, rmdir, which can remove entire directories at a time. This is also a powerful command, and you should practice only with folders that you have created. Like the rm command, the rmdir command can be very destructive.

Remember that if you practice and start with the basic commands, the command-line won’t seem so intimidating, you will want to practice more, and you will be well on your way to using piped arguments in no time at all.

So, start practicing now, move some files around, copy them, link them, and rm the old ones. Once you get going, you’ll wonder why they made the GUI at all.

 

 

Librecad Tutorial: Everything You Need to Know

LibreCAD is a GNU computer-aided design (CAD) app for 2-D design. Intended for MAC OS, Linux, macOS, and Windows operating systems, the GUI of is based off from Qt4 (cute) libraries, a graphical interface toolkit, and intended to run across many operating systems in a similar fashion.

LibreCAD has been around since 2011 and it is translated into over 30 different languages. In space where CAD software is not always easy to find, and, further, does not come cheap, TurboCAD and AutoCAD are great programs, but they can cost hundreds of dollars for multiple licenses. Even the once free Google Sketch-up now demands a hefty buy-in.

However, there is one 2-D modeling solution that is free and has remain so now for almost 10 years. LibreCAD is available for all main operating systems and is adept at creating 2-D shapes and dimensions. According to one blog, it is even considered to be a high-quality, free alternative to many pricey high-end modeling options.

Why LibreCAD?

LibreCAD

As stated, there are not a ton of CAD options out there to begin with, and Linux isn't famous for its plethora of modeling software options, either.  Dassault Systems offer DraftSight for about $150, which is available in Fedora and Ubuntu LINUX flavors, but, other than that, the LINUX CAD landscape is pretty barren.

LibreCAD, the other LINUX option, though, can do everything that DraftSight can do, and it is free. It may lack the sophistication and polish of other commercial editions, and you may find yourself having to manually create many automated features, but, rest assured, this versatile software is more than capable of getting the job done.

As we explore this free CAD powerhouse, we’ll point out some things we think you will appreciate in the software, and you’ll, more than likely, come to appreciate the more you use it. As one blog points out, before you begin working, you will want to set up your project preferences by navigating to the Current Drawing Preferences, under the Edit menu before embarking on any project.

Note as well that you will find all of the drawing tools condensed down to a few buttons on the left side of the screen. In Photoshop-like fashion, each tool represents a compiled sub-set of tools. Also, it shows that a lot of thought went into the UI when you hover your mouse over something and a tooltip pops up to help to explain it.

LibreCAD offers many tooltips, and there are many tools and symbols to hover over that offer descriptions of what they do and how to use them. In addition, LibreCAD helps to align objects and makes straight lines easy, which may not be a broad feature across all CAD software, and, in fact, it is far less common than you would think.

Nevertheless, with Snap-To-Grid, you can place anything along the dot-grid line, making it easy to align elements.

The grid spacing value is quite important in “snap to grid” mode as whatever you draw will snap to these predefined increments, and it is important to consider this value before setting up your project. You can set the grid spacing and then choose a different value for X and Y in the same menu, which is super convenient.

Drawing with LibreCAD

LibreCAD also supports the drawing of all kinds of shapes, from lines to squares and circles, and center-point drawing is quick an easy. Just click on any point as the center of the circle, and then click again to establish the radius. Alternatively, you can insert the reference points in a field below the canvas.

Next, let’s say you wanted to define eight smaller holes inside the original circle you drew so you could cut it out with a CNC machine and attach it to a wall.

Draw the first small screw hole with the same process as described above, and, when you are done, go the top panel and select the Rotate option under the Modify menu. Select the small hole and press enter. You will be prompted for the coordinates or you can eyeball a spot on the canvas.

Next, select the point of rotation by clicking on the screen or typing x/y coordinates. Do this four times down the left side of the larger circle.

When you are done, return to the Modify menu and select the Mirror option. Select the four screw holes on the left, and, again, go to the top panel and select Mirror from the Modify menu, select the four holes, and press enter. Again, you will be prompted for coordinates.

Finally, you may export this or any other drawing by selecting File and then Save As or Export. In the first case, you can easily save as a .DXF file, or as AutoCAD 2000 through the current version. But, if you would like the export a final project, you can choose from .png, .tiff, .jpg, .bmp, and even vector files like .svg in the Export menu.

LibreCad Layers and Measurements

According to at least LibreCad Tutorial, though, one of the coolest things about LibreCAD is the ability to create “layers.” In the same fashion as Photoshop, where you can create images on top of images, LibreCad allows you to place drawings “on top” of other drawings.

Imagine piling tracing paper a couple of sheets high; you can clearly see the bottom sheet through the top one, right, but the top one is more prominent.

In LibreCAD, you can rearrange layer order, too, flatten images, and turn layers on and off. You can even label your layers and define them using different colors.

Text, too, is easy to add and represent its own layer. Just choose the button in the menu on the left, pick a size, alignment, and font type. When you are finished formatting, you can move your text around the page and put is anywhere you like.

LibreCad tutorials also like to point out the taking measurement right inside of the drawing is particularly easy with this free CAD software. Just grab the measurement tool in the left menu, and click two points in the drawing. The distance between those two points is returned in whatever units you set up in preferences to begin with. You can see the measurement values displayed at the bottom of the display.

LibreCAD tutorials usually follow drawing, layers, measurements, and more. On any standard LibreCad tutorial, you can expect to find subjects that contain but are not limited to the following:

  • How to draw lines, including parallel lines, horizontal lines, vertical lines, and endpoint lines.
  • How to add new layers including colors and titles.
  • Snap functions and free positioning.
  • How to create circles.
  • How to use basic functions: Copy, Trim, Move, Delete.
  • How to use Zoom.

LibreCAD Tutorial Final Thoughts

LibreCAD Tutorial

This highly functional, easy-use-software offers many LibreCAD tutorials and instructions on how to use it, so it is not overwhelming at all, as some sites suggest. Plus, it is free and just as functional as so-called high-end software, it comes with tons of community support, and it offers a great primer software that illustrates what a 2-D modeling software can be.

But, as with much software, it is not perfect, and LibreCAD has been known to have issues with running and rendering large files. This issue is not new to the developers, and, while it was rumored that this issue would be handled by a new kernel rewrite, support from developers at LibreCAD has wavered as usage has dropped off in recent years.

Nevertheless, if you need to execute small projects using a core set of features, LibreCAD is a great choice. The price is certainly right, and there is the GNU/GPL factor to consider philosophically before deciding to adopt any software.

But, if you go that route, just remember, you may be sacrificing new, glitzy features or a lot of 3rd party plug-in scalability, and options beyond the most basic manipulations may be limited.

However, with the sectors of building, construction, and fabrication getting a shot in the arm recently due to increased housing demands, it is possible that CAD software will be reenergized across the board to the benefit of LibreCAD others that have been so good for so long.

Currently, though, with the lack of developers, there is always the possibility that the looming reaper-like fork God will come for LibreCAD, and that would be a sad end to a free CAD dynasty.



Tail Linux – Everything You Need to Know

At its most basic, tail is a program on writing into the UNIX command-line that shows the tail end of a text file. Let’s say that you wanted to see what is new on a log file for a system app, but you also wanted to avoid all of the old information as well. Well, there just happens to be a UNIX command-line utility that lets you do just that. Tail prints 10 lines of data from any file in the OS system and, at its most basic, a command using tail looks like the following: tail filename

The program is most likely used by system administrators to monitor the growth of the log files and manages errors the occur within LINUX or UNIX operating systems, as it is common for application on such OS’s to record error messages to system log files. Specifically, the user may deploy the -f option to run tail for error checking, but, as you will see in the blog, you can use the tail command for much more.


LINUX is not UNIX

LINUX is not UNIX

But before we dive into the true nation of the command line, the mysteries of tail, and how you can use it, it is important to make a few distinctions first.

Number one, UNIX was a proprietary system owned by AT&T and developed jointly with GE in the 60’s. In the 70’s, the 16-bit OS MINUX was developed based on UNIX and released for academic use, although the code remained copywrited. Then, in 1991, one site tells us, Linus Torvald released his free operating system kernel call LINUX under the free GNU license. But, while Torvald is credited with completing the actual LINUX kernel, many believe it would not have become an OS without the help of the GNU project, started in 1985 by Richard Stallman, according to Search Data Center.

After all, it takes free software to run on a free kernel to be called an OS as we know them, and so many believe that LINUX should be rewritten and GNU/LINUX. In any case, the upshot is that the system is free to use, free to manipulate, and free to share. Further, in order to distinguish their project from UNIX, Stallman used a recursive acronym as its name: a GNU (ga-noo) is also a wildebeest, but it also stands for GNU’s Not UNIX.

It is less clear how LINUX got its name, though some sources claim it too stands for a non-Unix declaration: LINUX Is Not Unix. And others’ claim it is Linus’ UNIX. Either way, both operating systems are intrinsically linked, much of which applies for tail on one is true for the other.

 

LINUX Heads and Tails

LINUX Heads and Tails

If you count yourself among those you are upright and facing the right way and pay any attention to the command-line then you have most likely heard of the cat program. While cat is certainly helpful for displaying file content when you have to pour over log file after log files sometimes you just want to see something specifically. Say, you just want to see that last 10 lines of a file, or the first 10… well, the LINUX command-line can do that. Rather than scrolling through page after page of log files, you can easily be taken right to the top of the files or the end using the head or tail LINUX command.

Say you want to see a list of usernames and passwords. Well, thanks to our friends at TecMint, the head LINUX command would look something like this:

head [options] [file(s)] or # head /etc/passwd

The same, then, would be true for the tail LINUX command:

# tail /etc/passwd

Further, it is easy to augment the number of lines printed from the command-line by using the n argument:

?# tail -n 3 /etc/passwd

Moreover, arguments/options life -f (follow) and -s(sleep) can be used to monitor an open log file while it is being written and break off that file at a specified time. These two arguments should always be used together, but don’t worry if you forget. Control-C will always break and unresponsive command. 

Plus combining commands is quick and easy, as tail LINUX can be “piped” to other commands, such as illustrated by the following example, which shows the ls command being linked with the tail command to limit the results to five:

ls -t /etc | tail -n 5

The LINUX Mascot is a Penguin

The LINUX Mascot is a Penguin

As the story goes, Linus Torvalds announced in 1996 that a penguin would be the official mascot of LINUX. He relayed an allegorical story about being bit by a penguin while in Australia, and the idea stuck. The mascot was aptly named Tux, another variation on the LINUX is not UNIX, namely Torvald’s UNIX.

Now, the reason this is worth mentioning is that up until now, LINUX was kind of an underground, geeky operating system for coders and those who liked to get their hands dirty with code. Tux was really LINUX’s introduction to the world, and it wasn’t long before the world took notice of this flashy, free operating system for your PC.

And since the code was free to use, free to augment, and free to share, it meant that enterprising software companies could take it, change it, and start charging money for their own version of it. Soon, LINUX would be developed and made proprietary by SUSE-LINUX, Red Hat LINUX, STEAM OS, and Microsoft. Yes, Microsoft.

Without diving too deep into it, Microsoft needed the LINUX command line and its built-in security to roll out its new brand of Sphere OS. This OS will go into many items that were previously not thought of as being smart devices, like, say, your toaster. With the new Microsoft OS, you can now update and automate that device.

And, thanks to LINUX and Microsoft, you might now be able to program your fridge from your laptop. But, you have got to start somewhere, and using the tail LINUX command to view the status of a log folder is a good place to start. Note: it is helpful to use the sudo command when looking at system files because some may be locked, as is shown below:

sudo tail /var/log/boot.log

Tail LINUX Specifics and Examples

Tail LINUX Specifics and Examples

But maybe you wanted to see the last 20 entries of the boot log file, so your command would look something like this: tail -n20 <filename>. But perhaps you want to go 30 lines down in a file and start parsing there. Then your command could look something like the following: tail -n+20 <filename>.

Of course, you could also output bytes in favor of lines, as suggested by this blog, by using the c switch, and that would look similar to this line: tail -c20 <filename>. And monitoring a file is simple, too, with the f argument. Common reasons for wanting to see an app while it is running is to check for errors, so you can use a tail command to check the file at certain intervals using the following command: tail -F -s20 <filename>. If for some reason, the file is inaccessible, you can command the tail to keep checking until it becomes available, using an argument the looks like the following: sudo tail --retry -F <filename>. Or maybe you wanted to use the tail to monitor a process through logs until it ends. Well, tail can do that too.

These are some of the more common uses for the UNIX and LINUX command tail. It is important to note that the use of sudo is only necessary if you need elevator permissions to open files. It is generally not necessary, but if you encounter a file that denies you permission it may come in handy.

Tail LINUX Wrap-up

Tail LINUX Wrap-up

For more info on the tail command, why not broaden you LINUX command-line skills be typing in the using a command like the following: man tail. The man command is short for manual, and it can be used to find out more about any command.

Remember, the tail command reads the last 10 lines of any text files and writes the results to standard output (the monitor screen). Hopefully, now you understand a little bit better how this command works on its own, with other processes, and in combination with switches as well. You can also use the –pid (program ID) and -f switch to monitor the program’s file and kill the tail command when the program ends. See if you can figure out what that might look like, and keep practicing with tail LINUX.

Everything You Need to Know About Discord for Linux

Discord was initially released in 2015 as a VOIP solution that combines text, voice, and video services in one client for users. Although it is a popular app for PC, MAC, and LINUX, it owes much of its initial traction to the gaming community due to the fact that gamers gain access to super-fast servers upon install and registration.

Quickly spin up chatrooms in mere moments, and talk, text, and call in the blink of an eye. Discord is free to download and use, and it promises to be much more responsive that Skype or TeamSpeak. Plus, Discord won’t suck up all of your system resources, and setting up an account is quick and easy.

Linus’ UNIX

linux logo

Discord is now available for all computer operating systems, and that is a pretty big deal. That means not only will PC and MAC users have access to sleek and fast chat and voice client, but LINUX users will too, and gamers from once exclusive platforms will now be able to easily communicate while gaming online. But, in order to truly understand Discord for LINUX means, let’s first take a look at LINUX itself. The time was the 1960’s, and AT&T/Bell Labs and GE were working on developing a time-sharing communications system through computers. This new, groundbreaking technology, UNIX, was intended to be used commercially, however, and, in the 70’s, the 16-bit OS MINUX was developed in its likeness and released for academic.

Still, as this article  tells us, the idea of a free MINUX for all was intriguing, and, when student Linus Torvald encounter the system at university, he began work on his own version that would later be released as a free operating system kernel call LINUX under the free GNU license. Later released as a free operating system kernel call LINUX under the free GNU license in 1991, Torvold knew his kernel alone was not enough to ever produce a free operating system on its own, and he joined forces with Richard Stallman of the GNU Project in the same year. For what is worth, GNU (ga-noo) is also a wildebeest and stands for GNU’s Not UNIX, underlining the software developer’s wishes to separate themselves from the commercial version. GNU and LINUX both aligned under the principle that there should be a software alternative that is free to use, free to share, and free to change.

 

Discord on Discord

Discord on Discord

So, by bridging the gap between PC, MAC, and LINUX OS’s discord is, rather, bringing the computer world a little closer together. Unfortunately, like many things in this world, that is only one side of the story and the following reports mark a darker, more disturbing trend with the chat and voice service that supposedly has all the right answers.

Discord is owned and directed by Jason Citron, who developed a successful mobile gaming platform as well as has had his hands in gaming development for some years. His experience in the gaming world led him to quickly identify a void in the area of reliable, fast, VOIP communications services for the online gaming community. So, under his direction, Discord became the first chat/phone/video app aimed specifically at gamers. The upshot has been that in three years the company has gained 130-million users, according to one online source. But such quick growth can lead to some unforeseen growing pains, and, just ask Mark Zuckerberg found our while sitting through a 10-hour Congressional hearing, managing massive amounts of online accounts is not all ponies and rainbows.

And, in early 2018, The Daily Beast broke a story about Discord servers housing hundreds of images of “revenge-porn” files scattered across many of their servers. While it was thought that photos did not necessarily originate there, Discord had made is so easy to set up an account on their ultra-fast servers that it was attracting offenders from other lude and lascivious sites.

And, while it is reportedly part of Discord’s policy that pornographic contents will not be tolerated on their servers, deleting accounts is little more than futile says one activist from the article, as new ones are made as fast as offending ones are canceled. Plus, Discord’s promise to ban the spread of “revenge-porn” on their servers didn’t seem all that effective either, when The Daily Beast, according to their article, found “non-consensual, explicit” content in just under 10 rooms.

And that is not the worst of it, as the story gets decidedly more sickening from there, with some chatrooms demanding proof of non-consensual sex and rape material before admittance to their group. At the time this article was published, Discord claimed they were aware of the problems and “working on ways to fix it,” but the Daily Beast has reported no further resolution to the problem.


Discord for LINUX

Discord for LINUX

No matter how deplorable these online activities are they are not singular to Discord, and many online chat rooms face the same problems. This blog neither supports or condemns Discord for its policies on porn in their chatroom, however, we have attempted to paint the full picture of the chat service here.

Despite this unsettling report, we will move on to a Debian version of Discord that was, in fact, released for LINUX in 2017. This experimental LINUX version was dubbed ‘Canary’, and, by many reports, it worked fairly well to the delight of Ubuntu, Debian, and Mint users everywhere, who could simply download and install the package. Of course, on some modern iterations of LINUX flavors, you can simply download the package from the website and double-click to install, just as you would on a MAC or Windows machine. On others, you’ll still need to gain some mastery of the command-line.

Additionally, you’ll find Discord for LINUX Fedora released on the Copr repository. There have been some reported bugs in this package, however, as evidenced here, but there are also many helpful tutorials online. In an interesting note, Discord has actually since moved on from Canary and released an official, more stable version. However, it has been reported that the Copr repository still hasn't updated to it. And, while the only official package is available for .deb users, the tar.gz version is available here with Discord binary code you’ll have to unpack yourself. Also, although Discord hasn’t been officially packaged for OpenSUSE, there are rumors of a script out there that can easily transform deb to rpm. So, first, get the deb package, as described above, then grab alien to convert.

The solutions for installing Discord for LINUX Arch and Gentoo are available and existent to be sure, however, they are a bit beyond the scope of this blog. So, to find tips and tricks please read this article, but be prepared to talk about overlays and Portage.


Why is Discord So Popular?

Why is Discord So Popular

Well, firstly, Discord was born out of a need from an already established and growing market: gaming. And the service has hitched a ride on the back of games like Fortnite and PUBG to fill that need. Moreover, it is super-easy to use this voice chat service -- just pug a link into your web browser, and, almost instantly, you can strike up an accord with foes and friends alike.

The app is also massive and easy scale, offer text and video across a vast universe of gaming communities and non-gaming communities. Plus, Discord doesn't really compete with anyone else for its piece of the pie; rather, it is as inclusive about welcoming other developers as it is about growing its chatrooms.

You see Discord can be ported for many different applications and communities gaming experiences, and the company welcomes other companies who want to integrate their service. In the past, streaming services like Twitch required lots of custom code and server space, but Discord has its own infrastructure, so it is more like plug-and-play for those who want to use it. In May of this year, Discord celebrated its third birthday, with a mind-blowing 300 percent user growth over the past year, according to an article by CNET. And there is no reason to think they are going to stop anytime soon.

 

Discord for LINUX Wrap-up

Discord for LINUX Wrap-up

Of course, if you have issues getting Discord for LINUX to work on your favorite flavor, you could try following the Flatpak or Snap instructions instead. But, be prepared, there will most likely still be bugs. The upshot is that the open-source community is very active and known for its collaborate, so it, likely, will not be long before those bugs are resolved.

LINUX has gotten to be incredibly fast and stable OS in recent years and it is, by many accounts, the perfect platform to support Discord in its most pure undoctored state. LINUX is also known for its clean, unbloated platform and may, in fact, provide that fastest Discord experience when all the bugs are fixed.