Introduction: Getting Started With Ubuntu

This Instructable aims to get Windows and OSX users started with the opensource Ubuntu operating system. I will start with the general settings, like graphics drivers, sharing files with Windows etc, then I'll cover the installation and usage of some popular applications, and I'll finish of with some tips and tricks like shortcuts and terminal usage.

If you don't have Ubuntu installed already, you can check out my other Instructable on how to install it.

How to install Ubuntu 14.04 alongside Windows

Step 1: Settings and Setting Up

At the bottom of this step, there's a dictionary with some of the technical terms I'll use.

Start menu, Launcher and Desktop

When you press the Windows key on your keyboard, the start menu will appear. Here you can search for programs and files, just by typing the name. You can drag any application to the launcher on the left hand side, as well as to the desktop. To rearrange the launcher, you can just drag the icons around, and if you right click, you can select 'Unlock from Launcher'. On the desktop, you can just select an icon, and press delete to remove it from the desktop.

In the start menu, there's a space for recent files and apps as well. If you want, for whatever reason, to delete this history, you can go to System Settings > Security & Privacy > Files & Applications, and click 'Clear Usage Data...' and select how far back you want to delete the history. You can also disable the record.

Nvidia driver and other proprietary drivers

If you have an Nvidia graphics card in your computer, you may want to use the Nvidia driver instead of the default Ubuntu driver (Nouveau), to use the more advanced features of your GPU, like CUDA.
To do this, open the system settings, and click 'Software & Updates'. Under the tab 'Additional Drivers', select the Nvidia driver, the 'tested' driver is probably the best choice. Then click 'Apply Changes', you may need to reboot for the changes to have any effect.

Multiple users

If multiple people will be using the computer, you may want to create multiple user accounts. Go to System Settings > User accounts, and click the lock in the top right corner, to unlock the settings. After you've entered your password, you can click the '+' sign at the bottom left to add a new user.
Select an account type (standard or administrator, a standard account cannot install software or change certain settings etc.) and a name and username. Then click 'Add'.
You'll notice that the account is created, but not yet enabled. To enable the account, simply click 'Account disabled', and set a password. Then click change.
To delete the account again, use the '-' sign.

By default, a guest account is enabled. It doesn't keep any settings or files, and can be accessed by anyone, without entering a password. To disable the guest access, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window, using the key combination CTRL+ALT+T (it is like 'cmd' in Windows)
  2. Type in the following:
    gksudo gedit /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/50-ubuntu.conf

    gksudo is used to run graphical applications with administrator (root) rights, gedit is the default text editor (like notepad in Windows), /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/50-ubuntu.conf is a configuration file for lightdm, the display manager. Note that Ubuntu uses forward slashes for folders, whereas Windows uses backslashes.

  3. Add the line
    at the end of the file.
  4. Save the file (CTRL+S or click 'Save'). Then close gedit and the terminal window (the close button is at the top left, like on OSX).
  5. The next time you reboot, the guest login will be gone.

Sharing files and folders between Windows and Ubuntu

Managing your files on a dual boot system can be quite difficult. Here are some ways to make your life as easy as possible:

1. The first option is to store all your files on a NAS, that is accessible from all your computers and operating systems.

2. The second option is to use bookmarks to your Windows folders in Ubuntu's file manager, Nautilus (like Explorer or Finder). You can open it by clicking the file cabinet icon right under the start menu.

Just open the location you want to bookmark, and press CTRL+D (or Bookmarks > Bookmark this Location). To delete it, simply right click the bookmark and select 'Remove'. In the example, I created a bookmark for my 'Renders' folder.

The reason we use bookmarks to the Windows (ntfs) file system is that Windows doesn't support the Ubuntu (ext4) file system, so you can't access your Ubuntu files when running Windows.

If you want this bookmark to work every time you restart the computer, you'll have to automatically mount the Windows partition, otherwise, Nautilus will not be able to open this part of the disk.
To do this, first go to 'Computer' in the file browser, go to 'media', and in the folder with your own username, create a new folder (CTRL+SHFT+N) called 'Windows'. Then open the 'Disks' utility, select the drive and partition your Windows files are on, and then click the cogwheels for 'More actions'. Select 'Edit mount options...'.
Turn off 'Automatic Mount Options', and check 'Mount at startup' and 'Show in user interface'. Change the display name to 'Windows', and if you want, you can add an icon. I found mine here. Save it somewhere on your computer, and enter the link to it in the 'Icon Name' field, in my case this was home/username/Pictures/Icons/windowsIcon.png. You don't have to change the next two fields, but change the mount point to the folder you just created (/media/username/Windows). Then click OK, and grant permission to modify the /etc/fstab file.

3. A third option is to replace your personal folders by symbolic links to your Windows folders. To do this you'll also need to automatically mount the Windows partition. When that is finished, you can create the links:
First copy all the files in your home folders (i.e. Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos) to the corresponding Windows folders ( /media/username/media/Windows/Users/username/ ). Then delete the empty Ubuntu home folders (only the five mentioned above). Then go to your Windows home folders again, and select Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos (using CTRL+click to select multiple). Then right click the selected files, and choose 'Make Links'. Hit CTRL+X to cut these links you've just created, and paste (CTRL+V) them in your Ubuntu home folder ( /home/username/ the folder with the house icon). When you've pasted them, rename them (right click > Rename) from 'Link to Documents' to 'Documents' (for all five of them, replacing the 'Documents' by the right name, obviously). The icon of the links should change, and when you double-click them, you should see the contents of your corresponding Windows folder.

I think the latter one is the best solution, and I use it myself.

Backing Up

Backing up your data is always recommended, so why not do it in Ubuntu as well?
The built in backup application is really easy to use. Just plug an external HDD into your computer, and go to System Settings > Backups.
In the 'Folders to save' tab, use the '+' sign to add a location to backup. (If you used the symbolic link solution above ↑, you can exclude these folders in the operating system you use least often, so you don't have two copies of the same data. For example, I mostly use Ubuntu, so I excluded my Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos folders in my Windows backup, because Ubuntu backs them up anyway.)
In the next tab choose the folders not to backup, Downloads and the trash can are automatically excluded.
Under 'Storage location', choose your external HDD from the drop-down menu, and choose a folder for the backup, e.g. 'Ubuntu Backup'.

Then just flip the switch in the top right corner to enable automatically scheduled backups.
You can change the scheduling in the next tab.

Adding a printer

If you have a printer that connects through USB (or a parallel interface), installing it should be as simple as plugging it in and turning it on. You can change the settings in System Settings > Printers. If you have multiple printers connected, that's also the place to set the default printer.

When you have a print job pending, an icon should appear in the top right corner of the screen. If you click it, you can check the print status/queue for each printer.

Installing a network printer requires a little bit more effort:

  1. Go to System Settings > Printers
  2. Click the 'Add' button
  3. Under network printer, select 'Windows Printer via SAMBA' (if your printer has built in WiFi, try one of the other options)
  4. Click 'Browse...' and wait for Samba to scan the network.
  5. Double-click your Workgroup name, computer name, and printer name.
  6. Click 'Verify'
  7. If it succeeds, click 'Forward', and wait to search for drivers.
  8. Choose the generic driver, or select your printer manufacturer. Then click forward.
  9. Select the model of your printer, and the appropriate driver. Then click forward.
  10. If there is any additional hardware, like a duplexer installed, check the box. Then click forward.
  11. Change the description if you want to.
  12. Optionally print a test page, click cancel otherwise.
  13. The printer is now ready to use.

Setting a static IP address

If you want a static IP address, for hosting a local server, or remote desktop applications, go click the networking icon in the top right corner, and select 'Edit connections...'. Select the connection you want to give a static address, and click 'Edit'. Under the 'IPv4 Settings' tab, select 'Manual' instead of 'Automatic (DHCP)'. Then press 'Add', enter the IP address, netmask and gateway, and enter the DNS servers. Finally, click 'Save...'.

Using multiple displays

Connect your extra displays to your computer, and go to System Settings > Displays to change the configuration. I recommend setting 'Launcher placement ' to the leftmost display only, otherwise, the mouse pointer will get stuck in the launcher on the right display when you try to move from right to left, which is quite annoying.
Use 'Mirror displays' to show the same content on both displays (e.g. for presentations with a projector, note that software like LibreOffice Impress have an automatic presentation setting built in, so you won't need this).Then open the 'NVIDIA X Server Settings' - if you have an Nvidia GPU - and under the 'X Server XVideo Settings' choose your main display to sync, to prevent video tearing.

Setting the default sound card

To chose your default audio device, click the speaker icon in the top right corner, and choose 'Sound settings ...' Then just select the right sound card.


  • CPU: central processing unit, processor, the part of a computer that does the actual calculations.
  • OS: operating system, system software that manages computer hardware and software resources and provides services for computer programs. Windows, OSX and Ubuntu are examples of an operating system.
  • NAS: network-attached storage, a computer data storage connected to a network, that can be accessed by multiple computers or other devices on that network.
  • Partition: a division of a storage device. A partition has its own file system.
  • File system: used to control how data is stored and retrieved. Without a file system, information placed in a partition would be one large body of data with no way to tell where one piece of information stops and the next begins. A file system keeps a table with the addresses of every file.
  • Formatting: Creating a new filesystem inside a partition. This deletes the index of all files on the partition, so data is lost when you format it.
  • RAM: random-access memory, a very fast type of volatile memory that is connected directly to your processor. Every bit of data that has to be processed has to pass through RAM, and the operating system and other programs are loaded into RAM.
  • Swap: the SWAP partition acts as an overflow to your (RAM) memory. If your memory is filled up completely, any additional applications will be run off of the SWAP partition rather than memory. However, since your hard disk is many times slower than RAM, this will have a negative effect on your computer's performance.
  • HDD: hard disk drive, main storage device, non-volatile memory, consists of one or more disks that are magnetized by a moving head.
  • Terminal: a means of interacting with a computer program where the user (or client) issues commands to the program in the form of successive lines of text (command lines).
  • Mounting: associating a (removable) storage device with a point in the file system, so that its contents can be accessed.
  • Mount point: the point where a storage device is mounted. In Ubuntu, this is /media or /mount. Inside these folder, there's all the content of the storage device.
  • Symbolic link: a file that contains a reference to another file or directory.
  • Extension: an identifier specified as a suffix to the name of a computer file, often separated from the filename with a dot, or other character, that indicates a characteristic of the file contents or its intended use.
  • Root user: the superuser, a special user account used for system administration. Can be compared to the administrator in Windows.
  • Booting: the initialization of a computerized system.
  • BIOS: basic input/output system, a type of firmware (system software) used to perform hardware initialization during the booting process. Settings like CPU speed (overclocking), setting the system time etc. can be performed in the BIOS.
  • Bootloader: small program that starts the booting process when the system is turned on, it loads the OS from the hard disk into RAM and initializes other hardware as well.

Step 2: Installing Software

Google Chrome

This is one of the easiest installations: just go to the Google Chrome website (using the preinstalled Firefox browser), go to Download > For personal computers, click Download Chrome, select the appropriate version, 64 or 32bit, and choose the .deb filetype, this is the extension Ubuntu uses for software installation, (like .exe or .msi for Windows).
Select 'open with Ubuntu Software Center (default)' to open the file. When the download is finished, the Software Center will open. Then click 'Install', and enter your password when prompted. Chrome will now be installed on your computer.


The installation of Skype is almost the same as Chrome: go to the site and click 'Download Skype'. From the drop-down menu, select Ubuntu 12.04, and the download will start. Open the downloaded file with the Software Center, and install it.

Note: if you download .deb-files using Google Chrome, it will give you a warning that this type of file can harm your computer. This is absolutely true, keep this in mind when downloading third-party software, and remember that every time you enter your password, a program gets full access to your computer - the same is of course also true for Windows, and every other system - so be careful!


Go to the Dropbox website, click 'Download the app', click the right .deb-file, open it with the Software Center, install it ... Well, you get the idea.

The Ubuntu Software Center

Until now, we only used the Software Center to install a file we downloaded manually, but you can also install programs directly from it, just like the App Store. When a certain program is available from both the website and the Software Center - and most of them are - it is sometimes better to download it from the site, since the Software Center can be 1 or 2 versions behind.


The package manager for Ubuntu uses 'apt-get' to install packages, for example "sudo apt-get install gparted" (in a terminal) will install the GParted partition editor. You could use the Software Center, but most of the time it is much faster to use apt-get. It is also much easier to document and explain, for example, it's easier to write
"Copy this line and run it in a terminal: sudo apt-get install gparted" than to write
"Open the Software Center, in the search bar, type 'GParted', click the first result, click install, enter your password ..."
That's why most sites will use apt-get in their installation instructions, instead of the Software Center.

Apt-get uses so-called repositories, these are links to the sources of the software, i.e. where it has to download the program. To update the sources and lists of software, the command "sudo apt-get update" is used, mostly before running "sudo apt-get install".

An example of a program that has to be installed using apt-get is Spotify:


At the Spotify download page, they give you four commands. Open the terminal (CTRL+ALT+T) to execute them. You can copy and paste in the terminal using CTRL+SHFT+C and CTRL+SHFT+V respectively.

# 1. Add the Spotify repository signing key to be able to verify downloaded packages
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys BBEBDCB318AD50EC6865090613B00F1FD2C19886

This first command is to get a key, to verify the packages, to make it more secure. Packages which have been authenticated using these keys will be considered 'trusted'. (note: everything behind the hash (#) is a comment, and will not be executed.)

'sudo' means 'superuser do', and is like administrative tasks in Windows (the blue and yellow shield). This means that it grants full access to the program you use it with. Be careful! Only run commands from companies you trust!
In this case, apt-key and apt-get need this so-called root access to prevent people from installing (malicious) software without an administrator password.

# 2. Add the Spotify repository 
echo deb stable non-free | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/spotify.list

This adds the Spotify repository to the list of software sources, so apt-get knows where to download Spotify.
(tee is a program that is used to write to a file, echo is the command to print text, so here we are basically 'printing' the words "deb stable non-free" to the file with the software sources, /etc/apt/sources.list.d/spotify.list)

# 3. Update list of available packages
sudo apt-get update

The link to the Spotify program is now in the file, but apt-get has to load the new settings and sources first. This command will update all repositories.

# 4. Install Spotify
sudo apt-get install spotify-client

Now that apt-get knows where to find Spotify, this last command can be used to actually install Spotify.


Blender is an extremely powerful, opensource 3D modeling, compositing and video editing program. It is available, it is available through the Software Center, but if you want the latest version, and if you want to use the GPU acceleration of the CUDA cores on your Nvidia graphics card, you'll have to download it from the site.

Go to the website and click the download button. Download the appropriate Linux version from one of the mirrors.
The downloaded file is a .tar.bz2 archive, you could compare it to a .zip file.
The easiest way to install it is in the terminal, and it's also a good exercise to to make the terminal a little bit more familiar, so that's what we'll do: (CTRL+ALT+T to open a terminal window)

cd Downloads

cd stands for 'change directory', and does essentially the same as double clicking a folder in the file browser.
When you open the terminal, it will have a ~ before the dollar sign, this indicates that you are in the home directory. When we run this command, it will change to ~/Downloads$, to indicate you are now in the Downloads folder inside your home folder. (Note: it doesn't matter if your Downloads directory is actually a symbolic link, like in step 2, it will be treated as a normal folder. Also, folder and file names are case sensitive, so if you type downloads instead of Downloads, you'll probably get an error that the directory doesn't exist.)

tar jxf blender-2.76b-linux-glibc211-x86_64.tar.bz2

This command just 'unzips' the file. It doesn't show any progress, so be patient! Change the filename if you have downloaded a different version of Blender.

sudo mv blender-2.76b-linux-glibc211-x86_64/ /opt/blender-2.76b/

mv means 'move', so this command moves the unzipped folder blender-2.76b-linux-glibc211-x86_64 to a folder called blender-2.76b in the /opt directory. The /opt/ folder is used to install extra software. Again, if you downloaded a different version of blender, just change the numbers.

Blender is now installed, and we could just run it already, by typing


However, there are still some steps to follow, creating a launcher, for example, called a desktop file in Ubuntu, so you have a clickable icon in your start menu or on your desktop, and you don't have to dive into the terminal every time you want to start Blender. Use the following commands:

gksudo gedit /usr/share/applications/blender.desktop

We'll create a desktop file, in the folder where Ubuntu keeps all those launcher files for every program, and open it with Gedit.
Gksudo is used to run a program with a graphical interface with administrative privileges. (Read why you shouldn't use 'sudo' here.)
Gedit is the text editor, like notepad on Windows, or a very simple version of TextEdit on OSX.
In the empty file, add the following, then save it and close gedit.

[Desktop Entry]

Remember to change the numbers to match your version of Blender.
Some more info on desktop launcher files can be found here.

Then run

sudo chmod a+x /usr/share/applications/blender.desktop

This is to make sure that all users (a) have the permission to execute (x) the launcher file. The plus sign means that you add a permission.

echo "application/x-blender=blender.desktop" | sudo tee --append /usr/share/applications/defaults.list

This last command is to associate the .blend file type that Blender with the launcher file we've just created, so when we double-click a .blend file, it will run the launcher file (.desktop) and this file will launch the actual Blender program (/opt/blender-2.76b/blender, note that this executable 'blender' file does not have an extension.)
We again use the echo and tee commands to write the right words to the defaults.list file. The option --append is used to add it to the file, rather than replacing all the content.


Processing is a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts. To install it on your system, run these commands in a terminal (you can take a look at the instructions for Blender, as a reference):

cd Downloads

to change directory into your Downloads folder.

You could download Processing from the site, or run the following command, change the 64 to 32 if you are running on a 32bit system, and change the 3.0.1 to the latest version. (Well, I'll admit that it's probably easier to just download it from the site, but this is just for demonstration purposes.)


The wget command just downloads the file to the current directory (i.e. /home/username/Downloads)

tar -xzf processing-3.0.1-linux64.tgz

This just 'unzips' the file you just downloaded.

sudo mv processing-3.0.1/ /opt/processing-3.0.1/

And this moves the folder you've just extracted to the /opt/ folder, the location for software installation.

Now we'll create a launcher (see Blender instructions for more information)

gksudo gedit /usr/share/applications/processing.desktop

Gedit will open and create the launcher file. Paste the following lines into it and save it.

[Desktop Entry]

Then close gedit and run this line:

sudo chmod a+x /usr/share/applications/processing.desktop

to make sure that all users (a) have the permission to execute (x) the launcher file. The plus sign means that you add a permission.

To associate .pde files with Processing, so that Processing automatically opens when you click a .pde file, you can follow these steps.

We'll first define a MIMI type for processing files. MIME types are a sort of identification card for files on Ubuntu.

gksudo gedit /usr/share/mime/packages/processing.xml

Gedit will open the new file. Paste the following lines into it:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<mime-info xmlns="">
    <mime-type type="text/x-processing">
        <comment>Processing Source Code</comment>
        <sub-class-of type="text/x-csrc"/>
        <glob pattern="*.pde"/>

To update the MIME database, run

sudo update-mime-database /usr/share/mime

and to add Processing as the default program for this file type:

echo "text/x-processing=processing.desktop" | sudo tee --append /usr/share/applications/defaults.list


To install the Arduino IDE from the site, follow this guide:
First, go to the site, and download the appropriate version. The installation is similar to the installation of Processing (since Arduino is based on Processing), but it's a lot easier, thanks to the installer that the Arduino programmers included.
Open a terminal (CTRL+ALT+T), and run the following commands:

cd Downloads
tar xf arduino-1.6.7-linux64.tar.xz
sudo mv arduino-1.6.7/ /opt/arduino-1.6.7/
sudo usermod -a -G dialout $USER

This goes to the Downloads folder, unzips the downloaded file, moves it to the /opt/ folder, and runs the install script. This install script will create a desktop file, and a MIME type to associate .ino files with the Arduino IDE.
Finally, you have to add (-a = append) your user to the 'dialout' group (-G), in order to have access to the serial ports. ($USER is a system variable for the current user) If you open the Arduino IDE now, you'll see that the Tools > Port option is grayed out. When your user is added to the dialout group, log out, and sign back in. Your Arduino's serial port should now be available in the IDE.

If the gives the following error:

bash: /opt/arduino-1.6.6/ Permission denied

try running:

sudo chmod +x /opt/arduino-1.6.6/

This adds (+) the permission to be executed (x) to the file. Then try again.

Other software

Most other programs can be installed in a similar way, but make sure you always check the install guide on the site you downloaded it from.

Some other programs that are really useful, in my opinion:

  • Audacity - audio recording
  • Tracktion - audio recording (DAW)
  • Ardour - audio recording (DAW)
  • GIMP - Image editor
  • Kodi - media center
  • VLC - media player
  • MuseScore - sheet music editor
  • Geany - IDE
  • Brackets - html editor
  • Steam - gaming platform
  • Calibre - eBook manager

Step 3: Tips & Tricks: Shortcuts

To make working with your Ubuntu machine faster and easier, you can use a lot of shortcuts:

Launching applications:
To open the Dash (start menu), you can just press the Windows key on your keyboard.
By combining this key with the numeral keys, you can open the ten first apps that are pinned to the quick access bar on the left.
If you press and hold the Windows key, it will show the number for ever shortcut, and a list of shortcuts. (image 1)
The Windows key itself is referred to as 'Super'.

To close an application, you can us ALT+F4. In some programs, you can use CTRL+W to close a tab, or CTRL+Q to quit.

Switching between applications:
Just like in Windows, you can use ALT+TAB to switch between applications. It will open a bar with all open programs. (Image 3) Press tab again, while holding alt to go through the list. ALT+SHIFT+TAB will go through the list backwards.
If you have multiple windows of the same program open, you can use ALT+TWOSUPERIOR (the key above tab) and ALT+SHIFT+TWOSUPERIOR to switch between those windows.

In programs like Google Chrome, you can use CTRL+TAB and CTRL+SHIFT+TAB to switch between the tabs you have open.

Arranging your screen:
To get two windows next to each other, you can use CTRL+ALT+numpad numbers to put a program on a certain location on your screen, e.g. CTRL+ALT+4 will put it on the left half of the screen. Then you can easily use ALT+TAB to switch to another program, and use CTRL+ALT+6 to get it on the right hand side, next to the first program. (image 4)
CTRL+ALT+7, for example puts it in the top left corner, CTRL+ALT+5 maximizes the window, and CTRL+ALT+0 minimizes it.

Another great feature is workspaces: go to System Settings > Appearance > Behavior > Enable workspaces to enable it. (image 5)
Now you can use multiple desktops. Use CTRL+ALT+arrow keys to switch between the 4 available workspaces.
To move a program to another workspace, use CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+arrow keys.

Copy, cut and paste:
Just like in Windows, you can use CTRL+C, CTRL+X, CTRL+V to copy, cut and paste respectively. Only in the terminal, you can't use them, in that case, you should use CTRL+SHIFT+C and CTRL+SHIFT+V.

If your keyboard has multimedia keys, like volume, play/pause etc, they should work fine in Ubuntu as well.
If you don't have them on your keyboard, you can use custom shortcuts.

Go to System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Sound and Media, and you can click the shortcut you want to edit, and press the keys on your keyboard to change it.

To change the volume, you can just put your cursor over the speaker icon in the top right corner and use the scroll wheel. You don't even have to click it. To mute, you can click the speaker with your middle mouse button, this is a very easy way to quickly turn off the sound.

The key 'Print Sc' or 'Prnt Scr' takes a screenshot of the whole display.
ALT+Print Sc takes a screenshot of the active window.
SHIFT+Print Sc lets you draw an area to screenshot.

If you press the power button of the computer, you'll get a dialog asking whether you want to lock, suspend, restart or shut down. If you don't do anything, the computer will shut down anyway after 60 seconds (unless you close the window).

To log off, you can use CTRL+ALT+DEL, and to lock, SUPER+L or CTRL+ALT+L.

Step 4: Tips & Tricks: Terminal Usage

The terminal, or command line is an extremely powerful tool, so it's a good idea to learn some of the commands:

cd : change directory
e.g. cd /home/username/Documents goes to your Documents folder
e.g. cd ~ goes to your home folder
e.g. cd Documents goes to your Documents folder, but only if you're already in your home folder
e.g. cd .. go to the parent directory of the current directory
e.g. cd - takes you back to the previous directory you were in

pwd: print working directory
This will just give you the directory you're currently in.

ls : list
e.g. ls will list the content of your home folder
e.g. ls Documents will list the content of your Documents folder
e.g. ls -a will list all the content of your home folder, including hidden files and folders (the - indicates an option)
e.g. ls -l will list all the content of your home folder, with some additional information like permissions, the owner, size, modification date, link targets ...
e.g. ls -al will list all the content of your home folder, including hidden files/folders and gives additional information
e.g. ls -al | less will give you a scrollable list of all the files and folders, use the arrow keys to scroll.

mkdir : make directory
e.g. mkdir NewDirectory creates a new directory called NewDirectory in your home folder
e.g. mkdir "New Directory" creates a new directory called New Directory in your home folder (note the quotation marks, you always have to use them if there's a space in the folder name)

rmdir : remove directory (only works on empty directories)
e.g. rmdir "New Directory" removes New Directory

rm : remove (delete)
e.g. rm file.txt deletes the file file.txt
e.g. rm -r Downloads deletes your Downloads folder, along with everything inside it

cp : copy
e.g. cp /home/user/Documents/file.txt "/media/user/Backup Disk/Documents/" copies file.txt from the Documents folder in your home folder to the Documents folder on your Backup Disk (note the quotation marks, needed because Backup Disk has a space in the name)
e.g. cp -r /home/user/Documents/ "/media/user/Backup Disk/Documents/" copies your entire Documents folder to the Backup Disk (r = recursively)

mv : move
e.g. mv /home/user/Documents/file.txt /home/user/Documents/Essays/file.txt moves file.txt from the Documents folder to the Essays folder
e.g. mv Documents/file.txt Documents/essay.txt renames file.txt to essay.txt
e.g. mv Documents Public moves your entire Documents folder into the Public folder (you don't need to use -r because moving is always recursive)

man : manual
e.g. man cp shows the manual for the cp command


CTRL+ALT+T opens a terminal window

CTRL+L clears the terminal window

CTRL+R starts a search for a previous command, just type in some characters of the command, and press enter when you get the right result.

This command line guide is far from complete, check out the following links to learn more about the terminal:

Step 5: Conclusion

That's it for now, if you have any questions, just ask me in the comments.

Please check out my install guide for Ubuntu: How to install Ubuntu 14.04 alongside Windows.

tttapa, 10-02-2016