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Visual Cue
Starting slide Welcome to this spoken tutorial on Ubuntu Linux Desktop.
Learning Objective In this tutorial we will learn about
  • Ubuntu Linux Desktop on the gnome environment
  • Some applications in Ubuntu Desktop
  • Changing the theme of the desktop
System Requirements To record this tutorial, I am using Ubuntu Linux OS version 14.04
Screenshot of old version Desktop In some of the older versions of Ubuntu Linux, the desktop looks like this.
Screenshot of the old version >> highlight the three tabs You can see Applications, Places and System tabs on the top left corner of the screen.
Go to desktop In the newer versions of Ubuntu Linux, the desktop  looks likes this.
Point to the launcher bar You'll see the launcher on the left hand side of the screen.
Show desktop without the launcher If the launcher is hidden, as shown here, then we can make it visible.
Move the mouse to the extreme left of the screen To do so, move the mouse to the extreme left of the screen.   The launcher will be visible.
Move the mouse away Move the mouse away and the launcher will get hidden once again.
Click on the wheel icon (at the extreme right corner of the desktop screen) How can we make the launcher visible always?

Click on the wheel icon at the extreme right corner of the desktop screen.

Click System Settings >> Appearance Now, click on System Settings and then on Appearance.
Click on Behavior In the Appearance, click on Behavior tab.
Switch Auto-hide the Launcher to ON Close the window Here, switch Auto-hide the Launcher to OFF position.

Now, the launcher will be visible always.

Close this window.

Point to the icons Notice, there are some icons on the launcher, by default.
Move the mouse to the launcher You can see the Dash home icon at the top of the launcher.
Click on Dash home To open Dash home, click on it.
Point to the search bar, Applications, Files & Folders Right at the top, you'll see the search bar field.
Now, how do we locate a particular application? Its very simple!
Let’s try to locate the Calculator application.
In the search bar >> type Calc So, in the search bar field, type C a l c.
Point to LibreOffice Calc and Calculator See here, both LibreOffice Calc and Calculator are listed.
Click on Calculator >> come to the Calculator window Click on Calculator icon.

The Calculator application now opens on the screen.

In old version Applications -> Accessories -> Calculator In old versions of Ubuntu Linux, we have to click on Applications -> Accessories -> Calculator.
Mouse-over calculator Calculator helps perform arithmetic, scientific or financial calculations.
Let us try some simple calculation.
Type 5*8 >> press = Type 5 asterix 8 and press the equal to sign.
Instead of pressing equal to sign, you can also press the Enter key on the keyboard.
Point to the answer. The answer is displayed on the Calculator.
Likewise, we can do all sorts of calculations using the Calculator application.
Click on close button Now exit this Calculator by clicking the close button.


Let’s get familiar with a few other important applications on Ubuntu Linux OS.
Mouse on the desktop area For that, we will go back to Dash home.
Press Windows key on the keyboard Another way to open Dash Home is to press the Windows key on the keyboard.
In the Search Bar >> type gedit >> click on Text Editor icon. In the Search bar, type gedit.

The Text Editor icon appears.  Click on it.

Old version Application ->  Accessories >> gedit In the old versions of Ubuntu Linux, we have to click on Application >> Accessories >> gedit.
Mouse on gedit Text Editor What you see right now on the screen, is the gedit Text Editor window.
Type “Hello World” Let me type some text here.

Type "Hello World".

To save the file, press Ctrl and S keys simultaneously on the keyboard.
Click on File->save Alternately, go to File and then click on Save.
“Save as” dialog comes up Now, a dialog box named “Save as” opens up.

It asks for filename and the location where the file has to be saved.

Type “hello.txt” as filename. So let’s type the name as "hello.txt".
Select Desktop as location >> click on Save button. And for location let’s select Desktop and click on the Save button.
Click on 'X' button gedit text editor. Let's close this gedit window now and check whether our file is saved on the Desktop or not.
Move to desktop area and select the hello.txt file. Now on the Desktop, you can see the file hello.txt.

This means our text file was saved successfully.

Double click on hello.txt file Let me open this file by double-clicking on it.

See, our text file has opened with our written text.

SLIDE The Internet has a lot of information on gedit Text Editor.

There will be spoken tutorials on this topic at the below link.


Close the gedit text editor Let's close this text editor and let's look at another application, Terminal.
Click on dash home and type terminal. So let's go to Dash home by pressing the Windows key.

Now type terminal in the search bar field.

Click on the Terminal icon. Click on the Terminal icon.
Old version Application ->  Accessories >> Terminal In the old versions of Ubuntu Linux, we have to click on Application >> Accessories >> Terminal.
Mouse on Terminal window The terminal window opens on the screen.

Please Note that the shortcut key to open the Terminal is Ctrl+Alt+T.

SLIDE Terminal is called the command line.

This is because you can command the computer from here.

In fact it is more powerful than the GUI.

Place your cursor on terminal Let me switch back to the Terminal window.
Type ls >> press Enter Now let’s type a simple command to get a feel of the terminal.

Type 'ls' and press Enter.

Move the cursor over the result of the command

Highlight Home

You can see a list of all the files and folders in the current directory.

Here it is displaying files and folders from the Home folder.

We will see later in this tutorial what the Home folder is.

We will not spend any more time with the terminal now.
Click on 'X' button Close the terminal.
SLIDE Terminal commands are explained well in the Linux spoken tutorials series on this site.
Come to desktop Now, let's move onto another application i.e Firefox Web Browser.
Go to Dash home and type Firefox Once again press the Windows key on the keyboard, to open Dash home.

Type Firefox in the search bar.

Click on firefox Click on the Firefox Web Browser icon.
Old version Application -> Internet -> firefox web browser. In the old versions, we have to click on Application -> Internet -> Firefox Web Browser.
As firefox opens Firefox Web Browser is used to access the world wide web.

Now we can see that Firefox browser window is open.

When firefox opens Let’s go to the spoken-tutorial site.

For that, go to address bar or press F6 on the keyboard.

Press F6 I am pressing F6 now.

And we are in the address bar.

Press back-space till you clear the address bar Press backspace to clear any text visible in the address bar.
Type "http://spoken-tut” Now let’s type "http://spoken-tutorial.org".
Continue typing “orial.org" >> press Enter. As we type, Firefox may suggest a few possibilities.

You may choose one of these or type the complete address and press Enter.

Firefox will connect to the given website.
Mouse-over the page The Spoken Tutorial Homepage opens on the browser.
Click on Close button Let's close this and move on to the next application.


Go to dash home and type Office So, let's go to Dash home again and type office in the search bar.
Mouse-over Writer, Base, Math, Calc, Draw and Impress (in the order displayed) You'll see various LibreOffice components like Calc, Impress, Writer and Draw.
Old version Application ->  Accessories >> Office In the old versions of Ubuntu Linux, we have to click on Application >> Office.
Excellent tutorials for all these components are available on the Spoken Tutorial website.


Come back to desktop Now let's explore the Video option.
Goto dash home and type Video Go to Dash home and type video.
Mouse-over Movie player In the displayed list, we have one important application, Videos.
Click on Movie player Videos is used to play videos and songs.

By default, it plays open format video files only.

Old version Application ->  Accessories >> Sound & Video >> Movie Player In the old versions of Ubuntu Linux, we have to click on Application >> Sound & Video.

Here we can see various applications and here is the application Movie Player.

Click on it.

Movie player opens Let me play a sample file from my pen-drive.
Insert pen-drive in the USB Now, I am inserting my pen-drive in a usb slot on my machine.

The pen-drive folder has opened automatically.

Close if pen-drive opens. If it doesn't open, we can access it from the launcher.
Click bottom left icon

Click the bottom left icon again.

Locate the pen-drive icon at the bottom of the launcher.

If we click on it, it shows the files and folders available on the pen-drive.

Select movie file Now I will select the movie file to play i.e big-buck-bunny.ogv.
Double click on movie file Here is my file; now I will double-click to open it.
Movie file opens It opens in Videos, by default.
Stop the movie. Let's stop playing the movie.
Show the screenshot of the pen-drive In the older versions of Ubuntu Linux, the pen-drive will be visible on the Desktop.
SLIDE In newer Ubuntu versions,
  • press Ctrl, Windows and D keys,
  • to go to the Desktop directly.
SLIDE In older Ubuntu versions, the required key combination to go to the Desktop used to be either:
  1. Ctrl, Alt, D
  2. or Windows key and D

The user must be prepared to handle such variations from version to version.

Press Ctrl, Windows and D keys Let us now press Ctrl, Windows and D keys to go to the Desktop.
Press Ctrl+windows+D keys Now let's see some more important things on this desktop.
Mouse over Home folder icon in launcher Notice the folder icon present in the launcher.
Click on Home folder Let's click on it.

The Home folder opens.

Screenshot of old version In the old versions of Ubuntu Linux, we have to click on Places >> Home Folder.
Mouse over Home folder Every user has a unique Home folder in Ubuntu Linux.
SLIDE We can say that the Home folder is "our house", where we can store our files and folders.

Unless we permit, others cannot see them.

More information on file permissions is available in the Linux spoken tutorials.

Point to Desktop, Documents, Videos, Downloads one by one Let us switch back.

In our Home folder, we can see other folders, such as…..

Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Videos etc.

Click on desktop folder In Linux, everything is a file.

Let’s open the Desktop folder by double-clicking on it.

Select hello.txt file Here, we can see that the same "hello.txt" file that we saved from the text editor.

So this folder and the Desktop are the same.

Close this folder Let me close this now.


Goto desktop area Aren't you bored of seeing the same theme of the desktop?

Let's change it.

Go to Dash home >> type system settings >> click on the icon Go to Dash home and type system settings in the search bar field.

Then click on the system settings icon.

Click on the wheel icon >> click on system settings >> Appearance. Alternately, click on the wheel icon at the top right of the desktop screen.

Click on System Settings and then on Appearance.

Click on Appearance In the previous Ubuntu Linux versions, we have to go to System ->Preferences ->Appearance.
Mouse over Appearance window The Appearance window opens up.
Click on themes tab Here under Themes tab, we have many pre-installed themes.
select random themes to show the effects and click on close Play with these themes as per your preference.
As soon as you click on that, you can see that changes have been applied on your desktop.
Press Ctrl+windows+D You can see it clearly by pressing Ctrl+Windows+D keys simultaneously.
That’s all for this tutorial. Let us summarise.
Summary In this tutorial we learnt about
  • the Ubuntu Desktop,
  • the launcher and some of the icons visible on it
  • few important applications like Calculator, Text Editor, Terminal, Firefox Web Browser, Movie Player and LibreOffice Suite components
  • the Home folder
  • and changing the theme of your Desktop
Acknowledgement The video at the following link summarises the Spoken Tutorial Project.

Pls watch it.

Acknowledgement The Spoken Tutorial Project team
  • conducts workshops
  • and gives certificates on passing online tests.

For details, please write to us.

Acknowledgement Spoken Tutorial Project is funded by NMEICT, MHRD, Govt of India.

More information on this mission is available at the following link.

Previous slide The script for this tutorial has been contributed by Anusha Kadambala and the Spoken Tutorial Team.

And this is Gaurav Shinde from IIT Bombay signing off.    Thank you for watching.

Contributors and Content Editors

Chandrika, Gaurav, Nancyvarkey, Pravin1389