File managers, desktops, and installing peripherals — Linux beginners guide, part 4 [Guide]

This article is part of an ongoing series that hopes to bring a working knowledge of Linux to users of Windows. In the first article, we introduced Linux on a basic level. In the second article, we answered some commonly asked questions about Linux. In the third article we discussed Linux distributions and continued to answer questions.

Now that you have found a distribution and have become a dual booting wizard or completely made the jump over to Linux, you are going to need to start customising and installing your peripheral devices and software. In this article we are going to introduce you to your new file manager and installing your peripheral devices.

Some of you are thinking that this process is going to be hard and time consuming, let me put your worries to rest. Unlike the Windows operating system, you will have a number of useful tools installed by default. For example you will have LibreOffice installed and preconfigured to work from the first boot.

Identifying the desktop layout

One of the first things that you will need to learn is navigation. In many GNU/Linux systems this differs for each distribution, though they all share common elements. So for this you will dive right into the paradise of the GNU/Linux desktop. Each desktop environment has a few common elements;

  1. Task Bar
  2. Application / Places Menu Bar
  3. Desktop Area
  4. Workspace Navigation

In some cases like in Ubuntu’s Unity and in KDE, the application and task bar are the same. It all depends on your distribution.

Using the File Manager

A file manager is a program similar to Windows explorer. Your file manager allows you to have a complete graphical fille management experience. Due to the varying distributions, different file managers are used. Generally speaking KDE uses dolphin and Gnome uses nautilus.
You can learn learn more at the respective websites for each File Manager, here is a list for you to reference.

The Home Directory

For my Windows power users, you know that Windows stores all user data in a path similar to C:\Users\ExampleName\. This very same applies to Linux as well except with a few minor differences. Firstly Linux does not use drive letters and so the root or “C” drive of Linux is simply “/”. Also because Linux is nicer ;) we use a folder called “Home” instead of users. This makes the path look like /home/ExampleUserName and that is where all your user data is stored.

Installing your peripherals

Linux has a way of either completely working with your devices or completely needing a hand to get to going. For example the my HP Photosmart 7510 works perfectly in Ubuntu and almost works perfectly in CentOS. So let’s run the through the whole process of setting up your devices and remember if you run into a issue, please let us know in the comments and we will do our best to help you.

  1. Plug in the device you want Linux to set up for you.
  2. Wait a minute and if you see a prompt saying the device was installed you are golden

Sometimes devices need a little extra help from an external driver, like my Samsung ML1915 laser printer. Many manufacturers will supply a universal Linux driver. In this case Google or DuckDuckGo is your friend and don’t forget about us too.
There a few device manufactures that are not a fan of Linux, yet our great Linux community has made their printers work. For example Kodak has publicly announced they will not support Linux, yet with a community of users built and maintain drivers for Kodak printers. If you are looking at buying Linux ready printers than; Samsung, HP, Lexmark and Brother are should be in your top choices.

Again, if you need any help please let us know in the comments.

In the next article

In the next article we will look at terminal and using the powers that be, in the command line. Trust me you will love the terminal more then you think.

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