Getting to know Lubuntu/LXDE

Now that you’ve installed Lubuntu, you’d probably like to know how to actually use it. Lubuntu uses LXDE (which stands for Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment), which is what you interact with on screen. The LXDE desktop is laid out fairly similar to Windows, with a panel gracing the bottom of the screen.

A look at the bottom panel/task bar

The panel functions much like the task bar from Windows. The menu on the far left does basically the same thing as the Start button. You’ll find all the applications installed on your computer in this menu arranged by type/purpose. For instance, AbiWord and Gnumeric, the office programs included with Lubuntu by default, can be accessed by hovering over the “Office” menu. System Tools includes applications to update the OS, install new programs, and a task manager to monitor system processes, among other things. The Preferences menu contains a variety of utilities to customize Lubuntu, such as changing screen resolution and setting default applications.

Back to the panel itself…beside the Lubuntu menu are several “quick launch” icons. By default, launchers for the file manager, Chromium web browser, and a shortcut to minimize all windows are included.

To the immediate left, there are two boxes, one of which is highlighted. These boxes represent different virtual desktops that can help organize open windows. Basically, you’re provided with multiple desktops to open and use applications in. Let’s say you open up a web browser in desktop 1, then switch to desktop 2 by clicking on the second desktop icon on the bottom panel. You will find that your browser window has disappeared. You can then open up another program or document in desktop 2, switching between the two desktops as necessary while avoiding a cluttered screen.

The concept of having multiple desktops probably seems foreign to Windows users. Mac users may have encountered the idea of multiple desktops in Spaces, a feature found in Mac OS X. At any rate, having multiple desktops can come in handy if you have lots of windows open and need to keep things organized.

Open windows appear to the right of the virtual desktops. As in Windows, open applications can be minimized and closed from the bottom panel. The system tray appears on the right side of the screen. It displays several relevant system utilities, such as a volume control, a clock, and a logout/shutdown button. The clock displays a calendar when clicked.

Where are my documents/pictures/music?

To access your documents, click on the file manager launcher, which is located beside the menu in the lower left corner. The file manager will automatically display your home folder, which contains sub-folders for your documents, pictures, music, videos, downloads, and other things.

File hierarchies are different in Linux than they are in Windows. Whereas drives are indicated by letters in Windows (such as C: or D:), “/” is the root directory in Linux. Your home folder resides several levels down this hierarchy (at /home/<user name>), separate from the rest of the system and application files.

You can make changes to anything in your home folder. However, if you venture into other directories, you’ll need to enter your password before modifying or deleting files. The long and short of this is that Linux is designed to be foolproof. You can mess up your own files, but you can’t touch anything that will harm your computer without being challenged for a password.

Now that you can find your way around your new OS, check out this list of things you should do after installing Lubuntu.

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Posted on April 4, 2012, in Getting Started with Lubuntu and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Help!!! I replaced Chromium with Firefox, (stupidly) didn’t remove the Chromium icon in the way you suggested. The upshot of this is that my manager launcher icon has disappeared from the bottom panel/task bar, and that I don’t seem to have a way of accessing the application launch bar settings. Is it possibile that I deleted something else when I got rid of the Chromium icon?

    • Michael,

      From what I gather, it sounds as though you might have completely deleted the application launch bar from the bottom panel. In order to get it back, right click on the bottom panel and select “Add/Remove Panel Items”. Click the “Panel Applets” tab (this should come up by default), which displays a list of tools you can add to the panel. You should be able to select the Application Launch Bar there. Once added back, you can edit which launchers appear by right clicking on the launch bar, then selecting “Application Launch Bar Settings”.

      Hope that helps!

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