Before we use Nautilus it would be worthwhile to
have a crash course in how files and folders are organized on a
Linux system. If you have not used Linux before, this is likely to
be new to you as the layout is quite different from Windows and Mac
In the Windows world each disk drive is labeled
with an identifying letter such as C: for your hard disk and A: for
the floppy drive. In the Linux world, however, everything is part
of the same file system organization. As such, if you have two or
three hard disks, a CD drive, and USB stick all plugged in, they
will all be part of the same folder structure.
The diagram shown in Figure 3-39 should give you
an idea of how everything
Figure 3-39. Linux file system
Right at the top of the tree is the root folder,
referred to as /. Inside this folder there are a number of special
system folders, each with a specific use. As an example, the /home
folder contains a number of home directories for each user on the
system. As such, the jono user account has the home folder set to
Which Folder Does
The folder structure in a modern Linux
distribution such as Ubuntu was largely inspired by the original
Unix foundations that were created by men with large beards and
sweaters. Although you don't really need to know what
these folders do, since Ubuntu looks after the housekeeping for
you, some of you may be interested in the more important folders.
, we present the Linux folder hit list in Table
Table 3-1. Linux Folders
Contains important files to boot the computer
including the bootloader configuration and the kernel.
Each device on your system (such as sound cards,
Webcams, etc.) has an entry in this folder. Each application
the device by using the relevant items inside /dev.
configuration files for the software
installed on your system are stored here.
Each user account on the system has a home
directory, and they are stored here.
Important system software libraries are stored
here. You should never need to delve into this world of the
Media devices such as CD
and USB sticks
are referenced here when they are plugged in. More on this
Other devices can be mounted later. Again, more
on this later.
Optional software can be installed here. This
folder is usually used when you want to build your own software. If
you don't build your own software, you ignore this folder.
Information about the current running status of
the system is stored here.
This is the home directory for the main
Software that should only be run by the
superuser is stored here.
General software is installed here.
This folder contains log files about the
software on your computer.
In the table, /etc is described as storing
systemwide configuration files for your computer. Aside from these
files that affect everyone, there are also configuration files for
each specific user. Earlier, when you customized Ubuntu's look and
feel, the settings were only applied to your current user account.
So where are those settings stored?
Inside your home directory there are a number of
folders that begin with a dot (.) such as .gnome2 and .openoffice2.
These folders contain the configuration settings for specific
applications for that specific user. By default these dot folders
are hidden in Nautilus, as you rarely need to access them. For
future reference you can view these hidden files and folders by
clicking View > Show Hidden Files.
You can start Nautilus from a number of
different places such as Applications > Accessories > File
Browser or more commonly by clicking Places > Home Folder to
load your home folder. When the folder loads, you should see
something similar to what is shown in Figure 3-40.
Figure 3-40. Accessing your home folder
files is as simple as clicking Places > Home Folder.
The Nautilus window is split into two different
. The sidebar shows categories of information such as
bookmarks, folders, emblems (more on these later), and more. In the
main part of the window you can see the
and files in the
current folder. By default, Nautilus displays your bookmarks in the
left sidebar and displays the contents of your home folder.
So, let's play with Nautilus and see what you
can do with it. The first important skills to learn are general
file management. Many of the
you need to do can be achieved
by right-clicking your file/folder and selecting the relevant
option. There are also a number of options in the Edit menu.
First create a folder. Do this by right-clicking
the main part of the window and selecting Create Folder. A folder
is added, and you can type in the name of it. If you change your
mind about the
, rename it by right-clicking and selecting
Rename. If you double-click on a folder, you can access it and
perform the same operations in that subfolder.
Nautilus is also flexible in how your files are
displayed. You can view the files and folders as either the default
collection of icons or as a list. To switch to the list view,
select View > View As List. You can also configure the
organization of how your files and folders are displayed by
right-clicking the main part of the window and selecting one of the
options in the Arrange Items menu. Play with each of these options
to see which ones work best for you.
Just like in the
file dialog, Nautilus displays each of the different parts of the
as different buttons. As an example, /home/jono/work would
: home, jono, and work.
Copying, and Moving Files/Folders
Copying and moving files and folders are simple
with Nautilus and can be done in a number of different ways. To
test this, create two folders in your home directory called Work
and Invoices. Save some files inside each folder. You can quickly
create empty files by double-clicking the folder to go into it,
right-clicking, selecting Create Document > Empty File, and
renaming the file to something useful. With a couple of folders now
complete with files in them, let's move them around.
One method is to use two windows. Right-click
the Work folder, and select Open in New Window. You now have two
, one with the contents of Work and one with the
contents of your home directory. Now copy the Invoices folder to
the Work folder by clicking it and dragging it over to the second
window (which shows the contents of Work). By default, dragging
from one window to another copies the item.
Another option is to select what you want to
copy and paste it. Selecting items can again be done in a number of
ways. One method is to click each file/folder while holding down
the Shift or Ctrl keys to make multiple selections. The difference
between the two keys is that Shift will allow you select a number
to each other and Ctrl selects independent
files and folders from
in the folder-listing view. When
you have selected what should be copied, right-click and select Cut
or Copy. Cut will copy the original files but remove them and Copy
will just copy them while leaving the original files intact. Now go
to the destination folder, right-click it, and select Paste. The
files/folders are now added.
The sidebar in Nautilus can be changed to a
variety of different views that should cater to virtually all
tastes. Each of these different sidebar views has a range of
different functions. Table 3-2 explains each one.
Table 3-2. The Different Nautilus Sidebar
This is the default view and includes the
devices and bookmarks in the sidebar that you typically see in the
Displays some limited information about the
Displays a tree view similar to Windows/Mac OS
X. Those of you who love the way Windows/Mac OS X works may want to
Displays a history of the folders that you have
This useful little feature allows you to write
notes in the sidebar that are stored in the folder. This is handy
when you need to explain or make comments about the current
List the files and folders that have specific
emblems attached. Emblems are discussed separately.
Although you will no doubt stick with one in
particular, it is not uncommon to switch between options to achieve
a particular task. For this reason, the flexibility provided by the
range of sidebar options is useful.
Tip: Drag and Drop
If you want to put
something in the Places view, drag and drop the item. The Ubuntu
Desktop is filled with drag and drop shortcuts like this. If you
think something could be dragged and dropped, try it!
Emblems give you the ability to tag files and
folders to indicate something. These small graphical icons are used
to say that the file/folder
into a particular category,
visually signified by the
. As an example, you may want to
tag a file to
it is a draft.
When you select the Emblems sidebar, a range of
different emblems appears. To apply an emblem to a file/folder,
just drag the emblem onto it. You can drag multiple emblems onto
the files to indicate multiple things.