Your workstation will boot up to a graphical login screen known as a
Figure 3-1. The Ubuntu graphical login manager.
Aside from logging in, this screen also lets you select a language and a session type. You do this by clicking the Options button in the lower left of the screen. The session type is GNOME, by default. If you do wind up installing KDE at a later time, you can click the Session button to switch to a different desktop. With a standard Ubuntu install, you do also have the option of logging in to a failsafe desktop with limited options. For now, we'll skip that and log in using the default GNOME desktop.
Enter your username and press <Enter>. The login manager then asks you to enter your password. Ubuntu logs you in to a default desktop with a given look and feel that you can change to suit your needs and tastes, something we'll talk about in detail in the
Becoming One with the Desktop
Your Ubuntu Linux screen has two panels, one at the top of the screen and one below. Each provides quick access to different functions, which I'll cover individually. Let's start with the top panel (see Figure 3-2).
Figure 3-2. This is the Ubuntu/GNOME top panel. The right and left sides of the panel are zoomed in for more detail.
The Applications starter in the top left is similar to the Start button on that other OS. Clicking here
Let's move to the far right of the top panel, just before the clock. As you run more and more programs, you might notice small icons embedded in the panel,
Figure 3-3. The three icons on the left side are in the notification area of the top panel.
Speaking of running applications, let's take a look at the bottom panel (see Figure 3-4). When you start an application, you see it listed in a portion of the bottom panel known as the
(you may know it as the taskbar). This not only shows you what you have running on your desktop, but it also provides a quick way to switch from process to process. Just click the program in the window list. Alternatively, you can press <Alt+Tab> to switch from one running program to another. The window list can be configured to list all processes from all desktops,
Figure 3-4. The bottom Ubuntu/GNOME panel. Once again, the left and right sides of the panel are zoomed to show detail.
Workspaces, sometimes referred to as virtual desktops, are one feature you are going to
Figure 3-5. The desktop switcher with six virtual desktops.
To change the number of workspaces, right-click any of the workspace squares and select Preferences from the pop-up menu. A window labeled Workspace Switcher Preferences appears listing, among other things, the number of workspaces. Change that number to whatever you like.
Finally, there's a little wastebasket icon to the far right. You can drag and drop files and folders into the trash can, but you can also click the trash can to see the contents (that is, items you deleted). We'll talk further about the wastebasket shortly.