Wow… Everything is… Free…?

Earlier, I did mention something about thousands of free programs just a few mouse clicks away. Want to install some? Nothing to it, just click on your Applications menu at the top left and select Add Applications. There are a plethora of options available here, so just select what you want, click Ok and let Ubuntu automatically install and configure it for you. That’s it! Seriously.

In addition to Add Applications, there are also thousands more applications and tools available in Synaptic (System > Applications > Synaptic Package Manager), so look there to to get pretty much anything you want. Just make sure you enable all the repositories (hint: in Synaptic go Settings > Repositories)!

What About My Windows Files?

Ubuntu should have detected your Windows drive and automatically placed a link (Linux equivalent of a shortcut) on your desktop. If for some reason it did not, lets go through how to do it. What we are going to do is “map” the contents of the Windows partition to a folder on your Linux install. This is called “mounting”. Lets walk through the steps to have your NTFS partition automatically mounted when you start Ubuntu. Don’t worry, it’s very easy.

  1. Launch a Terminal window by going Applications > Terminal.
  2. Now we are going to create a “mount point” (what Windows uses drive letters for) where we can access the files.
    Enter this at the command prompt:

    sudo mkdir /media/windows

    “sudo” means run as root, so whenever we preface a command with sudo, we are telling Ubuntu to execute the command not as the logged in user, but as root. This command creates a file in the /media folder called “windows”. You most likely will be prompted for your password, so enter it. If you were to try the same command without having “sudo” in front it would tell you your permissions do not allow it.

  3. Next, lets configure Ubuntu to automatically mount these files when we boot.
    Enter this at the command prompt:

    sudo gedit /etc/fstab

    The fstab file stores information about your mounted drives. Lets add this line to the bottom:

    /dev/hda1 /media/windows ntfs ro,nls=utf8,umask=0222 0 0

    This means is mount hard drive partition “hda1” (you should know what this means by now) to the folder /media/windows which has an NTFS file system.

  4. Save the file and close gedit.
  5. At the command prompt enter:

    sudo mount -a

    You should now see an item on your desktop called “windows”. Double click it and behold your Windows files!

  6. If you have multiple partitions, simply follow steps 1-5 again except create a different mount point than /media/windows and list the appropriate partition, instead of /dev/hda1, in your fstab file.

If I completely lost you on the above steps, don’t be discouraged. I didn’t have a clue what any of that meant 4 months ago. Now it’s second nature. Be patient and you will feel the same way too!

Helpful Ubuntu Links

Before I leave you to explore your new system, I did promise to give you some helpful links. The best I have seen, and still frequent often are:

Last thing… I promise! You should definitely check out a utility called Automatix developed by a fellow on the Ubuntu Forums known as arnieboy. This script gets you up and running on common applications and tasks, such as FireFox plugins, video drivers, and MP3/DVD decoders (make sure you read the notices though).

Have Fun!

Well, that’s it for this article. I hope you found this helpful and informative. If you have any questions or comments (good and bad), feel free to email me articles[at] Perhaps if I get enough questions, I can write a follow-up to address them and get you deeper, and more comfortably, into Ubuntu. Experience is by far the best teacher, so get your hands dirty and let me know how it goes!

Until next time…