Table of Contents


Introduction to Computers
Using Ubuntu 20.04

A project of the local NatickFOSS user group, this guide is designed for use by anyone, but it is written so that novice users can get a better picture of the way computers work and can begin to practice their skills with one of the most well-known versions of GNU/Linux. We hope that you will find it useful. If you have recommendations for improvement, changes or additions, please send them along. This is a community project.


Free Open Source Software
User Group, Natick, Massachusetts

This 20.04 version is being developed only as a set of Web pages. Patience, please.

There is a completed version of the guide in place from an earlier version of Ubuntu with Unity, though the latest updates were made in 2014! A new version might be considered long overdue.

This "new" NatickFOSS guide reflects the decision by Canonical to move forward using the popular Gnome Shell desktop environment instead of their internally developed Unity desktop. Unity remains available as an alternative which some people, like the organizer of the NatickFOSS user group, prefer. If you wish to use that desktop version, consult with Dick Miller at Miller Microcomputer Services or your own local computer guru.

ALL offers of support and recommendations for improvement will be gratefully appreciated.

Interim distribution releases are popular with some people. Because this is a volunteer effort, doing new versions for LTS versions is feasible, and it seems equally reasonable to NOT do updates for interim releases. Those who are interested can find lots of other online reviews and tutorials. If somebody wants to do the work, a page of this guide can point to recommended resources.

Image captured from the Twitter stream.

"To pull out a 'keeper' you must, at least occasionally, drop a line into the stream flowing by." --A Twitter Fisherman

This statement is true for learning anything, not just social networking on the Internet.

Please Note:
Monolithic and proprietary Twitter has been mainly replaced (for this author) by participation in the "fediverse", a distributed social media network, most typically represented by Mastodon. It is moderated, open-source and community supported instead of commercial, proprietary and too often nasty. I recommend it.

Adult learners may need to re-engage with the "playful exploration" they enjoyed as children. Children are naturally curious, and they also know that failing to accomplish their goals right away is NOT a reason to stop trying. Many adults are in a hurry, too much of a hurry. Adults also develop habits. The good ones are helpful by making repetitive tasks into less work. Habits can get in the way of exploration and learning, though.

For many adults, a computer seems like something "kids just understand" because the kids don't obsess over the details which they don't get at first. When it is like a game to them, they come back and keep trying. Play is fun.

Adults can learn to play again by seeing "learning the computer" as a bunch of small steps. Computers are very fault tolerant. Repeating a step until it makes sense gives you a new skill. A bunch of connected skills become knowledge you can add to your good habits. Success all around.

This guide is being developed for use in the Natick Community-Senior Center in Natick, Massachusetts where a computer has been set up with Free, Open Source Software: Ubuntu, a distribution of GNU/Linux software.

We hope the guide will be helpful. All are welcome to use it and improve it. It is offered to you using a Creative Commons Attribution licence (cc-by). That means you can make copies freely and give them to others. Sharing is good. You won't be charged for your use and you don't even need to ask permission to start sharing. You may even modify and make your own version of the materials. Your responsibility for this benefit is small. Just make sure you credit the author. Please add a link in your version back to this site.

The biggest benefits of GNU/Linux and Ubuntu are:

In fact, if you are not ready to commit to GNU/Linux, you can install many Free Open Source programs on a Windows or Macintosh computer. FOSS is widely available for all users. Many programs described in the guide work the same for Windows and Macintosh systems. You don't need Ubuntu to get the benefit of FOSS. Of course, you gain the greatest freedom by switching to a fully FOSS system. We see Windows and Macintosh as "less free" because the underlying operating system software of Windows and the Mac OS implementation are proprietary and tightly controlled by their respective companies.


The practice file has not changed since the earlier book revision.
Editing practice file (odt)

Version 6.3 [Release Notes] of the LibreOffice software suite is distributed with Ubuntu 20.04 and recent versions are also available for Windows and Macintosh computers, too, so don't be shy about using LibreOffice and the practice file even if you are not yet ready to embrace GNU/Linux operating system on your computer. Much Free/Open-Source software is "cross platform" to make it widely useful to everyone. FOSS supports the whole community.

Your feedback is very eagerly welcomed.
Contact: algot[AT]

© 2013- Algot Runeman - Shared using the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Table of Contents