Here are some basic tips for newbies to Ubuntu who are looking for information, whether it be beginners’ guides, ways to customise or tweak the system, or answers to specific hardware related issues. Since many are now entering the computer world with Ubuntu as their first OS, there are even those unaware of search engines, let alone the forums, and other great sources of info. So for many, this info will be stuff you already know, but for total novices out there unfamiliar with the internet, it could be a revelation.
First off, you can’t go past search engines like Google as your starting place. This is especially so when you are looking up issues for specific hardware. Yet while many are familiar with Google and the like, it seems they are at a loss regarding how to effectively use them.
It really is just as simple as type in a question or phrase with as many key, relevent words as possible, and you can omit words that don’t really matter. For example, you could search for “How do I change the icon theme in Ubuntu” and you’re sure to find some results, and equally just with “change icon theme ubuntu gnome” (I’ve added gnome because it is the desktop environment Ubuntu uses, so should yield extra results).
If that still sounds a bit hard, then check out how to Google search via this amusing (and somewhat passive/aggressive!) demonstration.
With hardware issues, you really want to help yourself here and not waste your own time. “How do I get my sound card going in Ubuntu” will just give you a bunch of forum posts of people trying to get their own one going; “enable creative audigy 2 zs audio sound card ubuntu linux” – where I’ve actually added my specific sound card, as well as linux in case users of others distros have some useful info – will yield much better results.
It isn’t rocket science, but pretty much just common sense: gather as much info as possible about the problem or question, and use that to search for your answers. And if you are missing some vital info, then search for that first. Using the sound card example, you’d be wasting your time being vague while trying to sort out issues; but if you don’t know what make and model your hardware is, then search first for “how to find determine audio sound card hardware info properties in ubuntu“.
It’s exactly the same with the Ubuntu Forums – if you’re going there looking for answers from your peers, help them to help you, and supply as much info as possible. But also don’t forget you can search within the forums, and you will get old posts that no longer show up in Google searches; often the answers are already waiting for you, so it’s worth the small effort, as it is much quicker than posting and waiting for replies.
Lastly, if your questions are about pretty basic things like how to find your way around Ubuntu, customise it, or add programs to it, then why not first look in System > Help and Support. You can view by topic or just search it for a word or phrase, and chances are the answer is already there. If you’d just like to learn more about using Ubuntu, then going through the topics there is a good introduction.
You can also search online for informative guides with screenshots made by other users, with phrases like “ubuntu beginner guide tutorial lesson“. And while you can search the forums for specific subjects, you can also just peruse through the different categories and read some of the “sticky” pages (permanent pages stuck at the top of each section). Many of those are there to save newbies posting common questions on that topic or category, so are worth looking through.
Hopefully some of the points here will help you find better answers quicker. Happy hunting!
Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!