PLEASE NOTE: This article is for earlier versions of Ubuntu running on Gnome 2.x (and current Ubuntu versions running Gnome “Classic” Fallback/Flashback), so is outdated in Unity (the default desktop environment) & Gnome Shell, both of which are based on Gnome 3. However, in both those desktop environments you can search for the word “system” and you should be presented with available system apps.
Just thought I would point out something that many will see as “obvious”, but which seems to escape quite a few newbies: the System menu in your top panel! As a computer tech/trainer, I can tell you there are plenty of Windows newbies (and even somewhat experienced users) who have no idea that the Control Panel exists, or what can be done with it. Similarly, in Ubuntu many have no idea what can be changed, and where to do it, even though the System menu is pretty hard not to notice.
In the Ubuntu forums, I have seen lots of questions for changing basic settings, etc, and those who’ve replied with “Dude, did you even bother to look in your System menu first?” could be forgiven. While people will still reply with the answer, some might also point out that the time spent posting the question, then waiting for an answer, was far greater than what it would have taken to find it in the System menu.
So I can’t stress enough how important it is to at least be somewhat familiar with what is in that menu, as it will save you time and stress. For example, a common question is how to change the screen size, which is easily found in System > Preferences > Display; for those in doubt, hovering your mouse cursor over Display will produce the tooltip “Change screen resolution“, which should clear things up. And in case you’re still not sure what an item in the menu will do, then you can simply open it up and take a look! There is no harm in looking, especially if you don’t change anything and Cancel your way out.
And besides settings you really want or need changed, looking through the System menu will show you many other ways you can tailor the system to your specific needs. While people generally know that if everything on the screen looks too big, then the screen resolution needs to be changed, other aspects of the OS are often regarded as unchangeable. For example, Windows users who are used to having no control over the login screen will not even realise that in Ubuntu they can get the password entered automatically, change the delay of Timed Login, or even just bypass the login window altogether and go straight to the desktop with Automatic Login. But if they looked in System > Administration, they would see Login Window, and then see what can be changed.
Everything you need is either in the Preferences or Administration sub-menus – if it isn’t, then go do a Google search, or post your query in the Ubuntu forums.
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!