Chapter 2. Guided Tour

Table of Contents

Top Panel
Bottom Panel
Browse the Files on your Computer
Creating and Deleting Files
Copying and Moving Files
Removable Devices
Customizing the File Manager
Surfing the Internet
Writing Emails
Instant Messaging / Chatting
Writing Text Documents
Editing Textfiles with Mousepad
Word Processing with Abiword
Spreadsheet calculations with Gnumeric
Adding, Removing and Updating Applications
Synaptic Package Manager
Extra Repositories
Play Music
Watch a Movie
Manipulate a Picture
Browse Pictures
Burn a CD
The Settings Manager
Finding the Right Program

Welcome to the Guided Tour around the Xubuntu Desktop. This guide will take you on a trip around your new desktop, show you the most important places, introduce you to some of the included programs, and explain how to achieve basic tasks. It is recommended to have an actual Xubuntu system ready and to try out the stuff described while reading this document.

The readers are generally assumed to have access to the Internet, since this guide will often just provide links to wiki pages and to other documentation on the web.


When your computer has finished booting up, and after entering your login data, you will arrive at the Xubuntu desktop. It comes with many features that make your life easy, and it is well worth the time to get to know your way around it.

As you can see, your desktop has two panels: one on top, and one on the bottom of the screen.

Top Panel

The top panel is mainly used for starting applications and navigating to different places on your computer. It also comes with a logout button, system tray and a clock.

Clicking on Applications will open the system menu, offering you many choices of applications to start. Note that you can also access your Settings, Help, and a logout dialog from the Applications menu.

Clicking on the logout button (looks like a power-off button) will bring up a menu with choices for logging out, shutting down, rebooting, and, depending on your hardware, suspending or hibernating your computer.


Use the checkbox Save session for future logins to have all the currently running programs auto-started at the time of your next login.

Next to the clock is a small area called the system tray. Some programs will show up as a small icon in the system tray while they are running in the background. The system tray is also used for informing you about updates to your system. If such an update becomes available, you will see a small speech bubble pop up and giving you the necessary information to keep your system up to date and secure.

Besides that, the top panel is quite empty. It has lots of additional room to add items besides the browser launcher. You may want to go ahead and add some custom items to it. Right-click on the panel, and choose Add New Item. Choose one of the many panel plugins available, or create a custom program launcher. The item will be permanently attached to your panel. Anything you add here will be reachable with just a single click, directly from your panel.

Bottom Panel

This panel contains a show-desktop button, a tasklist, and a pager.

The show-desktop button will minimise all applications to clear your view onto the desktop. This is very helpful in case you are trying to access icons on the desktop and need to get all the windows out of the way.

The taskbar will have an entry for every window that is currently open. Use it to quickly change between running applications.

The pager allows you to navigate between the different desks you use. Note that small icons on the pager give an indication about the current windows on the different desks.


The default behaviour of the desktop is to show you minimized application icons.


Many people are used to having files and launchers on their desktops instead of minimized applications. To find out how to enable this, have a look at the section called “Application icons on the Desktop (CDE style)”.

To change the desktop background image, launch Applications->Settings->Settings Manager, and choose Desktop. In the lower part, where it says Image, click on the Browse icon and choose a different picture.

The desktop offers a bunch of features that are real time-savers in everyday tasks:

  • Right-clicking it will open the system menu just as clicking on Applications does.

  • Using the scroll-bar on your mouse (if it has one) will allow you to switch between the different desks. This does the same thing as clicking on the pager in the lower panel, but is usually quicker, since you (probably) do not have to move the mouse.

  • Pressing Alt-Tab will allow you to rotate between the currently open windows. This allows for lightning-fast switching between applications without taking the hands of the keyboard.