Below is a selection of common questions with answers that may help you if you are new to Ubuntu. Choose a topic from the table of contents or search this page by pressing Ctrl+F in your browser and entering a search term.


  1. About Ubuntu
    1. Releases and Version Numbers
    2. Related Projects: Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu
    3. Ubuntu and Debian?
  2. Installing Ubuntu
    1. CDs and DVDs
    2. Network and Other Installation Methods
  3. Using Ubuntu
    1. Installing software
    2. Repositories and sources.list
    3. Upgrading
    4. Administration: Root vs Sudo
    5. MP3/Divx/DVDs/Quicktime/Realmedia/Flash/Java
    6. Meta-packages: ubuntu-desktop
    7. Updating programs
    8. Xgl/Compiz
    9. Problems Booting Ubuntu
  4. Kubuntu
  5. Hardware
    1. Supported Hardware
    2. Other Partitions
    3. Wireless
    4. Screen Resolution
    5. AMD64 Processors
    6. ATI/nVidia
  6. The Ubuntu Community
    1. Getting More Help
    2. Reporting Bugs
    3. Contributing to Ubuntu

About Ubuntu

Releases and Version Numbers

What is the numbering system of the releases about? What is the next release of Ubuntu?

The version number comes from the year and month of the release; the version names are made by [Ubuntu]MarkShuttleworth.

Related Projects: Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu

Are Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu forks of Ubuntu?

No, they are all official releases with changes to the quintessential distribution of Ubuntu. All of their packages are in the same archives.

What is Kubuntu? Can I install it from Ubuntu?

[WWW] Kubuntu uses the Ubuntu base and [WWW] KDE, the K Deskop Environment; it combines ease of use, contemporary functionality, and outstanding graphical design. To install Kubuntu from any other Ubuntu derivative, simply install the kubuntu-desktop package. For alternative methods of getting KDE, see InstallingKDE.

What is Xubuntu? How can I install it from Ubuntu?

[WWW] Xubuntu uses the Ubuntu base and the [WWW] Xfce deskop environment; Xfce is typically a more lightweight desktop environment, and is thus also more suitable for lower-end systems. To install xubuntu from any other Ubuntu derivative, simply install the xubuntu-desktop package. Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy) users please note: you will first need to enable the Universe repository (see AddingRepositoriesHowto)

What is Edubuntu? How can I install it from Ubuntu?

[WWW] Edubuntu provides a customised school environment with an Ubuntu base; though it uses the GNOME desktop environment, it includes applications from both GNOME and KDE by default. To install Edubuntu from any of the Ubuntu derivatives, simply install the edubuntu-desktop package.

Ubuntu and Debian?

What is the relationship between Ubuntu and Debian?

Please see [WWW], and consider reading some of the [Ubuntu]MarkShuttleworth wiki page for more information.

Installing Ubuntu

CDs and DVDs

What is the difference between the Desktop and the Alternate CD?

While Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) had a Live CD (an Ubuntu CD that runs directly off your Memory and the Disc, without installing anything to hard-disk) and an Install CD, Ubuntu 6.06 'Dapper Drake' has a "Desktop" and an "Alternate" CD. The Desktop CD contains a Live session with an installer, once started up; it does not have the classical text installer. The Alternate CD has the old text-installer, with no Live session available. If you are trying to upgrade to Dapper by using the CD-rom as a source, then you should use the alternate CD. The Alternate CD also provides you with the option of an Expert install.

See below for more information on upgrading to Dapper.

What does the DVD contain?

The Ubuntu DVD available with Dapper is a conjugation of the Alternate and the Desktop CD. At the boot prompt, you can select to either go into the Live session with a graphical install, or do the old classical install.

Network and Other Installation Methods

Can I do an installation of Ubuntu over the network? What other methods of installation are there?

See Installation for complete guides and instructions on different methods of installation.

Using Ubuntu

Installing software

How do I install things on Ubuntu? Why shouldn't I compile? Why does ./configure give errors?

For the vast majority of applications that you will ever use, you should never need to compile them. Ubuntu provides over 16,000 packages in all of its repositories. Please see the SoftwareManagement (and, specifically the InstallingSoftware sub-category) page for instructions on how to gain those packages, and the CompilingSoftware if you are convinced (after viewing the previous page) that you do indeed need to compile.

Repositories and sources.list

What is a repository? What is the sources.list file?

[WWW] Repositories are particular locations on the web which contain the thousands of packages (each containing programs, applications, etc) that you would need on your computer. The sources.list file contains the list of all the repositories that will be used to download packages in Synaptic (see SynapticHowto) and APT (see APTPage); it is located in /etc/apt/. Since /etc is the directory for system-wide configurations, you will require root privileges to edit it (see RootSudo).

For a full walk-through on how to add extra repositories please see AddingRepositoriesHowto. For an explanation on the methodology between the different repository components (main, universe etc) please see [WWW]

Can I browse and search the Ubuntu repositories?

You can access the source code of all Ubuntu packages, as well as view which ones are available for a particular release of Ubuntu at [WWW]


How can I upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu?

Administration: Root vs Sudo

I didn't set a root password, what is it? What is sudo?

Ubuntu uses the sudo model for administrator and user actions, in contrast to the traditional user/root bifurcation. Check out the RootSudo page for all the information.


How can I play MP3/Divx/DVDs/Quicktime/Realmedia files or view Flash/Java web pages

See the RestrictedFormats page.

Meta-packages: ubuntu-desktop

What is a meta-package? Is it safe to remove the ubuntu-desktop package?

A meta-package is a package that doesn't contain applications within itself, but simply depends upon particular versions of other packages, so that when it is installed, it drags all of them in too. The package manager uses it to know which particular packages to install. For example, the ubuntu-desktop metapackage installs the full GNOME desktop environment, with all the other packages that are in a default Ubuntu install. The existence of meta-packages makes it very easy to install other Ubuntu derivatives on your desktop; see below for more information.

It is technically just fine to remove a meta-package, if required, and this shouldn't necessarily cause any problems. However, it is strongly recommended that you reinstall that package if you decide to manually upgrade to another version of Ubuntu. The package manager requires those packages to be installed for it to successfully perform the upgrade.

Updating programs

A new version of a package I want has been released, but it's not in the repositories. How can I get it?

The stable versions of Ubuntu will only get security updates. This means no new versions of packages. The current development version will get updates until 2 months before release. The last two months are spent solely on improving stability. You may however, be able to find the new package in backports or in 3rd party repositories. Details can be found at UbuntuBackports.


Where can I find out more information on Xgl/Compiz? Can I install Xgl/Compiz on Ubuntu?

Please see CompositeManager for more information and installation instructions.

Problems Booting Ubuntu

I installed Windows (or another Operating System) and now I can't get into Ubuntu!

See the RecoveringUbuntuAfterInstallingWindows page.


Are Kubuntu CDs available from ShipIt?

Yes, you can order them from [WWW]

How do I change Konqueror back to the default KDE profiles?

Please see [WWW]


Supported Hardware

What hardware is supported/works on Ubuntu?

See HardwareSupport.

Other Partitions

How can I view my Windows/Mac partitions from Ubuntu?

Please see AutomaticallyMountPartitions.


How can I get my wireless set up on Ubuntu?

Check [Ubuntu]HardwareSupportComponentsWirelessNetworkCards first. If your card is not supported out-of-the-box, then consider reading the WifiDocs for guides.

Screen Resolution

The resolution of my monitor was not detected appropriately, what should I do?

See the FixVideoResolutionHowto page.

AMD64 Processors

I have an AMD64 processor, should I install the i386 ISO or the amd64 one? What are the drawbacks of having an amd64 install?

AMD64 is an officially supported architecture with its respective ISO for Ubuntu and all major Ubuntu derivatives. By installing the amd64 ISO, rather than the i386 (32-bit) ISO, there will be some enhancement in performance.

The drawbacks are that Ubuntu, with APT (the package manager for Ubuntu), currently does not support BiArch, which means you likely won't be able to install and run 32bit packages on your AMD64 install. This is a problem for users who wish to use Flash, w32 codecs, and WINE (for example), as they are only available for 32-bit. There are possible methods of getting it running, but they involve creating a chroot (see DebootstrapChroot), for example.


How do I install ATI/nVidia drivers for my video card?

Please see the BinaryDriverHowto page.

The Ubuntu Community

Getting More Help

Where can I get support from?

Reporting Bugs

I think I found a bug, where can I report it?

The Ubuntu bugtracker is at [WWW]

Contributing to Ubuntu

How can I contribute to Ubuntu?

Please see [WWW], [Ubuntu]HelpingUbuntu or [Ubuntu]EasyWaysToHelpUbuntu.

last edited 2007-01-20 10:15:36 by SaltyHorse