MHCC Ubuntu Linux Startup Guide

This is a Quick Start guide for the Ubuntu (Linux) new user using “Grant Boxes” from Freegeek for students at Mt. Hood Community College.

Ubuntu is a popular “flavor” of Linux used by FreeGeek (and many others!). The version of Ubuntu used on the “Grant Boxes” is 8.04 (April 2008) also known as “Hardy Heron.”



Quick Start Guide

This is a quick start guide to getting Ubuntu up and running and making sure the hardware works.

Before Class: Things you could bring to help test the Hardware

  1. A Music CD
  2. A Data CD
  3. A blank CD (for testing CD Writing)
  4. A Flash Drive (USB testing & Microsoft Compatibility)
  5. Your Printer

Step 1: Setting Up the Hardware

The first step is to set up your hardware.

wdata/atx.png Typical Back Panel of Computer
  1. Connect keyboard and mouse (connect as shown above)
  2. Connect Monitor (connect to VGA connector, and turn it on)
  3. Connect speakers (connect to Line Out (green) connector, and turn them on)
  4. Connect ethernet (connect to LAN connector)
  5. connect power cord

You are now ready to turn on your computer and setup your new user account

Step 2: Setting Up the New User Account

This step sets up your new user account.

  1. Turn on your computer
  2. Wait a bit for the Login Screen
  3. Enter the default username: oem
  4. Enter the default password: freegeek
  5. Wait for the main Ubuntu screen


  1. From the Menu Bar: Click: System
  2. From the System Menu: Click: Administration->Users and Groups
  3. Click: unlock
  4. Enter the default password: freegeek
  5. Press: enter
  6. Click: Add User
  7. Then fill out your Username, Real Name and Password.
    • The Username field must be a single word in all lower case (a-z only). No spaces and no capital letters!
    • The Real Name can be anything (or left blank)
    • The two password fields must be identical, but can have upper case letters, lower case letters or numbers. In fact, the best password will have a combination of all three.
  8. Set Profile to: Administrator
  9. Click: User Privledges
    • Make sure all the boxes are “checked”
  10. Click Ok
  11. Click OK
  12. Now restart the computer
    • Click the “Shutdown Icon” on the menu bar
    • Then Click: Restart
  13. When you login again, use your new username and password (not oem and freegeek)

Step 3: Checking the Internet Connection

Ubuntu uses the Firefox browser to access the internet.

  1. Click the “Firefox Icon” on the menu bar.
  2. Wait for Firefox to come up
  3. Go to Google (
  4. Hopefully Google comes up!

Step 4: Setting the Background Wallpaper

A Fun test of the Internet Connection

  1. Go to Google (
  2. Click: Images
  3. Search for an image you want for your background (jpg only)
  4. Right Click on the Image
    • Select: Set As Desktop Background
  5. Another way to set the background is:
    • Right Click on the Image
    • Save Image As..
      • Save to Desktop
    • Now on the desktop: Right Click (anywhere on the desktop, but not on an Icon)
      • Change Desktop Background
      • Click: Add
      • Click: Desktop
      • Click on the image you just saved
      • Click: Open

Step 5: Getting a “Flash” Player

These are the steps to install a “flash” player

  1. In Firefox, go to google (
  2. Go to:
  3. Click: Music
  4. Click on plug-in
  5. Click “yes” to everything (including “Nonfree”), and enter your password when asked.

Step 6: Getting Media Drivers (mp3, wmv, mpeg…)

The version of Ubuntu from freegeek probably won’t have drivers installed for all types of media.
You may need to install drivers for: mp3, wma, wmv, mpeg, avi, mov (quicktime), real, wav.
The process is reasonably simple:

  1. In Firefox, find a media file you are interested in, such as an mp3, mpeg or wmv, and click on it.
  2. Open with ….
    • If nothing happens then Right Click and open with movie player.
  3. Click:yes, to search for a suitable codec.
  4. Click “Yes” or “Confirm” as needed.

Step 7: Menu Bar

The Menu Bar (see picture above) is located along the top of the screen and contains 3 Main Menus:

  • Applications
  • Places
  • System

The system menu is for things like setting the screen resolution, mouse, printer, network configuration, etc.

The Places menu is the file browser. You can browse the desktop, your home folder, the filesystem, cd-rom drive, etc.

The Applications menu is where the application software resides.
The Applications menu has a number of sub-menus:

  • Accessories
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Internet
  • Office

Step 8: Accessories Menu Software

To get to the accessories menu: Click: Applications>Accessories

Under accessories are many utilities such as:

  • calculator
  • screenshot taker (takes a snapshot of the current screen and saves it to a file)
  • dictionary (must be connected to the Internet to use)
  • text editor (like Microsoft WordPad)

Step 9: Graphics Menu Software

To get to Graphics menu: Click: Applications>Graphics

  • Gimp Image Editor (like Adobe Photoshop)
  • gThumb – Photo archive and Camera reader
  • XSane – Scanner Software

Step 10: Internet Menu Software

To get to Internet menu: Click: Applications>Internet

  • Firefox – Internet browser (shortcut: Click Firefox Icon on the menu bar)
  • Evolution – (Like Microsoft Outlook) Email, Calendar, Personal Information Manager (shortcut: Click Evolution icon on the menu bar)

Step 11: Office Menu Software

To get to Office menu: Click: Applications>Office

The Ubuntu/Linux OpenOffice is like Microsoft Office

  • Word Processor — Like Word
  • Spreadsheet — Like Excel
  • Database — Like Access
    • If Database is not on the menu, then it needs to be installed. The procedure is pretty straightforward:
      1. You need to be connected to the internet (Preferably with a High-speed connection.)
      2. On the menu bar: click: applications
      3. Then click: add/remove
      4. Wait a bit…
      5. Then click: office
      6. Then select: Database (see picture below)
      7. addremove.jpg Click to select the Database
      8. Click: Apply Changes
      9. Click: Apply
      10. Enter your password when asked.
      11. Wait for downloading package files (about 29 files, takes about 4-5 minutes with broadband)
      12. Wait for Apply Changes (installing software) Another 4-5 minutes.
      13. Then click: close
    • If all goes well then “Database” is installed!
  • Presentation — Like PowerPoint

Step 11a: Microsoft & Open Office Compatibility

An important issue for Mt Hood Community College students is compatibility between Ubuntu Open Office and Microsoft Office.
MHCC uses Microsoft formats and the default for Ubuntu Linux is Open Office Format.

In order to be compatible with MHCC you need to change the default on your Ubuntu/Linux computer as follows:

Open the Word Processor: Applications>Office> Word Processor

  • click Tools>Options>Load/Save>General
  • In the section called “Default file format”, do the following:
    • For Document type: “Text document”, select “Microsoft 6.0” on the “Always save as” drop-down-menu.
    • For Document type: “Spreadsheet”, select “Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP” on the “Always save as” drop-down-menu.
    • For Document type: “Presentation”, select “Microsoft PowerPoint 97/2000/XP” on the “Always save as” drop-down-menu.
  • Then Click ‘OK’

Now when you save a document it should be in Microsoft format.

To test this, make a small test document and save it to a “flash” drive. Then take the flash drive to a MHCC computer
and see if it opens correctly in Microsoft office.

Step 11b: Other Microsoft & Open Office Compatibility Issues

Sometimes when you save an OpenOffice document as a Microsoft Word document, changes (esp. formatting) may be made to your document.

For example: Strange problems with “bullets” when saving as a Word document. Saving as Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP rather than Microsoft Word 6.0 fixed this particular problem.

Check the following links for more information:

Step 12: Reading CD’s (and ejecting CD’s)

This step checks that the CD player works for reading CD’s

Music CD:

  1. Insert a Music CD
  2. Wait a bit for the Music Player to come up
  3. Select a track to play
  4. Click: Play
  5. Should hear music
  6. Click “Play” again (to pause)
  7. Click: Eject from the Music Player Menu (to eject the CD)
  8. Close the Music Player
  9. Another way to eject the CD:
    • Right Click on the CD Icon
    • Click Eject

Data CD:

  1. Insert a Data CD
  2. Wait a bit for the File Browser to come up
  3. Should see some files
  4. Close the File Browser
  5. To eject the CD
    • Right Click on the CD Icon
    • Click Eject

Note: If Ubuntu thinks the CD drive is in use it won’t let the door open. To open the CD door: Right
Click on the CD Icon on the desktop and click Eject.

Step 13: Writing CD’s

This step checks that the CD player works for writing CD’s

  1. Insert a Blank CD
  2. Wait a bit for the “Blank CD” Icon to appear on the Desktop.
  3. Click: Places
  4. Click: CD/DVD Creater
  5. The CD/DVD Creater – File Browser Window should appear
  6. Now Copy Files and Directories (that you want to Write) to the CD/DVD Creater Folder.
  7. When everthing you want is in the CD/DVD Creater Folder…
  8. Click: Write to Disc
  9. Click: Write
  10. Wait a while for the CD to be written.
  11. Click: Close

Step 14: Adding the Printer


This step checks that the printer works with Ubuntu….

Make sure the printer is cabled to the computer and turned on. Go to System>Administration>Printing. Click Printer>AddPrinter

Hopefully it will find your printer. If not your can try google, with keywords: ubuntu (and the model of your printer)
Also: is helpful.

Step 14a: Printer Fonts

If you print out a page and it doesn’t look as nice as when when printed from Windows it may be a question of selecting the correct fonts.

Make sure you use “printer” fonts. Here’s a list from OpenOffice Writer:

  • Avant Garde Gothic
  • Bookman
  • Courier
  • Helvetica (a common sans-serif font)
  • New Century Schoolbook
  • Palatino
  • Symbol
  • Times (a common serif font)
  • Zapf Chancery

Times and Helevetica are popular choices.

Step 15: Shutting down Ubuntu

Click the Shutdown icon on the menu bar. Then select shutdown.

Step 16: Take Home Checklist

  1. 1 Computer
  2. 1 Monitor
  3. 1 Keyboard
  4. 1 Mouse
  5. 2 Speakers (plus power brick, if needed)
  6. 2 Power Cords (1 for computer, 1 for monitor)
  7. 1 Copy of Startup Guide and FAQ


Linux may be mostly free of viruses, but it still has bugs just like “those other guys.”
Here’s a list known bugs.. (and also where to get help) Good Luck.

As of this date, 7/12/08, there is a bug in OpenOffice (Hardy 8.04) where it crashes, seemingly at random when trying to save.
Hopefully it will be fixed shortly!


  • How to upgrade from Dapper to Hardy, w/o losing data.
  • How to do dial-up with Hardy.
  • Does CD writer do an automatic Verify?
  • Security. Should new user have administrative privledges? Create 2 new user, one administrator, one not?

See Also

External Links

Personal tools