30+ Ubuntu Terms

Linux is a computer operating system that offers users a different experience than Windows and Mac OS. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution, and it has many helpful features to help you get up-to-speed with this powerful software. In this blog post, we will give you an introduction to some of the terminology used in Ubuntu so that you can get more familiar with how to use it.

Common Ubuntu terms

  • APT – Advanced Packaging Tool, which is a package management system for Debian-based Linux distributions.
  • backtrace – the process of recording and displaying on screen all the functions that have been activated by an application at any point in time. We can use this information to find out what might be causing a crash or bug.
  • bash – stands for ‘Bourne-Again shell’, which is a command-line interpreter for Unix and Linux systems.
  • Canonical – the company that develops Ubuntu, an open source operating system based on Debian. It also provides full support to users of current LTS releases.
  • CLI – short form for ‘Command Line Interface’ or ‘Command Language Interpreter’. The CLI lets you interact with your computer through text commands rather than using graphics such as in Windows or Mac OSX.
  • Command – a command is an instruction to carry out some function in the computer. The Ubuntu terminal, for instance, contains many commands that you can use to do tasks such as change permissions or display information about your battery life and memory usage.
  • desktop environment – this refers to the “shell” you use to interact with your computer’s graphical interface. Different desktop environments include KDE Plasma Desktop, GNOME Shell, Unity Desktop Environment etc.
  • deployment – the process of installation and configuration of software onto web servers (or other less complex computers).
  • package – the file that contains all of the files necessary for installation on your system, such as an application or library.
  • distro – a distribution (of Linux). It can be used to refer to any GNU/Linux operating system in general but it is more specifically used to denote Ubuntu and its variants. Distros are not compatible with each other due to their varying code bases.
  • dpkg – stands for Debian Package Manager, which is responsible for installing and managing software packages for the Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu. The role of dpkg is similar to RPM Package Managers in Red Hat based systems like Fedora etc.
  • GConf – short form for ‘GNOME Configuration’. GConf provides configuration data which must be processed by the GNOME Desktop Environment.
  • GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program. You can think of it as Photoshop for Linux with a similar interface but some more features such as layers, channels and filters.
  • Kubuntu – Kubuntu is Ubuntu’s KDE Plasma flavor and uses the Plasma desktop environment to provide its graphical user interface (GUI) which includes using many widgets in addition or instead of menus etc.
  • kernel– This refers to the central part that holds all aspects together. The kernel controls what your computer does when you turn it on like displaying graphics, copying files from drive A to B etc.
  • KDM – short form for ‘KDE Display Manager’. It provides users with an easy way into their desktop without having to type a password every time.
  • Nautilius – Nautilus is the default file browser for GNOME Desktop Environment and Ubuntu. It provides users with a graphical interface that makes it easy to manage files.
  • nano – GNU nano, which stands for ‘New ANOther editor’, is a text-based editor which allows you to edit files by using keyboard shortcuts only (no mouse).
  • Open Source – the idea that software can be freely obtained and used without restrictions.
  • Package – a package is the file that contains all of the files necessary for installation on your system, such as an application or library.
  • PPA – short form for ‘Personal Package Archive’. This is a type of repository which offers Ubuntu compatible packages. It allows developers to upload new versions of their package so users are automatically notified when updates are available.
  • Qt – this stands for either Qt toolkit (which provides C++ classes, tools and runtimes) or Quirky Turkey Toolkit (an open-source cross-platform application framework). In most cases it refers to the Cross Platform GUI Application Framework version.
  • repository – an archive containing many different types of data such as text files, audio recordings etc. A repository can also refer to websites where you download these archives from.
  • RPM – stands for ‘Red Hat Package Manager’. It is responsible for installing and managing software packages in Red Hat based systems like Fedora.
  • shell – this refers to the layer of code that provides users with a way into their computer’s operating system. It can be accessed through an interface such as the one on Windows or Mac OSX etc…
  • SSH – short form for Secure SHell, which encrypts data transmissions so they cannot be easily intercepted by third-parties.
  • sudoer – this refers to someone who has been granted administrative privileges (e.g., all rights) because he/she is authorized to give orders.
  • super key – this refers to either your Control Key or your Alt Key depending on which desktop environment you are using but it is usually your Control Key.
  • Synaptic – a graphical user interface-based package manager which can be used to search and install packages in Ubuntu. It has an easy point ‘n’ click GUI.
  • tarball – the file extension for a Linux archive compressed using tar command or bzip compression etc….
  • theme – this refers to either themes that are found on websites such as ThemeForest, OpenThemeArt etc OR it can refer to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) files from online sources like GitHub that contain instructions about how colors should look when applied by web browsers etc..
  • VIM – short form for VIsual editor iMproved. This is another text editor but with many more features than nano e.g. you can move around the text by using arrow keys.
  • Xubuntu – Xubuntu is a variant of Ubuntu which uses the LXDE Desktop Environment. It has an easy point ‘n’ click GUI and does not have as many programs installed compared to other desktop environments like KDE Plasma or GNOME etc
  • root access – root access grants the user’s account with all of the rights that are available on any given Linux system. This person has “root” privileges which means they have control over everything from GUI settings to hardware management. It also gives them a considerable amount of responsibility so it should be used cautiously!

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